Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
I have really thick (bushy is probably the right word) eyebrows. They look great when they are professionally manicured, but my hair grows rather quickly, so they start to look unkempt very quickly. I feel my most attractive when I've had them professionally tidied. I should really do it myself, but I never feel as good after having tidied them myself.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
It sounds terrible, but women I often find myself noticing are women who I don't think have dressed appropriately for their shape. I have nothing against bigger women - I am one, and I prefer bigger women. But I do often find myself noticing women who would look much better if they had a slightly longer dress on or a slightly looser pair of pants. I know that it can be hard to dress and look good when you aren't stick thin, but I think there is a lot of clothing available now that looks really good on women who are larger, and so I think it's a shame when women don't wear that clothing.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I am a lawyer and so work in a profession where a lot of women feel compelled or pressured to wear very corporate clothing and high heels. I have come to really admire the women who don't feel the need to fulfil those expectations or stereotypes. I admire the professional women who demonstrate their personality through what they wear, and who recognise that a pair of shoes without a ridiculously high heel can look phenomenally good. I admire the women who can see past the black suit and white shirt.
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 recent times the whole high heel thing is something that has really clicked for me. A lot of high heels I find to be incredibly unattractive, and I suppose what has clicked for me is that plenty of other shoes look just as good and professional and glamorous and stylish as high heels (if not more so). I don't need to wear high heels just because I am a professional and just because the majority of the women that I work with do. I think I've come to realise that the kind of shoes you wear don't determine how good a lawyer you actually are. And I've also realised that high heels are lot more susceptible to being damaged by endless pounding around the office than brogues are!
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
In about the last year or so I have started buying shoes online. It has a lot to do with the fact that, truth be told, I have really smelly feet and so find it incredibly uncomfortable trying shoes on in shops, especially when the shop assistants are overly effusive and helpful! Admittedly online shoe shopping hasn't been the most successful for me - the pair of Beau Coops I bought are one size too big, but I still wear them anyway. The Adidas Stan Smiths I bought are one size too small, but I still wear them anyway. Sandals are hard to buy online. I've taken to emailing the shop that I am ordering shoes from (if it is an actual shoe shop as opposed to a website like ASOS) and asking them whether the shoes are small fitting or larger. That's been useful.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
I tend to wear baggy, loose fitting clothes, and I tend to wear what many people might wear as a dress as a tunic or long top over trousers. I do that to hide the fact that I have a round, protruding belly. I wouldn't necessarily recommend wearing baggy, loose fitting clothing to other people as I do think it has a tendency to make the rest of your body look bigger than it actually is - something I often think when I look at myself in the mirror after having taken off a loose-fitting top or dress. But for me it works, and I'm generally comfortable with the way I look. I also wear a lot of black - again because it suits my shape and makes me feel slimmer. But I don't necessarily think that wearing black all the time is a good thing to do. People start to notice it. My boyfriend always comments on how black my wardrobe is - not in a rude or disappointed way, but it is an observation. He's encouraged me to add little bits of colour to my outfits, whether that be a scarf or a necklace (he bought be a blue gemstone necklace to wear with my black dresses!) and that's been good for me. Maybe it will encourage me to start wearing more colour.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
I remember when I was about 13 Mum was adamant that I should wear for school mufti-day the clothes that my Aunty had sent me from Gap in London. I wasn't a huge fan of the clothes - a pair of flared jeans and a retro Adidas tracksuit style jacket that was red and white. Looking back, they were seriously cool clothes, but at the time they were so different to the kinds of clothes that my image-obssessed 13 year old friends were wearing (including me most of the time). I remember Mum and I having this huge argument - me telling her that I would look so stupid and be mocked by all of my mates, and her telling me that I shouldn't dress the same as everyone else and should want to have and be proud of having my own distinct style. I begrudgingly went to school in the clothes I thought were "lame", and while at the time I didn't agree with a word that Mum said to me, that conversation has stuck with me. And so much of it now rings true. I remember thinking Mum was so stupid when I caught a girl looking my outfit up and down as I got on the bus and smirking at me. But now I know Mum was right - I was definitely the best dressed at school that day, people just didn't realise the value of individual style at the tender age of 13!
