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Lissy Irions

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I am well-rested. When I'm well-dressed. When I'm wearing black. When I'm bra-less. When I'm naked. When I'm telling a joke or laughing at someone else's. When I'm dancing.

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

I do and, generally, I take note of women who exhibit self-assurance and bravery in both attitude and appearance. I admire women who dress originally and wear creative combinations of clothing; I admire women who are distinct.

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

I admire women whose stylistic choices don't necessarily conform to what's current. I admire women who dress adventurously with effortlessness (but thoughtfulness) and ease. I admire the jolie laide woman: she has imperfections, but she's wholly confident--like Charlotte Gainsbourg.

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 like to experiment and I've never really been attentive to trends; I'm guided by a sort of inner sense of style. I'm in touch with myself and I think I'm aware of what colors, styles, etc. look attractive (or unattractive) on me. I know what I like. For me, there was no singular moment when something "clicked." My style, specifically my clothing, has always been an expression of my personality; an extension of who I am. Often, my emotional landscape and climate determine how I dress.

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

I never spend over $70 on any one item for myself because, I know, if I wait long enough, the item I want will eventually go on sale. Frankly, I even like to wait until items below $70 go on sale. Also, I strongly dislike shopping in-store; I prefer online shopping only. I'm willing to risk ordering the wrong size and I don't mind the return process. Lastly, no socks or wearing sweatpants in public. Ever.

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

I wear the clothes and shoes that I want regardless of temperature or season; I will always sacrifice practicality for fashion. I don’t wear a bra in any setting or for any occasion unless I'm wearing something sheer. I enjoy wearing leggings (actual leggings, not tights—leggings are opaque, tights are not) as pants, power clashing, and overdressing.

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

I don’t think I’ve ever had a “transformative” conversation about style. I enjoy conversing with friends, family, acquaintances, and co-workers about clothing, but none of these conversations has ever led me to reevaluate my own style.

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

I view life as adventure, but I prepare for the worst. I like order and lists. I feel everything deeply and respond to everything viscerally. I attempt to live in the present. My approach to life is being sensitive, but direct. However, I have high expectations for myself and others. I value honesty very highly. I dig contradiction.

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

If I like the fit of an item of clothing, I will buy the same item in a different color or with a different pattern. I do this because it makes sense—I already know I like the way I look in it. Also, I own and wear cardigans in many different colors because I am a little bit cold all of the time.

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

Clothing is complicated. I don’t think, I’ve ever given someone a present of clothing. Jewelry, however, is different. I feel good about every piece of jewelry I’ve given someone as a present. When I buy jewelry for someone, I know them well and I put a lot of effort and contemplation into whether that piece of jewelry is compatible with their style.

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

I don’t follow trends closely, but trends I’ve seen that I am most averse to are: faux-leather/ leather bomber or motorcycle jackets or faux-leather/leather anything; really, anything faux-fur/fur; distressed and/or destroyed denim; short denim shorts with the pockets showing; anything animal print; sportswear as day and/or evening wear; Victoria’s Secret PINK clothing as day and/or evening wear; all hats; and UGGs and crocks. These trends are neither flattering nor pleasing to the (my) eye and I believe we can all do better. I’m sure there are more that trends that I am unfamiliar with that I would also refuse to follow.

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

I’m adopted so my mother’s body was not passed down to me. However, we are both small-boned, similar in size, and sometimes share clothes.

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

Not knowingly. Maybe through osmosis.

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

I’m twenty-seven now, but four years ago when I cut off my all my hair, my style didn’t change (dramatically, or otherwise), but I did feel even more freedom to experiment.

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

I’m apolitical so, no, not purposely.

16. Please describe your body.

5’5”, small frame, dark skin. Round, symmetrical face; full cheeks. Large-eyes—dark brown, almost black; expressive. Sloped nose. Full lips, wide smile, straight teeth. Prominent collarbone, small chest, long torso, slim hips. Thin, toned arms and legs. Slim wrists and ankles. Small hands and feet with long bones. Good posture; turnout. Three tattoos, five beauty marks, freckles on the tip of my tongue.

17. Please describe your mind.

Big, digressive, open, complex, overactive, and restless. Good at memorization, analysis, and thought; gymnastic.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Inwardly, I am discontent, extreme, intense, occasionally irrational, passionate, overanxious, and uneven. Outwardly, I am argumentative, balanced, controlled, diplomatic, empathic, frustrated, and stoic. Overall, I’m introverted, intuitive, and introspective. I cry when I’m angry and when I am deeply moved. I experience the full range of emotions--I let myself lean into them

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

A white and black romper, bare feet. Makeup-less; face freshly cleansed Thayer's Rose Petal Witch Hazel (toner). Hair in a loose afro.

