Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
when i catch myself off-guard in the mirror and think, damn! I look good! in that split second moment before self-judgment kicks in.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
i notice the women, often younger women, who are look like they are just following what young women are "supposed" to be wearing. like every girl has the same olive parka with a dipped hem in back and the same black and red plaid shirt. they usually look polished and put together, but so un-original that it is a huge turn-off.
i get excited by women who are operating based on their own style ideas or preferences, even if they don't necessarily match my aesthetic taste, i really admire women who are doing their own thing, however subtly, instead of following the masses.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire women who look put together, like there was thoughtfulness in how they got dressed. I admire women with bold, unusual, and exuberant pieces. I equally admire women who are masterfully subtle in their style. I love a good, interesting detail, whether quiet or screaming.
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?
Actually, when was reading Women In Clothes. There's a line early on in there, that was just like, dressing is about being yourself. Being myself. That resonated with me. It was permission to just throw out all the other "rules". I am the ultimate, final authority in my style. That realization brought a lot of fun back to dressing.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
I am insanely particular about where I shop and what I'll buy. I will only buy certain things new: socks, underwear, bras, shoes. Everything else, I try to get second-hand. I only want natural fibers. I am obsessive about checking fiber content tags on garments. Sometimes my particularities exhaust me. So while I'd say fiber content is important and second-hand is great, I don't know if I'd really recommend the rigidness I have about it.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
If it is too tight in the butt or too short, it is a no-go. Never wear heels. Purses must have shoulder straps for hands-free use; backpacks preferable.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
I'm not sure I've had it yet. I rarely have conversations about it, it's more of a solo-pursuit.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
I'm fairly systematic. I like to set up systems where I know I need to periodically check in with how things are going at given intervals, and give attention to things as needed in the interim.
For example, I sit down to do money stuff once per month, and get tracking reports periodically in between. Or I spend time talking to my partner every day, my parents a couple times a week, and my grandmother and best friend once per week. That kind of thing- cyclical and time-based; managing information flow and attention. You can't pay attention to everything all the time.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
Not really, no.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
I made my boyfriend a pair of pajama pants that fit him perfectly. Every time he wears them, I feel awesome.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
Hahaha, all of them, because trends are uninteresting and tedious.
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
This is fraught. We do not have the same body or the same style, but I think we respect each others styles.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
Yes. I have stolen and borrowed clothing from my mom, dad, brother, and multiple boyfriends. That's the best stuff.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
Yes, many times. Two that come to mind:
I was raped in college and for the next 3 years, had to see the rapist around campus. The first fall back, after it had happened, I came back with steel-toed paratrooper boots that made me feel powerful, even when I was plagued with anxiety and PTSD. I literally felt that if that person bothered me, I could kick them. I wore a lot of edgy clothes and many layers.
More recently, I had a major period of anxiety and depression and my wardrobe became more and more restricted and I became more and more invisible.
Both, I think, were ways of feeling protected and safe.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
I do not have a particularly feminine or sexual style of dress. That feels pointed and political to me, resisting expectations of gender performance. I am not here for you to look at my body and ignore my person-hood. I do not want to be objectified. Being treated like that makes me feel uncomfortable.
16. Please describe your body.
Thick and thin, long and short, straight and curved: a delight of contrasts.
I love my body but I also find it hard to stay in my body and feel good about it.
17. Please describe your mind.
I live more in my mind than in my body. It's always been like that.
18. Please describe your emotions.
I have a rich intra-personal life.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
Medium rinse denim cuffed burmuda shorts.
Brown leather belt
Boxy black knit linen tshirt
Dove grey underwear
Brand new hot pink eyeglasses
Partial french braid.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
Personal presentation is so highly charged and so deeply lived.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
My mom, my boyfriend, some of my girlfriends- but not a lot always, because they're all smaller than me and can't really identify with real life struggles of being tall and curvaceous.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
I had to wear a uniform for many years in school, and on free-dress days, would go really eclectic and rebel against it with messy hair and smudged eyeliner.
In college, I got a lot of free clothes, and had a more eclectic look that matched the institution.
In my first job, I worked at an arts college, and dressing for that was a nightmare. I had to look professional, yet creative, I was barely older than the students but had to have some kind of authority, I was broke, and I had to be comfortable.
For the first time, basically ever, I am not attached to an institution because I am a contractor. I can wear pretty much whatever. I feel like a bit of a blank slate with out an institution to conform to or rebel against.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
Eh, I don't spend much on clothing.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
Wearing men's boxer briefs. No lines. Super comfy.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
I am an artist. I have been told and believe I have a clear artistic style.
