Our salon photographer Seth Partridge shot photos this spring at Cambridge Mill and Galt Collegiate Institute. Seth photographed his Intrigue Media team member Zoey and her boyfriend Tyler. Afterward, Seth sat down with Zoey over lunch at Lucky Belly in Guelph to learn about how fashion intertwines with her life. Photos and conversation are below. Enjoy! – Mallory
Seth: Welcome to the interview.
Zoey: This will be the interview of a lifetime.
Seth: I’ll bring it all back to the beginning and the purpose of why we are doing this. We did a photoshoot. You’re one of the most fashionable people that I know in my life and Tyler, by extension, is equally (or at least trying to be equally) fashionable. Or maybe it’s a competition. The goal today is to really find out why fashion is a part of your life or an important focus in your life, however you want to describe it. I have some questions that will dig down on that topic.
Seth: The first question is kind of a big one and you may not have an answer to it right away. Why do you love the art of fashion? Why is this something that is important to you?
Zoey: For me, I think I love it so much because on a day-to-day basis you can be so flexible with it. Your mood is how you can dress. That’s why, as much as I love the idea of being a minimalist – like how someone can wear the same thing day-in and day-out – I feel like the same outfit cannot replicate my mood or what I am doing each day.
I dress for different reasons. Sometimes I am dressing because, you know, I want to express who I am. Sometimes I dress in something that makes me feel really good. Maybe you need a pick-me-up that day and that outfit is what makes it happen. Sometimes you need comfort and practicality behind it. There’s a reason I need rain boots and running shoes, right? Sometimes you need that stuff.
Seth: So comfort and functionality versus pure expressiveness.
Seth: So If I see you coming into the [Intrigue Media] office wearing pure black, then I know you’re not having a good day.
Zoey: And it’s not necessarily that I’m moody that day. Sometimes, it’s just that during a really busy week, you will sometimes see that. I just don’t have enough time to do it all. So sometimes I’ll fall back on to something that’s really easy or simple and I know that I won’t hate it part-way through the day. So all-black will be typically be “too-busy-to-care”, or it also serves multiple purposes. If I have meeting with a client who is really casual then I’m meeting with a client who is super dressy and sophisticated, I don’t want to wear like a really formal blazer/blouse combo pantsuit to the meeting with someone who dresses a bit more casual. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable in the meeting like they’re meeting with their banker or lawyer. People want you to mirror what they’re wearing, right? So sometimes the item can have a lot of function behind it.
Seth: Just out of curiosity, how did you come across mirroring people’s fashion in a professional setting?
Zoey: It was definitely just my time at Intrigue. In sales, and when working alongside people, you quickly realize that a lot of business owners, if they are meeting with someone about marketing, don’t really care to dress up in a suit. We give people that really comfortable, warm, welcoming environment where they feel like they can express themselves in whatever they wear. So if they’re meeting with us at 2:30 on a Friday, odds are they are going right into their weekend from there. There is no point in them coming in all dolled up. We wouldn’t judge them any differently if they did or they didn’t. I think in our setting especially is when people decide to dress more casually. I’m excited by that, and I just have to accommodate everyone that I meet with.
Seth: Very cool. Moving right along, I want to go back to the beginning. So I’ve got my own thoughts on this for myself personally. I can remember the first moment that I remember thinking clothes were cool. It was a box of hand-me-downs that I got from my cousin. I opened it up and I was like “Oh this is cool!” and that’s the first time I can remember thinking about wearing something that I thought was cool. In that vein, do you have a first memory or time frame that you remember starting to pay attention to dressing stylishly?
Zoey: I would say I was definitely very young. I guess it was probably the switch—I used to be a tomboy when I was really young.
Seth: Get out of here!