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

It’s a form of self-expression and communication; it’s like a language.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Everyone and anyone: family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, strangers.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

They don’t. I didn’t where a uniform in school and I don’t wear a uniform at work. I don’t adhere to dress codes.

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

I think style encompasses taste.

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

A $70 black bodycon dress that shrank upon the first wash. I didn’t have the energy to try and wear it as a tunic or a top so I donated it. That is the last time I will spend $70 on a dress or any other item of clothing.

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

Wearing dresses with different tops over them so they look like new dresses or like new skirt/shirt combinations. Buying clothes at TJ Maxx and Target. Wearing black. Wearing leggings (not tights) as pants. Not wearing bras.

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

Reading and writing. Communication. Home décor—my home décor style corresponds with my clothing style. These stylistic choices are all reflective of my personality.

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?

Not specifically, but I always feel confident in black, and I always feel content and comfortable when I’m wearing a dress. I dress how I feel or how I want to feel.

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?

Absolutely. I know what I like in all areas of life. I think my discernment comes from having known myself for twenty-seven years—from living and experiencing. I intuit and I’m usually right. I have confidence in myself and am largely unconcerned with what others think. I’m open-minded, largely non-judgmental, but have strong preferences and a strong sense of self. I dislike indecisiveness. I think I was raised to be discerning.

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?

Don’t dry delicate items in the dryer. Iron.

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?

Being comfortable means being content and at ease with who you are, un-self-conscious, and unaffected. In terms of myself, I feel most comfortable wearing dressy clothes and no make-up. I wear these clothes at home and on the weekends, with no one else around, because they make me happy. I feel more relaxed and comfortable in dressy clothes than I would feel in jeans and t-shirts. I don’t feel that pants allow me the same freedom of movement. Comfortable clothes are clothes that one feels physically at ease in and one can do everyday activities in.
Being confident means being proud and accepting of who you are and unconcerned with how others view you. People who are confident don’t seek external validation; they are able to accept compliments and attention but don’t expect or require them. Confident people are fearless; they’re not performing. I think comfort leads to confidence.

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?

Just because something is expensive doesn’t always mean it’s better quality. Find your power color. Don’t follow trends or be fearful of wearing clothes that are “out of season” or “out of fashion”; anything can be timeless if it fits well and flatters you. Be honest with yourself about what looks good on you. Let yourself be inspired. Layers! A smile is the best accessory. Modest isn’t hottest.

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

Flaws and imperfections. Men with red hair.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Arrogance, self-importance, selfishness.

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, always, I only buy clothes that I'm sure I will wear.

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?

There is no “other person;” I am the “other person.” I just see myself and I don’t need approval from others. I suppose I hope to look approachable and self-aware, open, smart, confident, clean and well-kempt, adventurous, competent.

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

I don’t spend very much time on hair and makeup and my weekday showers are pretty quick so most of my morning is devoted to the process of getting dressed. The clothes I choose to wear generally depend on my mood, I don’t think much about setting or season/weather. I like all the clothes in my closet so I just wear what feels good that day. Also, mentally, I pick out several clothing options the evening before. On the weekends, all things go. Still, I don’t feel like I put that much effort into the process of getting dressed in the morning.

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

I am trying to achieve control, comfort, and attractiveness. The best version of myself; an outward expression of my inner state.

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

For me, there is not much difference. I’m almost always overdressed. I like to dress up on a daily basis; however, for a formal event or occasion, I will dress up even more. I’ll wear more expensive jewelry and heels and maybe even a little makeup; I'll pay extra attention to my hair, and use a fancier purse.

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

A little black dress with some flair like a cutout or an asymmetrical hem or texture, black ballerina flats, black cardigan, statement earrings, five rings (three one hand, two on the other hand), no makeup except for a glossy lip or pomegranate lip balm.

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

Me: black, gray, navy, and brown clothes, pops of color, bold, feminine, edgy, statement jewelry, big hair, anti-minimalist, humorous

Not Me: pastels, neon pink, junior, lace, silk, chiffon, animal print, wool, designer, makeup, hats, white, leather, preppy, bras, sunglasses/glasses, sportswear, all-american, tomboy, boring, modest

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

42. I am an adopted, African-American female from a Midwestern, middle class, suburban background and a mixed race family – I dress the opposite of what is expected -- maybe it’s influenced my hair.

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; however, I do go through phases of looks depending on my mood or my experiences. There was a time when I only wanted to wear nautical attire, or the time when I only wanted to dress in the colors that Beetlejuice wore (black, white, purple, lime green). Or the winter I only wore only leggings and flannel shirts (in myriad colors). Or this summer when I was into crop tops, rompers, and bloomers as shorts. To this day, these looks are always in rotation.

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

Professional, to me, is more about attitude than clothing, make-up, or hair. Although, I feel extra professional in a pencil skirt.

