"It isn't a style guide, it isn't a story. It is a selection of essays, conversations and interviews with over 600 women around the world about their style and how they dress. If, like me you tend to feel intimidated by Fashion and stylish people, this will instantly make you feel better and at peace with who you are. Reading words from all these highly intelligent and talented women who are experiencing the same feelings as me is liberating. Writers who can pen complex novels but can't pick an outfit for their book signing. Photographers who capture the beauty in everything but are having trouble deciding on a pair of shoes. This speaks to me so much more than any editorial in a fashion magazine. This obviously also speaks to me way more than any style advice book could ever do."
- Laetitia, Mademoiselle Robot.
- Laetitia, Mademoiselle Robot.
ONE SURVEY & THREE LONG-TIME BLOGGING FRIENDS:
Melly, Katrina & Adeline.
1. WHEN DO YOU FEEL AT YOUR MOST ATTRACTIVE?
M: After an afternoon nap.
K: Gosh, lately... never? Haha. Okay, for real: I feel best when I don't care about looking any certain way. Most of the time, I strive to look "together". Sometimes I'm successful (to me, anyway) and many times I'm not, which is more of a testament to the way I feel and my internal dialog than to the way I actually look. But there are also times when I just don't give a damn and those are the times that I feel my best. I guess it's during those times when I feel the most attractive.
A: On the dance floor.
2. DO YOU NOTICE WOMEN ON THE STREET? IF SO, WHAT SORT OF WOMEN DO YOU TEND TO NOTICE OR ADMIRE?
M: All the time. I notice the ones who embrace a tomboy vibe and street wear.
K: I notice women who own their look, whatever their look may be.
A: Yes. At the moment, anyone wearing an interesting colour combination instead of the ubiquitous black coat/black outfit, gets not only my attention but also a good dose of gratitude. Norwegian winter street style is like the weather: gray and depressing.
3. WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU ADMIRE ABOUT HOW OTHER WOMEN PRESENT THEMSELVES?
M: Looking good in colour and nice hair.
K: Simple ensembles with a surprise, like a monochromatic look with something unexpected, like an all black ensemble with perhaps a peek of red and white striped ankle socks.
A: I admire women whose style seems effortless.
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?
M: Yes, sometime last year it happened. Thinking back now, planning my wedding is the reason. Sticking to my guns for decisions like my simple wedding dress, doing my own make-up for my wedding dinner (almost unheard of where I live) and my hairdo for the night was basically my everyday bob, only blown dry neatly so I looked presentable. I got advice from all directions on how and what to do. I’m glad I cancelled them all out because when I got hold of our wedding photos, I didn’t cringe at myself. I looked and felt like myself that night. So I realised I can have that everyday, if I listened to myself. I have to add that it comes with some homework, knowing yourself and your body and lots of restrain!
K: I grew up attending private schools until high school. I went from having a daily uniform to having a choice. The great thing about public school were the goths. I loved their strangeness and their willingness be different. I found them to be beautiful.
A: The first time I cut my hair very short. Getting rid of my curls was liberating.
5. WHAT ARE SOME SHOPPING RULES YOU WOULDN’T NECESSARILY RECOMMEND TO OTHERS BUT WHICH YOU FOLLOW?
M: Shop online.
A: If it requires ironing, hand-wash or dry-cleaning, don’t buy it.
6. WHAT ARE SOME RULES ABOUT DRESSING YOU FOLLOW, BUT YOU WOULDN'T NECESSARILY RECOMMEND TO OTHERS?
M: Black everything.
A: I’d rather wear too much colour than being beige.
7. WHAT IS THE MOST TRANSFORMATIVE CONVERSATION YOU HAVE EVER HAD ON THE SUBJECT OF FASHION OR STYLE?
M: I don’t think I’ve had that conversation yet.
