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Charley C.

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

At night.

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

Yes. I notice all kinds of women, mainly ones that I imagine notice me. Then I admire them more because I have imagined that they have seen me.

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

I'm not sure. I admire all women and how they present themselves with their givens.

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. There were a couple of times. In general, I find that these moments come when I am in what feels like a good relationship with someone. I feel held when I wear things that remind me of them, and these things tend to also look really, really good on me. But it may all be an illusion and I might just look frumpy.

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

I don't really think any shopping rules exist in my world. I guess I would recommend trying not to be stressed out which is very difficult for me to achieve.

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


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

I don't think I have ever had any ground-breaking conversations.

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

I think I am too young to understand these connections completely. But I think I can make partial connections.

I work full-time at a butcher's shop. During the five days I work, I feel ugly, and I am okay with feeling very ugly because I know that I am usually not-so-ugly. On my two days off, I dress well and do laundry/chores, which makes me feel good and that I am taking care of myself. I think it allows me to feel okay with the parts of myself that feel ugly to me.

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

Yes. I have a lot of the same underwear. I have a few black wool sweaters. I also bind my chest and have many of the same chest binders. I keep buying the same things because they make me feel safe, maybe in parts that don't feel so safe.

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? 

There were a few times when I was younger. I remember when Uggs and Crocs were very popular and I was critical of them. But now I realize that both are very useful for certain purposes so I am regretful of my scorn.

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

I don't know how to answer this.

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

Absolutely. My girlfriend and I share a wardrobe.

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

I don't think so.

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

I think that everything is political although I do not dress with the intention of making a political statement.

16. Please describe your body.

I am a skinny person with a belly. I bind my breasts. I am tall and have small feet. I have a big head.

17. Please describe your mind.

My mind is care-full.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I am easily scared of all kinds of things.

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

I have on: socks, sweatpants, a chest binder, a t-shirt and a sweater. I have on foundation.

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

All of these things feel important in understanding what is authentic to oneself and feeling 'genuinely me'.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

My girlfriend. Sometimes my friend.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

In subtle ways. Workplace, school, all kinds of different places affect me uniquely. Sometimes I may not want to wear shorts in a certain class because I imagine my classmates may make fun of my leg hair. My work requires me to wear a uniform. That kind of thing.

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

I am not sure. I think I have a consistent look and I don't know which category that falls under. So these words don't really have meaning I can comprehend.

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

Yeah. My prom dress. Which my parents bought. But wow, what a disaster.

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

Yeah. I often wear a long black t-shirt under a shorter black sweater. I like the structure of how it looks. I kind of feel like I am getting away with people noticing my non-existent ass.

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

In a sense - my girlfriend, who I live with has incredible visual skill. The way she organizes our things in such a small space is really cool and I love learning from how she thinks. I like to take what she teaches me and bring it to other aspects of my life where she may not be present.

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?

Everyday. When I bind my chest.

There was also a period of time where my mom got cancer and I was in a lot of emotional pain. I wore the same outfit, sometimes for a month at a time. I felt safe doing that. I was also very aware of what I was doing and needed to do.

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 do know what I like but I am very afraid of having my own mind. I guess this comes from having a tyrannical parent.

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?

My parents taught me nothing about clothing and style. I was made criticized for my appearance and how I wanted to dress as a child.

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

I don't ever feel sexy. But I do feel good, and when I feel this way, I have often hairsprayed my hair a significant amount.

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?

These words feel very performative to me. I always feel like I am crumbling on the inside just as someone says I seem confident.

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?

Dress what feels authentically you.

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

I think when I can sense that someone is genuine.

34. What do you consider very ugly?


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?

Always. I always wear what I buy.

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 never look at myself this way. It scares me, because then I must confront that some people will not like how I look and I am not interested in thinking about those people.

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

It takes me 30 seconds to pick an outfit. I have a uniform, both at work and in everyday life.

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

I want to look good to myself.

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

I am unsure.

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

My "uniform" is: a pair of black jeans, long black t-shirt, shorter black-knit sweater, white well-worn extra arch support New Balances.

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

Me: jeans. Not me: dresses.

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

Canadian East Coast. Hasn't influenced me in the way I dress.

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?

Not really. I have always dressed kind of along the same lines as I do now.

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

I don't want to feel professional.

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

I wear what is required.

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


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


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


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?

The "uniform" I described above.

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?

I came out as trans* when I was 19. I went on testosterone for a short period of time without medical supervision. I identified as male for about a year and those feelings changed. Now I'm 23 and am still hoping to have top surgery. It doesn't really have anything to do with wanting to be a man or have a man's body although I do see it as gender related.

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


52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

I am relieved that I look okay.

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


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?


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?

What I do now plus tank tops.

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

Not that I am consciously aware of.

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


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

I love smells. I do not wear perfume.

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

I shower. I invest a lot of my money in nice shower gels, deodorants, skin care products and shampoos. I feel good about myself after I shower.

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

I like wearing foundation.

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?


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

Very simple clothing. All either white, black or grey. I don't really like colour.

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

I love a black vintage Calvin Klein sweater that I own.

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 wear everything I have.

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?

Things that I bought in other places hold a significance to me. I also like things that I bought with other people I once knew.

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 don't remember.

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

A black vintage knit turtle neck that I got with my girlfriend on our anniversary.

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


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

A Gucci fanny pack. I do still own it and am now reminded that I should break it out ASAP.

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

Probably a very well-tailored blue blazer I owned a couple of years ago. It cut just above the knee and I felt very chic in it. I am not sure how it affected me but it was very nice at the time.

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

A really nice trench.

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

We don't own a closet or drawers. We keep all of our clothes in bookshelves built into our bedroom walls. It needs to be neat because everything is visible.

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

My girlfriend made me a homemade Celine Dion t-shirt.

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?


77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I shop for clothes when I am feeling especially wealthy, before some kind of holiday or celebration or if I am looking for something specific. I almost always shop with my girlfriend.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Yeah. I like to smell like my soaps. They smell really good.

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

I know that I take care in how I dress, so I imagine that I want to take care of myself in how I think about my future. All I know for now is that I have interests that I want to pursue and I am careful with those things. I want to do well with those ambitions.

80. How does money fit into all this?

Money is very stressful. I am also very proud of anything I have purchased and wear.

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

I wear foundation every day.

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

My parents were always very critical of my appearance as a kid. That was always very hard on 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?

Yeah... When my dad first told me I was fat.

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

April 3, 1991. I was born in Toronto and live here still.

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

I grew up in a family that wasn't too well-off but we always had money for books. My parents came into money a few years ago but I'm more stressed out about cash than ever.

What kind of work do you do?

I am a student between my undergraduate and masters degrees in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. I work full time at a butcher's shop right now.

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

I have a live-in partner.

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

I am a feminist.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

A little sleepy.

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