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
In many ways my life feels un-unified. I have an incredibly happy relationship. I have a wonderful relationship with my family. I am highly organised when it comes to social occasions, managing our home and things like travel and cooking. I am hopeless at managing my finances. I tend to procrastinate when it comes to doing chores, and instead find myself having a once-a-fortnight blitz of the house. I am not particularly happy in my job at the moment - I like the work I am doing but I do not enjoy the team that I am working in and I don't like the management style of the people that I work for. I wish there was more harmony.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
I have multiple black dresses. I keep buying black dresses because I like black and black makes me look (and feel) slimmer than I am. I find black dresses incredibly elegant and beautiful, but equally very practical. I don't tend to delineate my wardrobe that much - what I wear to work I will generally wear out in the evening and in the weekend. I'll wear the same black dress to work on Monday with a blazer, scarf, black stockings and a pair of boots that I wore on Saturday with my Adidas Stan Smiths and a big woolly jersey thrown over top.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
I gave my sister a wee silver necklace a couple of years ago that had a wee silver bone dangling from it. She loves dogs and ever since our family dog Carrie died she's wanted another, but that hasn't been possible. She's worn that necklace every time I've seen her since giving it to her - I think she wears it every day. My sister is incredibly stylish, but in a very distinct way. I am pleased that she a) likes what I bought her and b) that it has meaning to her. I like that she's been able to build that piece into her own style, and that it doesn't look out of place.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
And the leisure wear trend. There has been a recent trend in New Zealand (and it's still ongoing) for people to live in leisure wear - all of it branded and most often colour coordinated; people will wear a pink cap with pink Nike runners and throw on a pink lipstick on the basis that that'll make going out for brunch in what's essentially exercise gear more acceptable. To be honest it's a trend I can't understand. To me you wear exercise gear when you're exercising or doing something that doesn't warrant wearing flash clothes. You don't generally look that good in exercise gear, so I can't understand why people wear it out but then spend lots of money or colour coordinate or add lipstick in an attempt to try and make the exercise gear look better!
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
Mum has always described herself as "fat". While she is a larger woman, I don't see her as fat. Instead I see her as someone who dresses incredibly well for her size. Mum's concern about her weight and the way her face looks are concerns that I think I have inherited from her, but equally I would like to think that I have inherited Mum's unique style and ability to put together a really good outfit for the body that I have.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
A couple of years ago I bought the exact same shirt that my sister had bought. The shirt was a loose fitting black shirt covered in large pink roses with green leaves. Both of us took out the shoulder pads. The shirt has these big drapey sleeves. I loved the shirt and when I saw it for sale online I immediately bought it. I told my sister I had, and justified it on the basis that it didn't matter because we don't live in the same city. When my sister first saw me wearing the shirt she decided that it suited me a lot more than it suited her - in fact, she conceded that when she bought the shirt she thought it was a shirt that I would love and look good in.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
My style changed a lot in my first year of University. I was living in a hall of residence with about 170 other people, half of whom were girls. All of a sudden I became obsessed with wearing what every other girl in the hall was wearing. I wore a lot of stuff that previously I'd never have worn, and in hindsight a lot of what I wore is what I'd now describe as a bit slutty. I also became obsessed with buying clothes - I did it constantly, though nothing was expensive and nothing was good quality. I spent so much money on clothes that I was actually meant to be putting towards paying for my hall of residence fees. It drove my parents crazy. I actually remember going home halfway through the year and Mum giving me a stern talking to about how I needed to stop spending money on clothes just to fit in when I couldn't afford to do so. Mum also told me that she found it really disappointing that I'd lost the unique style that I'd developed over the few years prior to going to University. She was sad that I was dressing like everyone else was and told me that a lot of the clothes I had bought were tacky and bogan. Those conversations have stuck with me and had a huge influence on me. I realised how much I wanted to be someone who was known for having a unique and distinct style, as opposed to being someone who followed the crowd.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
Not consciously and not overtly, but I suppose my recent decision to steer away from constantly wearing high heels in a law office environment is a slightly politically-charged decision. It's my way of saying there's nothing wrong with a female lawyer wearing shoes that aren't high heeled, and the fact that I am not doesn't make me any worse a lawyer than the women who are wearing high heels!
