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Carrie Murphy

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I feel at my most attractive at a party on a warm night, when I’m wearing a pretty, flowy dress, cowboy boots or little flat sandals, and red lipstick. Basically, I always have to be wearing red lipstick to feel at my most attractive. It’s what makes me feel bold, classic, confident and very feminine, all at the same time.

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

I really love a good red lip and a well-done cat’s eye.
I also have a weird kind of affection for a very simple tomboyish style with a slight feminine edge (a la Kate Moss or Joanna Goddard, the blogger from Cup of Jo). You know, boat necks, solid color dresses with perfect detailing, simple Converse-like shoes, delicately plain yet on-trend jewelry. That’s not at all my style, but if I could make it work, I’d love that kind of effortless cool girl, Jean Seberg style.
I also love a really bold, very vintage style, like rockabilly girls or girls that will do a full victory roll or a full flip with a real vintage dress and shoes. I don’t feel comfortable enough in a 100% vintage look, but those who can pull it off, damn, I’m jealous.

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

I always always wear jewelry of some sort.
I won’t wear leopard print (trashy) or camo (ugly) or cargo pants (way too ugly). I also don’t really like earth tones that much and will always choose black over brown, gray over green, etc. Navy feels too stuffy for me and I rarely wear it.
White pants: Never ever ever ever ever.
I wear a dress or a skirt about 80% of the time.
I only wear heels on very VERY special occasions because they hurt my feet, which are wide and fat.
I like to look feminine. I don’t like going places in workout or sports outfits, unless they are the places where I am going to work out or do sports.

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

Stripes! Black dresses. 60s/70s necklaces with oversized pendants. Mexican blouses. Loose, throw-on summer sundresses. Silver rings. Metallic flats. Vaguely peasant-y looking white tops with lace or crocheting.

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

In high school and college, my friends used to borrow aka STEAL my clothes all the time. Even my underwear; They said I had so many pairs I wouldn’t miss it.
I stole clothing from my grandmother all the time. Well, I wouldn’t exactly steal, I guess, because she didn’t really care if I took clothing she didn’t wear anymore, but starting when I was a preteen, I’d basically raid her closet all the time. She was incredibly stylish, even into her 80s, and we were roughly the same size (although I could never wear her impossibly narrow little pumps). Imagine a thinner, smaller, less overtly sexy Raquel Welch; that’s what my Italian grandmother looked like. Glamourous but approachable, classic but in a way that stands out, not afraid to go with the fashions and take style risks, but always with a look wholly her own, even well into middle and old age.
Everything from jewelry to old 70s polo shirts to scarves and her signature Olga brand snap-in-the-front bras. If there was something I wanted to keep, I’d ask her, and she always let me have it. Sometimes I’d just play dress up for hours…her closet was this big, custom-made octagonal thing, painted bright fuchsia pink, stacked with hat boxes and glove boxes and clothes from the 1960s up until the late 90s/early 2000s (when I was doing my closet exploring). It smelled like her, it was pretty like her, it was my favorite spot in the house. At the time I knew her, my grandmother pretty much wore a silk blouse, lots of gold jewelry and some comfortable poly-blend pants every day, but her closets were full of the more dramatic clothes she used to wear: paisley caftans, a suede coat with fur cuffs that she had promised to my older cousin (DAMN), pillbox hats, everything you can think of. I idolized her, so you can imagine what it was like for a young girl to have free rein of the magical closets of a woman she loved and admired.
Eventually, my grandmother got sick and senile. At that point, I knew my mom and aunt didn’t care if I took the clothes that remained in the closets, so when I visited her, I always took or two things, a pair of gloves, a scarf, some tarnished silver earrings. I still have almost everything. There are a few things I wear all the time, a few things I’ve incorporated into Halloween costumes or special occasion outfits, but I plan to keep all of it.

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

Mmmm I’m not sure. When I was in high school, I dressed kind of punk/emo (studded belts, little denim minis, band tshirts, Chuck Taylors signed in Sharpie by musicians in the bands I was wearing the tshirts of), but I always had an eye on what was happening in regular fashion. I still like to think I dress somewhat “alternative”-ly. I guess my look itself is slightly alternative…I don’t have lots of tattoos or anything, but I have big old you-can’t-miss-it curly hair and I’ve worn a nose ring since I was 16, so I have a look that’s at least somewhat bohemian. Not coincendentally, I guess, people ALWAYS think I’m a vegetarian, even though I’m not. I wonder if they’d think that if I had stick straight hair and wore white button downs and pencil skirts rather than really long curls and cutoff jean shorts.

16. Please describe your body.

I am 5’4, I have 34 A breasts, 28 inch waist and 36 in hips. I’m what you’d call a “pear,” I guess—I have a bit of a belly and my top half is certainly smaller than my lower half. Curvy, but not super curvy. Thin..ish…but not super thin.

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

No makeup! A pair of one size too big jean cutoffs with a hole in the thigh, a men’s white pearl snap shirt with a weird tropical flower patter in teal and pale green with pink, unbuttoned to show a white tank top. Flat pale teal leather sandals from Target. Big silver leaf cutout earrings.

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

I care quite a lot about my interior surroundings---pictures on the wall, colors, textures, that sort of thing. I think my style of décor is quite similar to my regular style…a little bohemian, a little modern, a little vintage, a little trendy.

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

Since I work from home, it’s pretty easy. I get up and put on something that will be comfortable for me to write in for the next few hours…a loose dress or shorts and a tank top if it’s warm, leggings and a tunic if it’s cold. If I’m actually going out somewhere, I’ll put more thought into what I’m wearing, do some jewelry and shoes, that kind of thing. But I’ve never been a “lay the clothes out the night before” kind of person, unless I’m dressing for a big event, like a reading I’m giving, or a party. For that kind of thing, I try on many MANY outfits, in all different configurations. I second guess myself a lot.

