My interview subject is my mom, Xuemei Li. She is a woman in her late 40s, and now lives in Western Massachusetts. She is a single mother to two, and is divorced. She immigrated to the U.S from China to obtain her masters degree in Texas. She works as a financial analyst for an investment company, MassMutual.
What kinds of clothes do you usually wear and why?
Business casual, this is the company’s dress code. But now I think MassMutual said you can wear anything you want as long as its appropriate. But still I wear business casual. What that means is not suits, mainly in the cold time its shirts and pants. In summer time I usually wear houses and skirts. I also have a few dresses that are black, so it is conservative colors and styles, which makes people think you dress appropriately in the workplace
What is your typical routine when getting ready in the morning?
After I get up, I try to remember what I wore yesterday and maybe two days before so that I can pick a dress, or clothes, different to wear for today’s work. And then, just get dressed and get ready for work.
How have you organized the items in your wardrobe?
My wardrobe is pretty small. Well, I put summer clothes on one side and winter clothes on the other side. So, in the summertime, I use those plastic bags to cover the winter clothes, like pants and shirts. And for summer clothes, I organize them by skirts together and blouses together, and also by color, similar colors together, so I can pick what to match what.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing you have ever bought?
I think for work, it’s the black dress that does not wrinkled and when I wear it, it makes me feel slimmer, and it also looks formal in the workplace, so it is easy to maintain, so I like it. I actually like the red dress that I bought even though I didn’t wear it. I think I only wore it once, at your graduation, I think, because there is no occasion that I think is appropriate for me to wear it. But I really like the color, it is bright. I am just a little bit afraid that it is not age appropriate for me to wear it that often, but I still like it. Also I think that the pattern makes me look not that fat.
Do you wear the same clothes now that you wore ten years ago?
Yes, I have a lot of clothes longer than 10 years I think. As long as I can still fit in, I still wear them. The style is not that on trend, but it is timeless, for me.
Do you think your wardrobe is limited to your subject positions (age, class, place, nationality, gender)?
Yes, I think so. For age, probably, because I still wear clothing from 10 years ago, age doesn’t seem that big of a problem now. Because I think for my 30s, 40s, I can wear the same clothing. But when I get older, like 60s, it should be different I think. More from the workplace, because it is a corporate environment, it impacts what I wear. From nationality, that doesn’t limit me, but I have a few clothes that have more Chinese characteristics. But actually, I like them and when I wear them, sometimes people would comment on that, so it’s good, it’s ok. Of course, gender, I wouldn’t wear mens right? I don’t think I have to wear skirts because I am a woman. But in the summertime, I like to wear skirts because I think it makes me feel better. One reason is because when I wear long pants, it makes me feel that I look fat. And the skirts can cover! If I wear skirts you can’t usually see that. My pants are kind of slim, and that makes you kind of see that my legs are thicker. So I want to cover that usually.
My mom’s closet is longer than it is deep. It consists of four folding doors. She splits the closet in two sections, the left side for summer clothes and the right side for winter. Currently the right side still is covered in garment bags, as my mom still wants to get the most out of her skirts and blouses before the weather gets colder. The winter side consists more pants and long sleeved shirts, sweaters, jackets, and blouses. There is a section of blacks and navy blues, whites and creams, and red and other bright colors in each of the two sections. Most of the clothing is neutral toned, with a few pops of color. Most of the clothing is nice skirts and slacks along with button down shirts and blouses, mainly for the workplace. Everything is hung up neatly to avoid wrinkling.
This is my mom, Xuemei Li. She loves to travel. Here, she is wearing casual clothes with more color, which she brings while traveling.
These are her two favorite dresses. The black one with an embroidered top is one that is suitable for the workplace and easy to maintain, as it does not wrinkle. The red one is one that she really likes, but has only worn once, because she cannot find an occasion to wear it to.
This is her closet, split down the middle into two sections. The one on the left has her summer clothes, and the right, still covered in garment bags, are her winter clothes.