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Nichole Baiel

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

I admire women, men, and any other person who looks “put together.” It doesn't mean they are the mainstream ideal of beauty but rather they look confident and happy in who they are and what they are wearing.

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?

When I started wearing clothes that fit, I realized how amazing I looked and felt.

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

I passed on a ring to my sister that meant a lot to me, but I wanted her to have it because she was going through some pretty hard times, and it was my way to always be there with her.

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?

My mother had given up doing everyone's laundry when I was about fifteen. She would wash and dry and fold and put all our clothes on my and my siblings beds for us to put away. For some reason, as teenagers, we thought this was too much work and the clothes would just sit on the floor in piles.

I had to do my own laundry after that, and really all I wanted was to get my clothes clean. I never separated colors, jeans, underthings. I threw it all in the wash at once. Sadly, I still do this, since I have to use a coin-operated machine.

If I ruin something, I am never too heartbroken, because all my clothes are still thrifted. If I ruin a $10 dress in the wash, it doesn't seem to sting as much as if it were a $100 dress.

It was my mother who introduced me to thrift store and resale shops. She encouraged all of us kids to dress however we wanted to dress, because it was an expression of who we were.

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

I don't wear a lot of makeup but I love dressing in high-waisted skirts with funky patterned tights and high heels. That is a look that really makes me feel sexy.

33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?

Clothes that fit a person's body type. That person could be skinny or chubby or small-chested or short or petite or tall or lanky, it doesn't matter. What is beautiful is what fits that person well.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Nothing is ugly; it just may not be my taste.

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?

This “outer eye” reflects the person I am inside. My clothing and my style is a reflection of who I am, and to see myself—to see Nichole—in the mirror as another person is dangerous.

I do not want to pretend to be anyone different. And even if I am dressing as another part of myself, that part is still me and a reflection of who I am as a whole.

50. Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body? Was there ever a time in the past?

I do own clothes that men typically wear. I have men's-cut jeans and button-up shirts and skinny ties. I love dressing like a typical man on occasion. Clothes are clothes and they shouldn't be tied to specific genders.

51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?

I am fond of Victorian era clothes, but I know how uncomfortable it would be wearing them every day. I enjoy 50s-style dresses with full or half circle skirts a lot, so possibly the 1950s?

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?

I love my body. I love my small breasts and tiny waist and too-big hips. I have even come to embrace the pits and craters over fifteen years of acne had left behind. All of this means that the clothes I wish I were wearing, I already am.

63. Is there a certain look you feel you’re expected to like that you have absolutely no interest in? What is it? Why aren’t you interested?

I have never felt obligated to like anything, even as a teenager when I felt I was most impressionable.

67. Looking back at all your purchases over the past five to fifteen years, can you generalize about what sorts of things were the most valuable to buy?

Basics. I layer basics all the time in my outfits. Solid, fitted tops, opaque tights, cardigans, lacey tanks, that sort of thing.

68. Is there an item of clothing that you once owned, but no longer own, and still think about or wish you had back? What was it, what happened to it, and why do you want it back?

I was in drama club in high school and I remember raiding the costume closet with my friends one day during rehearsal. I had stolen a bright orange jacket covered in orange sequins. When I wore that jacket, I felt amazing. I felt like I was on to something and expressing myself in ways I wasn't able to prior.

I wish I had it back sometimes, but it would have to be tailored. As like everything else in the late 90s, it didn't fit well, but I am still in love with the concept. At some point in college, I was cleaning out my wardrobe and felt it was time to let it go. I always hoped some other person would find it in a second-hand store and get just as excited about it.

69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?

Are you implying I wouldn't have clothing ever again or that I would just have to build a wardrobe from nothing? If it's the latter, it would be an amazing pair of brown boots I thrifted for $3.00 five years back. They're comfy, stylish, and I get compliments on them all the time.

75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?

My sister gave me a ring that had a lot of sentimental value behind it. It's a long story.

76. Did you ever buy an article of clothing without giving it much thought, only to have it prove much more valuable as time went on? What was the item and what happened?

I'm not sure what is meant here by valuable. Valuable in a sense that it became a go-to or valuable in a monetary sense? In either case, not really.

82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?


83. Do you remember the first time you were conscious of what you were wearing? Can you describe this moment and what it was about?

It would have to be around my sophomore year of high school, which was also around the time I had begun thrifting my clothes for the new school year. My mother had given me a choice: we could go to the mall and I could get a couple new things, or we could go to the resale shop and I could leave with a whole bag of stuff.

Getting a garbage bag full of second-hand clothes for $50 made me realize that I could create my own style, and the odds of someone else wearing the same thing as me was slim to none.

This was an amazing discovery.

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

April 2, 1982

I was born in Illinois but grew up in Northwest Indiana. I have come back to Illinois a couple years ago and now live in Chicago.

What kind of work do you do?

I am a user interface designer for a technology company.

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

I am single and without children.

Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.

I am queer.

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