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Rachel smith

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I never really feel that attractive. Even when I think I have done a fairly good job of pulling a look together, I might see a photo of myself later and realize I didn't look as good as I thought. It seems I can recognize a well put together outfit on others but just can't manage it for myself.

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

Yes, all the time. When I see someone who looks well dressed I try to pay attention to what they have done to get the look. Unfortunately, most of the time I see women in public and think "my God, what was she thinking to believe that flatters her!".

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

They use accessories successfully. They have excellent posture. They look sexy without looking like a street walker. Their shoes compliment the outfit without looking like an instrument of torture..

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?

In the 60's I was a middle age school girl when white go go boots were all the rage. It seemed every girl in my class had a pair. Finally talked my mom into getting me a pair. Our small town local store had sold out but ordered me a pair. It took forever for them to come and when they finally did - the white go go boot fad had faded away. I was wearing out of style boots that killed my feet. That was the last time I cared if I had the latest clothing fad!

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

I don't really have 'shopping rules'. Well, spend as little money as possible.

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

I will never wear uncomfortable shoes to just achieve a look. But I see other women wearing the cutest shoes and even though the shoes look like they would cause pain I think "more power to her if she can stand them".

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

Don't believe I have ever had such a conversation.

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

Keep it simple

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

I tend to buy very good quality socks and have way more pairs than I need. Also my family knows I like good hiking socks and have tended to rely on that as a go to gift item for me.

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


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

High heel shoes, crop pants, Capri pants, ridiculously over priced purses, yoga pants. Sports related apparel, clothing with fashion designer logos prominently displayed

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

My mom has always been petite, nicely shaped. We are both big thrift store shoppers . The difference is she can go to a thrift store, buy one or two items, come home and put together 4-5 stylish outfits. She has always received compliments on her clothes. Even just sitting around the house she puts thought and care into what she is wearing. I attribute her being clothes conscious to growing up very poor and lacking sufficient clothes at times. I look like I shopped at a thrift store.

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?

Don't think so.

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

I refuse to pay huge prices for an article of clothing just because it has a certain designers label on it. I think paying a small fortune for a basic blouse or pants is unconscionable .

16. Please describe your body.

Tomboyish, flat chested, athletic most of my life. Since menopause, I am little wider in the waist. Never really had a weight problem.

17. Please describe your mind.

Open minded, curious about many areas, avid book reader

18. Please describe your emotions.

Reserved, calm, easy going

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

Night gown, robe, socks, ugly but comfortable Crocs style shoe. Hair looks like it has all day. Medium length layers, some curl.

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

We are always first and foremost judged by our apprearance. It is only after getting to know someone can we acknowledge that the clothes they are wearing does not tell the full story of who they are.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Mom and daughter

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I would not wear the same clothes to church or to a funeral that I would wear around home or on vacation. Both occasions require a degree of respect that I would want to be reflected in my dress.

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

Taste is unique to oneself and may or may not be flattering. One's culture usually dictates style.
I have taste and once in a blue moon achieve style.

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

I rarely over spend on clothing. But once as a teenager, my cousin talked me into buying a velour pants suit. Couldn't stand to leave the house in it.

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

I think the silk like pants liners and undershirts are the greatest things for winter dressing. You can be warm and look good without looking like you are dressed for an expedition to the North Pole. And know one knows you have them on!

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

No. Always wished I had a knack for interior decorating but have given up on that skill at this point in my life.

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 find it very calming to come home after work and finally get to take off my shoes, clothes, especially bra, and get into something comfortable and probably unflattering.
In anticipation of suffering through the ordeal of modern day airplane travel I dress with an eye toward easy on/ off shoes, easy belt or no belt, layers for too hot or too cold, etc. all while trying to look stylish enough not to embarrass myself.

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 know what I like but I just don't if it looks good on me.

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 mom did teach me about caring for clothes. Many in my family worked in textiles and garment industries when I was growing up. I also worked there as a teen. So we learned about what to look for in clothing construction. We also learned about vanity sizing and how changing the designers label on an article can increase the price for no reason other than that little tag.

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

I have never felt sexy or alluring. I don't go out in public without lipstick though.

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?

Feeling comfortable means my shoes aren't killing my feet, waistband is not to tight, neckline is not choking meet but neither am I having to hike up to keep from flashing breasts, fabric texture is not giving me the creeps, and tag in clothing is not itching me to death.
Confident means you wear the clothes, they don't wear you. You know your physical assets and weaknesses and dress for each. You finish it off with excellent posture.

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?

Can't really wrap my mind around the idea of being an expert or having a style philosophy. I guess my philosophy would be dress for comfort.Don't be a slave to your clothes or the idea that you are nothing without clothes that shout MONEY. Or, " I'm better than you because of what I am wearing".

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

Actually, I love fabrics, especially ethnic designs. It is just when the fabric is turned into clothing that I must choose or reject that I am at a loss.
I think a women who can look natural, without a lot of makeup is beautiful. I also love red hair on a woman.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Clothing obviously too small for the person wearing it. Older women dressing like teenagers, exercise clothing worn outside the gym, grown women wearing Disney characters. On women, badly designed tattoos placed helter skelter on the body. On men, baseball caps unless actually engaged in athletics. Also on men, those below knee length over large shorts the make them look like overgrown babies.

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 am terrible judge of this.

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?

Often I look in mirror and see a dumpy old woman. But I just don't know how to avoid the dumpiness. Quite often I am judging my outfit through my mother's eyes. As a 62 year old woman I feel embarrassed to admit that. But she does have a well acknowledged sense of style.

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

First I consider the weather and where I am going. I can be dressed and ready to go in 10 minutes. Wash face, brush teeth, SPF lotion on face, lipstick, comb hair. Usually pants, blouse, socks, shoes.

