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Naomi Alisa Calnitsky

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I am exercising.

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

I like or admire a woman who walks with confidence and is well dressed, in something that sort of blends in nicely with the environment. I like see people dressed in well put together outfits that look comfortable or natural.

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

Simplicity, refinement, courage to use colour, courage to jump into tight-fitting clothing.

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 one day this year I realized I needed to simply have the basic items to feel comfortable or at least presentable, and its okay to have some fun items as well. But I don't think it good to care too much.

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

Try not to spend too much and usually buy only one item at a time.

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

I rarely follow dressing rules.

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

At university, I had a brief conversation about how I rarely wear pants to work, but typically arrive in skirts, at which point I decided that I need to acquire a better selection of pants in my wardrobe, because wearing skirts too often to work can look horribly girly. Pants demand respect.

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

Definitely not, I am wholly disorganized. I think with my heart.

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

No, but there was a grey sweater I bought once with a boat neck from American Apparel, and my little sister decided she also wanted to own one, so, within the family, we have 2 copies of the same sweater.

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

I recently bought my partner a pair of light cargo shorts in red. I also bought him some brown tie up shoes ( online ) a few months back, and both of them turned out well. I think they are very useful for him! But I have definitely received gifts of clothing in the past that I have personally not found useful.

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

Elephant Pants…but they would be acceptable if the year was 1976.

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

I generally do not follow my mother's fashion style but often inherit nice items from her.

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

The borrowing of clothing remains a contentious issue in my family with the dangerous potential to deeply damage my relationship with my little sister, whose sense of style and intuitive fashion sense remains far superior to mine.
... I have worn many left over spring jackets from siblings who have moved away.
The clothing swap circuit has given me some nice items from friends but I typically do not borrow clothing from friends because of the potential to damage a relationship by failing to return an item.

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

Not really, it is constantly evolving...

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

Not really.

16. Please describe your body.

I am about 5 foot 2 with brown hair and brown eyes…I am slightly plump and curvy but I am currently working on toning my figure and possibly building some muscle.

17. Please describe your mind.

That is a funny question! I am PhD student so that defines my academic ambitions. Since I am a Piscean, my mind is constantly adrift, but I do love to read. When I have a chance to share my mental art or intellect, I usually flower, if in a discussion or even some form of presentation, but I am most definitely not hard-headed, or even rational for that matter.

18. Please describe your emotions.

My emotional life is basically tied to my cat, and it is shaped in part by my surroundings, my clothes, interpersonal things…. I am sensitive, defiant and experimental and thus a highly emotional person in general, but sometimes I feel that I am emotionally stronger than the average joe and capable of withstanding innumerable life pressures…in all I think I am easy going.

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

Nothing is happening with my hair which is basically a pixie cut that is getting slightly overgrown. I am wearing a light black tank top from a small boutique in Montreal and a mint green light summer skirt from a boutique in Tel-Aviv. I bought both items online, the top last year and the skirt this summer.

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

I think it is sort of the basic challenge of your day…not that it defines your day, but in the morning, your first to-do item is typically getting dressed, and as such, if you have a wardrobe that is elegant, easy or fits your needs and makes you feel comfortable then you can proceed with the rest of your day and move forward with other things...

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Not with a lot of people…my mother is probably the biggest critic and is probably the one person most concerned with how I dress.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I once attended a piano concert at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and dressed up basically to fit the modern feel of the building. I think in that case the institution may have shaped the dress. The other example might be a religious gathering - church, synagogue, typically you want to dress in a way that looks elegant. For university life I tried to dress it down and not look to ostentatious on campus.

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

Yes, but I could probably use a better sense of style discretion. Taste is when you recognize what you like and what you dislike. Taste offers a sense of pleasure or aesthetic value given to an object, and style has more to do with how something suits a particular person.

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

I think with online shopping today it is possible to buy something that doesn't work or fit. This happened to me once, and I wore the item for a few months but in the end it really did not fit properly. Luckily the cost was not all that much.

I did once purchase a really nice pair of embroidered leather boots in Mexico, only to abandon them one month later while traveling in Dublin. So, looking back, that was a bit of a waste… but I wanted to travel light, so it was a sacrifice.

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

Hmm…I think pairing two blocks of colours works well today.

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

Yes - in my writing, in my choice of meals and coffees and teas, and in my ability to discern what looks like a photograph that is shot with style, or even a bicycle (or helmet for that matter) that seems superior or somehow more aesthetically pleasing. Style could involve a deliberate choice - e.g., how you readi on a deck, cross your legs, greet a person, the way you drive a car Style could be evident in the books you choose to read, the markets you shop at or the newspapers you read, but I am not one to judge. Style could also mean something that invites curiosity or attention.
There could be style in a tomato or a carrot or even a squash… style might indicate a sort of modernity or freshness….

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?

Definitely. What you wear can definitely calm you down.

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 really developed my own style as I progressed through different stages of life up to this point. At one point I felt I needed some more formal items for certain situations. My parents definitely parcelled out their wardrobes into seasonal items winter/summer, and formal/informal dichotomies. Shorts and a t-shirt symbolizes summer or leisure to my dad while there is definitely the whole formal aspect to his work wardrobe. I haven't quite gotten to that stage but perhaps one day I will be more methodical about that.

