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Gabrielle Wolf

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm in a good mood, my hair is curly, and I'm happy about my outfit

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

Always. I admire women who look effortlessly "put together." I can tell they are intentional about their style because what they are wearing fits their body well and there are unique elements, but they don't look like they tried hard to be trendy or expensive; an effortless-looking cool.

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

I admire women who take risks, who mix patterns, who wear something unexpected, or women who have a signature look or clothing item. Women who are not afraid to be a little edgy and different, who don't look like everyone else. When I was a kid, I loved my grandmother's taste in shoes. I thought when I grow up, I want to be the lady with the killer shoes. I like when women smell amazing and their scent matches their style and personality, that's part of the presentation to me.

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?

Dressing for my shape and not anyone else's. It happened because I would look at outfits and try to replicate them, but I was thinking about someone else's body, not mine.

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

Don't buy it if you don't love it. If it doesn't make me joyful when I put it on if I think "I can make this work," I don't buy it. That's the stuff that sits in your closet with the tags on.

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

Keep a signature outfit that makes you feel pulled together that you can throw on when you don't know what to wear.

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

When buying quality garments that cost more, think about the cost per wear instead of the sticker price.

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

Minimalism. Freedom. Non-attachment. Basically, I try to keep things as simple and efficient as I can. No debt if I can help it. Less material things, the highest quality I can afford. The more stuff you have, the more time and money you have to spend on maintenance. I want to be as free as possible. I try not to accumulate unnecessary things, people, and situations.

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

White shirts. White tee shirts, white silk shirts, white button-ups. They are crisp, classic, and so versatile.

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

I found a pair of super cute, cheap shoes. My grandmother LOVED them. So I found her a pair and gave them to her for her birthday. She was so overjoyed. I didn't get a chance to give her many birthday gifts, so I'm glad the last one I gave her before she passed thrilled her. She wore them a lot.

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

I adore comfortable shoes but I can't bring myself to own Crocs.

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

Neither. My mother's body is a lot different from mine, and so is her style. She's not really into fashion, she primarily dresses for comfort, and she loves loud colors. For me, fashion helps my confidence so I am more into it, I do dress for comfort but it has to be stylish, too, and I prefer more neutral colors.

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

I'm definitely influenced by others. I have a friend who is a beast at jewelry, she always looks so adorned. I am not into jewelry at all, primarily because I couldn't afford good quality for so long. She taught me that jewelry really does elevate an outfit. Now I try to do it in a way that works for my sensibility.

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

My style evolves every few years. I also go through color palette phases (all black, all gray, all pastel, etc.)

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

Yes, because I understand that everything is political. Even when you're not trying to send a message, you're sending a message.

16. Please describe your body.

Petite. Athletic Small up top, sizeable booty at the bottom, but not very hippy. Tummy always has an outward curve at the bottom, even when I am on the smaller side. Abs ain't in the genes.

17. Please describe your mind.

Intellectual. Creative. Conceptual. Very easily distracted.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Usually stable, but when not - overwhelmingly strong.

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

All black lightweight Nikes, tan flared high waist business pants, black top, cherry business jacket, gold bracelets. Naked face. Perfumed oil. Straight, neat locs with a part in the middle. This was not my first choice of outfits, tbh.

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

How I look affects my emotions, and energy is everything. It's what you project into the world without saying a word. If I want to feel confident, I have to think confidently and look confidently.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Friends, mom, sister-in-law, colleagues

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Dress code policies. More businesswear and formalwear.

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

I think taste is knowing what looks good; having a good sense of how different visual elements look together. It's having an "eye" for aesthetics. Style is how your taste translates into your looks. I have amazing taste, but right now my style is lacking because I haven't put effort into updating my wardrobe. I will, but I have other priorities right now.

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

I haven't allowed myself to buy very expensive clothing so I don't have buyer's remorse.

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

When getting dressed up feels overwhelming or I'm not feeling body confident, I throw on an all-black outfit that fits the occasion and an interesting pair of shoes.

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

Big style! Decor. The art I make.

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 at a low point and saw a therapist for support. Those sessions were triggering and intense. I would stop at the department store down the street afterward and do my makeup, buy makeup. It calmed me and helped me project a confident face in spite of my inner state.

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 love this question. I know what I like when it comes to fashion and decor. But I'm such a flexible person that sometimes, it's hard to make decisions.

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?

They told me to get things dry cleaned when they're supposed to be dry cleaned, and put your off-seasonal clothes away. Aside from them, I picked things up

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

I wear my hair curly, put on a little makeup to emphasize my features, wear clothes that emphasize my best parts.

31. Many people say they want to feel “comfortable,” or that they admire people who seem “confident.” What do these words really mean to you?

Comfortable means that I'm not self-conscious about what I'm wearing. I can relax and not worry about it because I know I look good. I'm not walking weird, or about to pop out of too-tight clothing.

Confidence is feeling good about who you are, what you do, and how you do it.

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?

Minimalist. Classic sweetheart with a hard edge. Beautifully timeless silhouettes with something unexpected.

