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Angela Grace Arsenault

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

In certain types of light. In the Island light of my North East home and in the warm toned light of California. Those are two places where I feel most at home.

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

I most definitely notice women on the street. I take notice of women with confidence and style, women who carry themselves well and feel at home in their bodies and their clothes.

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

It's my belief that if you have the confidence, elegance and swagger, you can carry anything off. For this reason I like original women, women who aren't afraid to use their imagination and express their uniqueness. Women who push the limit.

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?

When I was in my early/mid twenties, I had a job as a curatorial assistant in a University Art Gallery. I had just graduated from art school, and I was taking myself too seriously as a young professional. This reflected in my look and I removed all of my face piercing as a result. The job ended in unfortunate circumstances and I suffered a self-identity crises. It took me years to make my way out of the confusion I felt about my look and my identity. I did a lot of research and I thought about the things I identify myself with, the films I like, the music I love, the looks I was drawn to, and I carved out a look for myself that works for me and reflects my personality.

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

I try to be very careful about what I buy. I think quality over quantity is my biggest rule. Ethics play a very big part in the way I make purchases and I try to buy items that are environmentally and socially responsible. As a result, I mostly buy second hand.

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

Black is best. I aim to look like a cross between Patti Smith and Anna Karina. French New Wave meets 1970s Punk Rock poets.

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

I research everything. I search for quality and I work hard. Less is more.

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

Vintage leather skirts. Tight black pants. Black chelsea boots of varying styles. These are staples in my wardrobe.

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

I make jewelry for a living and I come from an economically depressed Island. I have friends back there who work hard, but struggle. They are wonderful people who live good lives, spend time volunteering at animal shelters, do good deeds, think about others and I think that they deserve something they long for - A special surprise to brighten up their life, a gift for working hard and being a good human. So, from time to time I will send a piece of my jewelry to one of these women in my life, a piece I know that they had been coveting but couldn't afford, something I know would make them smile. I know what it's like to struggle and I know that you can't always get what you want, but sometimes I think that you just should.

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


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


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

Yes, it was at the end of my image-crises. I made decisions about the way I wanted to appear and I followed through. I don't think that the change was really all that dramatic to anyone but me.

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

Yes. As I mentioned above, my ethics come into play in what I choose to purchase. I wear a lot of vintage clothes as a result and choose special pieces from Canadian designers, like Eve Gravel who makes her clothing in Montreal.

16. Please describe your body.

I am on the short side, maybe 5'3" and am thin, but also curvy. I have a bubble butt that I am proud of, but I have always wished I had better looking legs. I have quite a small waist and medium sized breasts plus strong arms and shoulders from the work I do. I am comfortable in my skin. I have a number of tattoos, several on my hands and wrists, one on the back of my neck, and many others that can be covered by my clothing.

17. Please describe your mind.

I like to think. I read voraciously; articles, novels, biographies, essays, cookbooks - pretty well anything I can get my hands on. I am curious and inquisitive. I like to be challenged. I have a technical, and also an artistic mind. I like details.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I am quite an emotional person. I think I am empathetic and I try to be thoughtful. I love to laugh and I laugh a lot. I find happiness in small things and small beauties and minute details. I cry easily over sad and happy things and I have a very fiery temper when I am provoked. I think I am pretty even keeled for the most part, but I am one of those people who gets "hangry" (angry when they are hungry), and I am not fit to be around at those times. Sometimes I get stressed out and I have difficulty sleeping. I run a small business so it is usually about money.

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

I was just out walking with my dog in a snowstorm. I have a large, cozy grey sweater than I bought second hand to wear in the studio. I am wearing a black t-shirt I also bought second hand under my sweater with a grey tank top screen printed with the Bay Area on it under the t-shirt. I bought the tank top in San Francisco from the artist who made it while I was visiting my brother with my youngest sister. I am wearing a pair of blue Levis, that I don't care for because I don't like blue jeans. I am also wearing a pair of woolen socks that were made by my grandmother. My hair is tied up in a top knot and I am wearing BB cream and very minimal rouge for a bit of colour.

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

I think it is all important. I like to think about the way I look. I was a teenager in the 1990s and a part of the "alternative" scene. In the 90s, the way you presented yourself said something about you, it made a statement about what you believe in. I still think that can be true, although, I think that it has been watered down a great deal in today's society. It's still a principle i live by, though.

