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Katie Barber

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

In the summertime, when my skin is tanned and my freckles are all out. My hair gets a subtle highlight from the sun and the Vitamin D helps to clear up my eczema. I also like the bright colours and freedom to wear less.

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

All the time - i am obsessed! I tend to notice women who are chic but not overly dressed. I love colour and pattern, especially interesting mixes of textiles, however at the same time I could totally fall in love with a very dark, monochrome get-up. I guess the main idea is how could this look work for me? What do I have that is similar and what has she done to get it so right?

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

I tend to admire a more natural approach to personal presentation. Fresh beautiful hair and skin is always attractive, but then again being bold is also inspiring. I am quite understated in presentation so really appreciated a bold lip, eye of hairstyle. I think this will be something I grow into. I am also totally in love with long grey hair, to me it is the ultimate sign of sophistication!

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?

According to my mother I have dressed myself from an early age. She claims that by the time I could talk I was telling her what I wanted to wear. This sheer confidence was lost as I got older, probably mainly through puberty, but a quiet determination for what I do and don't like has always remained.

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

If I see a woman who I think is well dressed shopping near by me I often try to subtly follow her and see what she is picking up. It is often counter productive as the chances of her budget, shape, style and size being similar to mine is very low - but in the moment I often find myself doing it without control. I also find that I am often more likely to purchase something if a smaller size fits me, bad idea as size is so relative.

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

I am often not as daring as I would like to be when dressing, I find that personal body insecurities can cause a great hang up when I am choosing an outfit. I would try to openly encourage friends and sisters to get over these issues, but often struggle to do so myself.

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

I think talking with close friends about what suits you is always interesting. Or if they see a piece that they say is "very you", it often shows a lot about your style you didn't think about. I also think colours can be a big transformer.

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

Probably a slightly happy-go-lucky approach with intermittent need for control! Whilst often I view myself as a very relaxed person, I recognise that I am also probably an undercover perfectionist in many areas! I guess I am a perfectionist about things I am passionate about, so commit 110%, but often lack drive and will power when I am uninterested, so rather lazy at times!

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

I love patterned jackets, they have become a recent thing for me however over the past two years I have amassed three (which for such a particular item, and my student budget is quite a lot). I love patterns and interesting textiles so I guess that is where is starts, I am also more conscious of the size of my lower half so tend to stick to more flattering, dark trousers. However I am blessed with a slender neckline, so I often highlight this when dressing. I also think these pieces are very multifunctional, T-Shirt jeans and supergas by day, smarter top and loafers in the evening, but also a great way to add interest to a cocktail or black tie dress. I also find I often get lots of compliments when I wear them. One is a flowery silk bomber, one is a navy and white floral quilted jacket and one is ethnic and embroidered - all works of art in my eyes!

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

I often like to clear out my wardrobe as I can become a great hoarder, also I find a well edited wardrobe helps when dressing, but I love giving away clothes I no longer wear to sisters or friends. At university I lived in a house with seven other girls, and at home I am surrounded by younger sisters - so I truly enjoy finding a piece I no longer fit, want or wear that will suit one of them. It is so great seeing the piece you brought being loved and worn again. I feel similarly about donating to charity shops, the idea of a piece having a second life, but it is different as you don't get to see it being worn again.

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

Crop tops - they just wouldn't look flattering on me so I don't see the point! I also think that less is more in the flesh showing debate so they are just not my cup of tea.

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

Growing up I was very different to my mother (she is short/average height, curvy, fair skinned and blonde - I am tall, more athletic, dark haired and less fair) however with age my figure is becoming more like hers - mainly my enlarging bum! My mum was never really into fashion when I was growing up, and I always have been, so I more saw her as something to avoid sartorially. However with age she has become a better dresser, maybe due to having had many daughters to dress and discuss fashion with. Also maybe as I get older and my taste more mature I automatically grow closer to her style? However she has never been a source of fashion inspiration for me, I have always been the interested one in my family who gave out advice to everyone. I had always wished that I had a mum interested in clothes in the same way as me, but now is appreciate he opinion more than anyone else's. She is my favourite shopping companion as she is brutally honest and immune to trends!

