Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When I feel healthy, well-rested, and in a positive state of mind.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
I notice women (and men) on the street all the time – I am drawn to people who are adventurous, creative dressers, who don’t look like everyone else. I originally started my blog, called Forest City Fashionista to celebrate these kinds of people living in London, Ontario. When I see someone who is dressed in such a way that they stand out from the crowd, it makes me want to know more about them.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire women who takes risks with their style choices - bright colours, interesting proportions, statement accessories, etc. and who appear confident about their choices. You can tell when someone feels ill at ease in what they are wearing. I love seeing women wearing hats (and I don't mean winter toques).
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?
My personal style has been an evolution, and there was not any one particular moment of revelation that I can pinpoint.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
If I try something on and it doesn't make me feel fabulous, then I don't buy it. I have broken that rule occasionally for something that I thought had the potential for fabulousness, but realized that doesn't work.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
I don't really have any "rules" about dressing, other than whatever outfit I end up wearing should make me smile. There are things I don't feeling comfortable wearing, such as tops that are low cut, cropped tops, or really short skirts unless I have bike shorts or something similar underneath and I never wear yoga pants or athletic clothing outside of the gym.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
I have a number of fellow bloggers who are in my age bracket with whom I talk about clothing, accessories and personal style. Most of my friends are not really interested in vintage clothing and do not enjoy dressing up as much as I do so I rely on my network of fellow bloggers to discuss those topics. I’ve had a number of very inspiring conversations about personal style with fans of my blog and women I’ve met at vintage clothing stores or thrift stores.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
I have always had a fondness for items with a history, which is part of the reason I love vintage clothing. I am also a fan of mid-century modern furnishings and designs, and my home is full of books, art and collectibles. I suppose I could say that I tend to approach everything in my life in independent, unconventional way, and my priorities in life are not those of the majority of people – ie. leading a creative life is more important to me than owning a home or car, or being in a relationship.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
The only things I buy in multiples are black and gray t-shirts and turtleneck sweaters because they make perfect layering pieces for different outfits.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
When I give a piece of clothing to a friend and it is obvious that they like the item and enjoy wearing it, then it makes me feel good to see the item have a new life.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
There probably have been a few, but the most current one is the practice of wearing leggings as pants, which drives me crazy when I see women doing it. Leggings are not pants, they are meant to be an under layer. I don't want to see the outline of your thong, your cellulite, and your girl parts - it's too much information. To me, it sends a message that you only care about fitting in with the crowd, and not about presenting your best possible self to the world (I know, that's a lot to read into a pair of black leggings)
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
My mother and I have very different body shapes, and she has had no influence on my personal style.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
I tend to get more style inspiration from strangers than from family and friends. Although I do have two friends in New York who always look amazing, and wear a hat with every outfit. They have inspired me to try wearing hats more often.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
My style has evolved – there hasn’t been a drastic change, but more of an evolution and a refinement. My style did change when I went from working in book and music stores in my 20’s and early 30’s to working in an office where I was required to dress more professionally, and then again when I reached my late 40's and felt inspired to add more colour, and experiment with different shapes to see what best suited my older body.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
I don't know that I would consider it "Political", but I like to think that the way I dress shows that having fun with your clothing and looking stylish and "cool", is not restricted to people under a certain age. Many of my friends who are over 50 wear funkier styles than people half their age.
16. Please describe your body.
I am relatively tall (5’7”) and have always been quite thin and relatively boyish in shape until the last decade when I’ve become larger in the bust and waist. My body is pretty strong, and despite a few aches and pains, serves me well, and I am able to find clothing to fit it pretty easily.
17. Please describe your mind.
Creative, intelligent, quick-witted, and a bit twisted (I don’t know if that’s my brain, or my personality…)
18. Please describe your emotions.
I’m pretty even-keeled on a daily basis but can muster up a head of steam if someone’s being a jerk, cry at a sad movie, or get pretty excited about a great pair of shoes
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
My hair is shaved on the back and sides, with a long section on the top that is coloured red and purple. I'm wearing a pair of slim fitting ankle-length pants in bright green, a navy tank top, a snap-front oversized dress in a navy, green, white and red pattern open as a jacket, and a pair of red leather converse all-stars.
On my face I'm wearing red lipstick, eyebrow pencil and my computer glasses, which are a pair of vintage frames in a taupe colour with rhinestones at the temples.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
Some people think that caring so much about one’s appearance is shallow, but what I wear is about something much larger than just physical appearance. While I am a supporter of arts and culture, and have dabbled in music, dance and other performance art forms, I don’t have the talent required to be a professional artist in any of those fields (although I am a rather good photographer and writer). My artistic canvas is myself, and how I present myself to the world each day. I try to be as creative in my life choices as I am in the choice of what I wear each day, and by living my life on my own terms I hope to encourage others to embrace their own creative spirit, wear things that give you joy, and be happy with who you are.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
Primarily fellow bloggers and fans of thrift-shopping and vintage clothing.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
I don't think they do.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
Everyone has taste, and the question of whether it is good taste or bad taste is subjective. I think I have a pretty identifiable style, which to me is about the choices you make in what you wear, and how you wear it, which is also related to personality. Fashion can be purchased, style comes from inside.
