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Kay Mollica

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

My eyebrows are waxed from the day earlier so all the redness is gone. I have foundation, black liquid liner, and a bold lip color on my face. Clumpless mascara. I am wearing heels and a short skirt and a top that is in a primary color that shows off my figure. My hair is simply styled but out of my face. People are excited when I enter a space. I am complimented by people I admire and have good conversation. When I laugh and make other people laugh.

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

All the time. I like women in white high top converse, menswear, moms in sparkly flip-flops, tweens in graphic tees, interesting fall and winter boot selections on women, and false eyelashes.

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

I like when I see that an outfit is comprehensive. Hair is a difficult and elusive medium for me so I admire when women really nail it. I admire short and styled haircuts. I love to notice when women wear clothes that perfectly celebrate their tattoo(s). I notice when women have nice details like the perfect cross-bag or a bold earing.

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 dressed as a pin-up girl for Halloween my sophomore year of college. The color schemes worked for my hair and skin and the way the lines cut across the body celebrated my curves way more than any boho look I could have tried. I liked getting bangs, too. I remember feeling intimidated to wear a leather jacket with red lipstick but one day I just did and was so into it. The way people dressed at my college when I attended was really cool. I think I learned to be more myself by seeing others be more themselves. It was a great beauty standard to see after seeing so much of a preppy style in my hometown.

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

I can't stand to wear tights with skirts or dresses it just doesn't WORK with! "It doesn't have to match, it has to GO." Emphasize a waist at all costs. No denim on denim.

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

see above

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

There have been a few. I think just not giving a shit about visible panty lines, wearing whatever colors and patterns you want together is liberating and any restraint on that mixing is stupid, and having an outfit fit a mood "So fall!" "Madeline realness," "Very Lolita," have been some of them.

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

I want to learn and do anything and everything while I'm still young and not restrained by much. And I want to be funny.

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

I have a lot of different shades of high waisted jeans. I like the lines they give my body and can be worn when it's cold. I have two of the same perfectly fitting Forever 21 peter pan collar dresses. All of my dresses nip at the waist. I feel most comfortable when my body is proportionate in clothes. A waist on everything lends me to that break up.

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

I gave my Dad and my best friend short scarves from Scotland and Ireland when I was there studying abroad. They always tell me when they wear them that it's nice to have a warm scarf in a shorter length. I think it looks classy and seasonal on both of them.

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

Harem pants are too floaty for my fitted and vintage look. I never bought into statement necklaces to go with cocktail dresses, though I'm open to it. My hair is too short for the mini bun atop the head. I can't do dainty gold jewelry. I lose them and feel it throws off the cohesion of the makeup and color choices I like. Dainty is hard for me. I prefer bold, purposeful looks.

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

My mother's family has big hips and butts. I have a small bottom and carry most of my weight in my middle. I have my mom's crooked teeth on the front left of my mouth. I took style advice from my mother when I was younger but have since deviated. Now she takes tips from me. I took all her vintage sweaters and mom jeans for summer shorts, though.

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

I follow a fashion blogger and bought a red skirt from her, once. I never wear it. But the idea was there? I like looking up 50's era clothes and rockabilly fashions online. My friend Stephanie started wearing high waisted jeans in college and then all our friends bought them. We were all supportive and happy for each other, though. That was a perfect tip for what I like to wear now.

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

College my sophomore year was a starting point; I was unafraid to go more vintage senior year and beyond. I like to have a defined style. I also love drag queens and wrote my senior thesis about televised drag culture. It was 60 pages about RuPaul's Drag Race, my favorite TV show. I LOVE how queens rock a devoted look and perform to the high heavens out of it. The show gave me one of my favorite lines when it comes to really going for it in fashion and style: "If you're going to be a coke whore, come out with a plate of coke."

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

People tell me I remind them of Rosie the Riveter. I am not afraid to make fun of myself with silly sushi printed tops (BIG compliments on that one,) or one of my favorite sweaters that boasts in big white letters LAST PLACE. I am not afraid to look beautiful, purposeful, and done up during the day. Children like to point out my dark purple lipstick at the grocery store. Other than that, my political views are pretty clear when you talk to me. I am very opinionated.

16. Please describe your body.

I am a medium curvy. I carry some weight in my midsection and upper arms. I have a round face and have a bit of fat under my chin. I have short wavy black hair with bangs. I have thin and defined legs and small to medium sized feet. I am white but get a surprising amount of color in the summer given my pale in the winter months. I have brown eyes and long fingers that bend naturally when I am at ease.I flush easily.

