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Violet Hughes

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm doing something I love and I feel lit from within. Especially when I'm doing some form of outdoor sports or strength training and feel confident in my athleticism. I feel radiant when I build and use my muscles. Otherwise, it would be when I'm making art because I think the most beautiful thing we as humans can do is create.

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

Sometimes. I look the most at the ones who look like their own creation and don't appear to fit any particular mould. I don't hold onto many images of people I've seen in the streets, and if I'm being honest, the majority of the time I'm not looking.

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

People who can smile at everyone and everything are very admirable. I look at someone who possesses a certain warmth and think about how I want to project that... but I usually have rbf.

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?

A growing awareness of the ethical implications of consumerism and also the toxicity of a lot of our personal care products and cosmetics. I probably first learned of this five or so years ago at age seventeen. I switched the brands of cosmetics I use to vegan, cruelty free cosmetics made only from plant extracts. I also started buying clothes second hand almost exclusively. The realization that there is no ethical consumption is something I am still trying to grapple with so that I can tame my thirst for adornment- but I'm not sure that I ever fully will.

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

My clothing purchases are pared down to about six or so colours and I want to get down to a palette of four or less. It makes dressing more simple and I only like certain colors on my body anyways.

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

It's not a rule and probably pretty common but I prefer wearing stuff with contrasting silhouettes. If I wear a wide legged pair of pants I pair them with something tighter on top. If I wear a flowy blouse I wear it with something tighter on the bottom.

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

I haven't talked to enough people who are truly interested in these things past surface level commentary to have one of these.

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

Some of these areas are unified by relying on intuition but no, I don't have a structured approach overall.

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 growing collection of bomber jackets. I like wearing layers. Ever since I started buying bomber jackets I noticed that the designs I find on them seem more interesting than the designs of any other article of clothing there is, although I'm sure that's just my bias.

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

I love giving gifts but I'm not sure if any stand out to me right now.

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

The concept of fashion trends is something I ignore. I buy what I like without much knowledge of whether or not it's trendy and wear it anyways. The transience of trends and their collective sameness isn't interesting to me.

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

My mother has never been interested in clothes. I can't remember learning anything about them from her. This wasn't inherited by me and neither was her body. We both appreciate turqoise jewelry though.

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

The only time I can think of anything like this happening is with a former friend who loved berets. I had never seen anyone else wear them so casually and pull them off so well. She kept different colors to coordinate with her outfits. I don't know if I'd call this stealing because I had already owned a beret as a gift before I met her, but I never considered wearing it until I saw her in them. I never did end up wearing it in public though, which is probably for the best.

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

This has happened at nearly every stage of my life so there's not one particular answer to this question for me.

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

There is nothing consciously political about the way I dress, but the way I view clothes and try to only make second hand purchases is rooted in environmentalism.

16. Please describe your body.

I do what I can to keep it at its healthiest. I love nutrition and eat very intentionally. I love exercise. I believe in the phrase "My body is my temple" and live by it. I went through a period of my life last year when I was bedridden and paralyzed for about 5 months. I had to relearn to stand, to walk, to jump... every movement had to be relearned. My body is a survivor and now I don't take it for granted as often. I see it as more than just its parts or the sum of its parts.

17. Please describe your mind.

It's an ok place to be most of the time. I'd like to think I'm somewhat creative.

18. Please describe your emotions.

My emotions are very strong and I'm a sensitive person. I think with my heart more often than my head. At least I know how to reign it in and act on rationality more often than emotions though. I like that I'm far from emotionally repressed and cry easily. In my view vulnerability is true strength. Unfortunately much of the world disagrees.

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

I'm wearing pink satin pajama pants and a white cotton shirt with a sea green and light pink floral print right now. My hair is not done and I have sunscreen on my face. I wear sunscreen indoors becaause I sit in front of a huge wall length window and live somewhere very sunny. I've been self quarantined for about five months and I dress differently at home.