16. Please describe your body.
I am reasonably short. I am not stick thin. I have a big round belly - but I'm more accepting of that now than I used to be. I love to cook and eat and drink, so I figure that if that's what I'm into I have to accept the fact that I will always have a happy looking belly. I have curly hair that I have grown to love the older I have got. I recently cut it short and it lost a lot of its curl. I'm growing it out again. I have much better skin now than I did when I was a teenager. As a teenager I had terrible acne and was on medication for it. Now people often comment on how amazing my skin is. My body is often a bit unkempt - my eyebrows often look scruffy, my toenails are ugly and often overgrown because they're claw-like and difficult to cut by myself, and my legs are typically unshaven purely out of laziness in the winter! I like my body a lot more now than I did about 4 years ago. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that my boyfriend tells me how beautiful I am everyday, even when my legs are hairy and eyebrows are going haywire!
17. Please describe your mind.
My mind is pretty chaotic. It never stops. It's constantly thinking ahead, constantly thinking about the future and constantly planning for the days and weeks to come. I'm the kind of person who will think about what I'm going to wear the following week on the Thursday prior, or who will plan two weeks' worth of meals in one hit. I struggle to switch off and I have a tendency to obsess over things. It's hard to keep my mind calm.
18. Please describe your emotions.
For the most part I am a happy person. But I can be easily agitated and I don't always have much patience. I am cynical and often quite negative, but I try to be philosophical. I am the kind of person who is in a good mood when I have something to look forward to.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
My hair is a shambles - I've not long got up. I'm wearing my glasses - the ones I call my work glasses, because they were the ones I could find when I got out of bed. They're round, thick framed and tortoise shell coloured. I'm wearing the two silver bangles that I keep on in bed. I haven't put my other silver bracelet, earrings or ring on yet. I'm wearing the black bra that I always wear that is well and truly past it's best - I can feel some of the underwire digging into my right boob. I'm wearing a black camisole over that. It's old and past it's best too. And I'm wearing a pair of grey and pink spotty Elle Macpherson knickers. They're still in reasonably good knick. I'm contemplating getting in the shower, but keeping telling myself I'll do two more survey questions.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
I think clothes are important because they do tell a lot about what you are like as a person. I think they indicate whether or not you conform, and whether or not you are comfortable with yourself. Because I work in a very corporate and traditional profession, clothes have been a great way for me to demonstrate the interests that I have outside of my career - I was once told that I looked as though I worked in an art gallery (purely on the basis of how I dressed) and funnily enough that was a massive compliment to me - I liked the fact that someone had, without realising it, picked up on the fact that I have a huge interest in the arts.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
I talk a lot about clothes with my boyfriend, especially what I wear to work and what others wear to work - whether the clothes are appropriate or whether the clothes are stepping over the "not corporate" line too much. I also talk about clothes with my sister a lot - we usually always tell each other about the new clothes that we have bought, or often I'll seek out her opinion on an item of clothing that I am looking at.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
In New Zealand if you appear in the High Court if you are a woman you must wear a white collared shirt and a pair of black pants or a skirt. Your shoes must be black. Fortunately the area of law I practice means that I will probably never appear in the High Court. However, I did have to appear in the High Court when I was admitted to the bar as a barrister and solicitor. For a long time prior to my admission I toyed with the idea of fucking with the system a bit and wearing red shoes. In the end I didn't have the courage to do so (and probably had foresight not to!) But I decided that I somehow needed to break with tradition, in the most subtle way possible. I needed to do something that said "I have a little bit more personality than that!" And so, I bought a white shirt with a scalloped collar. It was barely discernible, and technically speaking I complied with all of the rules, but I still felt slightly good about the fact that I was fucking with the system, so to speak.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
I think taste is permanent, style transient. I think you have good taste if you like things now that you like in ten years time. I am hugely into food, so I guess I often look at the distinction between taste and style more often in the context of food than fashion. I will always love a good macaroni cheese and a good burger because they taste good. I won't necessarily always like oyster foam or raw superfood salads, as they're just fads that will be here one year and gone the next. We don't like those things because they taste good.
