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Amanda Buelow

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I feel most attractive when I am sparking the brightest, when my wit comes with ease, and I notice others noticing my cleverness. In this case, I could be wearing a paper bag and all would be well.

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

I admire women who have it together on the style front, but I also admire a woman who looks like she just said, "Fuck it". Fuck the unruly hair. Fuck the pet-fur covered jacket. Fuck the pajama pants. Since, she said fuck it to everything else she might as well wear ballet flats too.

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?

It all clicked when I realized that the 1990s were ushering out the 80s spiderweb bangs and big hair. I could never tease my naturally stick-straight hair into anything other than a mess so I was relieved to realize that without doing anything my hair was suddenly in vogue. I've been waiting anxiously for the tide to change but sleek has been in for over 20 years now so I think, I'm good.

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

Don't buy it if you already have it. This comes from having way too many lip glosses, perfumes, scented candles and lotions. Just use what you already have: you do not need 50 flavours of gloss: you really don't.

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

Keep it modest. I stay covered, but I don't mind when others don't. The human body is a beautiful thing. I went to a party once where the invitation said "Anything Goes". I wore a corset and a tulle tutu. Another girl wore a sheer top with short shorts. Her breasts were fully visible. She said, "I thought more people would be wearing less." She looked great.

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

When I was five my stepmother sewed a dress just for me and when I wore it I noticed that there was a very intricate impression on each of the buttons. The buttons must have been expensive. She said, "The details of clothing are important and say as much as what you can see from far away."

I like clothing that surprises you when you get close to it. A brightly coloured lining, contrasting stitching, or a small pattern can take a standard piece and make it something special.

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

Yes, I understand that I can only control some of life's variables. As such, I let the things I cannot control do what they will. I am pretty easy going about all of the above.

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

I have multiple plain black tees. I keep buying them because they are a universal part of my wardrobe. I wear them under other shirts. I wear them over other shirts. I tie them up. I pull them down. A plain black tee is a my daytime LBD.

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

Yes. I gave my first partner a variscite pendant as a love token when we first dated. He wore it everyday for 12 years until he lost it and he was devastated. I knew he not only cherished the sentiment but loved the item for its own sake, that he was drawn to its grass green colour and its simple design.

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

My mother died when I was two. I know that she had issues with weight fluctuation. From photos, I can see that she wore horn-rimmed glasses and, often, polyester shorts. She was a RCAF radar operator. Sometimes, I wear an RCAF pin on my jean jacket to honour her. Her primary influence on my style has been through her absence.

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

Yes. When I was seventeen, a boy I liked held some of his clothes together with safety pins. I started tearing the seams out of some my clothing and using safety and kilt pins to get a little more edge in my wardrobe. I often had a line of safety pins from my clavicle to my shoulder. I loved pairing them with silky and fuzzy fabrics to get a little more bite out of the contrast.

17. Please describe your mind.

My mind is a playground. Each night I set aside a time to play an imagination game called "anywhere but here" in which I conjure unlikely scenarios happening in unlikely locations.

Sometimes, my mind goes rogue and has what is commonly called a panic attack. At these times it colludes with my body to produce horrible twin sensations of nausea and unrest.

My mind is complex. It is the seat of my self-compassion and my self-abasement. It has a dual nature. But overall, it where I play out my possibilities and where I process my realities.

18. Please describe your emotions.

All my decisions are made by emotion. I think rationally, but it everything I decide to do has an underlying emotion compelling me one way or the other. It is the same for most people, right?

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

On my body, I am wearing burgundy pinstripe flare capri pants with a black t-shirt slit up the back and tied together with a knot at the base of my spine.

On my face I am wearing white eye shadow with a thick black liner above my upper lash line only, finished off by black mascara, and glasses. I am also wearing clear lip gloss.

My hair is a wreck and that's okay: it's an unruly bob with messy side bangs.