17. Please describe your mind.

Unique and neon. Big and jokey. Clings to off-kilter vocabulary / repels basic math. Always buzzing with opinions and has an almost immediate relationship with my mouth.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Usually takes on the sensation with whatever song / book / thought / friend / loneliness / memory it is coping with. Emotions sometimes overwhelm me, but in general they are good. The propel me in the direction I ultimately wish to go. I am trying to have less of the pendulum swings of my emotions while I'm at work. Most of my emotions stem directly from questions I have. If I'm crying, it's probably because I don't know or don't like the answers. Does that make sense?

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

I am wearing socks from work today. They have to be black at my job but I like them on the weekends too because they go well with my Sam Edleman black booties I like to wear a lot. I have my brother's stolen blue pajama pants. Sorry, Gabe. I have one of my favorite sweatshirts my FLAWLESS pullover that's in reference to the Beyonce visual album. One of my best friends Tory has one, too. It's a conversation piece I wear for comfort and warmth but can style with leggings, a bandana, and keds for a cute look. I still have my makeup on from the day. I like my eyeliner and will wear it even when just relaxing by myself right now. Foundation is probably not great to wear longer than I need it, but life doesn't revolve around that as much as complicated skin care routines think it is. My hair is parted with the bangs swept aside. I really like my bangs, but I was outside with my hood up in the wind today for work, so I just shoved them out of my eyes. I kept it that way. I recently got my haircut so I had the thought: maybe some days I wear my hair like this if I want a bangs break. This is it's trial run. Welcome. So far so good.

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

This stuff is so important! It is a part of me. Aesthetics is community building, it is self-care, armor, choice. I think I have a signature look and it is hard to feel like myself sometimes without it. I love clothes / beauty. There is room for so much interpretation.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Stephanie, Elisa, my mom.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

My college was a big influence. I live in a city and take public transportation to get around so comfort and warmth are a huge need. My position right now is an institution so I wear a uniform Monday through Friday. Some days are harder than others.

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

I think I have both. I think my style is something constantly being cultivated. Style is what I use to put the horse before the cart in feeling confident. My new hair is a little brash so it helps me feel a good combination in that I can take risks but also not take myself too seriously. My wardrobe is a lot of vintage clothing and I really like giving things new life and paying homage to older american forms of beauty but giving them my own life. Style can mean a lot of different things about the general way you interact with the world and if I can have my radiant personality with a fabulous touch of looking and feeling put together, I am so happy to navigate the world as I will. Taste to me is choice and restraint. There's a lot of pretty things, and I can recognize that, but my style dictates if I want them in my life or not. It helps me say FUCK YOU! to expensive things. I want to be punk rock in that way.

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

I remember I made my poor mother pay 66 dollars for a pair of high heeled oxford booties when I was in high school. They were impossible to walk in and uncomfortable, but I liked how they looked adult, dark, sophisticated, and "fall." It was when the oxford was coming into vogue and they were hard to spot but then one million of them were produced and they lost their special appeal to me. In my defense, I did wear them maybe twice to things like recitals or some other time I needed to get a bit gussied up.

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

Everything goes with vintage coach bags. I have about 7. I never need to buy a purse again.

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

I like hand written letters a whole lot. I have a lot of notebooks and and pretty good at keeping journals. I am trying to cultivate a little library. I think home stylings are pretentious, but admittedly I take a long time to buy things like cute lunch boxes, sheets, teacups, target throw rugs. I love pins, desk decor, and knick knacks. I do feel that some people are better at it than I am, though.

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 day. It's my choice and my dopamine rush and I never get tired of it.

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 very well. I am still seeing what it really means to advocate for myself in other realms of my life, though. I am just out of college so it's a new skill to learn. I like trying new things so much, I am open to going and bailing if it's lame.

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 mom guided me though style, but I didn't buy work out clothes until I was 20. Mom doesn't believe in work out clothes but I love them. I learn just by being out in the world. I pick up what I need to re: clothes.

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

I need my winged eyeliner.

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?

Pour que no los dos? I like when women aren't afraid to dress for the occasion. If you're hiking, dress for it! No worries and women being ready to go oddly inspire me.

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?

If you put your greatest resource, your time, into style you'll figure it out. It looks vastly different on me than it does other people.

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

I BEAM when young girls express themselves. And vintage lace. But not in cheesy wedding photos. I mean on Dita Von Teese and in vintage stores in London.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Jealousy, rudeness, inconsideration, racism, ignorance, That band "Korn."

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 am a good judge of if I will wear it 65% of the time.

