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Jennifer Rutherford

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

Most of the time, when I'm dressed up in pretty outfits/colors.

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

I notice women who are wearing something colorful/pretty. Pretty much like me, really.

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

I like when they wear interesting outfits that took some thought, that are kind of like walking works of art.

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 assume there was, but I don't remember one specific moment, I just kind of grew into that sort of thing somewhere between grade and middle school.

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

* Don't buy see-through anything on the behind. Tacky.
* Be practical. The pretty shoes are no good if you can't walk in them.
* Shoes must fit comfortably from minute one. I cannot "break them in," they will only get worse if I try. Shoes must be flats or have chunky heels, no stilettos. No flip-flops, shoes must actually have straps that stay on feet.

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

* Black leather boots go with anything.
* Make sure the colors in your clothes match harmoniously with each other.
* It's okay to be more dressed up than everyone else. Make the excuse to wear the dress, don't wait for a special occasion that never happens.

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

I don't think I've really had one that I recall. Mostly along the lines of people liking my weird outfits, I think...but nothing I can pin down for you.

8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain., I don't.

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

Pants, because if I find a pair of pants I actually like (I'm not super into pants), that is something hard to find. I have a few dresses that are the same style but in different colors that I got from the same vendor because the style is great and looks lovely on me.

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

Whenever I've gifted my friends with handmade jewelry.

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

I don't do designer, "Jimmy Choos" or whatever fancy stilettos people are into, skinny jeans (ugh, make me look like a nerd) or short shorts, and I don't wear all black.

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

My mom and I have a similar color sense and like most of the same clothing. She is a bit more businesslike and I am a lot more hippie weirdo than her, but clearly we dress alike enough for the style to become clear. We have bought the same clothes a ew times.

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

Not really, my dress style is a lot different from most people's. I might borrow from Mom once in awhile (see above answer).

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

Somewhere around the end of college/when I had my first "real" job, I started dressing up more. I felt like I could dress like myself instead of having to dress to blend in "with the other kids" in jeans all day. It also helps that I live in a hippie town where that is okay to do, rather than the redneckville I come from.

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

I obviously dress like a hippie from the 60's.

16. Please describe your body.

5'4, average weight, DD boobs, no butt, lots of stomach for no good reason.

17. Please describe your mind.

It's scary in here! I'm very smart in certain limited areas, but not nearly smart enough in a lot of others. (I suspect I have dyscalculia.) I'm considered pretty weird by about everybody. I think very quickly but don't have much brain for complicated tech.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I have a lot less feelings than I used to have--they have died off over the years. This is probably a good thing, all things considering. I don't think I'm capable of falling in love any more and generally feel emotionally drained (my job sucks me dry). I don't have much to emotionally give at this point.

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

Hair: held back with beaded hairband I got at a craft fair. Wearing a blue long tie-dyed dress with scoop neck and short sleeves, a necklace I made myself with lapis lazuli and dichroic glass, sandals, bracelets I got in or from Hawaii (one a furry lei, other one is blue flowers). Have star-spangled leggings on undernearth. Have a slight bit of cover-up on my face to hide healing zit damage. I wear glasses.

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

Um, beats me? It amused me to dress like this? It was a compromise between my usual hippie self, the changeable weather, and having a business meeting and work class today so I was trying to ah, "blend in a little" more than I usually do--my clothes are usually even weirder than what I described above. I am usually going for some kind of look that's a walking work of art, a painting put together except it can leave the house.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Not that many people--usually strangers on the street that like what I'm wearing or that I like what they're wearing.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I have to somewhat "blend in" at work, though so far my job has remained at least pretty lenient about what I wear as long as it doesn't involve torn jeans, T-shirt logos or skimpy tops on days when I have to serve the public. I dress up more on work days because work is kind of an "excuse" to do so.

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

Uh....sure? Both or either? I think that depends on what your taste or style ARE. I think we use those words to judge others as to what is "appropriate."

