“Women in Clothes” – My Contribution!

womeninclothes-600On Setember 4th, the book “Women in Clothes” will be released. I was one of 600 contributors to this wonderful project. We all filled out a survey and submitted it.

Here is my survey:

Do you remember the first time you were conscious of what you were wearing? Can you describe this moment and what it was about?

Jeanie in dressI was 4 years old and I was wearing a dress I adored that I apparently cajoled my parents into buying. It was a pale green nylon dress with a full skirt accented by little pick ups crowned with tiny artificial pink roses. I felt beautiful twirling in that dress! Unfortunately I was also wildly allergic to the fabric and had a full body red rash any time I wore it – which I did on any occasion I could!

2. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Did they tell you things directly or did you just pick things up?

My parents didn’t teach me much about clothing or any aspects of dressing. My mother cared nothing for what she wore and had mostly black clothing, while my dad wore loud plaids, which even at a young age I knew were not quite right. My grandmother was my fashion inspiration and it was she who introduced me to color, sparkle and texture in the clothing she wore. Combining her 1960’s “twist” dress with large earrings and cocktail ring, she was a revelation (and an embarrassment to my mother -BONUS) and her love of shopping for bargains became my passion at a shockingly young age.

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

A very sophisticated “ladies who lunch” look would be both difficult AND uncomfortable for me to wear. Also no high heels and white jeans.

 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” does not mean “sweatpants and t-shirt comfortable” to me. It means wearing clothing that works for both my body and the activities that make up my life. Clothing that fits, flatters and is appropriate to who I am now is “comfortable” and makes me feel confident.

What are some dressing rules you wouldnt recommend to others, but which you follow?

I advise my clients to edit their closets and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit, flatter including pieces that haven’t been worn for a year. After making complete outfits with what’s left, I tell them to make a Master List of anything that is needed to complete these outfits, and then to shop for only these pieces.

I myself don’t edit my closet, I buy pieces that don’t go with anything I own, never make a Master List and have multiple shirts that I am convinced I will desperately need in the future despite not wearing them for a decade.

Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewellery that especially touched you

I did inherited my Grandmother’s wedding ring, which I cherish and never take off.

Have you ever given someone a present of jewellery or clothing that you feel good about?

Because I shop as part of my job, I am always buying my daughter and friends things that I think they will love. When the recipient is happy I feel great!

What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had with someone on the subject of fashion or style? With whom do you talk about clothes?

 I talk to my clients about how clothing can make you feel more confident and how that will impact all aspects of their lives. I tell them that if the clothing they are trying on doesn’t fit, it’s the fault of the clothing, not their bodies. And I tell them when they are happy in their clothing, they can then forget what they are wearing and get on to more important things!

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

I notice women and how they’re dressed constantly. Most often it’s women dressing badly for their body shape or for wearing clothing trends too young or too old for them.

Do you share clothes with friends or roommates, or have you adopted dressing ideas from anyone?

I share some clothing (dresses) with my daughter. I am inspired by women who have a unique style that is true to who they are.

Do you consider yourself photogenic? When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?

I consider myself criminally unphotogenic. When I see myself in photos I look completely different then when I look in a mirror. How does that happen?

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 think I have dressed somewhat the same all my adult life – jeans, boots, t-shirt, structured jacket, vintage jewelry. I feel strong dressing this way.

How and when do you shop for clothes?

Constantly. I need to know what is in stores for my clients. And because being in a mall is strangely calming for me.

How does money fit into all this?

Bargains, sales, thrift stores purchases keep the bills down. Also getting paid to shop for other people really helps.

Are you generally a good judge of whether what you buy will end up being worn?

For clients, yes. For myself, not always.

Do you care about lingerie/underwear?

Only as a supportive shaping layer beneath clothing. Otherwise, not at all.

Do you address anything political in the way you dress?

I dress for me, not “for my age”.

When you stand before the mirror after you have just dressed (if you do) whose voice is in your mind, evaluating what youre wearing, and what kind of values does this person have?

I hear my own voice, a voice that is pretty tough and judgmental on how I look.

Can you recall a time when you have dressed a particular way to calm yourself or gain a sense of control over a situation that scared you?

Whenever I dressed for an interview for a film design job, I tried to look cool and trendy. I’m not sure it influenced the final decision but it made me feel like I looked competent and able to do the job.

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

 Clothing should represent who you are at this stage of your life. Dressing any other way creates a disconnect between you, your life and your visual message.

What is your cultural/ethnic/economic background and how do you think that has influenced how you dress?

I was the child of 1st generation Americans who didn’t have much disposable income for more than necessary clothing. I learned to sew before I was 10, mastered buying at sales and vintage stores by 16 and combined the two to develop my style – a practice that continues to this day.

Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion? That is, do you think you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc? Please explain.

I think if you have an “eye” for fashion, it carries over to other areas too, like decorating your living space.

What do you find beautiful?

Sleeping babies, bright color, Art Deco jewelry, my children, Valentino gowns, clouds

What do you consider very ugly?

Bullies, leggings with short tops, gladiator sandals and open toed boots, road rage, Jackson Pollack art, creamed corn

Do you ever wish you were of the opposite sex or had a completely different body?

I never wanted to be a boy, just to have a boy’s freedom.

I have envied and coveted a tall slim body with strong shoulders, as I am rather short, somewhat round, with arms that seem to come out directly from my neck.

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

Boots. Cowboy boots, motorcycle boots, short boots, tall boots. I have no idea why I so strongly prefer boots to shoes except perhaps that they make me feel a little tough and I like that feeling.

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

Clothing has great importance ( perhaps more than it should) since it is (or should be) the outer representation of the inner person.

Whats the situation with your hair?

I have very curly hair. My hair and I have agreed to accept each other and play nice.

Please describe your body.

5’3 1/2, slim-ish, could be worse.

 Please describe your mind.

Works well most of the time.

Please describe your emotions.

They are in charge of most thoughts and actions. Sometimes I wish my emotions had a dimmer switch.

Do you like to smell a certain way (of perfume, lotions, your natural scent)?

I love perfume but get a headache from most strong scents.

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

I dye my hair and iron my clothes, not the other way around.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

Born New York City, I live in Halifax, NS

What kind of work do you do?

Former film costume designer, current wardrobe consultant

If you are including a picture of your mom, please talk about it herewhat do you see when you look at this picture?Mildred1960 copy

I see a beautiful woman who spent her life completely unaware of that fact and was instead as uncomfortable with her height as she was the rest of her body.




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