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

Practicality, comfort. Aim for stylish but never know if I hit the mark or not.

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

Dressing up usually means I endure some degree of discomfort in order to make a positive impression on others.

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

Jeans or khakis , button up shirt.

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

Sexy revealing clothing is not me. Dresses are seldom for me. High heels are not me.
Jeans, pull over shirts, button up shirts are me. Hiking boots are me. Flannel gowns are me. Ethnic, funky jewelry is me.

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

Middle class southern USA. Probably put more emphasis on colorful warm weather clothing. Also taught to be modest in dress.

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?

As a teenager in the 60's, early 70's I went for the Hippie Look. Little too old for that now although my jewelry still carries echoes of that time.

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

My job does not require a very professional look. I am required to wear pants and close toed shoes. I would never wear a T-shirt with slogans, or tourist 'been there' or a cat picture, etc to work.

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

Don't feel the need to rebel. Dress expectations based on safety so I am willing to follow. I do work for a university and never wear clothing promoting the schools athletics. Hope the team does well just not passionate enough about it to let my shirt do the talking.

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


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


48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?

Except as a teenager when I had to wear a god awful polyester dress to work a buffet line, I have never had to wear a uniform. I don't think I would mind wearing a nice , well fitting 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?

Sort of always wanted to try a military uniform. A military uniform seems to make an individual look confident and capable.

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?

Have never wanted to be a man but dressing does seem simpler for them. They don't have to wear a bra, their underwear is more comfortable. Their shoes are more comfortable. And for sure, buying a swimsuit is less anxiety producing.

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

Love Indian saris. I Like clothing women can wear on tropical islands. Would not want to return to an era when women in pants were frowned upon.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Absolutely not. Also seems to be the general agreement amoung my family about me. I "look better in person".

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

At time picture was taken I thought I was smiling . Picture proves otherwise. I thought I was standing straight and graceful. Picture proves otherwise. I thought I had put together a rather chic outfit. Picture proves I was a rumpled mess. I thought I look younger than my age. Picture proves those days are past.

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

Not really

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

I have recurring nightmares where I am trying to pack to go on a trip or am packing to return home from trip. I have too many clothes to get in suitcase or not enough of what I need. Maybe I failed to pack any underwear or I have nothing that matches. I've packed clothes I'd never wear. Or the act of packing simply never ends. No doubt the dreams have deep psychological meaning having nothing to do with clothes!!

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

I Will never manage 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?

I would wear clothes that showed some décolletage .

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

Nope, just trying not to scare small children.

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

Don't dress like a stripper if you are not stripping.
Don't dress like you are a teenager if you've long left that age behind.
Don't wear stilettos and complain your feet are killing you and your back hurts. Also don't wear them and expect to run for your life.

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

Never wear perfume. Don't care if others wear it as long as it is not over powering, eye watering strong.

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

Shower, clean hair, clean clothes. Not worn out, stretched out, frayed clothing.

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

Only wear SPF lotion and lipstick. Would gladly wear more but never got the hang of applying makeup.

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?

Not really expected to wear a certain style.

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

Jeans, khakis, Bermuda shorts, blouses, long sleeve tees, turtlenecks, jackets
Jewelry ethnic, funky,& except for wedding band, cheap.

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

Silver ring and bracelet
Have some Lee jeans I really like.

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 couple outfits delegated for weddings and/or funerals. I may wear them once a year.
I have pair of insulated overalls I rarely wear but keep because you never know but what we might have a freak blizzard here in the South and I might be required to hike 5 miles in hip deep snow. In which case there is no substitute for said overalls.

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?

Decent underwear. Quality shoes.

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?


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

Blue jeans, tShirt, & flannel overshirt

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

Not buy items that I couldn't pair up to make several different items. In other words don't buy a shirt that only matches one pair of pants and is suitable for wearing only on one particularly mild Spring day when the wind is blowing from the south as you take a leisurely stroll in the park.

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

Bought a nice navy blue peacoat style coat. Rarely get cold enough to wear it but feel stylish when I do.

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

Purchasing maternity wear sure meant a life changing event was in my future.

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

Will never quit looking for comfortable shoes or underwear that doesn't crawl where it shouldn't be.

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

At the beginning of each season I organize my closet and drawers. One month later they are a jumbled mess.

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

Uncle gave me a handmade silver bracelet 25 years ago. Love it! Wore it to his funeral just a week ago. Cherish the bracelet as a memory of him.

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?

Bought many articles of clothing that I should have given a second thought. None increased in value except in terms of hard won wisdom.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

most of my clothes shopping is done in thrift stores. I find shopping in gerneral for anything to be tiresome. Fortunately I have a large extended family resulting in the opportunities for hand-me-downs.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I like herbal scents, but perfumes and such are not important to me.

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

At my current age, it has no bearing.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I have limited funds to spend on clothing. But even if money were not an issue I would still spend as little as possible on clothing, preferring to spend my money on experiences such as travel.

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

Lipstick every day.

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

One cousin told me I didn't look good in black. Other cousins told me that was , as I expected, a damn lie.

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?

As children in my family we all had to have a new outfit for Easter. I always had a cute, frilly dress with matching hat. I wore it all in misery because the crinoline slip under the dress itched like poison ivy, the new shoes wore blisters on my feet, and the hat fell off every time I bent over.. I believe that is the origin of my choosing comfort over fashion.

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

1953 in SC, USA. Still there.

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

I will spare you the book it would take.

What kind of work do you do?

Lab research assistant

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

Married, 2 adult children

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

Love reading the other answers to the survey. Survey caused me to think on subjects I haven't really given thought to before.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Spent way too much time on this.


I'll pass. All thought out, no introspection left.

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