Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When my weight is in a good range. Also after exercising, when I've showered and am kind of exhilarated.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
I tend to enjoy seeing women who wear looks I could never pull off myself. I also notice women whose clothing seems made for them, not like they're wearing a costume but are at home in their clothes, jewelry, etc. and in their bodies.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I love seeing a woman's sternum very open in a blouse or dress, with terrific posture. I also enjoy seeing women who can wear heels effortlessly and have great legs. Also any healthy strong woman, whatever she's wearing, who has a great complexion.
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?
It took me a long time to realize that fitted clothes were more flattering than trying to camouflage areas I wasn't comfortable with. That's still a struggle, trying to emphasize what I like versus hiding what I don't and looking frumpy.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
Unfortunately I dislike shopping and buy things online too often, which means I sometimes keep things I wouldn't if I'd tried them on in a store. I do too much "good enough" shopping, still.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
I avoid wearing anything that draws attention to myself. I'm apt to keep clothing basic and splurge on accessories like a nice purse, scarf, jewelry, etc.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
I'm not sure there was a specific conversation, but meeting women who were both very smart and also interested in fashion was a kind of revelation to me. I was a kid in the 70's and internalized a lot of dopey versions of feminism that eschewed fashion, make-up. So it was liberating to eventually shed all that, and have fun with it.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
I'm not happy about it, but I do have sort of an all-in or else oy-vey approach to things. I have phases of having shit very much together, clean, ordered to an almost obsessive degree, then it slowly falls apart and things get a little feral and I start over.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
White shirts of every kind - oversized men's oxford cloth shirts, tee-shirts, jerseys. Any jersey with a neckline that pleases me, I'll try to get a few. The bane of my existence is the way companies keep fiddling with products so last year's perfect jeans now have faded thighs, etc. etc.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
I gave my mother a scarf that she loves, and have given friends jewelry and other items they really love, but there are no big stand-outs. But of course when anyone wears a gift from me it's really pleasing.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
For me it's less a question of trends and more a question of whether something suits me or not. Drop-waisted dresses were a thing in the 80's which did me no favors at all, for example. Skinny jeans, very body-hugging things, or very short skirts - not good on me.
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
My mom and I share a low-maintenance approach to fashion. We both have an aversion to shopping, trying on clothes, etc. but we have very different aesthetic tastes. We never did girly things together, in other words.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
Probably, but none leap to mind. Usually it's seeing someone who looks pulled-together and I think, "oh right! I could do that a bit."
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
Any time I'm at a happy weight I feel as though it changes my style. I don't dress very differently, but the ability to feel comfortable wearing a blouse tucked in to jeans, or any simple outfit, without feeling the need to obscure any part of my body is very fun and liberating. I can take pleasure in dressing, presenting myself in a different way.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
Not really. I suppose if I traveled to certain countries it might be seen that way.
16. Please describe your body.
5' 4", 34C bra, slim waist (usually), heavier thighs and bottom. My weight fluctuates a lot. 125-155lbs so obviously very different bodies at different weights. Flexible and strong.
17. Please describe your mind.
Hungry. Always reading, looking, writing, analyzing, wondering, and often amused.
18. Please describe your emotions.
Too often I think of my emotions as some kind of wild animal I'm trying to domesticate or soothe, or talk out of being the way they are. Passionate, loving, loyal, funny, sometimes paranoid, depressed, angry. The gamut. Reaching for joyful as often as I can.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
Everything undone at the moment: sweatpants, clogs, tee-shirt, hair pulled back, no make-up.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
It's important as an indicator to myself, if no one else, of my self-regard. How I'm faring emotionally and physically is very apparent in my appearance. I don't need to dress up for work, so it's easy to get out of the habit of making an effort, which isn't a good thing for me personally.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
A good friend has a wonderful sense of style, and I sometimes fantasize about having her take me out shopping and make me try stuff on that I'd normally avoid. I probably need to let go of the idea that I'd need to win the lottery first.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
I have great taste and appalling style. I recognize quality, have an eye for color, great fabrics, good design. But I still have a poor sense of how to dress myself in a way that is both comfortable and stylish.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
I don't think it counts as a trick, but high quality accessories can go a long way. Using an eyelash curler has always embarrassed and delighted me.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
I'm a painter, so mostly it's expressed in my work. Somewhat in my apartment, which follows a similar approach of a blank canvas (white or grey walls, etc.) with specially chosen items, artwork, objects.
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'm strangely soothed wearing an oversized white blouse. I feel clean, prettier, bright, together.
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 and no. I have very clear taste in most visual things, but I don't think my vision is as clear when it comes to looking at myself, my body. I take a lot of pleasure and things that wouldn't suit me personally.
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 are very practical, and I think thrift, caring for things and making them last, not buying anything that is self-evidently disposable or frivolous - those values definitely impacted my ideas about fashion.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
I'm pushing fifty, so moisturizer everywhere - skin and hair. Scent. Eye make-up. Sexy undies, if there's a chance they'll get seen.
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?
For me it's about self-forgetfulness. Where I'm so engrossed in a project, a conversation, an event, that I'm not thinking of myself at all, or second-guessing anything, but am fully present and open. I love seeing that in others also, whatever they happen to be doing.
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?
A little goes a long way, whether it's scent, makeup, jewelry, pattern, etc. I enjoy seeing women whose personalities are in symmetry with their fashion choices, not living up to them, or competing with them, or seeming to try too hard.
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
Clarity. directness. healthy flushed cheeks on anyone. Dimples also knock me over, love them. The other day someone tweeted that she loved when women laughed like they were on a wild vacation from their personalities, which cracked me up because I love that too.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
Obliviousness. People who are obviously unaware of how they affect others emotionally or in physical space. Selfishness. Garishness.
