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50 Shades of Ollie’s Closet

Dress Practice Interview

I conducted an interview with my peer Ollie, regarding her daily dress practices. She is my peer at Parsons School of Design. Her prefered gender pronouns are she/her, and she is working retail part time on the days she does not have class. Her relationship to me is that she is my peer, my friend, and we are both from the midwest. She knows all of the same small chain midwest brands as me. We are similar in interests but different in personality so we always laugh at how our styles and taste in clothing are very different. In the interview, I noticed that the themes of class and work in regards to financials reappeared quite often. Her class dictates what she can afford to buy.

 

After interviewing Ollie, I found that many of her daily dress practices are influenced by class, profession, friends, and place. What she wears is greatly influenced by the the town and culture she grew up in. Her family is working class. She grew up working part time jobs, and has a strong work ethic to show from it. When working at Madewell, she wears anything that is from the brand or any clothes that look similar to Madewell. Ollie’s friends dress similar to her, and she mentions in the interview that she feels a pressure to dress fashionable when at Parsons. After interviewing Ollie, I noticed that she really does dress in what would be the most comfortable for what she has to do that day. Before interviewing her, I thought she dressed in casual clothing because she didn’t have much formal clothing. So I can assume there is a good chance if she had all designer clothing she would still dress in what would be the most comfortable. In comparison to me, I will sometimes wear something uncomfortable for fashion, for photos, or for the way something looks. If a garment is very fashionable but uncomfortable, I would still consider wearing it for a certain period of time. In terms of subject positions, place/location, I probably dress more fashionable because growing up in the midwest I wanted to stand out through what I wore. For Ollie, she was surrounded by midwest clothing but showed her style through her photography.

Sophie Woodward writes, “clothing that is worn all the time often never makes it to the wardrobe; for ease of access, these items are kept on a chair in the bedroom or on a stair rail, to be grabbed on the way out of the house.” Ollie explains in the interview that she also has a chair in her room where she puts her most worn clothing. She has the clothing folded, but it is the most worn and doesn’t make it back in her closet. I found this quote the most relatable as everyone has their own version of a “chair” in their room. When I asked other peers if they have a chair or somewhere in their room where they put clothes that don’t make it to their original place, they all said yes. A few said yes they have a chair, one said they use the floor, and another said they use their bed rail.

I am glad I was able to interview Ollie, because it made me realize everyone is so greatly different in their preferred organizations of their clothing. I did not realize the quantity of only white, black, and grey clothing she has, hence the 50 shades. This interview impacted my understanding of the relationship between clothing and the body because it showed me how much materiality influences someone’s choice in clothing. For Ollie, the materiality of the clothing played a large role in what was the most comfortable to wear.

During the interview we sat on her bed and talked since her room is quite small. It was less of a wardrobe walk-through and more of a sit down and chat.

 

 

Below is a transcript of the interview

 

Transcribed: 23 February 2019

 

I, Marie Mannix, conducted an interview with my peer Ollie, regarding her daily dress practices.

 

50 SHADES OF OLLIE’S CLOSET

 

Interviewer: Thank you for meeting me today!

Interviewee: Of course! I’m happy to answer your questions.

Interviewer: And you are a student at The New School? How long have you lived in the city?

Interviewee: Yes, I have lived in Manhattan for two years now.

Interviewer: What is your age?

Interviewee: I am 19 years old.

Interviewer: What is your gender?

Interviewee: Female

Interviewer: What is your ethnicity?

Interviewee: I am mixed, my dad black and my mom white.

Interviewer: Have you travelled back to your origins?

Interviewee: My mom is from Canada (white) my dad is from Jamaica (black) so I have been to both places, but I haven’t been to England or Africa where my ancestors trace back to. I hope to though, as it fills in my history.

Interviewer: What is your occupation?

Interviewee: I’m a full time student and part time stylist at Madewell.

Interviewer: How has your occupancy been in the past? Other occupations? Locations?

