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Melissa Slattery

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

In an apron, working.

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

Yes. First women in glasses. Then, women wearing clothes that aren't easy to source. Today, a woman at the farmers market had a very voluminous green raincoat on. She's the former editor in chief of a major interior design magazine. She rides horses. The raincoat is designed for riding. But if you didn't know that about her, you might think it was designed by Junya Watanabe. So ... clothing like that interests me. I am aquainted with this woman because we have bonded over our Ted Muehling earrings. I sell bread at the market, but the earrings allowed us to transcend our different social roles. That was interesting, too.

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

How woman choose and combine colors and patterns. I saw a woman at the farmers market (I'm thre a lot) this summer who was very zaftig, with very pale skin and curly reddish hair. The mother of a baby. She had on a See Design caftan, a tent-like cotton dress, with a marimekko-like pattern. Scandi-style. She was stunning. I wanted to paint her.

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?

Suddenly my breasts "filled in," no more bra-lessness for me. Around the same time, I got a job where looking professional, or "well-groomed" became important. I started buying little Chanel-style fitted jackets.

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

Always pay less. Sale, thrift, find, once or twice, swipe
from the Lost and Found. Shameful, I know. Not recommended.

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

Wool underpants from Ramblers Way. Very granny. I keep that to myself. They're awesome.

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

Judith Jones told me about buying her Chanel suit in Paris. She was (hopefully still is) in her 90's at the time. The suit is a jaw-dropping yellow wool tweed that fits her very well.

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

My breathe.

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

Dansk clogs. They're pretty ugly but I have a problem with one foot, a hammertoe (who would have thought THAT would be a problem?) and they are the best for the condition. I have about 20 pair. This summer I found their plastic Pippa model, they can be hosed off.
I love them. Three pairs.

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

Ramblers Way wool camisoles, vegetable dyed.
On sale, of course, gave my sisters, Mom and sisters in law, for Christmas. We all live in New England. They are very fine, not itchy and warm.
My Mom gave me hers. Yay!

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

Thongs. Self-explanatory. So uncomfortable. Butt floss.

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

Her color sense. She combines colors in a very quirky, way. I love some of her outfits, every week she re-combines things in new ways. Never boring. Rarely beige.

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?

Punk Rock in San Francisco. Buzz cut.

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


16. Please describe your body.

Middle age is thickening it. But I'm tall and not fat yet.

17. Please describe your mind.


18. Please describe your emotions.

Take up too much time, sometimes.

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

I've been wearing a wool cap all day. It's a very goofy light green wool hat made in Nepal. It has fleece lining. It cost $7 in a very strangely stocked store in Rowayton CT. I love it. My hair is smashed and I have to wash it. Mascara.
It's cold, I don't want to put on the heat yet, so wool camisole, plaid flannel shirt, Apron, fleece jacket, And white jeans. Smartwool socks and Timberland boots. I was working outside in the rain today.

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

I don't really know, though I think dressing/fashion; constructing one's appearance everyday, offers one of the truly personal outlets for creativity and self empowerment, on a sort of level playing field. I could be totally worng about thAT. Nonetheless, some people are clearly very aware of this, and their presentations are interesting to "read." Some people are oblivious, and sometimes, they are also very interesting to observe. I guess, if one likes to be observant, fashion and self-fashioning are endlessly entertaining.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Mother, sisters, bloggers (Garance Dore)

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

If they pay me, I dress the part. I teach at a college, so I dress like a professor.

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

Taste. I think this signifies a capacity to "read" messages about fashion, whether or not one dresses stylishly. One can have great style and bad taste. Whether they're being ironic or not.

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

I bought a huge grey wool coat for $400 dollars just for the hell of it. Almost never wore it. I finally gave it to Goodwill for the tax write-off. (not much)

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

washed to death men's button down shirts are great for sleeping in. Also, pajamas can be invented out of anything. And tops and bottoms don't have to "go."

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

I'm a graphic designer, so, yes.

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?

Aprons make me focus, so I can concentrate on writing or making things. Strange.

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, discernment in fashion and clothing seems to directly relate to a sense of preference awareness.
Gut feelings. I like to search for particular qualities in things. I rarely find exactly what I'm looking for, but when I do have alignments in shape, texture, spacial organization, color, etc. I know instantly.

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?

I was taught to put my clothing away at day's end.
And to kep my drawers organized. My maternal grandmother was particularly insistent on organizing drawers full of clothing. And attics.
My father worked in NYC and bought clothing from Barney's before it was a cool, fashion-y place to shop. Mom shoped at Lord & Taylor back in the day, Saks, Bergdoffs, Best & Co. Not Macy's. They taught me to regognize good workmanship, i.e. quality, and to buy natural fiber clothing: shetland wool, silk, cashmere, egyptian cotton, belgian and irish linen. And to shop bargains too, thrift and TJ Maxx.

