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Sarah Hill

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

In tights up to my waist (they cover up my fat bits) and lacy pants. And when I’ve washed my hair. And had enough sleep.

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 with style but probably take more notice of a man will style because they are rarer.

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

I admire women who always have clean, tidy, neat hair and make up. But I also pity them.

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?

I realised early on (about 10) that people commented on it when I wore something weird and unusual. I wasn’t that confident as a child so its odd to think that I liked this attention. I can remember other children being outraged and asking why I was wearing things, but I felt proud of my choices and didn’t care what they thought. I guess it set me apart from them. And I guess wearing something weird also distracts children from making fun of the things you can’t change about yourself though I wasn’t aware of this at the time.

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

Only buy things on sale. I usually like the ugly stuff in shops, stuff that’s a bit out there and wacky and wild. Often people don’t want it so I can hang on until it goes into sale.

Only buy the stuff you love, not just stuff you like or staples. EVERYTHING should be a stand out, stand alone piece.

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

Be a bit clashy. Lots of bright colours or some contrasting prints are great. I would recommend this though.

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

I’m quite organised and logical with most things but I don’t know if this is reflected in my clothes. I think I am definitely good at co-ordinating outfits and most items I own are interchangeable with lots of other garments which is probably quite a practical approach.

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

I have loads and load of pairs of sparkly socks and socks in general. I like my socks to match my outfit - they shouldn’t just be something that is forgotten about. And they can make you feel so comfy and cosy too. I’m also interested in the importance of socks to men’s clothing and style - men in smart suits, business uniform, often have on jazzy socks and ties, and I love that little touch of non-conformity peeking out from the bottom of their trouser legs.

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

Not as a gift but I have sometimes encouraged someone to buy something and felt satisfied whenever they wear it and it looks great.

My boyfriend has a yellow jacket that he liked but I don’t know if he would have had the confidence to buy it if he hadn’t had someone to say it was ok - it looks great and brightens up all his outfits.

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

I don’t really follow any fashion trends. I have my own established style and if something from a ‘trend’ fits with it I’d buy it but I certainly wouldn’t follow trends or try to be ‘fashionable’.

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

My mother is very self conscious of her legs. I’ve seen them and there’s not anything wrong with then so that’s probably given me some body confidence, strangely. There’s no point being critical about your body because its not important to anyone else and no one will see it in the same way as you do anyway.

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

My mum and I have shared a cardigan for about 15 years now. Its a pale blue, wrap round, ballet style cardigan. I didn’t like it when she bought it - I was really young maybe about 9 or 10 and gave her a scathing review when she brought it home from the shops. When I was in my early teens, I started wearing it and it became one of my favourites. It’s her’s again now and apart from one little hole, its still going strong.

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

There’s never been a dramatic change in my style - apart from anything else, I could never afford to suddenly change my wardrobe.

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

I try to wear lots of second hand and vintage items and I don’t throw things away just because they are old or damaged. High consumption of clothing is really decadent and damaging and we should be considerate in the purchases we make.

16. Please describe your body.

I am average height, with pale skin, veiny legs and loads of moles; I have long, curly red hair and quite rosy cheeks and wrinkly eyes; I have a huge bum, big thighs, a tiny waist and small boobs. My body is nice and useful but should probably be a bit fitter.

17. Please describe your mind.

My mind is not as sharp as it used to be even though I am only 24.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Variable. Erratic. Strong. Passionate.

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

I’m at home in bed so I am wearing blue skin tight jeans with hole in the inside thigh where jeans always get a hole and a stripy pattern knitted top with powder blue, navy blue, yellow and tan and socks which match the powder blue perfectly. I’ve also got on a big white jumper that is probably older than I am. It was my gran’s who died when I was six and I found it in my grampa’s house and started wearing it a couple of years ago. Its perfect apart from a hole at the seem under the arm which I made and keep meaning to mend. My hair in a knot on top of my head because I am meant to be concentrating. On my face I have what I always wear: a nose ring and black eyeliner, blusher, mascara and some eyebrow pencil.

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

How I dress is so important to me in making me feel confident. Its an advertisement of my personality. It is a curated exhibition of the things I like. There’s lots of things you can guess about people from of the way they dress.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

I’ve studied fashion design for 6 years now so lots of people. Because of this, people talk to me about it but I’m not sure if people always understand me if they’re not in design or not really interested in fashion. Its interesting as a ‘fashion insider’ to hear the views of outsiders though they are sometimes the most insightful without realising it.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I’m not part of religious or other institutions which affect my dress. I don’t like being told what to wear.