K: I was once invited to share my style on someone's blog. I carefully chose an outfit that I felt best represented me at the time. I took photos and sent them off. Weeks later, I got an email back saying that I should try another look. Try another look? Was she serious? But I already gave her my best look! I gathered that my outfit wasn't up to par with her aesthetic. Instead of changing my wardrobe and retaking photos, I withdrew my submission and asked her not to post them and that was that. I felt embarrassed, which wasn't her fault, but it was something that I took personally.
A: I had this conversation with myself and it lasted for exactly 9 months. I moved places in August and then again in May. I got rid of a lot of stuff in the process. And now I know the exact content of my wardrobe. I think once you've figured out what looks good on you and once you’ve given some thought to what you actually have and need, it all becomes much easier.
8. DO YOU HAVE A UNIFIED WAY OF APPROACHING YOUR LIFE, WORK, RELATIONSHIPS, FINANCES, CHORES, ETC.? PLEASE EXPLAIN.
M: As cliché as it sounds, my thing is to always do what you love. For chores, I guess do what you love first. Attack the sucky chores later. For finances - have extra money, go buy/do/travel what makes you happy. For relationships, now that I’m married, I compromise and also join my husband to do what he loves when we go out because I love him!
K: I'm organized and meticulous. I have a list of things to do every day of the week, which, strangely enough, doesn't translate to how I go about getting dressed these days. Once upon a time, I used to prep the next day's outfit the night before. Not so lately. I usually wear the same types of clothes day after day.
A: Life is too short. Too short to bother with people I don't like, too short to postpone the best bits to later. I like to think that every day is special and that every day should be special. So I dress up pretty much every day.
9. ARE THERE ANY CLOTHING (OR RELATED) ITEMS THAT YOU HAVE IN MULTIPLE? WHY DO YOU THINK YOU KEEP BUYING THIS THING?
M: Black sleeveless tops in various styles - muscle, cropped, tank, camisole. They go with everything.
K: I have a thing about socks. They're great cuz they can add so much to an outfit. Although my uniform is consistent day to day, my socks change daily.
A: Underwears! I have the exact same bra in triplicate, about a dozen of the same knickers and 5 or 6 of the same woolen tights. All black.
10. HAVE YOU EVER SUCCESSFULLY GIVEN SOMEONE A PRESENT OF JEWELRY OR CLOTHING THAT YOU CONTINUE TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT?
M: No. I hardly buy jewelry or clothing for people. Because I wouldn’t want anyone to buy me those things.
K: I'm a gift certificate kind of gal.
A: A bleeding fox shirt for Laetitia’s unbirthday. It looks as amazing as it sounds.
11. IS THERE ANY FASHION TREND YOU’VE REFUSED TO PARTICIPATE IN AND WHY?
M: Wearing black eyeliner. Every girl I know who wore/wears it, won’t go out without applying eyeliner anymore. That’s a scary thought.
K: In the 80s, body glove biker shorts were the thing to wear. I guess I would have participated if I hadn't felt self-conscious about showing off my thighs. Biker shorts were just way too sexy for me - too revealing!
A: Leggings as pants. Uggs & Crocs. Ugly as fuck.
12. CAN YOU SAY A BIT ABOUT HOW YOUR MOTHER’S BODY AND STYLE HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN TO YOU, OR NOT?
M: Not at all. Our bodies and styles are like night and day. She would always tell me as a little girl that my colour palette is autumn/winter, meaning the greys and blacks while hers is spring/summer. That’s about the only advice she’s given and stands true.
K: My mom has great fashion sense, but we're so different.
A: We are really different but very close. I became taller and curvier than her in my teens. So I was never able to borrow anything from her, it simply didn't fit. Recently as she entered menopause and I entered adulthood (aka my thirties), we both went through a few changes: she gained weight, I lost weight, she’s modernising her wardrobe and I’m upgrading mine. She taught me how use my sewing machine and I took her shopping.
13. HAVE YOU STOLEN, BORROWED OR ADAPTED ANY DRESSING IDEAS OR ACTUAL ITEMS FROM FRIENDS OR FAMILY?
K: My aunt sported a red lip daily. I do the same now.