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

I like using red lipstick as a signifier of this, or nice heels or flat shoes, tights and a skirt, or a pretty white blouse, hopefully with some ruffles on the shoulders... It is very difficult to control my hair well...

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?

I am not really the type who has a wholly comfort-based wardrobe. A lot of items in my current wardrobe do not give me much comfort. I think this is possibly an area I need to work on… I think the whole confidence thing is really about a personal indication that a person feels satisfied with the way they are presenting themselves. But I do not feel the need to constantly arm myself with jewelry or heels just in order to present an idea of confidence.

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?

I think that is a very hypothetical notion, but I think what I'd do is sort of look at it from a bird's eye view perspective. Does that person look happy from afar? Is he or she able to move down the street or meet a friend for lunch or a late night iced cream with ease ? That is what is most important. I wouldn't dwell too much on style, since it runs the risk of taking first place to the more meaningful things in life. I think simplicity is key.

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

Nature, a different culture, a well-made meal, someone crying, a well put together bedroom, an intricate piece of craft made by hand

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Greed, big trucks, arrogance.

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?

I don't think too much about that part. Once you possess an article of clothing, it either serves you, or it doesn't, or it serves you less often, and if it ultimately fails to serve you then you give it away.

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?

The other eye or outer eye is basically yourself, since it is your image projected by a mirror. If something looks wrong within that image, then mirror will be able to correct it, at least, from your own point of view.

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

What is most convenient or nearby or ready to wear, as long as it fits decently.

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

Elegance, and something that fits well with the temperature or season.

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

I think dressing up is really about preparing to be in a social environment, whereas dressing is more concerned with the basic act of putting on clothes.

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

It would probably be that awesome stewardess-style outfit worn by Glenn Close in Guardians of the Galaxy. She is basically dressed up as a high-grade, polished powerhouse woman ready to face the new century...

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

I think to feel professional you have to basically be formal in what you wear and not overly revealing or "street-friendly". It should be some nice looking, inside clothing ideal for an air-conditioned environment.

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?

I think it would be a cardigan or sweater and jeans…that seems to be the "school outfit" for many years and I guess sort of archetypal.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Occasionally yes, typically no.

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

I think: wow, I am beautiful. Or I might think: uh, oh, that was a bad shot.

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

I really like the central Mexico embroidered shirts from the Otomi culture because they usually take a basic white top then embroider it and bring it to life in fantastic ways with use of bright colours and a lot of reds. I sort of wish I had bought one when I had a chance to in Mexico City.

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

I am probably the one who could take pointers from others, but I would say that you should wear what makes you feel best.

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

I would love to own more. I own a lot of scented balms and moisturizers which can stand in for perfume. I especially like a lemony-scented body butter I purchased once at superstore, and it seemed to last forever.
For a long time I had a bottle of Clinique Happy that I got as a gift from my high school sweet heart, but I typically don't buy perfumes for myself. I wouldn't shy away from using the tester bottles if the opportunity arises! I would really like to purchase a new perfume, a light elegant one with a slightly fruity or natural effect.

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

I think a bit of regular exercise every day is a must even if it is a short walk in the evening outside. Otherwise I just feel sloppy. If the clothes work then you don't need to do much to them other than pair them up properly.

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

A bit of mascara and having some kind of reddish lipstick on hand is always helpful; having my nails done up in white or pinky red is also fun.

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?

Maybe the whole jeans phenomenon, especially the ones with the horrible white embroidery on the backside or any sort of "street-friendly" embellishment, or the idea of looking tough. or the angel wings on the back of the jacket or the front of a t-shirt, shirts that "declare" something loudly, with a lot of words on it, I can't really pull any of that stuff off. I think I am best in the french stripes or the sort of lazy pieces that would make you want to land on a couch and read a book.

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

I own maybe three wearable pears of earrings (one is silver with little hearts and the other is silver with little birds, and the other is copper with interlocking circles), and two pairs of earrings that have no backings (one with little birds from a craft sale in Montreal, and the other a sort of upside down arrow with three blocks of colors), three rings ( one made by a friend of mine in silver with a sort light bubbles effect - her jewelry store is called Regalia - and the other two happen to be a light peach colour which is for me a sign of long life ) and another ring I recently bought through the internet from a store called Anomie in San Francisco , and a small collection of necklaces, one with a portrait inside that was a gift from a market in Toronto, one with interlocking circles and one with a straight bar, another with a blue triangle, and another that is more of a choker…I have a lot of shoes, but I wear them all, and some nice winter coats, definitely a lot of dresses, skirts, and some pairs of shorts, in short, moving to B.C. this fall will be a challenge deciding what to take and how to pack, especially since I am flying.

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

I really like this necklace made from interlocking circles from Victoire boutique's store in Toronto I bought on a recent visit. It sort of makes a jingling sound if you shake it...

