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Lauren Tussey

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

It’s in those moments when I totally nail it with an outfit. Choosing outfits is something I love to challenge myself with on a daily basis. When I know I’ve finally found that last missing piece, or when I think up a look and it ends up blowing me away, it’s that feeling of “Yaaaaas.” I feel like I’ve achieved something. I dress for myself, so it’s a victory when I’m feeling attractive as myself, for myself.

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

YES I notice women on the street. Where do I begin? There are so many here in Chicago, especially, women trying out new fashion looks and trends. It’s so inspiring. I think the women I see on the streets, especially on campus, exude such intriguingly cool, yet new and fresh outfits—this kind of stuff subconsciously affects me. I’m a sucker for patterns, also, so when I see other women rocking more than one funky print, I’m in awe. Lately, though, I’ve been noticing more women who are utilizing simple, solid colored clothing but in really bold, contrasting ways, if that makes sense. Women in sneakers, too, they’re so cool. It’s also those women who just carry themselves and their clothing so well—I definitely think it’s because they know they look good.

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

I admire women who are noticeably confident. Women who make themselves look approachable, yet strong and alone and on a mission. I admire those women who laugh out loud on a crowded subway car with their best friend, and those women who won’t give a damn about who sees them jamming out in their headphones. I admire women on their own schedules, who don’t complain about the weather and read whatever books they want wherever they want. I admire women who present themselves however they want to the world, and don’t really care what the world thinks about it.

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?

Part of it started when I quit sports—no more volleyball Nike shorts or pullover hoodies. I still wore those things, but I knew I needed a personal style outside of that. I started experimenting during my junior and senior year of high school, but I don’t think I felt like my style was “fully formed” until college. I got bangs and fell in love with high-waisted shorts. I started realizing the beauty of button-up shirts, and started wearing the clothes I used to call “formal” on an everyday basis. People like to say that college is a “fresh start,” and I was sort of doing that, but it wasn’t like I was moving on from a bad past or a lesser version of myself. I was just becoming more of myself, and my fashion and style started to become a of that. I didn’t appreciate fashion until I started using it a form of self expression. It happened really naturally, but I was aware of it happening to myself and was loving it. I’m still loving it—it’s still changing! I don’t think my style will ever stop changing and growing as long as I’m exposing myself to new looks and good stuff.

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

Hmm...never say no to stripes. You will buy a lot of stripes, and you won’t be able to stop, but stripes are amazing. Stripes are forever.

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

Wear as many patterns as possible. I say this because...well, it’s a very gingerly process. Choosing appropriate patterns to pair together into wearable outfits, that is. You’ve got to have an eye for it, I think it’s something I’ve taught myself how to do it successfully over the last couple years. I’ll even ask my roommate Emily, I’ll be like, “Hey...does this go with this?” Gotta get that outside insight, that second pair of eyes ya know.

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

My freshman year of college, there was this random Sunday afternoon when I was getting off the Chicago Red Line stop and just happened to run into a girl I went to high school with. She’s really cool, and we were definitely friends toward the end of our senior year. I was as psyched to see her as she was to see me to, I remember she leaned in and told me, “I’m drunk right now.” I laughed, it was hilarious. Before we said our goodbyes, she half-drunkenly, half wholeheartedly looked at me and said, “You have style, Lauren Tussey.” I’ll never forget that conversation. It was just a quick compliment to accompany the goodbye, but her words made me realize that my style had become a part of who I was, and I think part of me wanted to hear that.

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

I don’t know if this is a way or a mindset, but I constantly remind myself that I’m on my own and alone in this world. I take this as an empowering thing—I’m my own source of everything, and it’s up to me to lead the life I want for myself. I hate that the word “alone” typically has such a negative connotation. Being alone is so great, and I’m not afraid to say I love myself and I love hanging out with myself. Isn’t there a Kelly Clarkson lyric that goes something like, “Just because I’m alone don’t mean I’m lonely”? Or is it the other way around? Either way, I fucking love that. Hell yeah, I can be alone and not feel lonely, it’s possible. It’s actually one of my favorite places to be—alone. This is because I used to be an introvert, and as I got older I’d like to think I became an extrovert, but kept my introvert thoughts. I’m still an introvert. I talk to myself all the time when I’m alone. Talking to myself often helps me sort out the shit that’s in my head. Observing people is my all-time favorite thing ever. I’m proud to be both intro- and extroverted because it serves me well in this great game of life with other people. I trust my gut feeling over a lot of other things, and I don’t let negative people stay around me for too long. I want to always stay true to myself no matter what kinds of people are around me, and I want to make other people aware that I’m a source of positive energy and understanding. And for those people who already know me, I want them to feel their best all the time when they’re with me, and if I can make them feel good and motivated to be their best self, then I’ll feel fulfilled and happy.