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

Clothes bring me joy and a sense of peace. I like to curate the way I present myself. The way I dress says something about me and it's interesting how different that message is to different people. Clothes are a form of communication on some level, whether or not people are intentionally transmitting messages through what they wear.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Anyone else I know who somewhat likes thinking and talking about them too.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

I don't really have a dress code on my campus so I don't think that they do. I also don't dress in a way that is informed by other people's opinions.

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

I believe I have taste and style. This is often affirmed by other people. Everyone's taste is different though. I think style has more to do with a way of carrying yourself and being self assured. You have to know yourself. It's singular to a specific person and inimitable.

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

A $500 dress by a local designer that I bought at age fifteen and never wore. I still have it in my closet and it makes me happy to look at it, so it wasn't entirely a waste.

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

Not really.

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

I'm into interior design. The way I arrange things is as distinct and specific to me as how I dress.

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 more scared or unsettled I feel the more I want to cloak myself in layers. I feel more protected in big sweaters or jackets. Showing as little skin as possible is calming.

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 definitely know what I like in fashion. This is at odds with how indecisive I can be in general. I think I'm pretty good at discernment but it takes a lot of second guessing and switching back and forward between different options to get there. So I guess I'm not that great at it really!

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 learned how to do laundry for myself in boarding school. I never did that growing up and it wasn't until I was thirteen that I learned how to do that. I had no guidance that I can remember as far as style. I would read style and fashion books when I was younger, but I don't think the way I dress now is influenced by them because I can't remember anything they said.

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

Wearing a high heeled boot (not stilettos or pumps- contrast!) of some sort with a short skirt for elongated legs and to make myself taller. Wearing something I feel really comfortable in so my confidence rises. Wearing light makeup and emphasizing my eyes. Wearing a braid or two or letting my hair fall in loose waves.

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?

Moving through life without thinking about what judgements are being made about you projects confidence. Introspection and vulnerability signal confidence to me. Standing in the face of any judgement and dismissing it, feeling secure with who you are despite what anyone else thinks. Showing kindness to everyone you meet unconditionally is the most important aspect of confidence. Looking for the best in others. I firmly believe that how one treats other people is a direct reflection of their own self esteem.

32. If dressing were the only thing you did, and you were considered an expert and asked to explain your style philosophy, what would you say?

I like wearing a romantic, soft colour palette and putting on clothes that make me feel like myself. I don't really have a style philosophy outside of wearing what I like. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks.

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

Nature, nature, nature. I want to wear things that remind me of flowers, clouds, or the sky in some way!

34. What do you consider very ugly?


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?

No I'm not a good judge of that! It's so conditional to the mood I'm in. I haven't figured out a system to gauge that yet either.

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 haven't thought about doing this before. When I look at myself I see my reflection through my own eyes. I don't see the point in assuming someone else's opinions or parroting what someone has said to me in the past. I think it would probably feel miserable.

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

I consider where I'm going, who I'll be around, what the weather is like, if there's a chance of my clothes getting dirty, and how I want to feel about myself.

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

Integration of my different selves. Self expression, harmony.

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

My default is on the more "dressed up" side of things. Dressing up for me is doing more with my hair and makeup than usual, maybe. Or wearing more jewelry.

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

A white (long pants, maybe lace details) jumpsuit with a pale blush pink bomber jacket and some shoes in the same color. My favorite pair of earings. A burgundy purse or satchel.

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

Things I like: pastel colors, deep reds, earth tones, silky textures, lace, velvet, natural textiles, monochromatic outfits, bomber jackets with ornate designs, rococo and baroque influenced styles, classic vintage styles, peter pan collars, mock neck collars, high waisted pants and skirts, delicate floral patterns, rabbit and swan motifs, whimsical bordering kitsch details, daydreaming, etc.

Things that are not my tastes: menswear, bright colors, athleisure, super tight clothes like bodycon dresses, flannel shirts, jeans, rigidity and style rules, close mindedness, etc.

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

I'm white American with a Jewish dad and Christian mom raised non-religiously. This has no influence on how I dress.

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?

When I was around thirteen I had really weird taste. I wore a white hat with polar bear ears 24/7 for months on end (? I can't remember how long). I wore a lot of odd things and I'm not sure what I was thinking at the time.