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 just like to look different. I like when people note that I am unique. This is not to say that "I'm not like all the other girls" or that other anti-feminist bullshit. I like for people to think "I wouldn't have considered wearing a vintage sweater with a cheetah print rockabilly collar and a bright red lip to a frat party." There's room for all of us! I can be here, too. I like to pique interest.

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

I lay out all of my clothes the night before. I consider weather and whether I want to wear a lipstick. The outfit has to go around that in that case.

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

Do I feel beautiful? Ready for the full day if I can't change? Is there an obvious element to this that I feel most like myself? Maybe I want to highlight a particular piece. Some noticeable some just for me. Is it a LOOK? I like to pick a decade or for what the occasion is. Cute girl in coffee shop maybe I'll wear a sweater I feel cute and cozy in. Movie date I'll go with slick jeans, boots, a red lip and a bandanna. If it's the summer I have a collection of sweet light weight dresses with keds I feel incredible in. If I catch a glimpse of myself, I want to smile.

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

I dress up during the day. Evening wear comes infrequently for me and I LIVE for it. It's time to break out the faux fur stole and nude pumps. Same makeup.

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

Something gingham. Keds. Shows off my legs. Light Audrey and day time Dita Von Teese. Cute as hell.

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

Me: bright lips, winged eye liner, dark florals, gingham prints, RED, bandannas, bangs, Not Giving a Fuck, feminism, empowerment, puns, laughs, CHERRY PRINTS, old concert tees, short nails with a bold color, MIKA albums, GLAMOUR, Rosie the Riveter, strong women, color, POLKA DOTS, emphasized waist lines, stripes, light nautical, enamel pins, drag queens, boulder hats, pea-coats, faux fur, velvet, female friendship, apples, black, careful lettering, carefully chosen phone case, nice pens, moleskins, the occasional graphic tee
Not Me: pearls, highlights, beige, sex, long nails, blazers, I HATE BOAT SHOES, novelty shoe laces, ambient sounds, grimaces, I HATE LONGCHAMP BAGS, whatever newscasters wear, mini skirts, sports, boho, earth tones, the 70's, fringe, designer bags, shapeless dresses, shapeless greys, I HATE SHIRT DRESSES, Daniel Tosh, eye shadow, subtlety, prissiness

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

I am white and suburban. I watched too much TV. I studied media and film. I project myself a lot in media and am a Rolodex of pop culture references. I think I dress because I consume a lot of curated imagery. I try not to watch / read / hang out with crap. I am glamorous for the suburbs are dull, darling! I am Italian and like to look like I'm an extra in the lame Jersey boys movie.

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 went through a very dark time (literally) where I thought I looked best in earth tones. I wore a lot of peace signs and brown statement rings. I had long hair and I would put some of it in purely ornamental braids. I was still figuring it out. My psyche has seen worse.

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

I like dark tights. I have one grey skirt I can wear with any top and do what I can to feel most like me with my make up. I make it work. I really don't have anything professional except things I fiddle with.

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

I'm supposed to wear the correct backpack. I wear my soft all black one with all these cool pins instead. It keeps me and my back sane.

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

Right now, I wear a uniform Monday through Friday for my year of service. Some days are harder than others.

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

I'm supposed to wear the designated backpack but I wear my own Everlane slouchy one! It has cool enamel pins on it. It helps to sustain my sanity and back health.

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

Constraining most of the time, comfortable when I'm working outside and need to layer up and it doesn't matter what I'm wearing.

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?

I have a thrift store dress with a black top and black checkered skirt. It comes with a tie for the waist. I got it last year but I love wearing it in the summer. I would say it's very me in that it's perfectly comfortable, flatters me, and is ready to be accessorized. I don't think I could have worn it during every point in my life, but during these past maybe 4 years its a perfect fit. I also LOVE the summer, and I can only wear it then. See above: if it doesn't work with tights it just doesn't!!!

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 love androgynous style but the overall elements to it aren't exactly me. Men can have cool things to wear, but they look 100000000000 times sexier on women.

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

1950's Betty Draper but punk as shit.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

No. When I try to pose I look silly. I like taking selfies with all editorializing in my hands, but I think I look better in person. A photo never seems to capture how on point my eyeliner usually is. Or my effervescence and charm.

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

"When you cheese like that, I see why people call you cute." Or, "you're sooooo trying too hard."

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

I love Dita Von Teese and general old hollywood glamour in photos. I like punk rockabilly women with septum piercings. Taylor Swift has great fashion evolutions.

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

Not that I recall.

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

minimalist chic or anything with fringe.

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?

More of the same! I think I know that's how I like my taste the way it is.

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

Young girls, but that's also with everything. I think I attract good vibes when I feel good about my clothes. It makes me brighter and more on my game of wit.