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
The worst mistake was a pair of absolutely gorgeous high-heeled boots that went on sale, but were still much too expensive, but I bought them anyway, and then found I couldn't wear them for any more than an hour without them killing my feet.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
Even though I am in my 50’s I will still wear pretty short skirts but will wear them with tights in the winter and boots, or with bike shorts underneath in the summer.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
I think so - my apartment reflects my love of bright colours, and a fondness for items with a history, whether they be vintage handbags, my childhood Barbie doll, or my collection of vintage cameras.
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?
I was a rather angry and defensive young woman in my 20's, so I adopted a fairly tough, and somewhat masculine, style of dress that acted as a shield against the outside world.
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?
For the most part, I know what I like with regard to what I wear, although I will take the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, and some of the things I really like are not necessarily the most flattering to me. I am pretty discerning in all areas of my life, which comes out of years of experimentation and keen interest in art and design.
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 parents did not teach me anything about clothing, dressing or style. Everything I've learned I picked up from looking at books, magazines, films and talking to other women.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
I don’t know that I do anything special to feel sexy or alluring. If I’m wearing something that fits me well, and that I love, and wear with confidence, then I feel sexy. Red lipstick and great shoes helps.
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?
I think when people say they just want to be "comfortable" in what they wear, I think of it as a utilitarian thing - they don't want to have to think about their clothes during the day, and they are dressed appropriately for the temperature and whatever tasks they are doing that day. For me, being comfortable means that I am not constantly adjusting something I'm wearing, and that it fits well, and feels good. People who are confident are not afraid to wear, or do, things that other people don't understand, or don't like - they trust their instincts and feel good about themselves.
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?
You could probably sum up my style philosophy by saying "Life is too short to wear boring clothes".
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
People who are naturally kind and giving towards others. Women who are confident and comfortable in their own skin. A fabulously constructed vintage dress made of luxurious fabric, sewn by hand. Unspoiled nature. There is so much beauty in the world if you look for it.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
People who are cruel to animals and other people.
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'm getting better at this than I used to be. I've still made the occasional mistake, but they are less financial damaging than they used to be.
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?
Not sure how to answer this question. If this is asking what I think other people think of me when they see me, I have been told that I present as someone very confident and comfortable in their own skin. I’m happy that people see me that way, but it’s not something that I consciously try to project.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
First I consider the weather, and then if I will be doing a lot of walking, or physical exercise, and whether there is anything going on at work that requires me to dress up more than usual. Some days I will have a particular outfit in mind that I want to try or I may have a theme in mind, ie. I’m feeling kind of girly/punk rock/50’s, etc. If I’m pressed for time, I may fall back on something tried and true.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
A creative expression of how I’m feeling, but also with practical considerations of what I am doing that particular day
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
I don't know if there is one.
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
It would probably be black or gray, with a fitted top and either a long skirt or very wide leg pants that have some sort of sculptural quality to them that would allow them to be tied, buttoned or zippered into different lengths. I would need to add something brightly coloured, like a red scarf or pair of shoes.
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
Boring, beige, shapeless, too tight - not me
Black, fitted, bright colours, unusual proportions, quality fabric, sense of humour - Me
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
I am Caucasian, and grew up in a family where there was not much money to spend on clothes. When I first started making my own money, I couldn’t wait to buy myself the stylish clothes I saw in magazines instead of the home made and purchased-from-the-catalogue ones I had growing up. I put more thought into the clothing I buy now than I did in my 20’s and 30’s.
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?
In my 20's I dressed in a fairly masculine, punk-rock style (complete with army boots). I was angry and defensive and my clothing was my armor against the rest of the world.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
Make sure everything is clean, and I look put-together.
45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?
I just wear what I want to wear, and that usually means being more "dressed up" than other people in the office, and often in brighter colours.
46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?
47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
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?
Black skinny pants, black turtleneck, and an interesting jacket in a bright colour with broad shoulders. Finished off with a pair of Doc Marten boots. Simple but classic, timeless, cool
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?
Not really, the only thing I would like about wearing men’s clothing is that it’s often better made than women’s
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
England in the Swingin' 60's
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
I have never considered myself to be photogenic, and until I started taking photos of my own outfits for my blog, I hated having my photo taken. I still do not consider myself to be photogenic, but I no longer hate how I look in photos.
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
That I wish I would have had braces on my teeth when I was a kid, and that I look like an interesting person.
