Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
when I'm freshly showered and moisturised, my skin is clear and I'm well rested.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
Yes, I usually admire women with an androgynous, louche style, or tall women (I would like to be taller). Sometimes I notice women who seem like they just walked out of a movie - I don't mean impeccably styled, I just mean that they perfectly exemplify a mood or a personality type. I once saw a woman with bleached hair, Adidas tracksuit, long fake fur leopard print coat and big gold hooped earrings, and even though I think all of those things are tacky it was such a thorough look and she seemed so comfortable in it, and so like a character in a film, that she looked quite fabulous.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I generally notice when they have really good skin or very comfortable body language
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 can't remember the exact moment, but when I started to think about clothes more in terms of how they felt (emotionally and literally) than how they looked.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
I find shops overwhelming, so I look online first and identify some items I want to try in real life, and then when I get to the shop I look for those items straight away. It helps avoid sensory overload.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
Absolutely minimal accessories.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
I don't think I've ever had one
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
Generally I like simplicity. Think it through at the beginning and then maintaining it won't be too taxing. I don't always stick to this though.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
If I buy something that fits well I will always buy it in multiple, because I have a disproportionately small waist and finding something that fits well is a blessing.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
No. Clothing and jewellery are so personal, I wouldn't want to risk it. Someone once gave me a bright pink scarf that wasn't really me and I didn't want to be rude and tell her. I later found out from another friend that she chose it because she thought my clothes were so boring and dark and needed livening up and I was livid. Who was she to judge me? So now I'm nervous about buying clothes or jewellery for others.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
Trends in general. I don't want to look like everyone else, mainly because I think I'd feel like I stood out within that group. Like, if everyone is going for a particular look then there will be competition over who nails it the best, whereas if you avoid trends altogether you'll never be in competition with anyone.
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
She's a bit taller than me but I have more of an hourglass figure. We're both long waisted and broad shouldered, like masculine cuts and hate bras. It's actually a family trait, three generations of women who either go braless or wear those sports bras that are basically tight crop tops. She likes more colour and pattern than I do though - a slightly hippy aesthetic.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
I steal a lot of items from family members because I hate shopping, and I also like the feel of things that are already a little worn in.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
A couple of times. I used to really enjoy clothes as a child but when I hit puberty my parents started telling me that I was too fat to wear certain things and I stopped caring about clothes and just wore baggy, dark things. Then in my late teens I started dressing the way magazines told me I was supposed to dress to suit an hourglass figure, then when that led to street harrasment I went far in the opposite direction. Now I've sort of gently drifted into something I feel comfortable with.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
I don't think so
16. Please describe your body.
5'9, sturdy, hourglass
17. Please describe your mind.
18. Please describe your emotions.
Generally stable, prone to melancholy. Holds grudges. When angry it takes me a while to cool down.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
Navy blue trousers, a faded pink plaid shirt, my hair is in a messy bun, no make up, glasses, daith ring.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
I think it's important in so far as if you don't feel comfortable in how you look - if you're self conscious about your hair or uncomfortable in your clothes - it can make you uncomfortable in general, in your interactions with others, make you not want to leave the house.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
My mother and sister
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
Not much. I don't like being told what to do or being pressured to be a certain way and so normally ignore expectations.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
I think everyone has taste and style. I don't know if mine is good, but it exists.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
I'm very into interior design and think I have a knack for it.
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?
When upset or self conscious I like to wear a big jumper/cardigan/hoodie I can wrap myself up in. If I want to feel confident I wear comfortable heels. I'm 5'9 and if I can get myself to 6'0 or over I feel like I'm physically and mentally dominating the room.
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 know what I like in so far as I know what feelings I want clothes to inspire in me
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?
I just picked things up. The only advice I remember being given was quite bad, like intentionally getting a sunburn because it would get rid of spots and lay a 'base' for a 'healthy tan.' Or something unhelpful about thinner being better.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
I feel no need to look sexy or alluring. I also think that trying to be sexy is automatically a but repulsive.
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 they mean the same thing in a way. It's the absence of self consciousness. Feeling at home in their own skin.
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?
Dress so that you feel so comfortable you stop thinking about how you're dressed
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
Stillness, animals, forests, mountains, meadows, wood, contrasting textures, thunderstorms.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
Noise, bright colour, attention seeking, chaos
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 tend not to do this, but if I do it's normally my parents voices saying something about my weight (not that they do that nowadays but they did a lot from when I was about 9 to 19).
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
Normally the weather and where I'm going. Also what is clean.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
Dressing is utilitarian, dressing up is decorative and to an extent more consciously performative
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
Black jeans, oversized knitted jumper, cross body bag, heeled ankle boots
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
Me - black, grey, blue, dark red, deep emerald green, faded jade green, soft deep pink, comfort, contrasting textures, quiet, comfort, simplicity, reading, dogs, tea, gin and tonic
Not me - orange, yellow, white, attention seeking, embellished, overly accessorised, gossiping, ambition, competitiveness
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
I'm a Londoner, and the weather is very unpredictable, so I'm a fan of layers, and if I don't have a collapsable umbrella in my handbag then I'll be sure to wear something with a hood.