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
Every item of clothing that I have wasted money on has been cheap, bad quality and tacky. Most likely they were items of clothing I purchased circa 2010 when I was a conforming first year University student doing my best to fit in.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
Wearing a black skirt under a tunic or dress adds length and texture to the tunic or dress, and I think makes the tunic or dress look a little bit more elegant on the basis that the skirt gives it a little more length. I also think it adds a little quirkiness to an outfit without being too overt.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
I'd like to think I have taste in the area of food, as opposed to style. I'd like to think the same of interior decoration - I love to decorate my house and fill it with nice things, but I'd like to think that what I am filling my house with now is stuff that I'll still like in 20 years time, because it has meaning and purpose and significance, as opposed to being something I've bought because it's "in".
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?
The first time I appeared in court (other than my admission to the bar) I wore a really high pair of red high heels. I was up against a really scary female lawyer who had a lot of experience, and so I decided I needed to wear shoes that made me feel tall and powerful. I called them my "fuck you" shoes. In hindsight it was a stupid decision - it's pretty obvious when you're wobbling away with nerves on stiletto heels.
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 do know what I like in terms of clothing. The same goes with other areas of my life such as music, food, wine, interior design, art, books and so on. I think I am good at discernment, and in the last few years I've become a lot better at picking out things that I like several years down the track. I think that my discernment comes from my parents - they've always had an incredibly good eye for picking out things that they like in the present and in the future.
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 mother's treatment of clothing is immaculate - she is the best person at washing and ironing and caring for clothes. Unfortunately I can't say that I demonstrate the same level of care for my clothes, and that's something that would disappoint her, I think. But what my parents have taught me about clothing and dressing and what has stuck with me is that you need to dress for the occasion, you need to always have something warm with you and you need to wear clothes that you like - not the clothes the magazines tell you that you have to wear.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
Shave my legs!
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 means someone who is happy with whom they are. And someone who does not feel that there is a considerable amount of effort involved in something.
A person who is confident is a person who does not worry about what others think of them, yet still wants to be a person whom others think highly of.
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?
Simple and elegant with a little bit of edge and personality.
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
Delicious food made by friends for friends.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
Smoking. Tattoos. Visible g-strings.
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 got better at this, though given that I have taken to shopping online more frequently in the last few years I have got things wrong on a few occasions. Generally the things I don't end up wearing aren't things I dislike the look of, but things that don't quite work that well on my body.
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?
Someone who is a little bit self-conscious about the way that they look, but someone who doesn't spend countless hours manipulating the way that she looks - someone who doesn't spend a lot of money and time on makeup, hair dos and glitzing herself up. Someone who has strong values and someone who values intelligence and conversation over looks. Someone who likes to eat and drink with friends.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
I get out of bed and shower. I usually get back into bed for a cuddle with my boyfriend - kind of gross, but part of my ritual. It's at this point that I decide what I'm going to wear that day, too. That often means that I have to do a mad scramble iron in the morning. I get changed and then after breakfast brush my teeth, do my hair and do my makeup. I'd hate the thought of doing hair and makeup and teeth brushing before eating breakfast. In the weekend everything gets slowed down ten-fold, and I usually shower after I've had breakfast.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
Comfort, style and a hidden belly!
