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D. Houston

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When my hair is freshly washed, my eyeliner somewhat symmetrical and my outfit looks how I imagined it.

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

Yes, all the time. I tend to notice/admire women who have a style that seems like an extension of themselves, like lots of little touches such as scarves or jewellery (rings, bangles, chains especially). Like stuff that looks old or worn often, not things recognisable from magazine pages or specific shops. Outfits that just look completely "them", even though I don't know them. Ditto women in menswear or any woman who can pull off a good quirky shoe. Most often it's older women I notice rather than women my own age.

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?

I think dressing-up or/ creating a specific look (not in a Halloween kind of way) "clicked" for my when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I started reading a lot of my older sister's fashion magazines and later started buying them myself so it suddenly occurred to me that you can decide "I'm going to dress like and extra from "Happy Days" today" or whatever. I remember reading a lot of runway reports and noting all of the historical/pop cultural references that were peppered through-out and seeing that you could dress like or be influenced by something (a person, an era, etc)

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

I am good at planning/organising everything but relationships. I just kind of let those happen. Everything else is listed or documented or dated on a calendar.

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

Black and white striped long sleeved tops and navy sweaters. They are the staples of my wardrobe and I follow the maternal advice of buying multiples of things you wear a lot of. They go with everything, I feel unsafe when my supplies dwindle down to one or two after a wardrobe-cull.

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

Crop tops/neon/ anything vaguely athletic looking. Although I like the tom-boyishness of these things I find them just hard to pull off as I am a bit too bulgy for all that sleekness.

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

My mother definitely passed down her knack for colours and generally putting together a good outfit to me, for which I am eternally grateful. My mother's style is very classic and glamorous but not boring. I always wear a good piece of jewellery because of her, and rely heavily on a basic palette of black/grey/red.

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

I have stolen many, many items from my sisters. Less so now that none of us live together. We used to have such wars over clothes. I remember having a particularly awful fight with my older sister because I wore a new dress of hers before she wore it. I have borrowed a lot of ideas from Swedish friends because they dress so simply but well. I always feel like I have to up my minimalism-game after meeting with them.

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

About last year I started dressing in a simpler way. Before I would have worn a lot of layers, a lot of loud "take notice!!" items and lots and lots of jewellery but I've recently felt a lot more confident in my self and don't really have to use dressing as a way of expressing my identity.

16. Please describe your body.

I am quite broad as if my body was preparing for something that puberty did not deliver (i.e tits and ass). I am skinny in some places and not in others. My body doesn't really bother me most of the time. I like my legs.

17. Please describe your mind.

Very engaged with everything.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I am rather sad and listless right now. Usually I am happier.

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

I am wearing a lace shift dress with a navy sweater over it and black tights. My hair is pulled back in a bun.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My mother and sister. I used to talk to my friend Ellinor about clothes but she lives in Montreal now so we talk less often.

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

Yes I think I have a taste or style. They are both one in the same to me really. I've never really thought about what they mean to me. I just know that I like what I like.

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

€40 on a silly chiffon blouse with unicorns on it.

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

I suppose in my house there are elements of my style. Lots of pictures and plants and cat statuettes. I think my writing also has a certain style but it's probably too easily influenced by others.

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?

I'm prone to anxiety before any social event so dressing up before going out helps me feel more in control. Just knowing that I look well put together helps a lot.

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, definitely. I think I am very good at discernment. Not to sound too hippy-dippy but I think I have a good intuition/ gut instinct about people/situations/a pair of shoes/whatever. I don't really know where it comes from, it's just always been there since I was very young. I think over all I am quite confident/at ease with myself/my reactions to things (give or take a bit of learned anxiety here and there). I've always been able to say "yes, I like this" and not feel I have to change my mind or question myself.

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?