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?
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. If anything, I have too much discernment.
It comes from having particular ideas about quality and ethics. I want things that last and that are low-impact.
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?
Yes, they did. It's hard to remember.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
I have a collection of garments that are specifically worn when I want to seduce my boyfriend.
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?
Comfortable = pragmatic clothes. I can walk in the city in the elements in it; it doesn't chafe or rub or pull or need re-adjustment. It doesn't reveal things I'd like to keep private.
Confident= clothes that don't need a lot of attention, so I don't feel self-conscious; feeling like I have the right attire for the occasion, like I understood the expectation.
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?
I am an expert at my philosophy, because it is mine, without hypothetical situations.
Style experts are a crock of shit. I would say, wear what you want, use common sense, and have fun with it, if you want to. Do your own thing. Also, stop buying cheap crap.
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
Beauty is the feeling of my heart being tugged on, it can be invoked by all kinds of things.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
Tacky. Cheap. Thoughtless.
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 have gotten quite good at this. I had a phase where I was insane about rules about what could come into the closet and it could only be pragmatic things that would work in every day life. I think that is still a good philosophy.
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?
Oh god, this is my absolute least favorite kind of dressing. I never really wear make up or do my hair or wear fancy things, so the whole ordeal feels unfamiliar and I feel ashamed that unlike other women, these things don't just come naturally to me.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
Weather. Walking. Anything in particular calling my name.
Actually, that's really it most days.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
Capturing my inner spirit.
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
Dressing = every day, thoughtful
Dressing up = stressful, events-minded, having to conform to some standard and do something out of the ordinary
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
I basically do wear a uniform of knit linen tees, denim or black jeans/pants, and stripes. I love stripes.
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
Me: Ease, naturalness, subtlety, thoughtful or weird details, intellect, quality fabrics, smart, unusual cuts or shapes, pragmatic, hard-wearing, full range of motion, a slightly sheer draped knit top, artistic attitude, 8" lace-up boots.
Not me: Status handbags, makeup, heels, low-quality polyester tops with strange cut-out backs, odd lace treatments, and novelty prints, made out of fabric that is thin and feels like bad dress lining, anything garish or ostentatious, kitsch, crew-neck t-shirts with slogans, fast-fashion.
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
I was raised to be independent and smart and thoughtful and opinionated. I think that is reflected in what I wear and how I approach getting dressed.
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?
See #14 and #22.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
Oh god, this is the worst for me. I am young and poor and work in creative fields, where you're trying to look adult and well-designed and that is much easier to do with money. I think what I lack for in expensive dress, I make up for with a professional attitude.
45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?
I am a contractor and work from home. But sometimes I am at a co-working space, with a lot of people who look as though they are wearing like, expensive indie-designer looks, with everything clean and new and expensive. I try to understate my clothes- simple palette, simple cuts, nice fabrics to fly under the radar. Also I try to stop caring because I don't necessarily agree with that style.
46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?
I have absolutely no one explicitly telling me what to wear for anything. I love it. I only have to have 1 wardrobe. None of this work stuff, weekend stuff divide.
47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?
When I did have uniforms, I would break small rules or do hair and makeup that was rebellious. Like, in a private school, where there was a uniform and everyone had long flowing glossy hair and tans, I got a pixie cut, which i didn't comb, and wore eyeliner and black nail polish.
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
I resist and hate having externally imposed ones.
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?
No. Things I wore 10 years ago would not fit my life now, and vice versa. There are distinct phases. Some pieces have spanned many phases, but not everything translates.
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?
Yes. I had a phase were I deeply wished I could wear custom tailored suits, pocket squares, and cuff links. I was obsessed with cufflinks. I recently tried wearing them with a shirt with french cuffs, though, and hated it in practice.
I do love a good man's shoe, although that is someone out of necessity as I have large feet and many manufacturers do not produce women's shoes in my size.
I have wished to be a man, not because I really want to be one, but because I sometimes just want to escape the cripplingly oppressive forces of misogyny and body-shaming that are an unavoidable part of being a woman.
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
Now. I am here now.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
It depends. Sometimes it's nice thoughts and sometimes it isn't.
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
In my artistic style, yes, definitely.
In my dress style, no, not really. I do my own thing.
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
Yes. Once time I dreamed of getting a plain silver band ring. I was quite young. It had such significance I asked for one. I later gave it to a boyfriend, and never got it back, which I resent.
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
Very done, very polished, very restrictive, very corporate.
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?