Interviewee: I worked at Breads Bakery as a sales associate last year. It wasn’t a bad job, but I wasn’t enjoying it much. Now at Madewell I can work with clothing and some sense of fashion. Working at Breads as a sales associate was convenient since it was only a couple blocks away from where I lived, but not my top choice for a job. I am much more glad to be working in the fashion industry, especially in New York. Since I am not majoring in fashion, I enjoy doing fashion related things in my free time like fashion photography and styling.

Interviewer: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Interviewee: I love photography, videography, and watching films. I also enjoy art and music and tend to incorporate art, fashion, and current hobbies into my photography.

Interviewer: Does your class influence your dress?

Interviewee: Yes, I would consider myself working class. I wouldn’t be able to afford most of the clothes I have without help from my parents. Growing up I chose my clothing based on what was popular for people in my surrounding class to wear.

Interviewer: Has your childhood/where and how you grew up, influenced your dress?

Interviewee: Yes. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, the Midwest. In the Midwest stores like Madewell, Anthropologie, Fossil, Bath & Body Works and Target are the trendy places to shop. When I moved to NYC I realized that the fashion trends here were very different. I’ve noticed that my style is a lot more “rustic” compared to the New York high fashion style. It’s been hard to transition my closet from basics to a few high fashion items.

Interviewer: Do you have a support system? Who does that consist of?

Interviewee: I have my best friend. She is awesome talented and pretty much the only person I actually care about and make time for.

Interviewer: What are your relationships like with your family members?

Interviewee: I’m very close with my twin sister Sophia, who goes to school in California. I am also pretty close with my brother Marcus, who is studying abroad in Europe. They both are fashionable, but all of our fashion senses are very Midwest.

Interviewer: Where is clothing placed in your apartment? In your room? Chair?

Interviewee: I hang my coats, dresses, and pants in my closet. I fold my comfy clothes, tee shirts and under garments. I try to keep my clothes organized so it’s easy to get dressed in the morning. I organize most of my clothing out of convenience. And yes, I do have a chair with some shirts on it.

Interviewer: How many organizational compartments for clothing and accessories do you have? Closet? Wardrobe? Drawer? 

Interviewee: I have a closet and drawers for my clothes and I keep my jewelry in a box. I hang my purses on the side of my bed. I don’t have  a lot of space so I try to keep organized and utilize the small space I have.

Interviewer: How are they organized? Necessity of weather? Most worn? Categories?

Interviewee: I organize my closet by color and I organize the colors by which colors I wear the most, so black white and grey are at the front of my closet.

Interviewer: Are certain pieces of clothing you have more sentimental than others? More expensive?

Interviewee: Yes, I would say my more expensive pieces like designer brands or from Anthropologie are some of my more prized possessions in my closet. They seem more like a work of art than a piece of clothing.

Interviewer: Do you tend to wear certain clothing more than others?

Interviewee: I wear black and blue jeans a lot because they tend to go with everything. I also wear black graphic tees most of the time because they are very causal and also go with everything.

Interviewer: How do you choose what you are going to wear? Night or morning routine?

Interviewee: In the mornings I usually think about what I have going on for the day before I get dressed. Most days I’m just going to class so I will wear something comfortable and causal but not too casual. Usually blue jeans, a black shirt, and a pair of stylish sneakers with a bomber jacket over top. Some days I will throw a beanie or a ball cap on top if I don’t feel like doing my hair. At night if I’m going out with my friends I usually just wear a black dress with black heels… I don’t put too much effort into what I wear and I figure black  is always a safe choice.

Interviewer: What brands are your clothing? How do you choose where you shop?

Interviewee: I like to shop at affordable places but at the same time I don’t want to invest my money into cheap clothes. I love store like Madewell for my denim and my wardrobe basics, I like stores like Aritzia for trendy yet classy pieces, I like Zara for my statement pieces.  

Interviewer: How many pieces of clothing would you estimate you have?

Interviewee: I honestly don’t feel like I have a lot compared to most girls at my school. I keep my wardrobe simple and neutral so that all my clothes match together. I probably have 5 pairs of jeans, 6 dresses, 10 black tee shirts, 2 turtle necks, maybe 1 or 2 blouses, 1 skirt, and 5 or 6 jackets.  

Interviewer: Wow! Thank you so much Ollie!

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