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

Business formal clothes, straightened hair, and minimal makeup.

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

I'm a student with no outside employment right now.

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

Not since I was fourteen in a Catholic highschool.

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

I didn't rebel when this question applied to me.

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

It was both comforting and contraining for me during the one time that I had to wear one. I don't mind plaid skirts but I like expressing myself through what I 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?

A black faux leather jacket with a red satin interior, a white lightweight sweater with a subltle cut out floral design, a red plaid skirt with short black fringe at the hem, black tights, and red loafers. I like that everything was thrifted aside from the jacket and I chose this as archetypal because it could almost fit during my short time spent in a school uniform. I like this outfit because it's outside of the way I normally dress and I wear it when I'm in a certain mood.

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've thought about how things might be simpler as a man but I can't remember wanting to dress this way or change my body in that sense.

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

Right now is good because I still have access to archives of how people in different eras and cultures dress. I don't need everyone around me to be doing the same thing. Sometimes I think it would be nice to live in the early or mid 20th Century when people dressed more formally outside of the house. But there was more conformity too I think, so it might not be as interesting.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

I'm far from photogenic and feel uncomfortable taking photos. I try to avoid it. I have a round face and soft, delicate features and I think more defined/angular faces and features photograph much better. I have high cheekbones and my face looks better in motion or at certain angles in photos. When it's photographed straight on I look more moon faced and my features flatten and shrink weirdly. My discomfort with taking photos is probably the main thing that makes me unphotogenic though.

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

I think I'm glad I don't look that way in the mirror or in person.

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

I don't pay enough attention to pop culture or what people are wearing. It's one of the main things I notice while watching films but it falls out of my awareness too quickly after I stop watching to influence how I dress.

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

I have very many of these dreams. Even last night in part of one of my dreams I was trying on different dresses and feeling sad that none of the shoes I had on hand complimented the dresses. I'll usually dream about clothes that are in colors I don't normally wear.

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

Androgeny. I think it's great on other people but I would feel extremely uncomfortable if I tried to style myself androgenously. I think I wouldn't want anyone to see me and I think it wouldn't work with my features anyways. I love androgeny though.

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?

The same things I wear now.

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

I'm trying to attract myself.

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

Not at all.

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

I have anosmia so I can't smell it. I could when I was younger and I remember liking perfume then, but I can't remember how that felt now. I think it usually contains toxic chemicals and I would be very careful about what my perfume was made of if I wore it now. I think it can be inconsiderate to other people to wear it because you never know who around you has allergies or hates certain scents, and the way people wear it is usually overpowering. My parents always get headaches from other people's perfume or cologne so that factored into my awareness about perfume. I like a lightly scented lotion made from non-harmful ingredients. I have a pretty holistic view of these types of things and the knowledge that your skin absorbs anything you put on it. If you wouldn't feel comfortable eating your perfume (because of the chemicals/effect on your health-not the taste) then it's probably not great for your body when it absorbs into your bloodstream.

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

I lost my muscle tone after being confined to my bed for 5 months or so and losing the ability to walk. Since then I can walk and exercise fine again but I haven't accomplished the task of rebuilding my muscle yet. I feel like I need to do this before I feel fully presentable again. I think as long as clothes are relatively modest and very clean they're presentable enough.

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

I wear a foundation made from plant extracts with a mineral powder containing sunscreen and a light blush. I also wear mascara and tinted lip balm. I like to wear simple makeup that enhances my natural beauty so I can still recognize myself when I take it off. I would feel very weird if I wore more elaborate makeup that changed my features, I don't think I'd be able to look at myself without it anymore.

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?

Probably but I don't pay attention to it if so.

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

Seconhand clothing bought from thrift stores or my favorite consignment app, therealreal. Many bomber jackets, sweaters, dresses, and skirts. A few blouses, shorts, pants, and rompers. Jewelry that has mainly been gifted at various times in my life. Mostly earrings, a few bracelets and necklaces, and barely any rings.

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

I have too many to count. I want as many of my clothes as possible to feel like favorites.

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?