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
Dressing is something that I do every day. Dressing up is something that I do for special occasions. I don't dress up very often, because I have always prided myself on dressing in such a manner that I would look presentable at most occasions (maybe just not a wedding or a flash party!)
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
Black dress with t-shirt sleeves and a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths.
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
Lots of makeup and immaculate hair is not me.
A little bit scruffy but quirky and well-considered is me.
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
My cultural background hasn't really had any discernible influence on the way that I dress. Though I suppose living in New Zealand means that I am comfortable with dressing reasonably casually, but in the same breath there is a tendency for people in this country to dress so casually that they look like they've come straight from the farm or the gym! I think seeing people dress in that way has made me realise that while I want to dress reasonably casually and comfortably, I still want to put together a well-constructed outfit that shows a bit of my personality and that shows I've put in some effort.
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?
I dressed very differently in my early years of high school - back then I wore a lot of "sportswear". It was "cool" to wear sports tracksuit pants and sports shorts. And not just for sport. I wouldn't dream of wearing that sort of stuff in public now unless I was actually exercising or doing messy jobs!
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
Wearing a blazer to work makes me feel instantly more professional than I do without one. Carrying my black handbag makes me feel professional too, especially when you can see that it's stuffed with clear files and pads and papers.
45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?
What I wear to work is tidy and certainly would be considered as looking professional. But what I wear is very different to what other women wear. I don't wear heavily tailored clothing; I don't wear suits; I don't wear belts around the middle of dresses; I don't typically wear high heeled shoes. I wear clothes that have a little more personality, because I think fuck it, there's more to me than my job as a lawyer!
46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?
I don't participate in any extra-curricular activities as such. I suppose my favourite out of work activity is cooking, and I realised tonight when I was cooking dinner and thinking about this survey that I usually always cook in my work clothes, but I just ditch my shoes and stockings!
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
I hate uniforms. Mostly because a uniform always means ironing.
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 and a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors or Adidas Stan Smiths. I love the fact that this outfit is so comfortable and effortlessly cool looking, but that in many ways it also looks quite elegant - with a little bit of edge.
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 have often thought that it would be very easy to be a man for occasions like balls or weddings. I don't think like that so much when it comes to going to work, even though I suppose it would be much easier to just rotate between a few suits and shirts and ties each week.
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
I love fifties dresses. I would kill to wear those.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
Absolutely not. I hate having photos taken of me. I don't think that I ever look good in photos - they seem to capture and accentuate everything that I dislike about my body! I often look really grumpy or cold in photos. The funny thing is that the grumpiness and coldness probably reflects the fact that I am hating having my photo taken. Though typically photos are only taken of me when I'm socialising with friends or at an occasion I actually really enjoy - so the grumpiness and coldness is not an accurate reflection of how I'm feeling.
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
That it is a shame that the photo shows me resenting the fact of having my photo taken, as opposed to me having the good time that I am most likely having prior to and after the photograph being taken!
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
Not so much. I've developed my own sense of style that's not been influenced by any one particular person. I might have seen various outfits that figures from culture are wearing that I have liked over the years and may have borrowed ideas from those, but I have never set out to emulate someone else's style as such.
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
Not that I can recall. My dreams tend to be about having teeth pulled out, which might be a sign that it's time for me to go to the dentist!
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
Anything really tight - I would hate to have to wear things that emphasised the size of my stomach! I need to wear things that somewhat hide my stomach, so anything that drew attention to it would make me feel really uncomfortable.
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?
Togs! I hate the thought of me in togs or a bikini. I would love to have a body that I felt comfortable enough to put into a swimming costume.
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
I know that my boyfriend and I have such a solid relationship that I don't need to dress to impress him as such, but he does notice when I've made an effort with the way I look, so I do keep him in mind when I dress, especially if we're going out somewhere together.