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

Confidence, style, comfort, glamour, mystique, originality. I’ve always wanted to be known, to other women, as someone who dresses well and has a good sense of personal style. I also really want to just feel like myself. I hate wearing something that doesn’t feel organically like me

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

I love makeup, but I don’t wear much of it. My signature look, which I wear when I go out to parties/events/etc, is usually a bold lip (usually red) or eye with an understated face. I wear mascara, sometimes eye shadow, sometimes blush, and concealer. I’d like to be more creative with makeup (and I’ve spent many an hour lost in YouTube tutorials) but for the most part, I’m pretty ok with the routine I’ve got going. I’m never going to want to commit the time and energy to a high-maintenance makeup routine, so what I do works for me.

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

I have a gigantic (seriously, GIGANTIC) jade necklace that weighs over 7 lbs that I bought at Chichicastenango market in Guatemala. It’s like the statement necklace that punches all other statement necklaces in the face. I also have a gold King Tut pendant with aquamarine eyes that used to belong to my grandmother. Those are two prized pieces, for sure.
A tiered black ruffle dress from Express by way of Buffalo Exchange…just a great dress. Can be dressed up or down, with a belt or without, always looks good, always makes me feel confident. A paper-thin Orioles 1983 World Champions World Series baseball tee that I got for $0.25 at a yard sale in Pikesville, MD.
My Frye books are one of my favorite things, too. I don’t think I could choose only one favorite. I had to get up and open my closet and dresser more than once even to just write the ones I put above!

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

My closet is overflowing….literally, overflowing. It’s busting with clothes and shoes, because it’s a small closet in an apartment built in the 1930s. I keep dresses, long sleeve shirts, belts, purses etc in it, but tank tops, t shirts, pajamas, workout clothing and more is kept in a separate dresser.
I like to decorate my closet. I put pictures up on the door to inspire me, things I’ve cut out of magazines, or old photographs, or even dried flowers.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I buy clothes everywhere, from thrift stores, vintage shops and Ebay to Target and Marshall’s. Aside from food, clothing is likely the thing I spend the most of my disposable income on. I don’t think there has been an entire month since I was like 12 or 13 years old where I didn’t buy at least one, if not several, pieces of clothing. I used to buy clothes way more often than I do now, but I’ve cut back a little bit, especially on the thrift shopping (I used to thrift with the intention of selling stuff that I found on Ebay or Etsy but then I’d end up keeping it and having a closet overflowing with awesome vintage clothes that don’t even fit me). I don’t have a clothing budget or anything, but I likely should.
Most of the time, I just hit a store of a website and browse. Occasionally, I’ll have something in mind that I want, like a southwestern print winter coat, or a pair of black flats that won’t give me blisters. On those kind of quests, I’ll take weeks or months to narrow down and find the perfect item, and I don’t mind paying a bit more than I usually would for it. But generally, I don’t spend that much on clothes. $100 on a dress would be A LOT for me. I love Anthropologie and Madewell for example, but I’ll really only shop their sale section or buy stuff that’s been discounted on Ebay.

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

When I went to Chile in January of 2007, I was determined to buy a lapis lazuli ring (Chile is one of only two places in the world where lapis is mined). I was there for three weeks and looked in every store, in every open air market, but I could never find one I felt was perfect (and that also fit my 21-year-old college senior budget). On the 2nd to last day, I got my ring, purchased from an old woman in a dusty booth on some back street of Santiago. It’s very simple, silver, with a large lapis stone. I’ve worn it every single day since I’ve had it. Not only is it beautiful and classic and a little bit bold, but it reminds me of the trip, which is one of the first times I traveled internationally by myself.
On the same trip, I bought a silver bracelet to spend the last of my Chilean money in the airport before my flight left. It was apparently made by Mapuche (the Chilean indigenous people) and had a vaguely tribal design. I wore that, too, every single day until about a year ago when it just snapped in half for no reason. My boyfriend was happy, because it caught on everything and would hurt him when we made out (WHATEVER), but I was really sad to lose my other little Chilean talisman.
I also like to wear random combinations of permanent bracelets (always on my left wrist). I say permanent, but I mean the kind of hippieish cloth bracelets you wear for a few years or months until they fall off. I’ve had multiple hamsas (although I’m not Jewish, I minored in Jewish studies and I love the symbolism behind the hamsa), multiple Senhor do Bomhim bracelets (or Brazilian Wish Bracelets), random silver ball chains, cloth bracelets I bought in Ecuador and Guatemala and New Mexico, slim black leather cord bracelets, friendship bracelets made by children I nannied, you name it. I wondered recently if I were getting too old for that kind of random hippie bracelet look, but then I thought, who cares?

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

Born: Baltimore, MD, 1985
Now: Alexandria, VA (for another 6 months only, hopefully)

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

When I moved to New Mexico, I started to appreciate a much more laid-back, Western style: cowboy boots, chambray, pearl-snap shirts. I don’t think I’ll ever be a full-on cowgirl, but a little bit of the West has snuck into my personal style, for sure.
Otherwise, as a white middle-class woman raised in a white, middle-class community, I have a taste for J. Crew, for designer jeans and for a certain type of higher-end mall clothing. I don’t have much of that kind of thing, but I’ll always keep my eye out for good quality, good-prices classic stuff, like aviators or a black cashmere cardigan or something like that.

What kind of work do you do?

I am a freelance writer and teacher. I also work as a birth doula.


Carrie Murphy is a poet and birth doula living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her first book of poems, PRETTY TILT, was published in 2012 by Keyhole Press and her second, FAT DAISIES, is forthcoming in 2014 from Big Lucks Books.

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