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

Someone told me I had ‘swag’ once. I think that probably means confidence in pulling off something that could potentially be terrible. I think that probably means I have style more that taste. ‘Tasteful’, although giving something a certain qualification, also has many negative connotations for me, as being a bit bland or within the rules. Style is more individual and interpretable. I like swag best though.

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

I accidentally bought a maternity top once. I was not, and have never been, pregnant.

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

I like buying something with a multi-coloured pattern or print and then I match with it anything else that has one of the colours in. That seems to work even if even if it breaks lots of ‘rules’.

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

I’m a designer and I’m also quite opinionated so I guess I have a style or certain tendencies or preferences in lots of things I do, say, think and create.

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?

Every single day.

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?

Definitely. I’m very opinionated especially about things I feel I’m fairly knowledgable about.

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 mum still takes clothes off my back if they are not ironed because she is worried I look ‘uncared for’.

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

I feel more attractive when I think my outfit is well chosen or I’m wearing something new or a favourite item, but probably no one else notices the difference. It should be something you do for yourself anyway.

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?

There’s two ways to look at comfort. Comfort in the sense of confidence, not being judged or criticised, feeling like something you wear is you. That is important but it should be you who likes it and you shouldn’t worry about what others think.

My sense of comfort is more practical. Can I climb a fence in this? Will I be warm enough if I go to the cold library? Will my feel be dry if it rains today? Can I run for the bus in this bra? Does this waistband allow for the big meal I am about to eat? It is very important that your clothes allow you to live your life the way you want to live your life.

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?

Dressing is an advert for your personality.

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

People being themselves, being confident and looking happy.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Fakery and conformity.

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, and I now only buy the things I love and not the things I just like. I also try not to ‘need’ anything because then you often have to buy something you’re not totally happy with just to fill the gap.

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?

I probably look fun, light hearted, silly. Maybe even cute (!). Which is not totally what I am like. But I think I also look interesting and probably like I have something to say. I think someone would think I was confident in myself and not afraid on what other people think.

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

Usually I’m so tired I wake up and just want to put on something warm and comfortable. That’s why its important to only have nice clothes because otherwise I’d always be in sloppy pyjamas and cardigans. I also considering what I have to do and who I’m going to see that day. Will it be cold, can my outfit compete with what my friend will wear, am I having a big meal?

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

I want to put on an outfit every day that I know no one else in the world is wearing.

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

Lipstick or high heals. That’s all.

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

Man’s shirt, white. Cigarette trousers, black and white print. Sparkly socks, multi coloured. Jumper, multi coloured, textures. Long overcoat, bright colour. Chunky shoes.

I think I have a kind of variable uniform already. I always wear cigarette trousers or skin tight jeans or jazzy leggings - slim trousers, I would never wear anything wide legged. I like second hand men’s shirts, white or striped. I have lots of big wooly cardigans, knitted by grannies I hope, that I have picked up in vintage stores. I like jackets in bright colours, or patters or sparkly - I like my outerwear to be really bold because its what everyone sees first outside on the street.

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

I don’t like things to be too girly or boring. I like clothes that are a bit ugly and have been left behind in the shop. I don’t think anyone would describe my clothes as ‘casual’ - I wouldn’t wear blue jeans and a plain T.

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

I have an ‘Aye’ t-shirt and a ‘Yes’ badge for the Scottish Independence and I have a little kilt I like to wear which make me feel Scottish. I also have wild, curly, ginger hair and a penchant for Irn Bru. Can Irn Bru be a fashion accessory?

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?

Not really. The way I’ve dressed has changed but I’ve always had a strong sense of individualism fundamental to what I wear.

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

I just wear an outfit I think is well put together. Maybe a blazer or something else that looks a bit smart. Having confidence in your outfit choice is the main thing, not the outfit itself.

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

My work place is reasonably free though I think I’m meant to iron a bit more than I do.

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

Not any more. I dance sometimes and love dance wear but generally I really dislike having to wear a uniform.

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

I used to rebel a lot at school but in a clever way which stayed within the rules. Our uniform was a black skirt, trouser or pinafore and white shirt with black jumper or cardigan. I made myself a skirt with sparkly buttons, and I had a black dress with multi coloured glitter on and another with stars printed on but in black so they were subtle. I also wore fishnet tights and white ankle socks which weren’t against the rules, but could annoy some teachers.

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

I hate it.

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?

Probably a floral dress is the only item I would have worn consistently since early teens until now, usually with black tight and chunky shoes. It wouldn’t be my favourite item, but its a staple and I find items with lots of colours are the easiest to wear.

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 like mens clothes and I just wear them if I want to. I really like shopping in mens departments because they always have nice knitwear and shirts and socks and these are my favourite items.