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

Yes constantly! A day doesn't go by where I don't get ideas from photos people have posted on social media etc. When I am home our wardrobes blur into one and my sisters and I are constantly borrowing from each other despite our different sizes, shapes and styles. There is often a small overlap. This is the same with my housemates, we tend to have a pretty open wardrobe policy and often cite the clothes sharing as the best thing about us all living together. Rarely a day will go by where I have not borrowed an item of my outfit from one of them. I don't know what I will do when I have to live alone or with a husband!

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

I moved to Italy aged 14, which is probably quite an influential age. I used to live in rural Sussex, England and although I liked fashion wasn't hugely exposed to it. At my new school in Rome my friends had very European, chic and often quite expensive clothes so that was a big change! I became more conscious of what I wore, and in being overdressed, but probably became more adventurous and confident when I moved back to England for university.

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

In a way. I will never shop off too much skin or dress to overtly sexy. I guess it is because I feel that I don't want to attract attention for a short skirt or big cleavage, I think it is a bit tacky! I also see myself as quite a strong feminist, so whilst I admire women who dress overtly sexually, or powerfully, I just don't think it fits my personality. I prefer more low key style, subtlety is a beautiful thing.

16. Please describe your body.

I am probably above average height but not tall, I am not overly skinny but am probably on the slender end of the weight spectrum. My legs are shorter and less lithe than I would like however they are not fat. I have slender wrists and arms, and a delicate chest area that is nicely freckled. Unfortunately swimmers shoulders due to years of training and water polo, however my love of yoga and sport means I say in relatively good shape. I would say my figure is healthy.

17. Please describe your mind.

I guess it is a creative mind. I love art, fashion, design and textiles and find things that are aesthetically pleasing very stimulating. I also love people, I find their behaviour and relations fascinating (my grandma is an awful gossip so I think I have inherited this from her!). I come from a long line of big families and love to be surrounded by people, my uncle once told me that he has never known anyone who loves to be surround by people as much as me! My mind likes to be challenged and I love problem solving and debates, I also love ideas and projects that are innovative yet ethical.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I often find myself getting very emotional when watching films or TV. I think I wear my heart on my sleeve a bit as if I am feeling something I often need to tell someone and talk about it. However I would not describe myself as a deeply passionate person with emotions, I am mostly content and happy and often find that sadness can be dealt with. I probably try to remain quite level headed about my emotions and dislike staying down for too long.

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

I am in bed so I am wearing an old netball T-shirt, I have no make up on (although that is normal as I rarely wear it) my hair has just been washed and blow dried and is now resting in a plait. I am wearing bright blue pants with a lace trimming (they are from Topshop and I wear the same pair everyday just in different colours!) I love them because they are comfortable, give not VPL under tight jeans and are attractive due to their shape and colours this pair are my favourite as the colour is wonderful, in Italian it would be azzuro (is ther a word for that colour in English?)

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

It isn't really, the top is comfortable and nostalgic! My hair is important as if I go to bed with wet or messy hair than it will be awful to deal with in the morning! It is quite long and wavy and can get really messy.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Friends, sisters and my mum. I also read a lot about it.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I like to draw inspiration from lots of sources however am unsure how much they directly influence.

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

Taste is probably more classic and subtle, style might be more modern and relevant? Maybe for now I am hoping for style but as I grow older I will look more towards taste. They both develop with age though, so I'm not sure really!

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

Yes, I had a bad habit for a long time of not buying formal dresses until I had an event to wear them to. So I would never buy a dress I liked in the store because I loved it, but would often find myself rushing around the shops the afternoon before an event frantically settling on a average dress as I had nothing else to wear. It was awful as I would never wear the dresses again and then had a wardrobe full of piece I disliked. I also then disliked going to the party as I felt uncomfortable. Now I am better at managing my wardrobe!

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

Sometimes there are certain tops or dresses that I think look more chic with a smaller chest. Therefore I wear a tight bandeau as oppose to a bra as it flattens down my boobs. I like smaller boobs so often feel quite attractive! I also often use a black lace bandeau so it feels quite sexy in a secret way!