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
I admire style icons like Daphne Guinness, Tilda Swinton, Audrey Hepburn, Iris Apfel, and take inspiration from a number of the women on the blog Advanced Style
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?
If I was told I had to start dressing like my mother dressed when she was in her 50's, or that I had to dress to blend in with everyone else.
57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?
I would say that overall, I am comfortable with my body and for the most part, wear what I like.
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
Not really, because I don't follow "rule" when I get dressed, so I'm in no position to tell other people how to dress, other than "wear what makes you happy"
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
There are some perfumes that I just adore, but I don't wear perfume as I have allergies and work in a scent-free office.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
I have never worn a lot of makeup, as I have eye problems that make wearing mascara and eye-shadow impractical, but have always loved lipstick, particularly shades of red. My skin is still relatively smooth, but is now somewhat blotchy so I used foundation to even it out, and eyebrow pencil to define my rapidly disappearing brows.
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 feel I’m “expected” to like any particular look, and if there is a look I want to go for, then I would just try it and if it didn’t work for me, I would let it go. I suppose there are looks that society expects women of a certain age to embrace but I wear what I like, and I’m sure that some of it could be considered “age inappropriate” by some people.
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
I have more clothing than I have space for. My clothing is a small closet, steamer trunk for storing out of season items, a dresser for sleepwear, socks, lingerie and athletic wear, and a wardrobe with shelves for t-shirts and sweaters. I also have a closet strictly for coats, which I have about 20 in different styles for different seasons. I have a lot of shoes, although not as many as some women, and a fair amount of jewellery, most of it costume along with some sterling silver pieces. I am gradually acquiring an impressive hat collection and have about 20 at this point.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
Jewellery - My silver corset ring. I have a number of favourite pieces of clothing.
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?
At some point, everything either gets worn, or goes out the door
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?
Items that had an unusual silhouette, in a solid colour that could be dressed up or down.
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 have gifted/donated/sold so many items of my clothing over the years that once I get rid of a piece of clothing I don’t think about it anymore. If an item has made it from my closet out the door, it has already been through a number of stages (closet to floor, floor to box or bag, etc.) and most times I have mentally let it go before it actually leaves my house.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
This is very difficult to answer, as I have a number of pieces of vintage clothing that I wouldn’t be able to replace, but also some basic things that I’ve purchased retail that I wear to death.
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
I would definitely buy fewer “cheap” pieces and more investment pieces that I really loved and would wear regularly. I would also buy fewer skirts and more dresses.
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
A wool crepe, lilac-coloured suit to wear to a job interview in Toronto when I was in college. I have no idea what I was thinking, as I never, ever wore it again, and have no idea what happened to it.
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
Not that I recall
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
A pair of perfectly fitting pants that make my butt look bigger!
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
My closet is relatively organized, but full to bursting. Same with my drawers.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
A friend of mine who also has a personal style blog gifted me with an amazing red vintage Adolfo hat recently that I had admired and borrowed to wear to her birthday party
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’ve made a few purchases at thrift stores that were spontaneous and inexpensive that ended up being staples in my wardrobe, like a pair red Mexx jeans I found at a thrift store for $8 that I wear at least once or twice a week.
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
I don't set aside specific times to "go shopping". I am always on the lookout for unique clothing and accessories
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
Not sure how to answer this question.
80. How does money fit into all this?
I try to buy things secondhand if at all possible, but I still spend too much money on clothing and accessories
81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?
My silver rings and red or pink lipstick
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
I can’t remember anything specific, but when I get comments from people who follow my blog, that say my outfits make them happy, or inspire them, then it makes me feel that I am making the right style choices. This isn’t about looking for outside validation of my personal style, but more that people “get” what I am trying to achieve with my choice of outfits.
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?
When I was in public school most of my clothes were made by my mother or grandmother and looking at photos of myself from that time period, I see how ill-fitting some of the clothes were, and how awkward I looked, but I don’t think I was aware of it at the time. I didn’t really start to be aware of how I dressed until high school, when I was usually more “dressed-up” than my classmates. There was no particular moment of “style consciousness”.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
November 24, 1961. I was born in Listowel, Ontario and now live in London, Ontario
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
I am Caucasian, with British/German/Scottish/Irish ancestry. My parents both worked, from the time I was in public school and we were not poor, but there was no extra money for things like braces, or vacations.
What kind of work do you do?
Program assistant at the University of Western Ontario assisting applicants to our Graduate programs in Information and Media Studies
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
Divorced, no children
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
I have a blog called Forest City Fashionista in which I chronicle my own eclectic style as well as that of people I encounter in my travels. A friend of mine sent me the link to the survey, thinking it was a perfect thing for me to do.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
Somewhat exhausted - sooo many questions requiring a lot of thought! Kind of inspired to reflect on some ideas brought up by some of the questions.