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

Flappers in the 20s because of the female liberation. It must have felt great to be free.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Not really. I like photographs on disposable cameras because you don’t have the opportunity to see them, retake them, or edit them before they are printed. Usually some are nice and some are horrendous, but all are real.

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

I’m probably quite critical of how I look because it usually doesn’t match how I see myself when I look in the mirror. Its the same when you hear your voice recorded - it doesn’t sound how you expect it to, the way you hear it inside your head.

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

I love Helena Bonham Carter’s hair.

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

Probably lots and lots. I have work as a bra fitter so I have lots of dreams about not being able to find a bra in the right size.

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

I would hate to wear black all the time because it makes me feel very funereal.

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 am! Don’t assume I’m not!

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

I want to repel people who can’t put up with me dressing a little bit weird. Its a self-fulfilling aim.

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

Invest in a good bra above all else. I work part time as a bra fitter in a shop with a truly exceptional fitting service and nothing makes or breaks an outfit like a bra.

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

I like to smell it but it feels unnatural on me - I find it a bit nauseating to have a scent hanging around all day.

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

Not a lot really. I don’t iron and I don’t even shower every day and I never brush my hair. I brush my teeth and I wear deodorant which I think is usually enough.

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

I don’t wear a lot of make up but I do always wear it if I’m going further than the local shop.

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?

Lots of fashion people rank black very highly and I agree it is easy to look chic or slick in black but I just look dowdy and drab in black. Its not for me.

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

Most of my clothes have holes in.

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

I have a stripy shirt that I spent 4 days meticulously making out of very expensive silk fabric. I have never worn it because I haven’t had an occasion special enough.

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 a quite a few black dresses which I bought because I liked but then remember I look funeral in. Its a serial problem. But I hang on to them incase someone dies; which is morbid.

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?

Good coats and good shoes. Outerwear is what everyone sees and what you wear every single day, while other items come and go.

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?

I had a pair of boots which were patent up to shoe height the had velvet fabric at the ankle which zipped up with a silver heart shaped zipper. I was about ten and in hindsight they were horrible but I loved them and still think about how strongly I felt about them.

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

I have a big furry coat which would keep me warm if I was otherwise naked.

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

If I had a reasonable budget, I would buy good quality, sustainably produced items that would last a long time that were practical and lots of bright sparkly stand out pieces which I love.

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

I once bought two expensive coats in one day but I love them both and still wear them every winter 4 years on.

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

There’s been many times where I’ve bought something I wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to wear but seemed totally normal and ordinary after I’d had it a little while. What I am comfortable in changes the more risks I take.

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

The perfect pair of pants! I have a big bum and I need pants that are black, seam free, cotton and don’t dig in anywhere. It shouldn’t be this hard but I think I’ve been looking for something like this for 5 years now. Two styles have come close. One is a specific thong which isn’t ideal for every outfit, and the other is a specific Brazilian which is perfect except that the seam free tape falls off after a few washes. Suggestions on a postcard please.

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

I used to colour organise things but I don’t have a proper wardrobe right now - I still keep things neatly folded though by item: tops, dress/skirts, trousers, jumpers.

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

I’m hoping I’ll get a really good engagement ring soon!

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

In shops or charity shops, often in sales; not online. I like shopping with my mum because I don’t have to go to any shops I don’t like and I know she’ll give me an honest opinion.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?


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

I think having pride and thought in what you wear shows you take pride in other aspects of your life. My ambition is to be a successful designer so I think presenting myself is a important.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I’ve been a student for six years so I can’t afford to buy things on a whim but this is a good thing because clothing is often wasteful and it makes me much more considerate of my purchases.

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

I wear a Swatch everyday and I have a nose ring.

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

People complementing things I made when I could first sew probably encouraged my ambitions to be a designer a lot.

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?

I don’t know about first memories but I have quite a few memories of dressing up when I was little for Hallowe’en for example.

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

I was born in May 2016, I am almost 25. I was born in London, England, grew up in Paisley, Scotland and currently stay in London again while studying.

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

I grew up in a working class area of Scotland and was raised by my mother and grandfather. Politically, I am left wing and support socialism so I don't believe in decadence or wealth.

What kind of work do you do?

I am a social designer and fashion designer currently studying for an MA in this field. I also have a very interesting part time job as a bra fitter.

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

I have a boyfriend, a mother and a grandfather in my immediate family. My boyfriend and I live in different cities and Mum and Grampa live in a different country so I do a lot of traveling.

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

I am currently working on a social design clothing project looking at how clothing fits into a hyper-local economy, particularly in Scotland.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I think I have learned things about myself - its good to be critical about something which is usually taken for granted.


Social designer, fashion designer, political activist, Scottish, ginger, vegetarian.

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