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

I love interior design and can not wait to get my own house, I think my style here crosses over with fashion quite a lot. I also think my ability to style a room is probably better than my ability o style an outfit.

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?

Often when I am working in the library to a tight deadline or studying I like to wear my black nike running and yoga leggings. I think they are quite flattering yet very comfortable and I combine them with a cosy, thick sweater. Then I still feel semi-well presented but comfortable enough to be sitting in front of a laptop or reading a book for hours on end. I will also default to black if I am unsure about anything!

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?

I would say I am quite an opinionated person! Whilst I am open to new ideas and openly seek new things I know what I like and I know what I don't!

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?

It was a lot of just picking things up. I love reading about clothes, always have, and was always drawn as a child to well dressed, aesthetically interesting people. My parents have little interest but have always encouraged and fostered mine, which in turn has probably made them more aware of fashion as I grew up.

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

I always wear my hair down and it is my secret weapon. When it is well done it can transform anything! Due to its length it and colour it often gets compliments and I am very fond of it. As I often don't wear makeup in the day, when I do I feel quite sexy. I love liquid eyeliner mascara and rarely lipstick. But all of these when done well can have a huge affect.

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 would love longer skinnier legs, which would enable me to be more daring with trouser choice. I love the idea of coloured jeans (very Scandinavian in style) but just can't pull them off

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

Rarely, I love it but for me it is for special occasions. Maybe when I am older and richer it will become a daily thing, but for now it is not

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

I have a big, long thin silver ring that sits on my middle finger that I wear most days. Whilst it is a bold design is is easy to wear daily and it often elevates an outfit subtly.

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?

An Alexander McQueen silk top I brought with my first au pairing pay cheque. It was just after he had died, and a local designer shop was having its summer sale. The top is divine, the softest silk I have ever touched, but far too elegant and mature for me. Once I find the perfect pair of black cigarette trousers and an event that will do it justice then the tag will come off. Until now it is waiting in storage - brimming with exciting potential! I also think there is something quite romantic about it.

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 lost a kimono dancing on a night out once, it was gorgeously silky and had a swirling dark green and back pattern on it. It was from a limited edition topshop did and I love it!

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

My sunglasses

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

Have a more succinct vision, so that more pieces go together. Always buy less but spend more on each piece.

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

My parents got my a smart navy trench coat for my 18th birthday and I am confident (size permitting) that it will stand the test of time!

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

The perfect black dress (long sleeve and flattering on the arms, but short and able to handle bold jewellery) and a gorgeous Indian printed quilted jacket i saw on portobello road years ago but didn't buy - still regretting it!

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

They go through cycles, if I am busy and tired then it can get very messy, then I will do a big clean out and for a few days after be a bit of a clean freak.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I guess I always wish I had more money to spend on clothes, but if am starting to realise that I should just be more adventurous with my smaller budget. On reflection, often the most interesting dressers I know have small budgets.

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 but I wish there was!

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

I once asked a boyfriend if my bum looked big in a dress I was wearing. He said yes, not because of the dress but because I had a big bum! Although to me this was devastating news (now I am starting to accept that maybe I do) to him it was just a meter of fact statement - neither a compliment or insult. At the time I almost cried but now I find it quite funny.

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

21 November 1991, I was born in Bristol UK, I am currently travelling at the moment so don't live anywhere!

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

I am from an English family but most of whom have or do live abroad. I grew up in Rome and my parents still live there and lots of my friends come from quite international backgrounds.

What kind of work do you do?

I have just graduated and am now travelling but in January I will be working for a textile company in Peru.

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

I am 22 so it is always complicated! But no marriage or kids.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Quite happy, it is nice reflecting on yourself!


22 year old, unemployed graduate whose European childhood and degree has left her wanting to see a lot more of the world and avoid getting a job at all costs! Loves brightly coloured embroidered textiles, big cups of tea with a handful of dates, Swedish murder mysteries and reading cookbooks in shops without paying for the, (often in the hope that one day I will be able to afford them and will have a whole library dedicated to culinary feasts!)

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