Actually, I disagree with this question, because the problem isn't my body or my comfort with it, but the availability of what I can find and afford. If I could find them, I would wear more body-hugging, Grecian, goddess-like draped items. And if I had more money, I would wear like, gorgeous Escada dresses and weird mid-range indie labels with clever cuts and prints. And actually, the caveat to both of those things would also be if I had a different life where Escada and Grecian gowns were appropriate.
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
Attract intelligence and compassion.
Repeal insularity of thought.
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
You do you.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
No. I am sensitive to chemicals. I use essential oils instead, which I love for their purity of smell.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
Generally: comb my hair, press a damp washcloth on my face, not smell terrible, and change out of what I slept in.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
It doesn't. I don't wear 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?
No. Who's expecting me to do anything?
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
Enough for me to have structure and variety.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
Black linen knit tshirt. It is so breathable. That is a big factor for me. And it goes with everything, to every occasion.
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 bunch of wool coats that I thrift-ed at the end of a particularly cold winter and I haven't really worn because it wasn't really cold enough for them. But I had them all dry-cleaned and shipped from where I bought them, so I can't get rid of them.
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?
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?
Yes. I have donated items and later regretted getting rid of them. It's hard to even articulate why, I just think about them and wish I had them back.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
Probably this black, grey, and white wool swing coat, in a over-sized houndstooth print; with a shawl collar, 3/4 length sleeves, and big patch pockets. The lining is torn and I bought it for $10 at a yard sale probably 10 years ago, now that I think about it. I just love that coat.
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
I kind of have done that, after a weight change and period of life transition. A lot of stuff didn't fit or was worn out.
If I had to do it over again, I would not try to survive for so long on so little. I would be like, go buy more than 3 pairs of socks and two pairs of pants! You're going to wear them!
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
I used my first paycheck ever to by a turquoise leather Michael Kors handbag with silver hardwear and big silver leather stitching. I was like, 14. It's still in my closet at home. I don't use it, because it is wildly impractical for my life- it doesn't fit over my shoulder, so I'd have to carry it by hand, which I hate, it doesn't have a zip-top, so stuff can fall out, it is so delicate in color and texture I'd be scared to use it in my urban life.
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
Recently I bought a draped, ruched Tadashi Shoji gown in navy mesh for like, $16 from Goodwill. I had been having a period of deep body discomfort and I hadn't put on something like that in ages. In the dressing room, I was shocked by how beautiful I looked in it. It hugged my body and made my height look regal. I felt so beautiful in it, I bought it even though I had no occasion for it. It made me start feeling good about my body again, because I thought, it's not me, it's the clothes. So many of the clothes in size 16 are just sack-like, and don't do much to create a beautiful figure. When I was 50 pounds lighter, a lot of clothes made me feel beautiful like this. It's just rarer to find in this size, which is stupid and frustrating and enraging.
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
A perfect black skirt that doesn't cling, or show my underpants, or is too corporate, and that would go with anything.
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
It's all organized. I don't have a dresser.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
Yes, my mom gave me a pearl and silver necklace and a pair of gold earrings right around when I graduated college. They made me feel so adult and were so nice, it was like a show of support as a launched my new adult life.
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?
Yes! This happens all the time. Because sometimes the most boring stuff to buy is most useful, like a plain tshirt or or pair of jeans bought in a hurry.
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
Mostly at the nearby goodwill, as that is basically the only clothes shop within my neighborhood. Weekday mornings are the best time to go.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
Not reeking of BO.
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
I like to dress like an artist. It makes me feel more legitimate in my creative pursuits.
80. How does money fit into all this?
I am poor and don't buy many clothes and most of them are second hand. I sew for myself. I wear things to death. I have a small number of items. I only spend a lot on bras and shoes, because I have finicky feet and breasts and difficult to find sizes in both those items.
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 my grandfather's wrist watch as my demarcation of working / not working. I put it on for work and take it off when it's time to relax.
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
Yes, the person that abused and raped me in college said many verbally abusive and dehumanizing things about my clothing, body, posture, style, etc. It has taken so much effort to deprogram that bullshit. It is still a process to get rid of that shame.
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 remember my cousin would come over and paint my nails. I was maybe 3? I would get a fushia base coat, covered by a layer of multi-colored glitter polish.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
I am 24. I was born in the American southwest. I live in the American northwest.
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
I am grateful for the privileges my background has afforded me.
What kind of work do you do?
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
Long term boyfriend
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
I love saying such personal things but staying anonymous.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
My wrist hurts.
I'm a young artist and creative in a city.