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

Uh, possibly the leather lederhosen I bought in an antique shop that got worn only a few times (you try figuring out when to wear those) and then got ruined in a flood.

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

Uh....not sure what that means exactly. Wearing leggings/layers under skirts so I am warm enough and don't flash? Wearing shirred dresses that cover up the stomach bulges?

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

I knit and crochet and design clothes, I work in various types of glass, make jewelry and otherwise do a lot of crafting. I've had two gallery shows and had a corset in a third.

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 don't think so. I know I tend to dress less colorfully on days when I feel that I have to "blend in" or "look professional" or that I got in trouble at work again and hope nobody notices me. (Ugh.) I wouldn't say that calmed me or gave me a sense of control, but it helped me feel a little safer to be less obvious.

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, I'd say I have pretty good discernment in about everything. I think I was just born with that/came into having taste around the same time I got interested in clothing.

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 from watching my mom dress, though she didn't really school me in it so much. I didn't really figure out how other kids dressed very well, so I got 'in trouble" at school for being weird until I learned to blend in with everyone else.

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

I don't really care about being sexy or alluring because I haven't had a date in 10 years and I haven't even liked a real live guy in that time either and I can't stand the old creepers who do like me. I'd probably just wear a nice dress. Sexy is not a concern to me because I don't want to lead creeps on and I'm more likely to see a unicorn cross my path than I am to find someone I like again.

31. Many people say they want to feel “comfortable,” or that they admire people who seem “confident.” What do these words really mean to you?

Comfortable probably means sweats/jeans/T-shirts or something. Or that their clothes don't give them blisters/rashes. Confident tends to mean they strut around in business clothes and have 'tude.

32. If dressing were the only thing you did, and you were considered an expert and asked to explain your style philosophy, what would you say?

Wear what you want to, even if you seem a bit out of the ordinary compared to other people.

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

Colors, lots of colors, particularly rainbows. Flowers.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Brown. I hate most shades of turd brown that people wear. They think they look like chocolate and really they look like walking poo. Ugh and no. Don't like puke green (1970's avocado-brown-yellow muck shade) either. I also don't really like blazers--especially on women with the boobs--they look really uptight.

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?

Mostly, but some things fall out of favor for no particular reason sometimes. Mostly what I am bad at judging is shoes because my feet are whining little bitches that hate them and blister easily. I can try on tons of shoes in the entire store, come out with one pair that doesn't hurt my feet immediately upon putting them on, and then once they hit the concrete start blistering. I am NOT a shoe person, I live out of the few pairs that don't kill me to walk in. So that is really hard to judge for me. I have a large shoe graveyard for this reason.

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?

I look like a cheerful, friendly, artsy hippie. Which is fine by me. I look happier than I actually am. If you've heard of the concept of a "perky Goth," I am the opposite--dress in colors all the time but am cranky.

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

I think out the outfit the night before. First I check the weather to see what I can wear temperature-wise, then figure out what works for the weather/is appropriate for work or whatever I'm doing that day, and what mood I'm in and what colors I want to wear. Do I need to hide today? Can I go full hippie rainbow? Do I feel like wearing blues and purples harmoniously? For the last few weeks (I just returned from Hawaii) I have been in Hawaiiana clothes and jewelry almost every day.

38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?

To be a walking work of art.

39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up? idea? Dressing is putting on clothes at all and dressing up is putting some thought into it and being fancy, preferably in a dress or skirt.

40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?

Are you kidding me? I REFUSE to wear a uniform! Ugh! No!!!!!! Boring and ugly!

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

Me: rainbows, colors, butterflies, flowers, jewelry, long skirts, shirred dresses, tie-dye.

Not me: neutral colors, brown, business suits, animal prints (they don't work on me).

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

White, middle-class, suburban Californian. Not sure how much of that influenced much of anything other than being from an area of the state that has more hippies. Oh, if you mean ethnic background, I do own a Utilikilt and once upon a time I had lederhosen--that's about as "cultural" as I ever got.

