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Ceil Tilney

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

The first time I wear something new that fits perfectly

2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?

Yes - women who do something eclectic (boots, scarves, jewelry, tattoos, hair) in a way that shows it's thought-out - and who walk with confidence

3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

Walking with confidence. Very tall women in very high heels. Use of color - whether subdued or bright - that shows it was thought out

4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?

My Mom was extremely stylish, in an eclectic way, so it's always been part of how I think.

5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?

Masculine and feminine doesn't matter - go with what looks good. Skinny hips don't necessarily look better with full skirts. You'll feel more confident if you avoid clothes that play up the parts of you you hate. Big jewelry is always more fun.

6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?

Find the hat for everything. Fingertip gloves are useful even when they're not in style. Short people can wear styles that cut them in half, but only if they stand up straight and walk like they own it.

7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?

Too many to mention - all small things (the Missoni coat that got away, my best friend telling me I'm turning into an eccentric dresser, another one making it ok to have more than one pair of black heels - what was I thinking?)

8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.

I don't even know what that means. I've made a wonderful life out of processing what comes up - not planning. That said, I'm a list maker in the moment.

9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?

Black pants (duh). Black flats. Because they never fit right and you want to wear them all the time.

10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?

Except for jewelry to my husband (who's easy to shop for), nope.

11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why? 

Since I was there for the 80s the first time, I'm going to skip it this time around. Ditto Lady Gaga styles - love her, and am too short.

12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?

Skinny white ladies who like to put things together in unusual but not crazy ways. Check. Reflexively aware of how to balance discordant patterns and textures. Check. Obsession with super high, but classy, heels. Check.

13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?

Not for years. That was one habit of my mother's I did not inherit.

14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?

The eighties ended. Hallelujah!

15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?

Not since the 60s.

16. Please describe your body.

Short skinny old white lady.

17. Please describe your mind.

Restless, impatient, curious

18. Please describe your emotions.

Volatile but improving with age

19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?

Workout clothes, minimal product in hair - short, spiky - sunscreen and foundation only.

20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?

It's part of what makes life worth hanging around for.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?


22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I try to fit in, but with enough sass to stand out

23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?

Mmmm. Not sure I know the difference - I guess taste would be the ability to identify cool things and style would be the ability to wear them well. yes and yes.

24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?

Too many to count, but all small purchases - the really big investments have been good, even if I don't wear them often enough.

25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?

May the person who invented safety pins be raised to a saint.

26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?

Sure - very proud of the way I've made my home unique.

27. Can you recall some times when you have dressed a particular way to calm yourself or gain a sense of control over a situation that scared you?

Of course. High heeled boots and a long black leather shirt (one of the investment purchases) and I can take on the world.

28. Would you say you “know what you like” in the area of fashion and clothing? If so, do you also know what you like in other areas of life, that is, are you generally good at discernment? Can you say where your discernment comes from, if you have it? Or if you don’t have it, why or why not?

Yes. Life experience, my mother, and years of therapy to get over both.

29. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Or did you just pick things up?

Mm style yes - my grandmother taught me about taking care of things, a lesson I didn't internalize for many many years. Mostly I just picked it up by reading a whole lot of books and magazines (including but not limited to fashion stuff).

30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?

Cashmere is always good. Also diamonds. I'm past wanting to be "sexy" in any kind of overt sense.

What’s your birth date? 
Where were you born and where do you live now?

1953 New York California

Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.


What kind of work do you do?

Strategy consulting for technology companies

Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?

Married no kids

How do you feel after filling out this survey?


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