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Justyna Burzynska

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

After a good nights sleep, a swim and shower...

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

Women who mix dark colours and textures. I'm into a classy gothic look. Considered silhouettes and smart tailoring. Women of colour, and dark colourings.

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

Being adventurous and not taking cues directly from trends. Creativity and humour in the way they dress. You can tell that dressing is a joy, not just to show off.

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?

Exercising, it really makes everything fall into place - understanding my body deepens my understanding of what to put on it.

Not using bright coloured make up any more - a more muted palette makes me look far more sophisticated. A lot of trial and error has got me to finally understanding what suits me.

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

Don't bother shopping just pick things up via friends, boyfriend or the lost property box at work. A lot of what I wear has found it's way to me rather than me shopping for it. I would always insist on shopping as little as possible for the environment's sake.

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

Wear as much black as possible. I love it, but it's not for everyone. Most of my favourite looks are different shades of black and grey.

Do your makeup on the tube. I do this every morning on the way to work and saves me lots of time. Again it's not for everyone - a steady hand and confidence is required.

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

I have a lot of very good people around me - so I've had a multitude of positive conversations about body image and style that have impacted how I choose to dress.

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

Planning. Nothing is ever chucked on. I plan what I wear the night before, or put together something I know works on the spur of the moment. In my life I write tons of lists and tick everything off as I go along. Planning and organisation goes into everything I do, and that includes clothing, hair and makeup.

And then I have compulsive and decadent splurges - fancy wine on a work night, buying distinctive earrings in my lunch break, cutting my hair off on a whim.

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

Black leggings and black tights - I have loads - I wear them all the time under skirts, shorts and the former for running / doing sport.

Other multiples are black vests, they work by themselves in summer and add warmth in winter.

Dr. Marten knee length boots, whatever style that year has a lot of buckles. I love the utility and hardness of the brand.

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

I don't really understand the question. I make jewelry out of fimo and through soldering dog tag chains. It tends to be necklaces - the people I have gifted them to or asked for them tend to be chuffed. I've passed on things that I've purchased that didn't work out for me to people that have taken an interest in them - again urging people to share and donate rather than buy things. Also an emphasis on DIY and the personal touch.

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

Ha - almost everything that isn't minimal and dark coloured. So pastels, bohemian, aztec patterns, flouro, playsuits, anything in blue I said basically everything that doesn't meet my personal style criteria!

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

My mother and my sisters all have the same shape body, large hips and no breasts - I look after mine a little better though!

My mother is a nervy woman that seeks other people's approval when it comes to most elements of her life, she's not a confident dresser and this is an attitude that I have rejected. It's my life and my clothes and I direct the story. It's important that my style represents me, I don't care what other people think.

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

From my oldest sister I've worn large distinctive flowers in my hair. My oldest sister also wears a lot of black, I've taken this cue from her as I grew up. She's branched out into a lot more colour - but I prefer the dark side! My sister was a formative influence on me across the board - culture and fashion - I'm indebted to her because of this.

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

I experimented a lot when I was young, and looked pretty dreadful. I use own over 20 corduroy items - now I wouldn't be caught dead in cords. I also constantly wore knee length skirts with fancy details and patterned / fishnet tights which I don't anymore. I'm streamlined and simple, avoiding any unnecessary details. I use to wear loads of chunky jewllery and accessories - now I don't bother or wear one piece. Simple and sparing rather than trying to wear everything as I use to in my early twenties.

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

Well yes, wanting to appear as neutral as possible and not shopping at places where humans have been exploited. My emphasis on not shopping exemplifies my anti-consumerist nature. I care about the way I look but I care about the environment, human rights and crushing capitalism more. Also as a feminist bodily autonomy is a concern for me, in attitude toward the style choices I make.

16. Please describe your body.

Short stature and fit - but I wouldn't say athletic. I'm pale and heavily built but quite small at the same time. I grow my body hair, have a few subtle piercings and a large tattoo of a 1500s momento mori book plate.

