The book Women In Clothes has been on my reading list for a long time. It has been on Lenny‘s reading recommendations and I thought it would be very interesting to see beyonf other women’s choice of clothing. And it did not dissapoint, the moment I picked it up, I became fascinated. The book did not only intoduce me to how other women feel about garments but it also made me question my own relationship with them. The more I thought about why I wear what I wear, I discovered that my choices are driven by my insecurities, my aims and my fears just as much as my style. So I thought it would also be very intriguing to get to know someone I know on a deeper level by talking about their wardrobes.
As far as I can remember, all my Saturdays as a child/teenager were spend window shopping or going to beauty parlor/hairdresser with my mother. It was such an ingrained practice that for the first few years that I moved away from home, I could not make a decision to buy anything on my own. But however established our shopping trips were, we never really talked about a piece of clothing further than how flattering or cute it was. So I felt compelled to ask her some of the questions that were asked in the book and dig deep beyond our habits.
Can you say a bit about how your mother’s style have been passed down to you or not?
- It haven’t. Because I moved out of the house right after I finished elementary school. So during the ages that I would be influenced, I didn’t spend that much time with my mother. I grew up in an all girls boarding school.
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?
- They didn’t tell me anything directly. But when we went to shopping, my dad would buy us clothes that he wants us to wear as well as the clothes that we want. So we would know how he wants us to dress. But like I said, during the ages that they would teach me those things, I wasn’t home.
What sorts of things do you do, clothing- or makeup- or hair-wise, to feel beautiful?
- I feel the most beautiful when my hair is in a messy bun and I can fit in my strechty jeans. I also feel beautiful when there is a little white streak in the front of my hair.
Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice? What sort do you tend to admire? If not admiration, what is the feeling that a compelling woman on the street gives you?
- I generally take notice of hands and feet. Their shapes and their cleanliness. During the summer, I also look at heels to see if they are well-kept. But I admire women that wear make up that really suits themselves.
What is really beautiful, for you, in general? What do you consider very ugly?
- I find thick and well groomed eyebrows and strong eyelashes very beautiful. But I think very long nails are ugly.
When you look at yourself before going out, and you are trying to see yourself from the outside, what is this “other person” like?
- Fresh and nice. I generally think that I look like a kind and polite person who loves people. But I have actually been told that I look cold and distanced at first sight.
What’s your process getting dressed? What are you considering?
- I would consider what kind of outfit would suit the place I am going. I would also make sure that my clothes are clean and ironed. Finally I would pay attention to the color coordination.
What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
- I like to look clean, well-groomed and tasteful. I would like people to see the reflection of an elegant taste.
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 was dressing differently during university. Our university enviroment was very politicized. So I would always be ready to run away from the police. For example, my friends and I would never wear heels.
Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or makeup or hair? What was it? Why did it happen then, do you think?
- Ofcourse. Probably during the beginning of my 40s, I would have said “This is it.” You may still like different styles but it is more important to know what you feel good in. I think I knew what I felt good in and what suited me by the end of my 30s and the start of my 40s.
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?
- No. On the contrary, there were times I was thankful that I am a woman. There is always more choice. Skirts, dresses, pants, thights and more…
What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try to achieve?
- I don’t think I could be comfortable in a very feminine style, like a femme fatale.
Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
- Once when we went shopping with your dad, I really liked a red dress. But your dad preferred the same dress in purple. So I acted like I also wanted the purple version and we ended up buying that one. However, when we arrived home and I saw that both of the dresses were in the bag. That was really touching. Your dad also bought me a diamond ring and it was very significant for me. Because he didn’t believe that a diamond was meaningful or necessary. He only bought it because he thought it was meaningful for me. That was very valuable.
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 would wear thight jeans with a thight button up on top.
What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
- I lost them. But I had diamond heirloom earrings from my grandmother.
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 red chiffon dress that I never wear anymore. I think it is really beautiful so I never throw it away. But I also don’t think it looks good on me at my current weight. So I am hoping that I will wear it when I lose weight.
If you were building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
- I bought a lot of the same colors without noticing. I would probably choose different colors if I had to buy everything all over again .
What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
- The most expensive thing I bought was a cashmere coat. And I do still wear it.
Do you have any shopping rules you follow?
- I try to see if the thing I want to buy goes with other stuff in my wardrobe. You can like a piece on its own, but there may not be anything else in your closet to compliment it. Then there is no point to buying that piece.
Is there an article of clothing, some makeup, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?
Do you remember the first time you were conscious of what you were wearing? Can you describe this moment and what it was about?
- The first thing I remember having is a pair of aubergine platform heels. When I was visiting home from boarding school, my dad took me to shopping. And there I saw this aubergine pair and they were quite expensive as far as I can remember. But he bought them for me. That is the first thing that I remember because I was really happy to own them.
Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
- Yeah. I was biting my nails when I was younger. One day there was coctail and I was dressed up really nicely when my father said “Do those nails go with this beautiful dress?”. And I did agree with him. That was the day I stopped biting my nails.
It was very compelling to have this conversation with my mother about clothes. It confirmed some of the things I already knew about her. But I got surprised by some of her answers. I also got to hear about some sweet stories that I otherwise never would.
I hope this interview encourages you to ask these questions to yourself and maybe other women. If you end up thinking or even writing about this, I would love to hear your thoughts. So let me know!