A: There is this amazing sweater my mom knitted back in the 80s. She wore it for years and eventually grew tired of it. It’s pretty much old as I am but it still looks brand new. It’s mustard and super comfy.
14. WAS THERE A POINT IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOUR STYLE CHANGED DRAMATICALLY? WHAT HAPPENED?
M: Yes, after I turned 25 I stopped wearing vintage dresses and clothes that required effort to mix and match. It took up a lot of my time, scouring the internet for good vintage stuff. It was a mixture of getting tired of it and wanting to direct my time and focus on my small handmade business. So I slowly streamlined the stuff I’d wear or buy. I started by deciding to wear a certain style all year, for example, in 2012 I mostly wore button-down shirts with high-waisted jeans. That morphed to cutting out colour completely. So for 2015, I’m mostly wearing black sleeveless tops with high-waisted shorts. I heard this a lot, creating a uniform a la Steve Jobs. And subconsciously I was doing just that.
K: My style changes every few years. Not dramatically, but what I perceive to be attractive changes. For example, I used to think goth was cool. Then, I went through the whole preppy phase and these days, I'm going for comfort. I guess I'm just lazy.
A: A few months ago, I started wearing jeans again. For the first time in seven years.
New York, 2010. I lovelovelove them. I've changed the sole and the shoelaces more times than I can remember but I want them to last forever. - Adeline.
15. IS THERE ANYTHING POLITICAL ABOUT THE WAY YOU DRESS?
M: Not at all, I don’t think.
A: I wouldn’t call it a political statement but I certainly don’t dress the way I sometimes feel I’m expected to. And I don’t mind showing people wrong about their expectations. I try to be an empowered young woman who isn’t apologetic about how she dresses.
19. WHAT ARE YOU WEARING ON YOUR BODY AND FACE, AND HOW IS YOUR HAIR DONE, RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT?
M: A black sleeveless cropped top and a pair of black leather high-waisted shorts. My hair is its usual unruly long bob with bangs. Only makeup on my face is under-eye concealer.
K: I just got through working out, so I'm wearing a black t-shirt, sweat pants, and a head band to keep my hair away from my face.
A: My hair has been purple for the past month. It’s currently styled with shitloads of hairspray. My eyebrows are a darker shade of purple and I’m wearing emerald eyeliner. Wearing a nude lipstick to balance the madness.
20. IN WHAT WAY IS THIS STUFF IMPORTANT, IF AT ALL?
M: It is self-respect and at the same time, respect for others.
K: Yes, it is important. Self expression is worth analyzing and understanding.
A: It is important. It’s a part of your identity. It’s a part of your well-being.
38. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACHIEVE WHEN YOU DRESS?
M: Comfort, decency and some degree of cool.
K: Be comfortable - clean, presentable, and comfortable.
A: Being true to myself. "My style is what I share with the outside world, but it's also my armor & cocoon." - Lysa Cooper. I couldn’t agree more. No one knows what’s going on in my head, my style gives just a glimpse of it.
40. IF YOU HAD TO WEAR A “UNIFORM” WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
M: A black sleeveless top with high-waisted shorts. On my feet, either black Arizona Birkenstocks or black Vans slip-ons or canvas low cut Converse sneakers. Depending on where I’m going.
K: I have a uniform. White t-shirt (I wear Fruit of the Loom for Men in large for a nice baggy look), boyfriend jeans, and my sneakers or birks (sometimes with socks!).
A: It would be the same dress in ten different colours. It would have great tailoring and would be perfect for both work and dance parties.
Melly's favourite shoes.
42. WHAT IS YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND AND HOW HAS THAT INFLUENCED HOW YOU DRESS?
M: I’m Singaporean Chinese, my family is not traditional at all. I don’t think I’ve ever been influenced by my heritage. I would say Singapore culture largely plays a part in how I dress though. Casual is the norm here and the weather is hot and humid most months of the year. I don’t feel the pressure to dress up if I don’t want to at all.
K: I'm Filipino. I don't think this has influenced how I dress.