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

Confidence. Embracing life. Uniqueness.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Evil. Treating people terribly, or being violent unjustly.

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?

Yes, I know what shapes flatter me and what my wardrobe needs to do.

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?

The outer eye is a little more critical, I have to tell her to calm down at times, I look fine.

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

It's more chaos than process because I'm not fully moved in. I consider what I need to do that day the most and how I want to feel when I do what I do.

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

At work, or when meeting new people - the energy of confidence, competence, and control. When dressing casually, the energy of confidence and a good time.

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

Dressing is what you do daily. Dressing up is elevating your look.

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

Crisp white shirt, pencil skirt, unique flats, or booties.

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

If it feels comfortable and looks good to me, it's "me," if not, it's "not me."

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

I'm African, a descendant of slaves, sharecroppers, and self-emancipated people who were forcibly displaced to America. It influences me a lot. I like to wear things that celebrate my culture and remind me who I am. I'm mindful of how I look because it affects how people view and treat me as a Black woman.

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?

Very androgynous. I was exploring my sexuality and playing with gendered roles.

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

I keep my hair more maintained for work, I try to wear more business casual or businesswear.

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

I rebel by injecting my personality in small and large ways. Unexpected funky sneakers with my suits. A statement shirt with dress pants and a jacket on Fridays. Knee-high leather boots with a nice work dress. Colorful, ethnic jewelry sometimes.

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

Business Casual

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

I try to break the rules, but fashionably so I can't get in trouble. You might not like that I wore this tee shirt with my suit, but you love the tee shirt.

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

Both depend on the mood.

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?

White tee shirt tucked into high waist relaxed jeans. It's simple, classic, effortless. Dress it up or down. Add edge with accessories.

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?

Being a man sounds truly tragic. But I dress like a man when I want. I love men's clothes.

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

1970s. It's the long hair, bell-bottoms, lace, fringe, and leather jackets for me!

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?


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

I cringe sometimes. Sometimes I like them.

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

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, Angela Davis, Rihanna, Shirley B. Eniang, Solange, my friends, Olivia Pope, Jhene Aiko, Lauren Messiah

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

Not that I can remember

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

Any top with the whole stomach out.

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'd wear less, I'll say that.

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

Opportunities and money, no person in particular.

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

No, women should dress however they want.

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

Perfume is essential, my parents aren't into fashion but they're into perfume. I have to wear perfume or perfumed oil. Having a signature scent and smelling good I approach people is important. I think it helps with appeal and energy projection.

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

Lift some weights and completely re-do my wardrobe. I'm in a new phase and I have to step it up.

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

I love makeup, it helps me feel put together, but I keep it on the minimalist side. I also am embracing my naked face more and working on a good skin care regimen.

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?

Anything trendy. Because it's trendy.

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

Minimalist gold bracelets and anklets. Solid gold hoop earrings. Lots of gold, heavy on the gold. Otherwise, beaded and tribal jewelry.

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

Right now it's a grey pair of sweatpants that I live in and a gold snake bracelet.

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?

White leather jacket my mom insisted I buy instead of the black one. I keep it because in my mind, it will look good with some outfits, but I have yet to make it work.

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?

Good quality shoes, coats, jackets, and bags. High-quality basics like my oversized Brooks Brothers button-up from the thrift store. Truly stood the test of time. Most of the other stuff is fast fashion and currently falling apart if it hasn't already.

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?

There's pieces I love that I think about from time to time, or pieces that are wearing out that I wish I could re-purchase. Beautiful yellow leather moccasins, leather Chuck Taylors, cashmere sweaters (idk where they disappeared to).

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

My onion dress.

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

Only buy what I like. Shop primarily for what I do- work, work out and play. Have a specific color palette in mind when shopping for the season. Buy high-quality, timeless staples first.

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

Pair of leather Frye engineer boots. Still have them. Great investment. Got them re-soled. I'll probably have these boots for life, they were worth it. They look better every year.

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

My camel coat. Made me feel like the professional I am. Elevated my style.

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

The perfect pair of jeans :')

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

Not neat right now :')

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

My partner bought me a bag, I love it. I have to buy another one because I have been wearing this baby out.

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 bought three pencil skirts from a fast-fashion site. I've had them for 6 years. 1 was too tight so I barely wore it, the other 2 are worn out. they are so versatile- good for work and play. I want to replace them

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

When I can stomach it.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Sweet but complex.

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

When I dress well, it shows I respect and care about myself; I want to have more care, respect and love for myself and I want others to do the same.

80. How does money fit into all this?

I wish I had money to dress the way I want, my closet would be FIRE.

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

A gold bracelet.

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

Quite a few of my friends told me that I have a great sense of style, they appreciate how I put things together, and that I inspired them to step their clothing game up. It gave me confidence and more appreciation for my style.

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?

Can't remember.

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

6/15, Pennsylvania

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

Black, African-American, Malian, middle class

What kind of work do you do?

Higher education administrator

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

Relationship, not married. No kids.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I feel inspired to figure out a plan to overhaul my wardrobe.

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