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
Please, please wear a skirt or dress that goes to at least knee length if you have large legs - your legs will look much better if more of them are covered.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
I love perfume, but I do wish that it was less expensive than it is. I like perfumes that are subtle. I'm not a huge fan of perfume that completely overpowers a space when you walk in. I have been wearing Daisy by Marc Jacobs for a number of years now, and before that Madame by Jean-Paul Gaultier. I've just run out of Daisy, so now I'm waiting for Christmas or my passing through Duty Free when I go to Japan in February of next year. It's a long time since I haven't worn perfume regularly - it will be a bit strange.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
I feel much more presentable once I've moisturised my skin, had my eyebrows tidied and shaved my legs. I'm also very big on wearing ironed clothes. I absolutely detest ironing myself and am very bad at it, so I'm lucky that my partner is good at ironing and can be roped into doing mine by way of a gentle reminder that I am the one who does all of the cooking so it's only fair! I hate going out wearing something that needs ironing but hasn't been.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
I am hopeless at makeup. I have never been able to do it. Every day I moisturise and wear a reasonably cheap foundation and that is it. I should do more. Occasionally I wear lipstick, though my boyfriend gets annoyed by that because he's not used to me wearing it, so finds it annoying when I do have it on and he goes to kiss me!! Lately people have told me I have really good skin, so I kind of want to let my skin be what amazes people as opposed to makeup because for so long I had such shit skin that I would do everything I could to cover it up (which probably exacerbated the pimples even more!) It's nice to finally feel that I should just leave my skin to be.
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?
I don't. I've reached the point in my life where if I don't like a certain look I won't entertain even going there.
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
I have a lot of dresses. A lot of them don't fit particularly well anymore. I have very few pairs of pants - I always have - but the black pair of pants that I do have gets thrashed so much that they're nearly thread-bare. I have silver jewellery that I wear everyday as well as a few necklaces that have come to define me - especially the one that is made from wood that was salvaged from earthquake damaged houses. I have a lot of really cool coats - I love coats. I have a couple of really good pairs of shoes and a lot of shit, trashed looking cheap and nasty pairs - I tend to buy cheap shoes because I am so hard on them that buying expensive shoes isn't really an option. When I earn more money I will definitely spend more on better quality shoes.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
My favourite piece of jewellery is the Karen Walker flower earrings that my boyfriend bought me for Christmas not too long after we had met. I was always so amazed that he had gone to the effort of buying me earrings that he knew I so desperately wanted.
My favourite piece of clothing is a black sheer kimono style cardigan that I bought from a second-hand vintage store in Wellington, New Zealand many years ago. It's covered in brightly coloured flowers and has a really beautiful tube trimming around it. I have absolutely thrashed it (I wear it often over black dresses, as it's good for hiding my protruding belly!) but it still looks in good condition. Every time I wear it someone comments on how beautiful it is. It only cost me about $70.00.
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 this white sheer dress that is embroided with bright coloured flowers and birds. It looks sort of Frieda Kahlo or Peruvian mountain girl. It is super cool. I bought it when I was 16 and was developing my own sense of style that was different to the style of my peers. I can't bring myself to get rid of it even though it doesn't fit anymore. It's a dress I would buy now or still wear if I could, and I think that's why I want to keep it - to remind myself that this is the sort of thing that I like and that is "me".
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?
Black dresses, and pieces of clothing that came from second-hand or vintage stores - they tend to be the items of clothing that I've liked and worn for more than just a couple of seasons.