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 keep a very fancy dress I bought once at a boutique in Ottawa, and I wore it to a friend's wedding party. It is made in Italy and is a designer dress with beautiful ruffles, it is sleeveless and also slim fitting. I remember at the party one of my friends told me I looked beautiful in it! However, I think I have worn it only once or twice since, because it is difficult to find the right occasion for it, and also because it is hard to fit into. I think I could wear it one day for a special occasion, and so I keep it in my closet.

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?

Yes, probably the most generic things like black tights or flat shoes.These are the things that get worn day in and day out.

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?

Yes! I had a beautiful pink long-sleeved top with a lace around the neck area. It was vintage I think. It ended up with a friend I sold it to at a pop-up garage sale we had in Winnipeg's exchange district one summer. I don't really want it back but it would be nice to try it on again and see the effect it has.

I also had a light pink blouse I bought at a vintage store in Auckland for $5, and I am not sure what happened to it. At the time, I thought, I should just wear this blouse everyday for the rest of my life, and I will never have to spend any more money on clothes! Boy did I prove myself wrong on that one. I have since bought many items of clothing, and have since lost that top.

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

My generic black dress from Numph with a black belt. It is very multi-purpose, dressy and also not dressy.

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

Probably many things. I would try to have more comfortable and casual items to slip into, more pairs of comfortable pants to wear, a better pair of running shoes, good quality ones, maybe a sweatband to go along with it, maybe more sports wear. Maybe a whole pile of nice elegant skirts, and stretchy pants that are tapered at the bottom, for lounging or dancing or gardening or whatever. I would incorporate more grey tones and try to have softer fabrics and perhaps some blouses that are less standoff-ish and more feminine looking.

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

A pair of black pants with a stripe down the sides from Zara in Montreal that are generally acceptable to wear to work. I wore it a while when it was a bit broken above the zipper which was irritating but ultimately I had to throw them out because they started to rip and fall apart around the top.

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

I guess the heels I got recently this summer make me feel sort of centred but I would call it a paradigm shift.

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

I think I want that perfect one piece "romper" type thing, in black or in white. I have a couple of them but two are vintage, one from a friends yard sale, and the other is sort of worn out and the white colour dampened from a laundry mistake, and the other is sort of light material with stripes that I rarely wear.

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

Try to keep things hung up and colour coded but in the middle of a move so all that could change.

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

I got a nice bracelet made from silverware we have had in the family but I have since misplaced it!

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 was recently in Montreal and thought I would grab something from one of my favourite vintage stores, and it has since proved to be a really useful item. It was a denim button down sleeveless vest with four buttons and cut off arms, also with an intricate sort of blue thread embroidery work on each shoulder. The reason it works so well is that you can wear it over another top, a blouse, a tank top, with shorts, or even over a dress, so it is really versatile and also casual and low-key.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Usually while traveling or during interstitial parts of the day - e.g. happen to be at the mall for some issue related to my cell phone. Or if I feel inspired one day I will make a plan to go to a store.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I would like to NOT smell a certain way, i.e., I don't want to have a smell. I would try to limit the idea that my body emits any smell at all. And if it is a good smell, something natural, like a lemongrass extract or a patchouli or something from a shea butter or a soap I have used, thats wonderful as long as it doesn't overpower the room I am in or the people around me. A little bit of natural body odour I think is o.k., as long as it is not overly strong or foul. I really dislike when I am at a cafe for example, and then two women sit down right next to me, and their smell is so overpowering that I can't concentrate on what I am doing. So in that case, the smell has an impact.

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

I think so, yes.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I think money considerations inform every purchase of clothing. I could spend a half hour choosing something and then find one thing but usually it would be shaped by my economic bracket or how comfortable I feel with the price of the item.

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

No, not really.

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?

No, but because my father was camera happy, I can see myself plastered onto their living room wall, wearing a sky blue dress with fluffy sleeves and little red buttons, cotton deeply into a piece of birthday cake, probably at the age of 3.

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

20 February 1983

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

I was raised in a conservative Jewish family that did not practice the religion intensely but it informed the cultural environment we grew up in, and many of my early relationships with friends. I feel like being a woman often shapes the way I am judged as either needing or not needing money to support myself. I think if you are a man, it is a given, that the material considerations often come first. The woman is somehow supposed to place this consideration second to her other "duties" in the home or socially or whatever. I feel at my best when I am economically independent or earning money.

What kind of work do you do?

Academic Work, Teaching Assistant Work, Grading University Papers, House work. I have had all sorts little jobs in the past - waitressing, dishwashing, tree planting, fruit picking...

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

not single -- have a long-term partner.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

It is like an outer body experience.


I am a PhD Candidate in History at Carleton University in Ottawa. I currently live in Winnipeg with my partner Paolo, and we are moving to Nelson, British Columbia for the fall and I plan to travel next year for a short time in Hawai'i and Japan. I lived in New Zealand for a year and a half and received my Masters in History at Otago University in Dunedin and Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of Manitoba. I am also interested in potentially veering into the field of curating or museum / gallery related work. I love crafting, gardening, my cat Wolfowitz, cycling, and to travel. I also play the piano and have ventured casually into the art of poetry writing.

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