A: I'm French but I've been living in Oslo, Norway for six years. And I can't think of a good answer to this question. I grew up loving Kenzo and Ungaro, and their use of colours and prints. None of them is actually French but still, I associate them with Paris. So there's that I guess.
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?
M: I’ve said it more times than I can remember, even to my husband, that I wished I was a boy. Not a man though. Reason being I’m not nice when I have PMS and my boobs feel like a chore most days. I’ve also wished many times that I could dress like a man especially when I’m having a hard time finding an appropriate night-out or dinner dress for weddings. No one cares what men wear! All that being said, I’ve never wanted to have a man’s body.
K: Yes - getting dressed and being fashionable seems like an easy and simple thing for men.
A: I’ve never wished I were a man or had a man’s body - and I wouldn’t trade even for just one day. That being said, I’ve always been interested in the androgynous style and admire people who nail it.
51. IF THERE WAS ONE COUNTRY OR CULTURE OR ERA THAT YOU HAD TO LIVE IN, FASHION-WISE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
M: Working on a rural farm somewhere, wearing farmer clothing.
K: Ooohh... Copenhagen, Tokyo, or Seoul --- all present day.
A: Currently fascinated by the Herero Tribe in Namibia.
65. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF CLOTHING OR JEWELRY THAT YOU OWN?
M: Long tan overalls from Base Range.
K: A necklace by Julie Thevenot.
A: A necklace I bought in Cape Town, South Africa.
Anytime I need to zone myself into work mode, I put on these overalls. Or even on a day I have lots of errands to run, I put them on and immediately I get into go-go-go mode. I wear them with a white or black tank top underneath. It is comfortable, well-designed and one-of-a-kind. It always puts me in a good mood. - Melly.
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?
M: I’ve had this 1920s black flapper dress for more than 5 years. It is made out completely of lace, it is see-through and long, falls down to my ankles. It is beautiful and womanly and makes me think of dancing so I keep it with me even after moving 3 times. I never worn it probably because I see it as a costume. Something a woman once wore. To do womanly things. While I’m just a girl who would never be that woman.
K: I've given away all the things in my closet I haven't worn. I wear everything I own.
A: I’m a bit of a nazi when it comes to decluttering my wardrobe. Every other month I give away any garment that I haven’t worn in a while. But there is one item that I can’t get rid of: my tutu.
75. WERE YOU EVER GIVEN A PRESENT OF CLOTHING OR JEWELRY THAT ESPECIALLY TOUCHED YOU?
M: Yes! A good friend of mine sent me this navy blue Nike jacket back when I was still a student. She had migrated to Melbourne and we were still going strong at keeping in touch with snail mail. I think she got it for my birthday. I wore it everyday in class, since it was always cold in air-conditioned rooms. I wore it to shreds!
K: Yes, My mom's present when I graduated from college: an awesome Orla Kiely bag.
A: Carola gave me a necklace that used to belong to her mom and it was a beautiful token of friendship.
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?
M: Sadly, all my impulse purchases were bad choices. No luck there.
K: Everything I buy is the product of intense meditation --- it sometimes takes me forever to buy something.
A: I’ve never been into floral prints. I don't know why but it looks stupid on me. But there is that one floral dress with a black background that I bought thinking I’d grow tired of it. Two years later, it’s not only my go-to dress whenever I feel uninspired, but it’s also a guaranteed compliment.
81. IS THERE AN ARTICLE OF CLOTHING, A PIECE OF MAKE-UP, OR AN ACCESSORY THAT YOU CARRY WITH YOU OR WEAR EVERY DAY?
M: A tube of Carmex lip balm and a mood matcher lipstick. I wear my engagement ring and wedding band every day. The rings are from designers I admire very much, Caitlin Mociun and Satomi Kawakita. So when I do look at my fingers, they look beautiful thanks to the rings.
K: Yes! Blush and lipstick - two things I wear consistently every day.
A: My watch and the star I draw next to my right eye.
Katrina's favourite shoes.