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

You CAN. You can wear red lips (those are timeless.) You can wear nice fitted bras. You can try to imitate a look that you want to try! Not just mine. Sometimes women will compliment something about me and say "I COULDN'T, but I wish I could." Well if it's not you that's one thing, but trying implies you don't take yourself as seriously which is totally a good thing, and you are beautiful and contain multitudes, my dude!

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

I have body spray. I joke it's my "signature scent" but I think perfume has turned into another thing people with sellable names slap themselves on to make money. Real perfume artists should be furious. I also think it's a waste of money. I really do want to smell like a vanilla cookie and not a "real woman" or whatever else capitalist sexism made up though. Sue me.

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

Eyebrows are waxed. Bra is good to go. My body tends to fluctuate but I do prefer control of those things.

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

I feel incomplete without my eyeliner. Or, I can be in sweats but eyeliner can make it look elegant. I love it, I never get tired of the transformation in the morning of putting it on. It's become my signature. I also have been having a lot of redness and flairups so I like to wear foundation to feel my best and have a nice clean slate for my face. I like makeup and I like looking like I wear makeup. Eyeshadow eludes me. I also once heard "eyeliner without mascara is like champagne without bubbles!" So I always think of that when I put it on.

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?

Any trend, actually. Those stupid handkerchief hem skirts for a while, crop tops, denim shirts, statement necklaces. I do like exposed collars and oxford flats, though. I just take what I like and leave the rest.

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

A few reliable earrings, polka dot everything, fun collection of tee shirts, winter sweaters, vintage style blouses or if not I'll add a banana and lipstick, everything with a nipped waist. Nods to my favorite pillars of pop culture.

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

I like my cherry shirt that ties in the middle. It doesn't always feel amazing on me because I don't always feel great in my body, but I like that I own it a lot.

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've been throwing everything out. Though I do have my prom dress. I don't know why.

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?

A good pair of shoes are INVALUABLE.

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?

UGH I REALLY WANT THIS PERFECT FITTING BLACK DRESS BACK. It was seriously my favorite item and I lost it completely. It has a cut out in the back that was surprising and sexy. I wore sweaters over it in the winter and it always aligned perfectly to my form. So mad.

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

These nice fitting black jeans from Zara with rips in the knees. They go with everything and make me feel slim.

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

I would buy printed pants! Why not. So fun.

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

A good winter coat. Also invaluable. It has fur on the hood that's kind of extra but I've learned to embrace how glamorous it is for the every day.

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

keds. Love um, a perfect shoe for the look I'm trying to achieve.

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

That PERFECT black dress that I lost. Anything that fits impeccably. I don't let them get away!

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

I don't keep them that neat. I like to have a space for plain black cotton leggings and gym / sleep / comfortable tees.

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

I actually have very patricular taste. Let me buy it, please. Once my mom offered to drive me BACK to the mall to buy this super comfy on sale long grey sweater that manages to look cute, comfortable, and sophisticated. It was also on sale. I was touched she offered to go back to the mall! It was totally worth it I wear it all the time!

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 have a green cable knit sweater I got out of a box in college. I like to wear it as a completer piece a lot of the time with a colorful oxford! I always think, actually "I can't believe I still have this I really like it." It's about 5 years old now.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

Often! I like thrifting as a new city or new place activity. It's also a special occasion when I'm home to do with my mom.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Vanilla. I also LOVE regular dove powered deodorant. I love the smell. It's inviting.

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

I am bright, interesting, and love pop culture and history of brassy women. Clothes help honor that in me.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I've been pretty good. I don't spend more than 20 on a shirt and have invested in good jeans, shoes, and like 3 coats. It's been a good formula.

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

liquid liner though not every day.

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

When people really like what I wear and my style, I want to wear cool stuff even more.

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 one of the first times I dressed myself I wore one of my favorite blue butterfly skorts (obviously) and a striped shirt. My mom made me change because she said the colors clashed. I remember standing on top of the stairs and wondering why what I had chosen was so bad. I remember thinking "oh, adults care about stupid stuff." But I changed anyway.

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

July 19th, 1993. I was born and raised in New York and for right now I live in Boston, MA.

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

I am italian and I like looking like a little baby knock off Sophia Loren.

What kind of work do you do?

I am serving with a non-profit as a sort of college gap year program. This is my second year.

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

as single as you can be. It's always been that way, I do not know another state as well as this one.

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

I studied Media, Society, and the Arts in college and I think it was a "very me" brand of study. My personality and uniqueness are very important to me. I value being funny.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?



Kay Mollica is New York transport enjoying Boston. She is dehydrated, probably.

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