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?

I wore T-shirts and jeans as a little kid because I didn't think about clothes much. I had to do that in high school so as not to be picked on. Bo-ring, but safe. Well, safer.

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

I don't really give a shit about being "professional," I hate that. But if I have to do a job interview I have my hair utterly up in a clip/bun, wear as few colors as possible, and wear a dreaded blazer along with a shorter tight skirt and a buttondown shirt. Basically try to dress as boring and wear a lot of black like everyone else "professional" does.

45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?

I'm wearing hippie tie-dye clothes to work, need I say more?
I do wear dresses that have bare shoulders, which I am not supposed to be doing so much. I do have to cover them up on certain days though.
They don't have a lot of dress expectations at my work, thankfully. I pouted like hell when they got us uniform shirts (really ugly navy blue polo shirts with a sport bra cut) and made everyone wear them on one day--I only took off my jacket (kept it buttoned to the NECK) for the mandatory photo and that was IT. Thankfully they only make the super peons (i.e. student employees) wear those daily. I don't get why anyone wears them voluntarily, but they do.

46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?

Thankfully no, I don't have to do that sort of thing since I am out of high school!

47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?

See above example about keeping the ugly polo shirt covered up.... other than that I could not rebel against uniform wearing much in school.

48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?

CONSTRAINING. I hate the idea. Ugly ugly ugly, dehumanizing. Only peons wear uniforms. Notice how no CEO wears them?

49. What is an archetypal outfit for you; one that you could have happily worn at any point in your life? What do you like about it?

Uh, I really don't know what would count as this for me. I don't think I have one especially, sorry. I either didn't care about clothes or was hiding and blending in at certain points of my life, which I wasn't happy about, so "any time of my life" doesn't really fly.

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?

Nope. Men's clothes are boring. I wish I was a man so I could have the height, strength and status, but not for the clothes at all.

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

Hah, probably Hawaii now or possibly in the 60's, though I am less skimpy and druggy than the actual late 60's were.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Not particularly, I have a fat head and that does not look great in most still photography. It only looks fatter if I am still.

53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?

Ugh, I have such a fat pumpkin head! My smiles tend to be frozen because I can't hold them that long as someone takes forever to snap the shot.

54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?

I think I'm a special snowflake on my own when it comes to fashion. No particular style icons for me, thanks.

55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?

Sure, the occasional shopping dream. Nothing major.

56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?

"Professional businesswoman." Looking older than about age 22--I am REALLY young looking for my age and can't pull that sort of thing off with my fat head.

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?

Things that showed off my (usually fat) belly.

58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?

Eh.... trying to repel creepy men has never worked. (Though I did learn that the one time I wore a scoop necked top to a bar instead of a covering shirt, I got the attention of a 400-pound guy named Billy Bob. Yes, for real. Not that he's a bad person, but super intimidating.) As for attracting, there's nobody out there for me to try to attract. I pretty much dress to amuse myself and fuck the rest of the world, though I will wear the occasional outfit to impress a friend. I went to an art gallery show ( and wore a tie-dyed rainbow dress to meet the artist, she appreciated that!

59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?

Again: wear what you want to, including those secret pretty things you always want to wear and can't because it's too weird or nobody dresses up where you live ever.

60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?

I don't have much sense of smell so I don't notice it much. I mostly can't wear it anyway because it seems like everyone is asthmatic, allergic, or just hates perfume. More than one dude has asked me before a date (in a sour tone), "you don't wear perfume, do you?" At one point I just threw out all of my bottles because what was the point. I have a couple around now that are rarely used because perfume annoys people.

61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?

Uh, shower and wash my hair? Wear something I look cute in? Don't really have fancy answers to this question. I don't use too much in the way of styling products on my hair (a bit of mousse/scrunching/spray on conditioner). I use zit concealer at times. I shave the requisite body parts if they are likely to be seen. That's about it.

62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?