Zoey: No! I used to be the biggest tomboy. It was awesome because my parents couldn’t care less. It didn’t matter what I wanted to wear, as long as it was appropriate and weather appropriate in Canada. I remember I had this black pair of jeans that I always loved to wear. I don’t know what it was, but I had this mild obsession with them, so I wore them so frequently. My parents would always allow me to. If they were clean, I could wear them. I think being given that type of freedom at a young age is when I started to realize, “Oh, okay, I’ll wear what I want to wear.” It just progressed onward from there.
Seth: So how old was that, give or take?
Zoey: I would say 8 years old.
Seth: When did the tomboy phase stop, or has it yet?
Zoey: Right? (smiles) I would say probably 10. I think 10 was when I started to see what else was out there. I always admire and get inspiration from what other people are wearing. When you’re so young, all of your peers are wearing different things. You’re surrounded by magazines and media. I think I took a lot from that. You know like, What do I want to wear? Oh I really like that. I want to wear that. I didn’t necessarily focus on trends. There have always been trends over the years, and I think I would pick up on them, but I wouldn’t necessarily have to have it just because it was trendy or popular. If I like it, then I wear it. If I didn’t like it then I wouldn’t force myself into it.
Seth: That’s totally fair. I can relate to that.
Zoey: There are so many trends out there that I just shake my head at. I’m like, That’s not flattering. Why would I wear that.
Seth: Totally. The one I can’t understand is the cross of hipster into dorky-dad style. There’s some stuff hipsters wear where I’m like My dad would wear that and it wouldn’t be cool. Why are the hipsters wearing it.
So then, you switched out of being a tomboy at 10 years old. You were a tomboy. Do you have an older brother?
Zoey: I have 3 older male cousins. We would spend a lot of time in the summer at my grandma’s cottage. It was me, my 3 male cousins, and my younger brother. So being around so many boys influenced me, for sure.
Seth: That makes sense.
This is going to be a –I don’t know how you’re going to feel about answering this – next question. How big is your wardrobe?
Zoey: Definitely above average. I’ve been doing a better job lately at getting rid of things that are in my wardrobe that I don’t wear often enough, especially in the last year. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it’s a good sign that you should get rid of it.
The only area that I start to get super cautious with is when I know clothes are going to come full circle. I’m going to want this pair of heels one day. Things like that. It’s definitely above average, but I’m getting better at cutting stuff out. Then I’m not just taking up empty space in my closet if I don’t love it, right?
Seth: Gotcha. Very cool! So next question – guilty pleasure items.
I have a really hard time saying no to shoes that I like, that are a good deal, and that are checking all the boxes. Is there a guilty pleasure item that you have or is there something that you can’t say no to or have a hard time saying no to when you’re out buying things?
Zoey: Dresses are the worst for me. At least right now they are- it’s very seasonal. In the winter time, it’s typically shoes or boots. Boots in the winter, and dresses in the summer. Right now, I have an excessive number of dresses.
Seth: Do you find that you are getting rid of dresses and boots the most then
too, or do they stick around and fill up the closet?
Zoey: Yeah! I definitely get rid of them. I think dresses are harder for me to get rid of because I can always see an occasion for it. Boots are way easier to get rid of.
Seth: From the perspective of guilty pleasure buying, I try to create a ton of barriers to myself from buying them, because I will just buy shoes excessively. I started to create rules for myself like, “Well if it costs more than this, then it has to be leather.” If I’m going to spend money excessively, the shoes should be something that will last, right?
Zoey: My rule recently, especially when it comes to higher ticket items like shoes and bags, is if I haven’t felt a need in an existing outfit, don’t buy them.
Let’s say I’ve been searching for a specific pair of shoes for a while because I want something with a small heel. It was very specific, but it would to go with multiple outfits. That was the rule. I wasn’t going to buy a shoe unless it fits the many requirements that I have, for outfits for work or pleasure.
Seth: So you are asking “will this check off these boxes if I buy this?” That’s cool. When you are buying clothes, do you have any stores that you like to shop (or that you try to avoid) because you know you’re just going to spend all of your paycheque there? (smiles)
Zoey: I buy a lot of stuff from H&M. Aldo for shoes is a big one for me. The Bay has a lot of good brands, especially the nicer Bay stores and online. There are so many options there. I love Zara too.