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?
Not really, unless it's something I've had before or is something I've waited to be able to 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?
Unfortunately for as long as I can remember most of that judgment is about whether I'm at a good weight or not. So there's a lot of "is this frumpy? does this make me look more or less heavy?" Beyond that it's more about looking healthy, clean, approachable, straightforward.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
Usually nothing at all beyond being presentable to the street when I take the dog out. In general I wear jeans, boots, a plain jersey and sweater for working. Some simple earrings.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
Unless I'm going to be out in public, I'm usually going for practical comfort, warmth or coolness, flexibility. So probably 9 times out of 10 I'm not trying to "achieve" much of anything.
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
I normally work by myself, so I dress for myself alone. So "dressing up" is much more geared to the idea of being looked at, wanting to be pleasing, bright, my best face and self. Dressing up is fun, whereas dressing is just necessary.
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
Dark jeans, blundstone boots, white blouse or jersey, grey sweater. Simple earrings.
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
I guess traditional items with contemporary accessories is "me" whereas anything overtly sexual, flashy, impractical for moving quickly - or God forbid, long fingernails = not me.
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
I grew up in Maine, USA which is cold, practical, frugal, somewhat puritanical. WASPy, anti-ornament.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
Nothing in particular beyond having clean pressed clothes and spare make-up, looking together but not "done up" in any way.
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 don't think it's a wish for a man's body so much as a wish for an unchanging one - a straightforward size that I knew would always fit and always look great.
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
Now is good.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
I'm usually dismayed. Especially if it is an event during which I was feeling quite pretty and I see a photograph where I don't look good to myself at all, I feel delusional and a little sad.
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
Diane Keaton is a personal favorite, but I admire many many women who I wouldn't consider trying to emulate.
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
I've had a few dreams about jewelry with some symbol in it, like one of a silver bracelet with paintbrushes on the ends.
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?
I probably wouldn't dress too differently, but I'd enjoy finding some more feminine blouses that I wouldn't feel the need to cover with another layer.
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
Not particularly in either direction.
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
I wish women who try extremely hard to look sexy realized how unsexy it often is.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I wear Jo Malone's grapefruit cologne, not daily. I love fresh clean subtle scents very much, and enjoy others on friends. But I'm easily repulsed by overbearing, sweet cloying scents. blech.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
Normally just getting rid of dog hair on clothes, being clean and smelling good is enough.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
As I've gotten older my skin is much more uneven, and has dark spots, so lately I need to apply concealer to feel presentable. Mascara also makes the difference between feeling like I'm "visible" or not.
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?
I love physically strong women, but have zero interest in extremely visible muscles on either gender. Not a turn-on for me.
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
Not much of interest. Lots of jeans, corduroys, plain jerseys and blouses, simple cardigans and crewneck sweaters. Quite a few pairs of silver earrings, handmade jewelry, rings, necklaces. Lots of scarves. Very few dresses or dress-up items.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
My leather work boots. I've had them re-soled a couple of times and enjoy caring for them. They're a happy staple for me.
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 have a beautiful embroidered wool robe that I almost never wear but is such a lovely object.
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?
Wacoal makes a great front-closure underwire bra that fits really well and feels great. It's important for me to have lots of good socks, underwear, etc. and to be ruthless about tossing anything too worn or stained. It took awhile to decide I deserve to never wear ratty underthings.
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?
It's funny, I had a pair of Dr. Scholls sandals as a kid, and loved the way the wood felt on my feet. I remember getting used to wearing them and thinking they were kind of magic. But when I bought a pair as an adult they felt awful and I couldn't get the magic back, alas.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
Wow, there's really nothing that leaps to mind at all.
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
I would probably be less aspirational in my purchases and really pay attention to how things look on my body as it is today. Take the time to try things on and maybe even bring a friend for help.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
Cashmere sweater. Nope, it was completely worn out.
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
I think the first time I found a pair of jeans that fit really well, and gave me the sense of how it could feel to be 100% comfortable, or have a piece of clothing "work". It was something to shoot for everywhere else - that ta da moment.
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
An affordable simple elegant trench coat. Dark wash jeans with some heft. The perfect white blouse.
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
They're pretty tidy, although I have tubs with "thin" clothes I am always hoping to get back into.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
A boyfriend gave me a silver watch years ago that was/is very special.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
Fresh and clean. I want any scent to smell like "me" not like "perfume".
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
I suppose any ambition to be useful, to be able to get dirty, climb a ladder, run after something, etc. is embedded in the way I dress normally. It's more about me wanting to do things than being a feast for the eyes.
80. How does money fit into all this?
More would be great. I'm a good thrift and consignment store shopper. But having flexibility to buy more high quality things would be big fun.
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 usually wear a pair of drop pearl earrings or something similar, and don't really feel "dressed" without wearing a pair.
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
I frequently am called "cute" in a way that drives me bananas and has more to do with round cheeks than clothing choices. But I think there's a part of me that feels the need to fight against "cute", usually to no avail.
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 had a couple of wigs for dress-up as a little kid, and loved wearing them. The idea that you could "become" someone else by sticking something on your head was thrilling to me. And I believed at that time that no one would even recognize me, ha.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
Born in Maine, live in NY.
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
Middle class, secure, economically but not culturally very diverse environment growing up.
What kind of work do you do?
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.
It's interesting to me to feel like I'm entering a new phase, the beginnings of menopause, a shifting vision of myself that makes this feel vital somehow.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
Kind of inspired to give this some more thought and to sort my closet.