To quote from The Mirror Has Two Faces: "What's the point? I still look like me, only in color." I don't think makeup makes a drastic enough difference in my looks to use it except for studio photography/super special occasions. I wear glasses so nobody can really see eye makeup, and blush/lipstick never lasts long. I use zit concealer so I look normal, but that's about it.

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?

"Professional businesswoman." Because those clothes are ugly and boring and dour. I don't want to be or look "professional" because it's dehumanizing and dull. I wish I didn't have to do boring (or stressful) office work any more, but I can't get hired for anything more artistic and I suck at DIY business, so there you go.

64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?

Rainbow tie-dye, color blends, velvet, strapless dresses, sundresses, Hawaiian dresses, flowers, butterflies, niobium, bling, hippie skirts, hippie dresses, fancy pants, handknit sweaters, costumes, shiny things, wire wrap, artistic pieces, craft fair purchases.

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

Not sure if I have ONE favorite of anything!

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?

I have a black James Dean leather jacket I got for $35 at a thrift store. It's really too heavy to wear on a regular basis and I am not a badass, but I like having it as an option in the closet.
I have a pair of Doc Martens for a Daria costume (I look like her) that blister my feet like hell and messed them up for a month when I wore the costume. I'd dress like that again, but those shoes...Thankfully I got them for free from a coworker so I didn't blow money on injurious shoes.

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?

Long dresses tend to work for most weather. People LOVE seeing rainbow clothes and tie-dye and and purple like you wouldn't believe. Clothes that generally go together into different ensembles and work in multiple outfits.

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 technically still have my "heterosexual, lover of rainbows" sweatshirt (custom ordered online as a one time thing), but it has mysterious yellow stains on it now and I can't wear it in public. I miss it.

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

I have no idea how to answer that.

70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?

Probably nothing.

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

I don't know what I'd call an "investment" item, so no idea.

72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?

I have one formal purple empire dress I wore to a few proms that I call "the man-catcher" because the few times it got out, it landed me a guy every time. (And as you can see, I couldn't catch a guy usually if I sold my soul to the devil.) It's at my mom's house--maybe I should dig it out....

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

I don't really know, I tend to find those things :)

74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?

Nope, everything's a mess and crammed all in. I have a lot of things OUT of drawers so it's easier to rummage through them.

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

Sure, various pieces, gifts from boys, pretty bling, etc. I can't think of a specific one right now to tell you all about though.

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?

Hm, various dresses over the years have turned out to have more worth. I bought a batik hippie dress a few months ago because I wanted to buy from a favorite vendor of mine (and lord knows I spent enough time trying on dresses in the back) even though I wasn't 100% in love like usual, but everyone likes me in it and I realized the last time I wore it that it had some Hawaii prints in it. Hah.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Craft fairs, thrift stores, Dress Barn--any time I come across one of those, pretty much.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

See above answers about why perfume is not cool here. I own most of Bath and Body Works products, but I don't think the smells last. I generally like flowery or citrusy scents.

79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?

I think my wardrobe is saying that I desperately want to be a showoff. Which is true, but I don't know how to do that outside of my wardrobe. I don't have much in the way of performing talents. I wish I did.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I spend more than I probably should without thinking about it too hard.

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

Usually a watch because I hate not having one on. Glasses. I frequently wear niobium ear cuffs.

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

I think so, but I can't think of any examples right now to tell you about--just admiration of my work :)

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?

Nope, I have no idea.

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

April 24, 1978, born Walnut Creek, CA, grew up in Livermore, CA, live in Davis, CA now.

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

White. Roughly 3/4 German, 1/4 Italian, tiny bit Scottish/Irish. Suburban middle class.

What kind of work do you do?

Clerical lackey.

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

Permanently single, no kids.

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

I think I've said quite enough already, I can't come up with more!

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Good lord, this was long. But interesting. I kind of wish I could save some of my answers. Or add photos, hah.


Again, I think I pretty much already did. But as for photos: should cover it.

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