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Paula Alvarez

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

when I'm happy

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

yes, women that look confident with the way they look, women that detach attractiveness.

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

simplicity, confidence, self-assurance, atemporality

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?

yes, a long time ago, a tomboyish yet feminine look clicked for me and has stayed "within my wardrobe" ever since

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

never buy online, it's always better to check in person (quality, texture, size, fitting, comfort.)

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

less is more. Spend in quality not in quantity.

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

a conversation with a close friend on how a good pair of heels is more attractive than a cleavage or a short skirt.

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

yes, Simplicity among all. Living in peace with yourself, the ones around you and your environment.

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

yes, many. I tend to go for "the uniform look", how I call it. There are certain items that I consider atemporal and I keep buying despite trends. Examples, a pair of black jeans, loafers, white t-shirts, cashmere sweaters in grey, black and beige.

I keep buying them because I feel comfortable and confident in them. They bring me a sense of belonging, of being prepared. Plus, it's easier to wake up in the morning and put on "the uniform".

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


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

yes, many. But in particular I really hate asymmetric dresses and skirts and crop tops. Floral patterns have never been my thing, even though I have own one or two tops with floral pattern.

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

yes, we basically have the same closet. Sometimes we discover ourselves buying the same piece or deciding on who should have what.

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

Only from my mother. Never from friends or others. I hardly ever find ideas from friends closets.

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

It has never changed dramatically although some slight evolution has happened, from more colorful/cheerful and casual pieces to more black and sophisticated ones.

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

Not really. Or maybe yes in the sense that I hate dressing to fit into an stereotype based on your ideology or based on something. I dress to please myself.

16. Please describe your body.

Skinny with hips. Not very tall, but neither short. Small breast.

17. Please describe your mind.

Open, curious, busy, traveller

18. Please describe your emotions.

happy at times, angry at others, confident in my own skin, frustrated

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

I'm wearing black from head to toe: skinny capri black jeans, slouchy black thin sweater, black loafers, black frame Prada glasses. My hair is in a messy bun. Make-up free, I never wear make-up. I also wearing minimal silver earrings.

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

I like black. I feel more comfortable in black than in any other color. Therefore I tend to prefer fall/winter clothes. I don't like myself in make-up, somehow, even with a simple and natural make-up, I feel out of place.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My best friends. Sometimes my mother. I hate talking about clothes with people that doesn't share my aesthetics, somehow it seems banal and a waste of time. I know this is a bit snobbish...

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

not much. But the people around me, yes. If I'm surrounded with people - let's say at work - wearing very casual clothes, I tend to do casual as well. If they go for something more business-like or dressed-up - because there's a dress code -, I also tend to do that look. Nonetheless I hate when there are dress codes.

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 both. Style is more important than taste. Taste is more linked to aesthetics, and aesthetics are generally linked to time; whereas I consider style something more atemporal. They don't mean much to me, though.

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

Yes, probably a handbag.

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

Yes, I think I'm good at decorating spaces and at decorating servings.

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?


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 do. However I don't in other areas of life. Actually I will consider fashion one of the few areas in which I know what I want and what it feels right.

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?

Yes, my mother did. So did my grandfather - the father of my mother. Always be impeccable, meaning unstitched buttons, no-ironed shirts, etc. even if you are doing a more casual look.

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

Hair-wise, I applied argan oil to keep my hair shiny and moisturized. I also let it dry naturally, wihtout hair dryer, so my curls look natural.

I don't do make up. Even though sometimes, specially in winter, I apply some blush to my cheeks.

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?

It means being in control, not feeling limited by anyone or anything.

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?

less is more, always.

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

clean nature.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

the core of any city-center.

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?

Yes, I'm always asked by peers and friends on what to wear, and what's next. I guess it's because I'm interested in fashion and therefore follow some publications. However, I'm also very selective and only good for the things in line with my aesthetics. I'm not good advising people on things that I don't like.

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 have never played this game. But I think I will see myself as a distant person, yet nice and warm. A bit intellectual too, always wearing too much black.

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

I always check the weather first and then I think on what I'm doing during the day, whether I have to walk a lot or not, whether I'll be spending most of the time sitting on my desk, what kind of event or activity I'm attending. This is because I always start deciding on the shoes.

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

Look confident.

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

Dressing is putting on clothes, dressing up is putting on clothes with a specific purpose in mind.

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

Black skinny jeans, loafers or bluchers, black or grey loose cashmere sweater.