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 know this will be true of most people, but childhood, before I hit puberty and started to be made aware of my size, shape, skin etc. I really enjoyed clothes as a kid, they were like costumes and I didn't care what people thought about them. I remember I had two Swatch watches and I loved them both, so I wore one on each wrist, and when my dad commented on it I just thought 'what's it to you? It's no skin off your nose.' I also liked coordinated things, I think because I read the babysitters club books and they always described outfits in detail. I used to wear these black stirrup trousers with purple socks, black flat Mary Janes, and this multicoloured (but primarily purple) oversized marl knit sweater, and my silver hoop earrings with purple beads on them and I felt great. And a denim skirt with a denim scrunchy, a cream coloured crochet cardigan, and my cream heeled sneakers. I liked the contrast of the punky heeled sneakers and the little house on the prairie like cardigan. When I started to feel more aware of other people thinking less of me because of how I looked, or the fact that there were 'right' and 'wrong' ways of dressing I really retreated from that world.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
Straight hair feels more professional than wavy hair. Well fitted but draped clothes. Smart shoes with some height as if I'm the tallest person in the room I feel like the boss.
45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?
They don't really have expectations
46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?
No. We had a uniform when I was at school, and I hated school, so now I hate anything that reminds me of school uniforms, which is unfortunate because blazers and white shirts are supposed to be wardrobe classics but they have such bad memories for me that I can't stand to wear them.
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
If it is a uniform set my someone else - constraining. If it is set me be - comforting and freeing, in the sense that I'm freed from having to worry about what I'm going to wear.
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 trousers, slightly heeled ankle boots and an oversized knitted jumper. It's comfortable, and I dressed that way during a happy period in my childhood so it brings me back to those days.
50. Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body? Was there ever a time in the past?
Yes, because it is so simple for them and I think mens clothes are better made than women's clothes. The fabric is always better, they have more (and deeper) pockets, and I think even the stitching is stronger.
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
There are so many, I can't really choose. I have to be practical though, and admit that living in a time when women had to wear tight corsets would quickly prove intolerable no matter how good I looked.
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
I hate it
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
Isabelle Rossellini. Also, and this is way less fancy, but the character CC on the 90's sitcom The Nanny. Fran got the most attention but I thought CC looked really elegant and beautiful.
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
Yes. If I dream about clothes it's normally finding a hidden room in a house filled with rails and rails of lots of different clothes all in my size, and the feeling of the dream is reinvention.
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
Anything overtly sexy
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 guess shorter skirts or dresses - I have very muscular calves and don't want to show them
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
I have an hourglass figure and when I was younger I used to follow the fashion 'rules' and dress to flatter that shape - pencil skirts, wrap tops etc. There was a lot of street harassment so now I dress to avoid that.
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
Focus on how you feel
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
Perfume used to trigger migraines in me, so I avoided it, but it doesn't anymore and so I've developed an interest in perfume as this whole new world has opened up.
I like gourmand fragrances, with notes of lavender, honey and vanilla, but they are too heavy for the summer, when I like fresher, woodier fragrances. Lush make a perfume called Breath of God that smells like a bonfire by the beach with a forest just being you, that I like in hotter weather.
CK One and Davidoff Cool Water remind me of a good period in my life.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
Just be clean really. And pressed (clothes not body).
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
I feel very self conscious when I wear make up, but also like to look like I have good skin, so I wear a natural looking foundation but nothing else.
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?
The stereotypical sexy secretary , Joan from Mad Men look. I know that it would suit my figure, and I think it looks great on other people, but it doesn't suit my personality and I don't like the attention it attracts.
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
A very limited wardrobe as I'm a minimalist. Straight or wide legged dark coloured trousers. Navy button downs and draped blouses. A couple of knitted jumpers and a plaid shirt. A pair of shoes and a pair of boots. A couple of quite nice coats and three excellent handbags (I think a really good handbag can pull a look together).
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
I have a long, khaki, military style jacket with very clean lines that my brother gave me when he realised it was too small for him. It's very comfortable and both informal (the colour and fabric) and sophisticated (the lines are excellent).
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?
A few from when I was a kid. I had these platform heeled sneakers that I loved. A blue and white corduroy backpack. Some colour blocked snow boots. A chambray shirt with mother of pearl buttons. Gold hoop earrings that I personalised by putting purple beads on them.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
My wide leg black trousers that fit me perfectly
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
A Lulu Guinness handbag. Still have it, still use it and love it.
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
They are very neat but often empty. When I'm messy with clothes it's because they are on the floor or draped over a chair.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
A handmade piece of clothing. My late grandfathers signet ring.
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
A couple of times a year, either online, or I look at things online first and then go to the shops.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
Always clean. In hot weather smelling like a forest makes me feel less sweaty somehow. In the winter a gourmand fragrance makes me feel warmer.
80. How does money fit into all this?
If I had more money I would have more bespoke clothing, rather than shopping around to find something that fits properly.
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 daith ring, just because if I remove it the hole will close up and that's already happened to me once. Glasses so I can see, I'd like to try contacts again but I'd still carry glasses as back up in case my eyes started itching.
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
When I was a kid and a teenager I was always mistaken for being much older than I was (I think because I hit puberty young and had a fairly serious personality) so I just went forward thinking that I looked old for my age. In my mid twenties people started mistaking me for a teenager, and told me it was because I was baby-faced, and I'd never thought of myself that way before. It made me feel more comfortable wearing clothes like trainers or hoodies, which I'd previously thought I couldn't pull off because I thought I looked like I was an older person trying to look young, rather than just a younger person dressing appropriately.
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 a kid (6? 7?) we went to a wedding in the south of France. I had a bob haircut, was wearing white trousers and a blue blazer. My parents kept saying how good I looked but I felt ugly because I wanted to wear a dress and have long hair. In hindsight I probably looked very chic, but children don't want to look chic.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
1985, I live in London
What kind of work do you do?
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
single, no kids
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
Really good actually. Writing about my favourite outfits from childhood (that I remember perfectly) has made me feel really warm and nostalgic, and want to get more into clothes again. Not necessarily fashion, but clothes. They were so fun when I was a kid.