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

I’m always simultaneously conforming and rebelling. I’m conforming in the sense that we are allowed to wear casual clothing, but I’m rebelling in the sense that my idea of casual clothing is a dress or a skirt.

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

Absolutely not. I try to avoid extracurricular activities that involve dress codes or uniforms.

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?

Constraining. I never want to be required to wear a certain kind of clothing.

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?

A black dress, statement jewelry, and ballet flats. It’s timeless, ageless, and flattering look.

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?

Only on days when I don’t know what to wear. I know a man who wears the exact same thing every day and I think that’s something only a man could do. I think women can wear a variation on the same thing every day, but not the exact same thing. Women have accessories to contend with. So on days, when I can’t decide what to wear, I think about how much easier it would be if I was a man and I could wear the exact same thing I wore the day before. However, I would never want to have a man’s body and I generally find men’s clothes a little banal.

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

The cabaret culture of turn-of-the-century France: long, full skirts, petticoats, black stockings, and corsets.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

"Not bad."

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

Josephine Baker, Bette Davis, Tilda Swinton, Solange Knowles, Lisa Bonet, Dorothy Dandridge, Degas’s ballerinas, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, burlesque dancers, circus performers, circus tents, Lupita N’yongo, Prince, Michael Keaton's Beetlejuice, Cluless, Wednesday Addams

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

I’ve never had a dream that involved clothes but I have had dreams that have inspired outfits.

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

The androgynous look, makeup, preppy, menswear, a business/power suit, dyed hair, sportswear like sneakers or yoga pants, velour tracksuits, rave-wear, day-glo or neon colors, minimalist, tomboy, trendy – I don’t necessarily think these looks would be difficult or uncomfortable for me to achieve, I just don’t want to try.

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’m comfortable with my body and my body is how I wish it were so I would wear exactly what I wear now.

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

I strive to attract and repel all people, simultaneously.

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

I don’t wear perfume, specifically, but I do wear body spray or scented lotion (which I find to be lighter and more subtle than perfume). I also generally only wear food- or drink-based scents like vanilla, green tea, and strawberries and champagne.

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

Bathe or shower (including washing my face, body, and hair), brush my teeth, brush my hair, exercise, wash and iron clothing. I feel best in black.

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

It doesn’t, really, maybe for social occasions (probably not). I do wear lip balm and/or lip gloss. I admire women who wear dramatic eye makeup, but I don’t have the skills or knowledge to wear eye makeup myself.

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?


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

Clothing: Feminine dresses, skirts, tops, and jumpsuits in shades of black, gray, blue, brown, etc. or patterned, ballet flats, button-up-the-front sweaters, sandals, heels
Jewelry: statement, antique/vintage, bohemian

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


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

The Opening Ceremony sweatshirt with the phrase, "Love Me Tender," sewn onto it; a sweatshirt with Aaliyah's face on it; and a T-shirt Amy Winehouse once wore with (black) Women of Greatness (Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks, Coretta S. King, Maya Angelou, and Mahalia Jackson) on it.

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

My closet is neatly organized by style, season, and color. My pants are organized by type: shorts, jeans, three-quarters, leggings, corduroys.

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

The three necklaces my sister gifted me when I was the maid of honor at her wedding. They represented the three most important literary works from our childhood. A looking glass necklace with a bronze chain, which represented Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A brass lion’s head on a brass chain that represented the Wizard of Oz. And, a silver necklace with a time piece on one side, the tree of life on the other side, and a swallow charm hooked in the chain, which represented the Little Prince. I later had that swallow charm tattooed on my ribcage.

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?

A textured, black A-line tank top. I initially thought it was lacking, but it has become the ideal exercise shirt.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Online, anytime.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Clean and like myself, but like the best version of myself.

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

My ambitions are artistic, intellectual, and professional and I dress accordingly.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I try only to buy items that are on sale; I don’t like spending too much on myself.

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

Burt’s Bee pomegranate lip balm and Purell hand sanitizer. Also, five rings and three tattoos.

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

A designer once told me I had a long torso and that I would look best in high-waisted skirts and pants. I’ve always thought I had a short torso so that comment made me feel much more encouraged to continue to wear high-waisted styles. I’ve also been told I don’t have just one singular style but a style that encompasses a multitude of styles. I try not to limit myself to just one look or style so I am pleased that is the sentiment that is being conveyed through my manner of dress.

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

July 29, 1988. I was born in Omaha, Nebraska; I now live in Eugene, OR.

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

African-american female in a mixed race family.

What kind of work do you do?

I work at a place that produces educational videos for foster, adoptive, and kinship care parents. I assist in research, customer service, and post-production.

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


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

I like being able to analyze and discuss my sense of style, or style in general, without being told I'm being frivolous.

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