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

Fashion is important. As anyone who has ever worn the wrong size of shoes can tell you, what we wear each day impacts how we interact with the world.

The best part about fashion is that it guises itself as a trivial thing which is why we can get away with wearing almost anything but at it's core every outfit is a signpost to who it's wearer is--or wants to be--on any given day.

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

Yes. When I wear dresses, I almost always get compliments from my partner, coworkers, friends, and strangers. I feel like an impostor because putting on one article of clothing--the dress--takes so much less effort than putting on almost any other outfit.

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

I am a writer, photographer, lover, and a business leader. All of these roles require me to have a distinct style.

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

Compassion. Empathy. Courage. Love. Kindness. Resilience. Competence. Generosity. Intelligence. Humour. Growth.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Pettiness. Hypocrisy. Stagnation. Stinginess. Bigotry. Violence.

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

As a lover of a good lie-a-bed, most mornings I am racing against time and my primary concerns are that I appear clean and wrinkle free. I do a lot of sniffing of my clothing. I do not drag myself to the laundromat nearly as often as I should do.

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

I conform to dress code while working, but I am a good Canadian and wear a toque in wintertime. My favorite toque is black with white skull and cross bones on it. When I stepped into a managerial role one of my superiors saw me leaving for the day and he said, "So you've been promoted to help manage a multi-million dollar company and you're still wearing that hat. You're the real deal, aren't you?" Yes, I am that.

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

I think that no matter what I angle I look at myself from I will never see myself as others do.

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

I love fragrance. I love the way scent stirs emotion. I wear it all the time, but in small amounts because my sister is allergic to most perfumes and I am conscious that the strangers I encounter might be too.

Wearing perfume makes me feel adult and raw. I prefer an intricate but natural scent. In Crushed, moss and earth meet grass and jasmine. In Dahlia Noir, pepper and mandarin meet cedar and vanilla. I wear both often. No, not at the same time.

66. Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. What is it, why don’t you wear it, and why do you keep it?

I have a vibrant green lace dress. I bought it to attend my father's funeral. I keep telling myself to wear it to another event so I don't associate it solely with my father's passing, but I keep not wearing it. I know that in time it will wind up being donated to a good's just not that time yet.

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 lost a light brown corduroy coat with a jean jacket cut. On the breast pocket, I had a handmade brown and yellow feather pin which had been given to me by my father on a sunny day in my late teens. I wore this coat everywhere and then one day it was just gone. In spite of tracing my steps, I have no idea where it went. I think of it frequently.

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

I bought a totally over the top hooded red cape. It was pricey, but I rationalized the purchase because it was a designer item on sale. When I wear it, which is not often, people always comment on how beautiful it is.

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

"Nice rack". Um, thanks, I hang my bra on it.

For while I was really self-conscious about the fact that I have large breasts. First I tried to hide them. Then I tried to showcase them. Then, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I couldn't have cared less about the size of my breasts. All I could think of was how to get my whole self back to normal.

The last time I was street harrassed, a guy walked right up to me and looked directly at my chest and said, "You have beautiful breasts." I said, "Nah, it's a trick. They are jerks. The left one tried to kill me."

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

I was born in 1975. I was raised in the Ottawa Valley and I live in Peterborough now.

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

Most of the folk where I grew up live and work on farms. My people lived and worked on a lakefront resort. I had it easy.

What kind of work do you do?

I am a low-level manager in a large well-known company. I also have an artsy side.

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

I am in a committed long-term relationship. No kids.

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

I am almost forty. I am a cancer survivor. The risks I take now are different from those of the very young, but I still take risks. Clothing is an easy place to take risks, because the consequences are minimal if you screw up. Take risks.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

I feel like I am going to have a hard time deciding what I am going to wear to bed tonight so thanks for that.


Amanda Buelow tweets under the name Eugenia Morpho and blogs under it too. She lives in Peterborough, Ontario with her partner Sean, her adult nephew Scott, and four exceptionally brilliant cats.

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