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

I like black underwear. It seems sexy to me.
Also ripped or worn clothing seems sexier somehow.
I think the notion or stet of deshabille conveys sexiness.

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?

That your clothes do not wear you.

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?

Read my book.

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

Clean, healthy, quirky, things.
Or the beach.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Things that smell sad, fetidness. Destructive imbalances.

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?

Yes. except for the grey wool coat.

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?

No, but I am often startled by how bad I look in photographs, and that person seems like someone else, not the person I see in the mirror. And I do know that the mirror is a distortion of reality, a true reflection. So I use two mirrors.

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

How fast can I get out the door.
Brush teeth, mascara if I'm selling anything, perfume, Ted Muehling earrings. Watch. Good haircut.
Pants, jacket, shoes, out.

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

I'm saying that I have my sh-- together, and I'm not trying to hard to impress anyone.

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

Dressing up means better tailoring has gone into the pieces I put on. Things fit. No sloppiness. Good jewelry.

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

Good jacket, white shirt, jeans, probably, and a Cartier watch.

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

Scientist say that most of our body mass is really not us. So I'm content with thinking that my brain is my own, though it's probably teeming with "others."
Biomicrobially, I mean. Not other personalities.

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

I'm a curator, so I comment on culture. I have a Masters degree. I try to dress with some intelligence, and actually with some humility. Though choosing to dress with humility is paradoxical, I guess.

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?

No, I've dressed with a sense of continuity since I was about 5 years old and insisted on choosing my own outfits. When I was about six, I wore one pair of cutoff jeans for an entire summer because I liked how they fit. I felt more myself in them than any other item of clothing. That is what I always seek in the clothing I wear.

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

Bra. Mascara. Sometimes lipstick.

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

I wear funnier stuff than most women my age. Dressing with a sense of humor often feels a little subversive.

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

Yoga clothes.

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

I wear my yoga getup with mismatched patterns.
Sometimes wear really beat to shit stuff. Where I live,
most yoga ladies wear a brand, and stay within the style guides of the brand. Lululemon tights. Ugh.

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?

Jeans, white shirt.

Looks good on everybody.

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 dress like a man whenever I want. I often buy mens clothing. occasionally wish my hips were a little narrower, but I like having a woman's body.

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?

Oh god!

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

I love Rei Kawakubo's oevre
Diane Keaton
Ryo Miyamoto

55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?

Many. Usually loosing and finding purses and sweaters.

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

High heels are impossible, but I love them.

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?

wide horizontal stripes.

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

Attract smart,
repel tea party people.

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

tramps stamps were not a good idea.

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

Love it.

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

be clean.

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

simple, fast and very little.

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?

Canada Goose. Just too damn expensive.

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

A lot of clothes for one person. But I'm not at hoarder level quite yet. Jewelry-wise I invest in Ted Muehling and am happy with what I have.

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

Beat up pair of Blundstones.

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?

Wedding dress. Just don't know what to do with it.

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?

Cashmere hoodies.
Linen Sheets

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 long skirt. I had it in College. It fit really well.
Red and white tweed. It was great.

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

Cahsmere hoodie (and linen pajamas, sorry 2))

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

Buy camels hair.

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

Quilted Barbour jacket. Yes. It's a really nice plaid. Subtle. I've never seen it since.

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

Diamond ring.

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

Le Chameau leather lined boots. I just can't cross over from coveting to owning. I like yearning for them, they are probably a little too plummy to actually wear around.

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

I have piles.

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


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?

Cashmere hoodies. Bought at TJMAXX. for cheap.
Amazing quality for the price.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

I don't need any, but I like searching. So I go on hunts twice a month. Mostly to the nearby TJMaxx. I used to find incredible stuff their, but that hunting ground is pretty barren since the dollar went bad in China.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?


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

It doesn't.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I like having money to spend on clothes, but often feel a little guilty about my clothing habit.
Other people could make better use of the money.

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


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

Last week a woman really went on about my haircut.
I was surprised.

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. Those cutoffs at age six. I felt cool, and comfortable and in control of my destiny.

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

01-23-56, Connecticut,Connecticut

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

I have been very lucky.

What kind of work do you do?

many kinds, mostly creative.

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

Single twice divorced, two steps

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

This is an interesting project. The questions were fun to think about and answer.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

now I can go watch Blacklist.


I live in Connecticut, I was educated in the San Francisco bay area, and attended a bunch of art schools. I teach, paint, sell bread at farmers markets, design things, and curate for the Mayor's Gallery in Norwalk (CT) City Hall.

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