17. Please describe your mind.

Bright, intelligent, never resting. Strong, determined and active.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Moody, unyielding, harsh and sometimes unfair. Excitable and ecstatic. Highs and lows.

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

My hair is done up in a rough top knot after swimming this morning. It's slightly wet but with some sleeking product in it. Neat-ish with a straight high fringe.

I have on full make up - foundation, concealer and powder all in very pale colours. I have a range of eye shadows from Urban Decay's Naked palette on my eyes in nude and brown shades. Plus mascara, plus my eyebrows have been filled in and some lip balm.

I'm wearing a faded black shirt from my boyfriend buttoned up to the top. I'm wearing a tight black mini skirt and shiny black tights with patent black shoes.

I have on lilac nail varnish to add a splash of colour

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

I feel comfortable. The utilitarian look is simple and compliments my figure. I'm at work so it's fit for purpose and also is in keeping with my love of different shades and textures of black!

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

I find it a bit tedious to do so, but probably with a few friends and my sister - and only in passing, as I really have better things to talk to my friends about!

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I've worked in a library for the whole of my adult life, and at present at London College of Fashion - this has meant I've been fortunate to dress exactly how I want every day for my whole career.

I steer clear of any places that have a dress code or an inherent formality. I'm not interested in being stifled.

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

Hmm - I have a bit of both and sometimes I have none of either if I'm going through a stressful stage in my life. Style to me doesn't relate to current trends, but having confidence to try looks that match your mood and personality. As for taste...I'm not sure...

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

Ill fitting biker jackets - I've done it twice - I should no better by now! They found their way to other people, so I can sleep at night.

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

Wearing lots of black and grey - everything matches always!

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

Gracious, I don't know. I'm an artist - some of my work would mimic my look but my work is far more expressive.

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 suppose planning my outfits the night before and setting them out for myself for the next day lets me get through the daily grind more serenely.

Doing my hair and makeup for nights out has a calming and therapeutic effect, sitting down and taking as long as it take. A calming time before the onslaught of sensations and people - as an introvert 'going out' as always freaked me out a bit.

Looking together and in some ways hard through my choice of outfit is a regular occurrence so I can move through the world without any hassle, hopefully instilling a tiny bit of fear here and there.

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. Like dark colours and clear perspex jewelry - it's through trial an error and experimenting a lot to find things that work. This would apply to what I eat and drink and how I spend my time. As before - it's from periods of wild experimentation and then distilling it to what really makes me happy. I'm always open for new experiences though, to keep myself interested.

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's fair to say I did not get passed on anything in terms of clothing care - they weren't particularly motivated by cleanliness. I worked this all out for myself after I left home.

My dad didn't really care about clothes and my mum was always influenced by whoever she was around and seeking approval - so in a sense they have been anti-role models in determining my personal style.

Having said that my mum has always had a lot of makeup, so I'm not shy about using cosmetics.

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

Dark opulent colours and tight or tailored fabrics. Smoky eyes and big shiny hair. Perfume helps finish things off too. Simple black underwear or rubber if I'm feeling exciting.

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?

People at ease with themselves and at ease in their skin, any fashion choices that follow from someone that feels OK with themselves will seem effortless.

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?

Anti consumerism is at the top - therefore considering what you buy and why? Simplicity and minimalism - my collection of clothes, jewelry and make up is a distillation of things that I love - and it feels powerful in that sense - no chaff, just the things that I love and 'need'.

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

This is a little to broad to answer! Laughter.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Arrogance, selfishness and self obsession - highly repulsive!

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'm almost there. I think before I even step out of the house what I need. I try things on multiple times and if after I've purchased it, it's not right I'll take it back straight away. I don't want anything that doesn't make me feel great knocking about in my wardrobe.

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 don't think I can really look at myself objectively at all to be honest, there's too much going on inside!