I like my clothing to have a story. I buy special pieces as souvenirs when I travel. For example, I bought a very special limited edition Commes des Garçons t-shirt with a Helmut Newton print on the front at a Helmut Newton exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. It was my first trip to Paris, and the Helmut Newton exhibit was a highlight, the t-shirts were especially made for the exhibition and they combine two things I feel strongly about - art and fashion. I take very good care of that t-shirt and when I wear it, it transports me. That was three years ago!

I feel like the way you choose to adorn yourself tells a story about you. I think the tattoos and the jewelry you choose to wear are a major part of that story. They tell the world things about you and what you believe in. I also feel like the way you adorn yourself can be a reflection of your creativity.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

With other people who are ethical/political about their clothing choices. Some of my friends are.

With the people who run the business that I buy my clothing from.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I don't want disposable clothes, so I don't buy from companies who sell disposable clothes. I'm not interested in wearing pieces of clothing from big chain stores. I am looking for beauty and quality in the clothes I purchase.

There are small compromises that need to be made, though. I don't care for the image that American Apparel has, for example, but I will buy small things from them such as t-shirts, because I know that they produce their clothing ethically in downtown Los Angeles.

I try to buy a lot of my clothing from the other makers that I know. We have a wonderful community of craftspeople here, so I know the woman who makes my underwear, I have traded my jewelry for locally designed and produced jackets and skirts. I know the people who made my winter scarf, winter hat and my winter socks. I have a stunning tie-dyed silk scarf for all other seasons that I purchased from a woman I respect and admire, and I am happy to help support her and her craft. In turn, she has purchased jewelry from me. I traded a ring for a beautiful handmade leather handbag, and I have been carrying it for three years. I call it my lifetime bag.

I like having a relationship with the people I purchase from, it is important to me, and as a result I end up with unique pieces of beauty and quality.

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

I think that taste and style are two terms that are relative. I think everybody thinks that they have taste and style - so, yes, I think I have taste and style.

I think they are equally as important. To me, taste is in making ethical decisions and buying elegant, timeless pieces of quality that will last. Style is being able to takes these varying elements and put together these items in a way that you think looks and feels good. Style is also in the way you wear the clothes - like you own them.

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

It was boots. I have a weakness for boots. It was in my younger days and I fell in love with and recklessly bought a pair of impractical, trendy black leather boots. I paid several hundred dollars for them and rarely wore them. I still have them and from time to time I look at them and wonder whatever possessed me to buy them.

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

Be confident and you can get away with anything. If you are wearing hand picked items that you feel are an extension of yourself you'll never fail to get away with anything. Express yourself.

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

I think that I do. Again, it is a relative term. I think there is style in the way I cook, the jewelry that I design and create and in the life and home I have made. All of these things feed into each other and they all inform the way I look, because they are all an extension of the way I think and the decisions I choose to make.

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 think I am discerning. I definitely know what I like. I do a lot of research.

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?

Although we were poor, my father always said to buy the best you could afford. My grandmother, his mother, told me that if I spent money on anything, it should be a good pair of shoes. Those lessons in quality have stuck with me.

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

I like to have a few tough girl sex-pot elements in my style. I wear "cat eye" eyeliner and always tight black jeans. I have very long, layered, messy hair and bangs. French New Wave actresses from the 1960s inform the "sexiness" in my style. I don't like to expose my body with short skirts or low cut shirts. It doesn't appeal to me and I think it is a very limited view of sexiness.

I feel very sexy when I am getting ready to go out and am wearing a sheer, black lace bra, black sheer pantyhose, black lace panties and a pair of black high heels with my hair tumbling down my back. I think that is terribly sexy and intimate.

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?

I think that it means that this person is lacking in confidence and it is manifesting itself in laziness.

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?

Know yourself, express yourself.

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

Small details

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?

I try to be very careful about what I purchase and I try to be sure I will wear an item if I buy it.

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

It depends on where I am going. If I am going out to walk my dog or to the studio to work, I have a "uniform" of black t-shirt, black or army green sweater or wool shirt and black jeans that I put on. If I am going downtown or doing business, I would select the outfit based on the situation and the impression that I wished to achieve.

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

I aim to look confident and a little bit challenging, but also beautiful. I come from a rough neighbourhood and I live in a rough neighbourhood plus I travel alone often, so toughness is a part of my look.

