A description of your interview subject:
–56 years young (September 15, 1963)
-Identifies both sex and gender as female
-French Canadian/Irish/ Swedish heritage
-Health Care Manager for Major Company
-5’7” tall with strong build
-red head with freckles
Both images are of Monique’s’ closet and her organization. The photo on the right depicts her bottoms- color coordinated and the left is an image of her tops- color coordinated and by style/shape of the garment.
A transcription of six interview questions and answers:
- What is the first thought that comes to mind when you are getting ready/ dressed in the morning? How does this thought depict what you chose?
- Oh God, what am I doing today at work and how do i want to look? Who will I be interacting with and working with today? Do I need to be more polished and professional or casual? How much do I really care about what I look like today? How does this thought depict what you chose? Depending on what kinds of meetings I have on my schedule and if I am staying in the office or going to a customer site, that will determine what I choose.
- What makes you reach for what you wear?
- I often think about color – do I need cheering up? If so, I will pick a bright color like raspberry, magenta or chartreuse green. If I feeling like I need to be more “classic,” I always choose black.
Is it influenced by other factors?
If I feel bloated or “fat,” I will choose more forgiving skirts or pants and then a longer top to cover my waist, hips and belly. I have certain more tailored items that I definitely choose when I want or need to feel like a put-together business woman.
- How do you like to organize your clothing?
- I organize all my tops on one side of my closet by color. So all of the white shirts are together, all the blue tops are together, etc. Turtlenecks and light sweaters are folded on the shelf above the tops. The other side of my close has all the pants together, all the skirts together and all of my jackets together. Yoga pants, jeans and sweats are folded on the shelf above the pants and skirts. I have a walk-in closet so I have summer and winter clothes mixed in together. I wish I could be better about separating my clothes by season but I am not quite that organized. At the back of the closet, I have several scarf organizers and my boots are stored on the floor under the scarfs. Shoes on are floor of both sides of the closet – sandals are on one side under the shorts/tops and all the rest are on the other side under the skirts and jackets. I also have a belt hanger on the side the closet at the end of the shirts/tops.
Do these systems have any significance to when you get ready?
Sometimes I choose the pants/tops first and then I sometimes pick the top first. It flips back and forth. I’ve never thought about why that is before.
- What are the basic steps when you are getting ready for a typical day?
- I get up and use the bathroom, let the dog out, feed the dog and get coffee ready. I then go back upstairs and check the weather – temperature for the day. That will affect what I choose to wear. Sometimes I shower in the morning, sometimes at night but either way, the next step is to pick out clothes.
Does this change depending on what you are doing?
If I have to get up really early for a flight or a meeting, I will pick out my clothes the night before which I really dislike. It’s really hard for me to predict exactly how I will feel the next day. I know what I will be doing and I can check the temperature but choosing my outfit the night before always feels more challenging and more difficult. Sometimes the next morning, I choose something different because I don’t “feel”like wearing what I had picked out. I put my makeup on after I get dressed as my mother taught me you that you don’t want to get makeup on your clothing. Jewelry is next and doing my hair is last. I have a really hard time finding comfortable shoes so I end up wearing the same black clogs, boots or flat just about every day for work. On the weekends, It is different in that I stay in pajamas as long as I can or spend the day in active wear.
- How much of your wardrobe do you use actively?
How much is inactive?- Is there a reason for this?
40%-The 40% doesn’t fit me well but I am not ready to part with the items because I like them and want them to fit. I keep hoping that some of them will fit again so I hold on to them.
- What would you say is your personal style?
- Tailored classic look but not preppy.
Does this style reflect you or something you want to be perceived as?
I want to be perceived as a well put-together successful independent woman.
What pieces of clothing make you happy/ confident? Why is this?
Clothes that I think make me look successful or smart or fun make me happy.
- What pieces of clothing do you steer away from and why?
- I totally steer away from prints especially flowered ones because they are very unflattering on me. I also stay away from polyester clothing because it feels cheaply made. I avoid anything with sparkles or “bling” as I think that it looks horrible on me. Short skirts are bad choices because I have big legs and really unattractive knees and I am really too old now but I loved wearing them when I was younger. I also avoid clingy fabrics that show every imperfection of my 55 year-old body.
