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Lenae Day

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I am laughing or engaged in a lively and interesting conversation where I feel engaged.
Clothingwise, it is when I am wearing a very fitted dress out after a juice fast. Preferably with my legs showing and a large faux-fur coat that comes down to or just below the dress, so it looks as though I have nothing on underneath. Heels help, of course, as does some mascara and drawn-on eyebrows as well as a smear of vermillion lipstick (a smear or an overdrawing of the lips goes a long way towards no taking yourself so seriously and I have found that I am a lot funnier, therefore I feel more attractive, when I look like Lucille Ball).
Actually, that was just my false self-confidence speaking. I feel the best when I'm in a short, loose-fitting dress, no makeup, have been laying in the sun for a couple of days and have just gone swimming so my hair is a mess. This is just another kind of attractive – the first is when I need to meet people for the first time and have to put up a front of self-confidence and style, the other is when I am happiest and with my dearest friends.

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

I always like when a woman wears something that is slightly tailored, but still loose enough to move around in. It signals that she respects herself (as a man would) because she is allowing herself to be comfortable yet stylish. It gives an air of confidence. Like Katharine Hepburn, vs an Audrey Hepburn

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

I have this weird rule where I have to be able to do ANYTHING in what I'm wearing. It's a kind of slight compulsion. Mostly I think it is based on the idea that women used to go about in dresses and little boots or high heels. There was a point in time where you could see me exercising on a flight of stairs in a dress and low-heeled Mary Janes, but usually this just meant my wearing leggings and Keds every day. This rule is a bit outdated since I moved to Los Angeles, as I feel I need to dress the part for every occasion, which leads to several costume changes throughout my day.

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

I talked the most about clothes with my ex-boyfriend, who had dubious style, but understood fashion cuts and lines nonetheless. He is a painter, and so he appreciated my compositions of color, pattern and line. Dressing yourself can be like painting or any art form in that way.

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

Beyond the usual slew of underwear, bras, t-shirts, tank tops, leggings and shorts, I buy (or make) a LOT of swimsuits. If I had it my way, I would live in a swimsuit, work in a swimsuit, eat in a swimsuit and die in a swimsuit. Which is what I do when I’m at home. Or shopping for mattresses. Or going out for lunch. Or doing whatever. All I’m saying is that a swimsuit and a pair of shorts go a long way towards looking normal. Also, it gives the impression that I have a pool or at least go swimming sometimes – which is a nice thought. Living in Los Angeles allows me to dress like a three-year-old. It’s comforting and slightly retrogressive. There is something about the fit of a one-piece swimsuit – the way it hugs the stomach, hips, groin, and heart - that is akin to swaddling. I feel safe in a swimsuit. Like nothing is going to fall out or get out of control. No organs or wayward emotions or even that burrito I just ate.
I love to swim, but even more than swimming, I love to sit, wet, by the water – be that a pool, lake or the ocean. Owning so many swimsuits makes me feel safe. Like I will always be close to water, which is a thought that calms my soul.

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

I am constantly giving my younger sister clothing items and then, much to her chagrin, taking them back. I figure that if it wasn't a birthday or Christmas gift, then it was really only ever borrowed from me. We get in real big fights about this, but, since I am older, I always win.

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

When I got married (at 18), I went from having a free-spirited 70s child style to shopping exclusively at the mall at places like American Eagle and Hollister (the low-cut jeans and super-tight tank tops and hoods). I was super depressed. I bleached my hair blonde and grew it out long. I didn't know who I was. I was embarrassed to shop at thrift stores and wear the "crazy" or "over the top" things I used to because my (now ex)-husband thought it all "too loud" and embarrassing. I started making art - I cut off all my hair and started making my own dresses and shopping for vintage pieces. I left that husband and now see that the way I dress is a direct reflection of how I feel about myself.

16. Please describe your body.

5'10", slender, with a long, very thin torso and tiny breasts, but a huge butt and hips and sizable thighs.

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

Chipped red nail polish, a bright red pocketed jersey-knit short skirt with an elastic waistband from American Apparel, a red, white and blue plaid (small plaid) boy's Faded Glory button up which I have altered to be a belly-shirt (for a photoshoot), and no makeup or hair product. Hair is just dried from a shower.

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

It is important because it reflects how you feel and think about yourself. It is your presentation to the world. Your style introduces you before you've even said one word. You can tell so much by how someone dresses - their social status, income, personality, lots about what they find important. Sometimes people use their dress to mislead or distract, and that is equally interesting.

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

Yes, I do. I make a lot of my own clothes (I used to be a seamstress) and know what looks good on my body type. The artwork I make involves a lot of costuming from the 30s through the 60s, and I would say that those eras define taste and style. Style is more of the time where as taste is more timeless. If you have good taste, I imagine someone that knows what cuts fit their body and what size their body actually is (instead of trying to squeeze into something or wearing clothes that are too baggy). Style can exist without taste. My friend Molly is 6 feet tall, wears the shortest hot pink tulle skirts and t-shirts with striped leggings and bangles often with outrageously dyed hair. Her style is out of control, but I love it. I would never say she had "taste," but I do think of her as having "style."

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

My white cotton rope belt - I add it to any outfit that doesn't have a waist and it suddenly looks chic, stylish and fitted.