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

I’ll always buy cool t-shirts. I like to stick with t-shirts of bands or musicians I love, magazines I love, designers I love, or even just a random cool t-shirt that uses colors and shapes really well and all attracts my eye. I’ll also never stop buying crew socks, because those are my favorite choice of sock to wear. Screw those dinky ankle things, those don’t do anything for you. I’m also addicted to buying jackets and blazers—basically anything resembling a jacket that you can wear to accompany a cool shirt underneath. I actually feel overwhelmed right now with the number of light jackets/outerwear finds I have...there are too many choices. I think I keep buying all of these things because of how faithful they are to me and how important they are in my daily basis life. They work for me and they help me achieve however I want to look. And I just love them, and you always go back to what you love.

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

There’s only one person I give gifts of jewelry to, and that’s my mom. I just know exactly what she likes, specifically where earrings are concerned. I personally never like it when my relatives or friends gift me jewelry—I’m very very very picky with my bling bling—so that’s why my mom’s the only one I can pinpoint. I always get her some medium-sized dangly earrings, and I’ve got her favorite color palette down to a T. She always loves what I get her, and I’ll continue to feel good about that for as long as I’m supplying her earring collection.

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

SO MANY! North Face jackets, Chrome backpacks, wearing sweatpants out in public, wearing leggings as pants, YOGA PANTS, Lulu Lemon stuff, that generic female outfit of knee-high boots with jeans, a top, and a scarf, moccasin shoes, Beats headphones, wearing a denim jacket with jeans, white shoes, white pants—I actually really love white t-shirts and prefer white t-shirts over others—gaucho pants, tank tops with booty shorts, knee-high socks with a short skirt, wearing hoodie pullover sweatshirts in public, anything with a marijuana reference/pot leaf on it, camouflage, anything yellow...I could go on and on.

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

Yes. My mom gave me my curves for sure, so thanks mom, I like shopping and dressing myself as a curvier girl. Growing up, my mom was pretty hard on her own self image, and I definitely got some of that self-consciousness as I think most daughters do. But I don’t think my mom gives herself enough credit for her self image image, because even if she criticized herself at the end of the day, she wouldn’t let that affect her daily life and how she lived. She always claims that I “raised myself” and taught myself how to be happy and be the best version of me, but she definitely showed me that it’s possible to be like that through how she carried herself. She’s the most resilient women I’ve known, and I learned how important resilience is to live the life you want from her.
I forgot this question was about style. Back to that—I was dressing myself since I could walk, and my mom and I butt heads all the time when it comes to style. So to answer the question, I think some elements of my mom’s style have been passed down to my own style, but I think—and she knows—we’re in our own playing fields in the fashion game. We’d fight pretty often about clothes and style while I was growing up. It’s funny to think about now. I think my mom’s impressed with how my style’s turned out, and I love that she’s so proud of me.

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

Oh yaaaasss. My eyes weren’t fully opened to how valuable my mom’s closet was until I was graduating high school and moving off to college. We would share clothes sometimes, but it was usually just things like sweaters and shoes and the occasional cute top. I’ve stolen some stuff from her closet and I keep them hostage here with me so I can wear them, because the pieces I found are so great and she never wears that justifies me having them. I let her know that I took stuff, and she’ll give me a little shit but she really doesn’t care. Sometimes we’ll exchange clothes now, it’s funny. When I met my freshman year roommate Emily—who’s still my roommate, and the absolute love of my life best living partner ever—she introduced me to Doc Marten boots and wearing dresses and skirts as everyday clothing, and my life has never been the same. Seriously. I don’t even think Emily realizes that, I should tell her.

