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Sharon Bakar

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I feel cool and comfortable and relaxed, usually when I'm not constrained by too many clothes, not wearing makeup.

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

I notice women all the time. To see a woman expressing her own joy in her self and her individuality through her clothes makes me very happy indeed. I'm likely to compliment her.

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

Attention to detail. Coordination of colour, the right choice of accessory.

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?

Recently about going grey. I was pouring too much anxiety into the state of my roots, every 3 weeks or so. At that point my hair was dyed rich brown, a colour I'd had most of my life. (My real colour was a duller dark brown, but have been colouring my hair for years.) Almost overnight, I decided to become a light blonde, so when the grey roots appeared they would blend in. My hairdresser did a great job with lowlights, and I'm so happy with the colour now.

But later, yes, may well let the natural white take over. Just must not let myself look neglected ...

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

Decide what your favourite stores are (criteria - clothes suiting you, reasonable prices), and on a shopping trip hit them quickly and get out of there as fast as you can. Go shopping alone. Make sure you make time for a nice cup of tea after.

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

All my clothes must be changed every day, sometimes twice a day. (Live in a tropical climate though.)

Haircut/colour, mani/pedi/eyebrow wax once a month.

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

Simplify everything - life's too short. I'd rather read a book than worry about most of these things.

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

Have more black skirts than I need ... easy to match with other things.

Loose batik kaftans to sleep in and slop around in in the mornings.

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

Lovely ring to my niece on her 18th birthday with a whole range of semi-precious stones in the form of a flower. Very lovely and delicate.

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

So many things won't suit me as I'm older (69), and wear XL sizes. I stick to styles that suit me. (But I love to enjoy fashion vicariously through my Second Life avatar!)

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

My mother's hair went white in her 40's and she loved it - said it was platinum blonde. She took great pride in it, grew it long, bought bows and ribbons and slides. I loved her attitude. Part of the reason why i am not afraid to go grey.

She didn't dress well when younger, but after she was widowed in her 60's took more care with her appearance and began to wear more vibrant colours e.g. a berry red coat, a mustard sweater. Those colours suited her, and I also aim to be bold with colour.

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

When my mum died I kept a few of her clothes and wore them. More to feel close to her than because I needed them. I still have one t-shirt dress with a tropical print on it.

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

Went to live in Nigeria in the 1980's and began to wear traditional Nigerian dress to teach in. Loved it and still do.

Came later to live in Malaysia and often wear traditional items here too.

I love not having to wear sweaters and coats in this hot climate. Hate going back to Britain and having to bundle up against the weather.

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

Sometimes a t-shirt with a message about freedom of speech.

16. Please describe your body.

Six foot. Overweight. Big boobs and bum. A stomach I try to hide. Long feet but very beautiful - my best feature and the only bit of me that gets routinely admired.

17. Please describe your mind.

Restless. A desire for stories - both to read and write them. Always with a head in a book. Always thinking. Wanting to ask deep and difficult questions about life and death, politics, human rights, animal welfare and sustainable farming.

18. Please describe your emotions.

I am happy. There are times when I really haven't been (because of husband's business problems, lack of money, not being able to have kids), so now I am doubly grateful for the simple pleasures (birdsong, my cats, my flowers, a good cup of coffee). Also love the job I have created for myself (writing teacher) and my students bring me joy. Husband is also relaxed and happy these days so life is good.

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

Still dressed from work this morning (teaching), so black trousers and smock-like blouse in turquoise and yellow. My hair is messy (need a cut next week), make-up has been sweated off. Need a shower.

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

In so far as it shows attitude to life.

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?

Long dress from Wallis I had in the 1970's. The colour of bluebells, halter neck, backless. Felt comfortable and glamorous in it. Wore it to various parties

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

Pay more attention to basics that coordinate well.

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

Never had one. Never.

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

Trousers/jeans that fit well and look good.

Shoes that fit and are comfortable! (Almost impossible where I am.)

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

Pretty much organised tho' I'm not good at folding things. Clothes mostly on hangers in walk-in wardrobe in order of colour. Regularly cull my clothes and give to charity those I'm not really wearing anymore.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

From favourite shops where I know I will find things to suit. Stock up when I go back to the UK (sizes are right).

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Yes, care very much that I smell good. Love light floral perfumes.

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

I think it is important to dress as smartly as I can for work, to show I am making an effort.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I don't spend a lot on clothes, but do add one or two items to my wardrobe every month. When I go back to the UK tend to go quite wild and end up maxing out my credit cards on clothes (more choice there).

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

My bag! A friend gave me a brown canvas handbag which so comfortably contains the things I need, i use it everyday.

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?

Yes. Five years old. A brown dress with little fringes on the front. Thought of it as my cow-girl dress. Am playing outside in the garden in it.

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

1955. Born UK, now live in Malaysia.

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

British, Caucasian.

What kind of work do you do?

Creative writing teacher/editor.

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

Married, no kids.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Tired ... and I only managed part of it. Would like to add the rest and think about each question rather more.

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