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

Yes, I would say my entire life is styled in a similar way. I curate my house and my attitude. They are all reflections of myself and my taste. There is a lot of red and white in my bedroom which is the same in my closet. I wish my finances were as neat as my fashion sense, but I guess my fashion sense can be a little bit pieced together. The things I write and the art I make are all reflections of this same part of me. Actually, I tend to be a very depressed person, and so I consciously choose bright colors and loud, contrasty clothing and household goods and focus on such funny imagery as a guard against this side of me. There was one point when I could hardly get out of bed, but my counselor told me to count the things I was grateful for – there was one day when all I could come up with was the color yellow. So I allow myself the color yellow and red and blue – to say to myself, and the world, “Hey, I’m not depressed, I’m the furthest thing from depressed – look at all these bright colors I’m wearing! Listen to all these jokes. Look at all these chachkies – now here is someone who knows how to live!” When I am actually not someone who knows how to live. Learning how to live. Once you fake something enough it will start to become real.

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?

Oh yes, all the time. This is particularly true if you're dealing with an old boyfriend to whom you want to say "see what you're missing," while also saying, "I'm doing so well without you." The last time I dealt with this particular situation, I wore a well-fitted red and white striped jumpsuit (ala the tap-dance rehearsal scenes in 42nd Street). Or if you're going into a job interview, although the latter is more difficult to tell what kind/how far to push your style. I always want to come off as confident in myself and style, but not nearly as loud as I can get. Usually a nice navy dress with a red sweater and tan sandals or shoes.

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

I'm a nanny, so mostly I consider comfort and durability. Mostly I wear things with elastic waistbands - I have two pairs of linen pants with elastic waistbands that are my absolute favorite, but definitely look like pajamas. Pair that with a tank top. This allows for maximum freedom of movement for all of the baby picking up, putting down and cleaning that goes on. Either that or a loose dress with pockets (apron-style) tied at the waist with a rope belt. I get dressed for the public when I get off in the afternoon.

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

Apron-style dress with big, deep pockets. Totally utilitarian and comfortable while also looking good.

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

I come from homesteading/farming stock on both sides of my family. Westward expansionists. Maybe that makes me carefree and willing to take risks in my style, also willing to work hard (i.e. making my own clothes if I can't find them), but I would say most of that theory is pure bullshit. My family never had a ton of money (we always shopped at Sears or JcPenney), so I learned to make do going to thrift stores for interesting pieces. I'm adventurous in my style because I'm a performer and an artist and it is deeply ingrained in my personality.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Sometimes. In my own personal work, I re-stage vintage images, playing all of the characters myself. So, in a way, my artwork is about how different I can look from every angle or with slightly different makeup, hair or clothing styles. Sometimes I look really gorgeous (I'm not afraid to say it - so much of it is styling anyways - the last 50-80% is spirit). Other times I loos so bad, like in this recent photoshoot I played 30 characters, one of which was an angry old woman. She's awesome! But I look terrible. This is true of even normal photos. Sometimes I have the Liz Taylor waddle, or too round of a face, but I have spent enough time in front of and behind the camera that it doesn't affect me as much as it once did. (I will attach a shot of that old crone I was talking about, as well as a more traditionally "glamorous" woman).

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

Low-waisted skinny-jeans with a tight t-shirt. Yuck. It both feels and looks terrible on me.

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

Have fun and wear the colors you love.

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

Usually I shower, make sure my hair isn't all over the place, but mostly I just fluff it a tiny bit (usually I don't even brush it -I like it to look messy). and I throw on whatever I'm wearing. I have dry skin, so am constantly lotioning my legs. I also work out pretty much every day to stay in shape and feeling not-bloated. When a waistband feels tight and I feel slushy is the worst feeling.

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

I wear mascara when I go out with friends, not to work. If I'm having a big night (going to an art show) I'll draw on eyebrows and a smear of red lipstick. Possibly some blush and a wig if I want to be someone else.

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

Vintage costume jewelry, big fur and wool coats, lots of jumpsuits/playsuits and vintage dresses. Bell-bottom pants and striped or plaid blouses. vintage fur shawls. Plain leggings and t-shirts. huarache sandals and Mary-Janes. Lots of bright colors and patterns. Loads of red.

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

Jewelry: A braided string necklace with a piece of bronze pipe that my friend made at a craft night - I get compliments on it all the time.
Clothing - depends on my mood.

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

2 closets - the one in my room is a walk in with dresses, skirts and blouses, swimsuits, linens and shoes. The hall closet has sweaters, coats and jumpsuits as well as all of my art and sewing supplies. In my last house, my closet spanned an entire wall of my bedroom and was a work of art to behold (color and pattern-wise). It was beautiful.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Often while thrifting for my own specific photoshoots, I'll find other things I wasn't looking for. I hate shopping, so I don't do it very often. Some of my favorite pieces are ones I have made/designed for myself, some are designer vintage, but some have come from Target, so there really is no rhyme or reason to all of this madness.

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

I dress the way that I want others to perceive me. I wear bright colors to mask the fact that I am usually quite depressed (also to trick myself into being brighter and cheerier). I wear well-fitted and stylish things so that others will notice, remember, and respect me with the same respect I show myself. Clothing is a way to make and impression and showcase your personality, so my style is loud and classy, but with a sense of humor about itself (if only that it is so out of context).

80. How does money fit into all this?

It doesn't. I'm broke, which is why if I only spend real money on clothing if I absolutely NEED the article for a photoshoot or character I am playing. Or if it is a ridiculously good deal. Or I will make a piece instead of trying to find the exact thing I am thinking of… It's way faster and cheaper.

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

For a while I wore this giant gold ring with about 30 glass diamonds in it - it stuck up about 5/8" above my middle left finger. My Joan Crawford ring. But then I started dealing with a baby and doing manual labor, so that was out.

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

Born: Berlin, Germany Reside in Los Angeles, CA now

What kind of work do you do?

Artist and writer, but I actually make my living as a nanny/household manager

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

Single now, was married for four years and was a stepmother for a separate 3 years.

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