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

Me = minimal, grey and black with maybe some touches of basic colors, striped tees

Not me = patterns that aren't stripes, bright colors, fluor, chunky heels

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

I come from a high-middle class family. Yes, it has influenced me.

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 don't think I have ever dressed very different from how I dress right now, however when I'm not very happy in other aspects of my life I tend to care less about my clothes.

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

I try to keep clothes well-cared and iron. If something starts looking a bit rusty, I stop using it for work. For my hair or make-up I don't do anything in particular.

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

Right now I don't think there are high dress expectations at my workplace. However I've been using a lot of sneakers lately.

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

No, but I went to a school that had a school uniform.

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

When I dressed the school uniform, I also used to wear a lot of cheerful jewelry - a pop of color - and never wore the type of shoes that were meant to go with the school uniform.

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

It's comforting if it's the uniform you have created for yourself, it's constraining when imposed by others.

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?

Classic jeans, white tee, Converse, a Parka - preferably green.

What I like is its atemporality and its simplicity.

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?

Yes, in general I always prefer a boyish look over the ultra-feminine. I have purchased some men clothes in the past.

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

The 50-60s in the USA, fashion-wise. Only fashion-wise.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

most of the time I think I look bad or stupid. Others I think I don't look that bad, kinda cute.

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

Yes, Mary-kate and Ashley Olsen, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, French actresses from the Nouvelle Vague.

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


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

A sexy and tight-fitting outfit. Something that reveals too much.

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?

The same. Maybe more dresses.

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

not really.

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

I don't like perfume. I never wear perfume. Only some cinnamon-scented cologne.

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

Have shower and ironing.

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

I rarely use make-up. Hardly-ever some blush and mascara.

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?

Yes, the rolled-up sleeves black jacket look over anything. I don't think a black jacket is the answer to everything.

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

I own many basics (classic jeans, black jeans, LBD, black leather jacket, etc), and some special items - specially scarfs and shoes - that bring a touch of color and make an outfit looked polished and unique. I don't own much jewelry, some narrow silver rings and earrings, a couple of gold pieces and various similar thick/stand-out bracelets.

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

My favourite piece of jewelry is a silver bracelet.

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?

A cream silk dress. I immediately fell in love with it, the cut is perfect, so is the fitting. However I've never found the occasion to wear it, it goes with heels and it's too dressed-up. I bought it three years ago now and I have recently started thinking of it as a potential wedding dress - for a non-classical wedding.

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?

Bags and shoes.

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, a skirt I had many years ago. I gave it to my mother when I stopped using it - I never really used it much - and she took the decision of giving it away. When years later I asked where it was, it was long gone.

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

A black coat.

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

I would concentrate on keeping it simple and buying quality over quantity.

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

Yes, it's the black coat.

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

Yes, after a several of disappointing purchases in the same brand which I used to buy a lot. The quality was no longer what I was expecting from them and their price and therefore make a shift towards other boutiques.

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

A classic beige coat. The perfect black leather jacket.

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

Yes, everything is clean and neat. I keep things separated by type (tees, shirts, trousers, etc.).

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

I don't remember.

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?

Yes, a blue dress I bought without much thinking to go to a wedding. It's very simple and has no shape - it was also cheap. It turned out to be the perfect dress to attend to a wedding and many friends and my sisters have asked for it to also wear it to wedding and other similar events.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I don't have a special timing of the year to go clothes-shopping. I don't like sales, I find them stressful. I buy one or two items per month.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Yes, I like scents like lemon, coconut, cinnamon and orange.

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

I don't think it plays a big role.

80. How does money fit into all this?

To have good and beautiful things you need money. If you don't have the money, buy less items but always keep the standards.

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

My glasses. I have three pairs.

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

Yes. A good friend of mine, which I consider very stylish and sophisticated made a similar compliment to me and it felt special that someone I admire in terms of style and taste have complimented me.

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?

Yes. I was three years old and my grandfather insisted on me wearing a dress my mum has left prepared for me early in the morning before she left to work. I refuse and instead opted for more comfortable clothes. The dress had flowers in it, I don't like patterns.

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

15 March 1986, Ourense (Spain)

I live in Brussels, Belgium

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

I like that I have never been restricted to access to all sort of cultures and or information. Neither from my parents or other adults around me.

What kind of work do you do?

Administrative work. Really uninteresting.

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

Single. No kids.

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

I like my independent attitude.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I think I have discover quite a few things about what I wear and why. It was interesting.

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