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

I tend to have an idea of what I'm going to wear that day - so I've either got it out, made sure it's clean or know where it is the night before. I robotically do my morning cleaning and then put on my clothes - because I've already thought about it I tend to satisfied when I've put myself together.

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

To feel strong, to look self possessed and confident - and in some ways unapproachable. To feel comfortable in a practical sense - the clothes fit and I find them flattering and are appropriate for the situations that I will find myself in that day.

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

Dressing up involves some statement jewelry - silver or clear perspex do it for me. Sitting in front of my mirror at home to do make up rather than on the tube or at my desk at work - but I am adaptable. I think for me it's an attitude and giving myself the time. In some cases I've dressed up by wearing a jumper I would wear on a week day, but augmented some elements of my look for that night.

40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?! Knee high biker boots, mid length skirt and shirt or jumper...all in black!

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

I am dark, utilitarian clothes. Simple shapes and fabrics. Sometimes some dark coloured romatic florals go into the mix too. Overall minimalism.

Not me is light floaty fabrics, frills, laces and anything fussy and busy.

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

I'm half Polish but I was born and raised in the UK. I am heavily influenced by certain subcultures that I reference subtly in my clothing. My sister was a goth and I looked up to her, now i still wear black - but in a more simplified and dare I say refined way. I also grew up going to squat parties so an anything goes attitude was mixed with functional clothing that could take you into the small hours in a grubby environment. I've lived in London since I was 19 and went to art school, I work at a fashion college - meaning I've been exposed to a sea of styles.

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?

As aforementioned I used to wear lots of cord - I was young (early teens) and listened to crap indie bans of the day, it was inspired by them and I liked the texture of the fabric.

I used to dress in a more frilly, floral but overall dark manner and always wore medium length fancy cut skirts - in some ways this was to hide my body and I was experimenting with styles at the time - my late teens.

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

My hair up and looking glossy. My clothes matching and not too referential to subcultures. Neutral but full make up.

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

I don't need to, as I previously mentioned I work in a library at a fashion college, I can wear what I want. I possibly wouldn't wear hot pants or crop tops, but that's more of a comfort thing as I'm slouched at my office desk.

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

Some very sloppy sportwear. Old leggings and a vest, all with black glittery trainers - to cut a dash on the treadmill!

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

I don't need to, as it is self imposed.

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

I would find it abysmal! I had work uniforms as a late teen when I worked in a bakery and a woman's clothe shop and I hated it. I felt ugly and not myself.

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'm fairly sure I've already answered this - but lets go with black clothing and smart DMs. It's practical and can be worn up or down depending on hair, make up or accessories.

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?

A mans body in terms of having harder edges - as I feel that it relates to my mind more. Round feminine curves irritate me. They symbolise the part of womanhood relating to giving birth - something that I want no part of. I exercise so I can get away from this.

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

I wince at questions like this - here and now is all I know. People that dress head to toe retro or emulating other cultures have had all the risks taken for then or are misguidedly nostalgic for a time they've never known. By all means pick and choose from the past but always look forward.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Not in the slightest!

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

Since I started taking better care of myself I like what I see. Before that I looked like a puffy scrotum!

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

None that I can think of right now - my appreciation is often fleeting and not that deep in terms of style!

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

more the lack of

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

Anything brightly coloured would make me feel like a clown.

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?

Rubber bras and wet look leggings.

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

Repel would be most of society. I already have a mate so I'm not on the prowl. I would like to appeal to people thinkers.

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

No, dressing is personal and there are no rules.

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

Really got into it this year. Especially scents by Etat Libre d'Orange: Afternoon of the Faun, L eau de Protection and Like This. It's the finishing touch and comforts me all day.

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

Showered and washed, clean clothes and makeup

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

I wear it almost every day unless I am giving my skin a rest. I've been using it since I was 11 - probably more into make up than clothing.

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?