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

YES I always love to think about this. Looking back, it feels like it was such a pivotal life moment when my style actually became a thing, but at the time it was a slow, gradual process. I started experimenting with clothes during my junior and senior years of high school because I started to notice other girls’ style at my school. And I was envious of it, I wanted my own style too. I have this vivid memory of buying a jean jacket off Etsy that had this amazing, beautiful woven multicolored pattern sewn into the entire back. It came in the mail and it was huge—I was expecting a tighter, more fitted jacket. This thing was way to cool to send back, so I just started wearing it more as an outerwear jacket rather than an outfit-accompanying jacket. I grew to love it so much. If you really want to see the rough patch of my clothing-experimenting transformation, look at any picture of me from junior year, especially the pictures on Facebook from the time I went to New York. WHOA they’re really rough. I was confused, but trying stuff out regardless. Senior year was when I discovered and fell in love with high-waisted shorts, AH, it was bliss. I realized what Urban Outfitters was and that I could shop there, and I discovered how much cool stuff Goodwills have and how cheap everything is. I started wearing these amazing velvet black pants that were my mom’s, I got this incredible army green leather jacket for Christmas, and I even wore fake glasses. I still have fake glasses and wear them annoys me when people wear fake glasses, but yet I do too so I can’t get annoyed. I’m trying to get away from them...I’m no phony. It’s just hard because there are some days when glasses are necessary to cover up your sleepy disgusting face. All you glasses people, I’m jealous of you but also not because I like having my vision too. I would say it was after I got bangs and came to college—if that helps timeline-wise—that my style really started to fill itself out and fully grow.

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

Noooo. It’s because my parents never really politically educated me and I'm still in the process of educating myself in the political world...if that makes sense.

16. Please describe your body.

Tall, gut-y but curvy. Definitely curvy, I get that from my mom’s side. I’ve got big thighs and a big butt, but honestly my butt is very underwhelming and I wish it wasn’t. I definitely lost a good amount of weight after moving out of the Loop and the dorms. My boobs have gotten in the way of everything ever since I quit volleyball. I have a gut. I actually have recently kind of, sort of started to fully accept my body and love it how it is. It feels cool.

17. Please describe your mind.

Always curious, always aware, always analyzing everything and thinking too much.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Too many and sometimes uncontrollable. Sometimes I give in and let my emotions torture me, sometimes I really kill myself over the dumbest things and think up scenarios in my head that never happen...which always ends in disappointment. During one of my first visits home upon moving to Chicago for school, I remember crying on my bed next to my mom my last night there. I was crying over the fact that I felt so bad and guilty that I was missing so many things that my family was doing/things happening in their lives, and my mom was stroking my hair trying to calm me down. She told me I was an intense girl, and that is the truth. I don’t think a lot of people who know me realize that because I manage my inner feelings pretty well when it comes to what the outside world knows. But when I’m alone, I get really deep and intense in my head and my heart. I savor the moments I have to myself, by myself, with myself. I always know when I need alone time. I want the external world and those I love to know I am a constant source of positivity and optimism. That’s how I am all the time, I don’t care if you think I’m “too animated” or have too much energy. Do you realize that I gotta be like this for everyone else to get pumped up about living their lives and being happy and being themselves to their fullest extent?

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

I just put a little cover-up makeup on some acne scars on my chin, but other than that I only have on a little mascara on my face. My hair is down and plain, it was looking good like that today so I decided to keep it like this. I have a new shirt on, it’s beige, black and white striped—surprised?!?!?!—and it’s like a half turtleneck t-shirt. It’s super light and I love it. I’m also wearing my signature super high-waisted black BDG pants, they’re rolled up a little at the bottom, and I’m wearing these old gross Hanes crew socks my mother despises. I have my watch on my left wrist, it’s this dope watch I stole from Francesca’s, and I recently took off the two gold rings I had on when I came home. But I loooove my rings. I only exclusively wear gold jewelry, and I don’t care how stuck up or snooty that sounds. I’m rocking my mom’s oval-shaped gold hoop earrings that I found in my room at home over Christmas break, and they’ve honestly been my most favorite new accessory of the new year. New year new me literally. My ears are triple-pierced, and I’ve got my double and triple holes filled with stolen crappy Urban Outfitters earrings. I refuse to pay for tiny crappy earrings like these.

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

It’s important because it’s me! It’s me right now at this moment! I’m as candid as it gets right now because I didn’t dress for this question. This outfit and everything on me has been on me since this morning. This is the real Lauren Tussey, right here right now on another Thursday night. You got me, and you’ll always get me.

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

August 25, 1994. I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and now I'm living in Logan Square in Chicago.

What kind of work do you do?

I'm a student and I also have an internship and a part-time job

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

Single lady right here

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

This was so cool, I really enjoyed this. Such amazing questions!! I'd like to save some of these for my future interviews.

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