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 used to own this really cool Karen Walker woollen tunic. It was cream and covered in blue spots, and had a frilly trim around the V-neck. It was so cool and looked great over jeans. I sold it when I needed more money for a trip to Melbourne. I wish I'd never done that - it totally was worth more than the $20 I got for it, and I really should have just foregone a gin and tonic in Melbourne to have been able to keep it.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
My black cotton KowTow dress - because it is so comfortable, fits me perfectly and is very practical and versatile. It's probably a bit strange to want to keep something so basic and so insignificant by comparison to a number of the other items that I own, but I know that it's the kind of dress that I could actually get by wearing for the rest of my life without looking ridiculous or out of place!
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
I would buy several really expensive and good quality items, as opposed to lots of cheap items which is what I have tended to have done over the years - at least until I started working, anyway. I think that I would spend a lot more time, effort and money finding a good pair of jeans, and do the same with shoes.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
The first investment item I bought was a black winter wool coat. My Mum actually bought it for me. She bought it for me when I moved to Christchurch for University. I still have it - it's a duffel coat with a hood, but I never wear it anymore. It doesn't really fit me properly any more, but it's been hard to part with it because it's significant in that it's the first investment piece I really owned, and reminds me of starting a new life in a new city that has been my home for nearly seven years now.
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
The first time I bought a $375.00 pair of shoes was pretty significant. I actually realised that it's true the more money you spend on shoes the better quality they are, especially if you're heavy footed and rough with footwear!
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
I am still on the hunt for an incredibly well fitting and good looking pair of jeans.
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
A complete fucking shambles.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
My boyfriend gave me a vintage Hermes scarf for Christmas a few years ago. It seemed like such an amazing and thoughtful gift - something different to jewellery but something so significant and special. I liked too that he'd tried to find something that was vintage (he knows I love vintage clothing) but that was a statement item.
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?
I can't think of anything just yet. Perhaps my necklace made of wood salvaged from earthquake damaged houses in Christchurch - I think as time goes on that relic of the past will become more and more valuable.
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
I have taken to buying clothes online more in the last few years, and that has a lot to do with the fact that since the earthquakes in Christchurch we've lost a lot of good shopping. You either have to go to mainstream shops in shopping malls or really expensive designer stores in town. We've lost the mid-range stuff, and the boutique, second-hand stuff. I've found that to find clothes I like and that are different to what other people are wearing I have to shop online. I think spending less time out of shops has been good for me. I've always been someone who struggles to go into a shop and not feel a sense of severe desperation to buy something, or sheer disappointment when I can't afford to. I really only ever trawl clothes sites on the internet if I'm bored or if I get email notifications to say there's a sale on, so limiting myself to the internet more in the last few years has probably been a good decision financially.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
I would love to smell like Daisy by Marc Jacobs again - or any kind of perfume for that matter. I need more!
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
I have ambitions - in respect of my career, my relationships. But I would like to think that as far as dressing myself goes that what people see when they look at me is someone who has her own sense of style, someone who isn't worried about what other people think of her, and someone who isn't afraid to be herself. I'd like people to look at me and think that I do a good job of pulling together an outfit that looks smart but that doesn't look conventional and boring.
80. How does money fit into all this?
I spend a lot of money on food and drink. I seldom have much money leftover for clothing and shoes. But I still buy clothes and shoes. I tend to buy clothes I want and like, as opposed to the things that I actually need. I put off buying things I need like a new bra and new black socks in favour of something that I like the look of.
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 carry my black Status Anxiety handbag with me every single day. I bought it because it fits two bottles of wine it.
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
When my boyfriend told me for the first time that I had a beautiful body I remember thinking that I would always feel comfortable in the presence of and valued by this man. That hasn't changed.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
January 1992. I was born in a small city in New Zealand called New Plymouth. I now live in post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand.
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
I am a Pakeha (European New Zealander). I grew up in a middle-class family - both of my parents were (and still are) teachers.
What kind of work do you do?
I am a lawyer. I specialise in employment law.
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
I have a partner. We have been together for just over three years. We live together.
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
My major interests in life are food and wine, travel, family and friends.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
I feel comfortable with my style and my values, and pleased with my honesty!
Full-time eater and drinker.