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

Dressing is when I put on my "uniform", dressing up is when I put careful consideration in what I wear.

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

Black jeans, black t-shirt and black or army green sweater or wool shirt, depending on the temperature.

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

I am from a rough, poor, blue collar neighbourhood. My family is Irish and French. I have a Celtic knot tattooed on my neck, it is an important family symbol. I have nautical and traditional tattoos on my hands - a nod to the port city I live in and my sea faring grandfather. My look is quite blue collar, but subtly refined. I often wear shitty rock and roll t-shirts paired with beautifully tailored jackets, tight black jeans and hand made, Italian Chelsea boots.

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?

Yes, when I was having an image crises I just wore t-shirts and blue jeans all of the time. Usually paired with chucks. Pretty bland.

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

I have a look that was consciously put together to reflect the type of work I make and the business I am in.

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

I am an entrepreneur.

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?

Jeans and a t-shirt with black boots. Depending on how you choose to put it together, it can look a million different ways and say a million different things about you.

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 like to dress sort of manly.

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

French New Wave - Bohemians in Paris in the 1960s or with the beat generation in New York in the 1950s/60s. With Patti Smith in the Chelsea Hotel in New York City in the 1970s.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

Do I really look like that?

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

James Dean, Patti Smith, Anna Karina, Keith Richards, Bridget Bardot, Jane Birkin, Nick Cave, Serge Gainsbourg

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

Conventionally sexy.

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 things I wear now.

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

I don't like it when strange men approach me on the street and comment on my appearance. I purposefully look a little bit manly/intimidating to deter them from approaching me.

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

I can't stress confidence enough. Highlight your best features. Express yourself.

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

I wear amber/sandalwood musks. I like exotic, earthy scents.

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

Minimal makeup. Cat's eye eyeliner, mascara, nude face, no lipstick. Or minimal rouge, and mascara.

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

Tight black jeans, black boots, black t-shirts, or rock and roll t-shirts in black or grey, special collected t-shirts and tank tops in black or grey, well tailored statement blazers/jackets (black, grey or dark blue), vintage leather skirts and vests, tailored silk blouses in wine, dark blue or black, black pumps, black leather jacket, blue vintage jean jacket. Varying black dresses, dark blue or tie-dyed dresses. Black bridle leather doctor's bag, brown bridle leather over the shoulder bag, red Moroccan, camel skin over the shoulder bag. Black Cotton back pack with leather embellishments in brown.

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

Commes des Garçons Helmut Newton t-shirt from Paris

Black, handmade Chelsea boots from Montreal

Black blouse with elaborately patterned, gold sequins back from Eve Gravel in Montreal

Dark blue, Moroccan patterned jacket purchased in Montreal

Shitty old, tie-dyed Rolling Stones t-shirt food second hand

Black Nick Cave t-shirt from Etsy

High waisted, golden-green vintage suede pencil skirt purchased second hand

I wear the jewelry I make.

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?

Vintage Diane von Furstenberg dress in brown wool. It fits me beautifully, but I never know when to wear brown.

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 with meaning. Items that tell a story.

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?

A crappy old bomber jacket I used to wear walking the dog. I loved that ratty old jacket.

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

Comme des Garçons t-shirt or my wonderful militaristic Miu Miu Blouse with the woven yoke

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?

Handmade leather boots. They are my go-to footwear.

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

My first pair of black, Doc Martin 8 holes. Bought with my own money when I was 14.

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

The perfect, vintage black leather jacket.

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


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

I was just given my Great Grandmother's brooch from WWI. She was a War Bride and it was made for her as a gift from her husband out of coins he collected in France and Germany during WWI. The coins date 1913, 1914, 1915 and 1916. My Grandmother gave it to me when I visited her at xmas.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I like to smell mysterious.

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

I am an artist and I think my dress reflects that.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I don't have a large clothing budget so I am very careful about what I buy.

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

Black leather doctor's bag made from bridle leather. It was made by a local saddle maker and he traded it to me for a silver ring that I made. People around town tell me that it is my signature piece.

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

July 12, 1981
I was born in Sydney, Cape Breton
I live in Halifax, NS

What kind of work do you do?

I am an artist and jeweller. I run a small business.

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

I have been with the same partner for 10+ years. We are not married and we have no children, but we have a dog and a cat.

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

I love adventures

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Sort of drained

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