'Sports Goth' owing that I am sporty and wear black - it seems vapid, also file under trend - I just don't care!

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

Shades of grey and black, dark floral and lots of clear perspex.

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

Asymmetrical clear and frosted perspex earrings designed by CSM for TopShop. My current knee high DMs are up there at the top too.

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?

Some over the top and slightly stained dresses that I have worn for some weddings - I'm probably not going to wear them again and I can't be bothered to take them to the dry cleaners.

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?

Investing in good quality 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?

Baggy black jumper I lost at a rave - I loved it - but I got it from work lost property so maybe losing it continues the cycle.

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


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

Less impulse buys during my lunch hour or when I was in a bad mood. I don't think I'd really do anything differently stylistically - this is my journey now.

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

The most money I've ever spent has been on doctor martens and my current ones are still going strong. I'm not sure I really understand the term investment though...because I can and will wear everything to death.

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

Buying a purple velvet bodycon dress from oxfam - it branched me out to more opulent colours and textures and to show off my figure more confidently.

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

biker boots, leather harness, tailored blazer and shirt, always on the look out for large statement necklaces in silver or clear plastic

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

They start off neat and then get a bit out of control as the month progresses. At present they are in good order and divided into underwear / tops / bottoms / pajamas and sportswear.

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

My mum got me a glorious ring from one of her travels, it was large, detailed and silver - I have no idea where it is now which is sad. Touched because she usually has appalling taste and this was an exquisite piece of jewelry. My partner also got me a lavish ring from Irregular Choice - a black skull wearing a crystal encrusted crown for our engagement - it was the right level of decadence and trash for my tastes!

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?

Tailored black coat, I remembered buying it in a hurry after work and it has seen me stylishly through many winters. It was only as I wore it more and more that I appreciated its design details.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

As little as possible. When something breaks or wears out. Or I may randomly pick something up when I'm a bot more flush. I really hate going to shops because of the people factor but I like to touch and try on what I buy.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Generally just clean - but I've really got into perfume this year and have been experimenting with perfumes from quite adventurous companies this year.

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

To be strong, to be clear, to be direct. To be perceived as intelligent, in control and won't take any shit. I either overtly or inadvertently dress to portray this. An outfit has failed if it doesn't meet this criteria, if I looked to girly for instance.

80. How does money fit into all this?

The turnover of fashion and trends disgust me. I work in Oxford Circus and the consumerism that surrounds me on a daily basis is disturbing. I buy what I can afford and don't go beyond my means, whilst also taking into account ethics and working conditions of where clothes come from. I try to spend as little as possible on clothes - I'd rather spend it going to the pool or on a wonderful meal.

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

At the moment knee high DMs and urban decay Naked palette eye shadows feature almost every day. I always have a basic makeup supply with me at all times.

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

That I always have good hair, I'd never really thought about that before. I often get compliments for what I'm wearing being unusual - I appreciate that a lot, as despite my tendency toward simplicity I do pay attention to details and shy away from the mainstream.

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?

I was about 4 and wearing a bright red dress with tiny white diamond shapes on it and I remember exclaiming to everyone that my favourite colour was red and feeling very beautiful in my dress.

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

30th June 1984. I was born in Rochford in Essex, I grew up in Westcliff on Sea. I now live in Walthamstow in London. I've lived in London for about 11 years.

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

White middle class, but poor. Not a luxurious upbringing in the slightest, always a lot of money troubles and anxiety. I'm half Polish but culturally would consider myself English.

What kind of work do you do?

I work as a Library a Library.

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

I live with my partner, we have a kitten and I have no desire to have children.

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

I've just turned 30 so am a lot more at ease with myself than ever before. I know who I am a lot better but am still evolving.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Exhausted! This has been the longest I've considered my personal clothing in one sitting. It has actually made rather more enthusiastic about my appearance than when I started. As in I really do know what I like, but I don't feel stagnant about it.


Artist, illustrator, academic and library worker.

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