I think I picked up a lot of things from my mother, just by being around her while clothes shopping or seeing her get ready or do laundry. She taught me a very good lesson about packing for summer vacations: have one pair of trousers, one skirt, one dress and multiple (max. 6) tops/pullovers that are of a similar palette that can be mixed and matched. 2 pairs of comfortable shoes. 1 swim-suit. Statement jewellery. That's all you need! Seriously. She also taught me how to use the washing machine and not shrink clothes.

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

I like wearing old fashioned underwear- slips and hold-ups and garter belts. Even if I'm just wearing my usual skirt and jumper combo I feel very alluring in an Old Hollywood kind of way.

35. Are you generally a good judge of whether what you buy will end up being worn? Have you figured out how to know in advance?

Anything in black or white will be worn. Ditto for polka dots and stripes. If it's short-cut (as in a mini-skirt) it's more likely to be worn than something longer.

36. When you look at yourself before going out, and you are trying to see yourself from the outside, can you describe a bit about what this “other person” is like? What do they like, dislike, what sorts of judgments do they have? Is this “outer eye” based on someone you know or once knew?

It's weird, my "other person" is definitely me but a more critical me, I suppose. I look at myself and think: "if I saw myself in a magazine or on one of those street-wear blogs would I cause myself to feel an intense pang of style-jealousy". So i guess I imagine myself in a photograph but I also imagine myself looking at the photograph and making a judgement about it. On bad days I think of my sister looking at the photograph and making cutting remarks about it.

37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?

I usually think about what I want to wear the next day before I go to sleep. Obviously when I wake up in the morning I might have to adjust my planned outfit because of weather reasons or unforeseen laundry complications. I usually consider if it's raining and if my coat/shoes will look okay with my planned outfit. I always have an idea in my head about how I will look, the general vibe. Then I start with a specific item (usually a skirt or top) and work around that.

39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?

Dressing up definitely involves more make-up and jewellery and maybe a certain era I'm throwing back to. Like if I were invited to a party and was planning my outfit I'd think "Yes, I want to look very 70's and romantic tonight" but if I was just dressing for a normal day I would think more in terms of "what is clean/ what works well with my new boots" or something.

41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?

Me: Clean lines, dark colours, unusual jewellery, a splash of red or orange.

Not Me: Denim jackets, long skirts, green.

42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?

I was raised a Catholic in Ireland but I don't think it really influenced how I dressed. I never felt I had to dress chastely or like a comely maiden or anything. There was always a slight bit of body/clothes policing going on but I think that was less a religious thing and more a growing up in a misogynistic society thing (which is kind of related to religious institutions but we won't go there).

43. Do you remember a time in your life when you dressed quite differently from how you do now? Can you describe it and what it was all about for you?

When I was in my teens I dressed like a hippy. Love beads and patchwork skirts. I had a brief obsession with all things Summer of Love. I wanted to go back in time to the 1960's.

44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?

Wear white shirts, less jewellery. I try to tame my hair but I often lose that battle.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

No, I am much better in person than in photographs. I have a very expressive face so there are too many photographs of me in which I've been caught blinking or in the middle of talking or just making ridiculous faces.

57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?

More unstructured or long items.

65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?

A navy peacoat. A brooch in the shape of a artist's pallet that my father bought for me in Rome when I was 11.

66. Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. What is it, why don’t you wear it, and why do you keep it?

Two dresses of my mother's. One is a pink chiffon sun dress with a purple pineapple print and many flounces. The other is a mushroom coloured polka-dot shift dress. I don't wear them (anymore. I used to dress up in them a lot when I was a kid) because they don't suit me but they have a certain value to them because they belonged to my mother when she was my age.

71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?

A pair of winter boots the first year I lived in Canada. They were black knee-high leather boots and cost me $110. I still own them but I don't get a chance to wear them now that I live in Ireland again and don't have to deal with snow.

73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?

A really, really good black sweater (one that hangs slightly off the shoulders, doesn't shrink in the wash)

80. How does money fit into all this?

I'm not very wealthy so I buy a lot from discount stores and charity shops.

81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?

Always wear eyeliner.

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