The overall consensus I received from my interview was that depending on your career and where you live really depicts what you wear. Since my mother has had to dress as a professional most of her life- that it what he closet consists most of. Her organization of her clothing also reflects her career- organized and placed out so she knows where things are which helps her when dressing in the morning. I also noticed that I picked up some of her organization skills as I also organize my closet like her. Living in Vermont where the climate can be different day to day- picking out an outfit the night before isn’t always efficient for her so after doing her morning ritual like brushing teeth, letting the dog out and fed, then her outfit is chosen based off of what she will face during the day, including weather. Sometimes she starts with pants to base the top off of or it is the opposite. Then comes makeup and hair, jewelry, and shoes and jacket as last which is usually the same day to day. Her style seems to be directly connected to her job- as she owns mostly tailored pieces. Of course on the weekends her outfit choices are more relaxed and fitting for the gym or lounging. These items are located in a separate section either folded in piles or in her dresser-dividing clothing into work/professional wear and casual wear.
The ‘type’ of clothing she has is also directed to her class. As a professional she cannot be wearing Forever 21 quality clothing so most of her closet consists of quality brands or high priced items either trifted or bought. Being in a professional business setting sets a standard for her clothing which is shown through her tailored style and the quality and quantity of those pieces ie. owning multiple tailored white button downs and suit sets. These garments are what she wants to be perceived as- put together, smart, organized, and ready to work.
Something I noticed was her attraction to color and how that impacts her mood- either bringing her spirits up with garment color choice or down to match a more serious tone. As an older woman the way clothing fits is often more important which is evident in this interview. She makes comments about how she avoids certain fabrics like poly or prints which she knows doesn’t make her body look the best in her eyes. She also is in tune with her skin tone and how that translates with different colors- not being washed out or too bring for her fair skin. She is in touch with her body so she knows what parts to accentuate and what ones to hide ie. knees, hips. This is why most of her closet- 60% is active while the other 40% is inactive. Most of the inactive pieces are not her casual clothes but work attire.The pieces that she doesn’t wear are because she loves them but they don’t exactly fit how she wants and hopes maybe they will in the future or to be tailored. These pieces are not in a separate section but intertwined with her active clothing.
Most of all, she likes clothes that make her happy or confident to be able to present and have important meetings with her other colleges that expresses just the right amount of her and being in a professional setting. As she has gotten older her closet has evolved with her and so has her style- accommodating her body shape and fit.
The themes I picked up on during my interview was the correlation of style and career and the direct impact on my mothers routine and garment choices. As a business professional having early hours means a cramped morning schedule or coffee, letting the dog out and food, and getting ready for her meetings. Like me, she starts out typically with her pants of choice then a top to match, make up and hair after dressing so it doesn’t get on any clothes and then jewelry to pull the outfit together. I hadn’t realized how similar our routines are since we are usually getting ready at different times and now different states. Our organization of our closets are also the same- separating different styles and color coordinating them-making it easier to get ready in the morning. For her you can see that some of her closet space is unorganized and over flowing which to me can be linked to her age and profession. “Broadly speaking, those with more clothing tend to be older, reasonably well-off and living in a permanent residence with more space for clothes” (Woodward 2007). This stands true when comparing my closets to my mother- while mine is more organized, she carries more volume of clothing than I do. As a student I am not required to wear a ‘uniform’ for classes or even work which allows me to carry over my leisure wear or casual clothes are day clothing. I also am living in Manhattan as a young adult with plenty of moving opportunities in my future so a swapping for a bigger closet to hold more clothes is limiting while my mother has a walk in closet and a separate massive dresser as well.
Another theme I noticed was her choice in clothing based of her body and age. Since she isn’t built as a petite woman, she knows to steer away from anything super shiny or clingy, bright patterns or floral because they are unflattering to her body in her opinion. She tends to pick pieces that she knows will flatter her shape and not accentuate the parts of her body she dislikes. Also as a business woman she has a limited amount of styles of garments she can chose from- as she wants to be perceived as a professional intellectual woman. Most of her closet consists of trousers, skirts, suits, button-downs, jackets, etc. The other portion of her closet is typical gym, lounge, or casual wear for the weekends. The only inactive clothing in her closet consists of pieces that do not fit or will be tailored to be fit but ones that she loves and is not willing to let go of yet.