Seth: I think we kind of touched on this earlier- it seems like you have a system of organizing your next purchase. When you’re looking to buy stuff, or planning an outfit, do you have any hard, fast rules or ideas that you try and hold to or avoid?
Zoey: I always look at the weather. I’m obsessed with not getting stuck in the worst outfit, given the weather that day. That’s what the typical Canadian would do. I go above and beyond.
Typically, when it’s raining I will be very selective with footwear. I’ll go with something simple. Unless I’m going to the store, then I’m wearing rain boots. I’m very practical that way. I don’t like being uncomfortable in anything that I wear
I also look at where I’m going that day. For casual time, you know if I’m going to a restaurant and then something fun like bowling, I’m not going to wear a dress. If we are going to a restaurant, then going out and having a couple drinks on a patio, and it’s like 30 degrees out, I’m probably going to wear a very comfortable dress that I can sit in for a long period of time. I typically tend to choose what I’m wearing based on where I’m going and then work from there.
If you do your laundry, you’ll notice that the same clothes end up at the front of the closet because you’re wearing them, washing them, and hanging them back up. It just goes in a cycle. I have a pretty condensed closet, so I pull out shirts that I’ve sometimes forgotten that I have, or are sitting in the back of the closet. Then I bring them to the front of the closet.
Seth: That’s a great nugget. I’m going to use that.
So when it comes to dressing well, is there any place you go to find inspiration for new ideas if things start to get boring or bland? How do you get inspiration?
Zoey: Pinterest. Pinterest all the way! There’s so many cool things you can get. Sometimes you’ll find that your style aligns well with a certain fashion blogger. I have fashion bloggers that I follow on Instagram that are very aligned with what I like to wear to work, and other ones who are very detail oriented. Any time I want some inspiration for what’s already in my wardrobe, Olivia Palermo is the queen of fashion in my eyes.
Seth: Jumping off the idea of inspiration, people typically look to prior eras of fashion to be inspired. Fashion is constantly being reinvented and recycled in slightly different ways. Do you have a favourite era or decade when it comes to fashion?
Zoey: I would say the 70s right now. There are a lot of styles and stuff that are flattering for my body type from that era. For example, wide legged pants are coming back in [style]. Bigger pants and tighter tops too, it is just so simple and easy. You can dress it up and dress it down. I have been loving that lately.
Seth: So if you were in the 70s right now, who would you be? Would you be like a disco girl or would you be a hippy?
Zoey: I would be like Jackie from That 70s Show. That’s who I would be.
Seth: That’s awesome.
Zoey: I love her style.
Seth: I guess this is just a random question, but how do you feel about the 90s being back in?
Zoey: Some is good and some is bad.
Seth: What is bad?
Zoey: Excessive use of chokers. (grimaces)
Seth: That’s what I was thinking too!
Zoey: and … I’m liking the whole mom jeans trend. I am digging it because it is very flattering on a lot of fuller figures. It is “in” to be a normal, womanly shape these days. It has always been these super stick thin—like as thin as possible—whereas now it is the complete opposite. Physically, it is way healthier, and it’s a healthier mindset. The chokers can fade away a little bit more and I’m a little selective of the super small sunglasses, but they are growing on me. So we’ll see.
Seth: Is there a piece in your wardrobe that you had in the 90s that you have again now?
Zoey: Yes! I have a GAP sweater. I used to own so many GAP hoodies back in the day and I still do. It’s like my forever sweater. When I’m feeling like garbage—you know whether you have a cold or the stomach flu—I love my GAP hoodies. I actually thrifted it from a friend.
Seth: That’s awesome. I think that’s it for all my questions. Is there anything you wanted to leave us with? Any nuggets of wisdom to drop?
Zoey: Just wear what makes you feel good.
Seth: Awesome! Love it! Thanks Zoey!