A dress I bought when I was fifteen that is very opulent and slightly rococo looking with a cream coloured bustier top embroidered with pearls and small gold beads, a golden heart shaped zipper in the back, and a golden beige tule skirt. I thought that maybe I would wear it to prom, but I ended up in boarding school and I never went to a prom. I don't wear it now because it's not appropriate for every day wear. I keep it because it meant a lot to me at the time and it signified something. It was made by a local designer and I respect the craftmanship she used to make it. It also marked a shift in my tastes looking back on it retrospectively.

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?

I can't remember most of my purchases during that time frame.

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 lightweight creamed colored sweater with a hood and black bat silhouettes printed on it. I probably wouldn't wear it now but I want it back for nostalgia purposes. I liked it a lot but I ended up donating it. There was also a vintage bracelet that was a thick gold band with a deer head sticking out of it that I owned at one point and gave away. I miss it.

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

This is a hard question! My dress I mentioned in previous questions that I don't wear but it has sentimental value for me and I feel like it connects me to a younger version of myself. It's the article of clothing I've kept for the longest. Not the most practical answer since I wouldn't be wearing it!

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

I would only purchase things that were different shades of white, pink, red, lilac, black, and maybe gold. I like owning things that all fit into one color palette.

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

I haven't really considered clothes in this way. But I do own some expensive pieces that I take good care of and preserve so that I can continue wearing them in the future.

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

Maybe a series of purchases but no.

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

A pair of very baroque looking Chanel ankle boots that I saw in a store when I was fifteen and haven't stopped thinking about since. My holy grail shoe that I still try to find online...
"Chanel Brocade Lace-Up Ankle Boots- Gold and beige woven brocade Chanel ankle boots with peep toes, cutout at counters featuring gold-tone interlocking CC accent, engraved heels and lace-up closure at uppers."

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

Always neat but I don't have enough drawer space or hangers right now so some of my clothes are folded on top of my dresser.

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

A special handmade necklace made from rose quartz and a bead talisman with an engraved tree on it and a small tassel. I was gifted this by a virtual stranger I met on a four day women's retreat. I was very ill with a condition that would lead to me being partially paralyzed for months during this retreat but I wouldn't know this until a week later. This kind stranger was compassionate towards my suffering (I felt ill and weak with the early symptoms of my condition and did not yet understand them). I was very sad during the retreat because of how confusingly ill I felt and she comforted me. At the end of the retreat she gave me this necklace and told me that she made it for herself when she was young to promote self healing. She gave me her wishes that it would impart self healing for me as well. I was very touched!

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 give my purchases thought from the start, so no.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

For the past year or so I've been exclusively buying from a consignment app. Before that I would mainly go to secondhand clothing stores in person. I haven't had that option for a while due to the pandemic and a medical condition that left me bed ridden before that. I browse for clothes on the app constantly and shop for clothes spontaneously.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

I like to smell clean and like myself. I like to smell like fresh flowers if I smell like anything else.

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

I'm not sure that it does. Maybe it plays into my ambitions for my internal self, such as continuing to cultivate my ability to incorporate self expression into all that I do. I like how personal the way I dress is and that it probably reveals something about the way I think.

80. How does money fit into all this?

Clothes cost money. I am in a financially privileged position to be able to dress the way I do. I do not take this for granted. I do sometimes feel guilty about it.

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

Recently it's a fitbit watch. That's kind of boring and I hope I find something else more personal to turn into a talisman.

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

I think the compliments that my clothes/appearance elicit usually affirm the way I like to see and think about myself, which is nice. It helps me be kinder to myself.

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 don't think I can! I can see it when I look at childhood photos though. When I was first able to dress myself the way I dressed was like a caricature of how I perceived glamour. I've always been "girly".

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

October 26, 1997. Undisclosed location in America.

What kind of work do you do?

I'm a student. I'm planning on a career in physical therapy.

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

I'm single.

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

I'm about a quarter through your marvelous book. I thought it would be hard to answer these questions but I realized that I know myself more than I realized.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I feel happy to have catalogued and documented these thoughts. It might be interesting to look back at this in a few years and see if things have changed.

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