Safe and Sexy
A photo essay on the choices women make about what they wear Jade Stafford, 30
My best asset? Definitely the legs. I’m at least a head taller than most of my Asian girlfriends, and when we go shoe shopping, they’re in the size six or seven aisle, while I’m in size ten. They’re like, “Where’s Jade? Oh, she’s in the clown section.”I’m reading a book called A Girl’s Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch) because I’m the manager of a cooking school and I want to be able to exert authority but not come across as too demanding. The dress code at work is business casual. I lean more on the business side because if I’m dressed casually, it gives the idea that custom-er service isn’t our number one priority, which it is. Everyone who comes to work knows that they should be dressed, pressed, ironed, and presentable.My safe outfit is business casual with a touch of playfulness, with my belt and my ribbon. It really brought out my per-sonality, that I still want to have fun. Because it’s a cooking school, not rock-et science. We want people to see that we don’t take everything super-seriously
This past summer, Sarah Hughes travelled to Halifax, Quebec City, Victoriaville, Toronto, and Winnipeg to photograph women in two outfits of their choosing — the first one “comfortable and safe,” the second “attractive and sexy.” She then invited each of her subjects to talk about these dual identities. The fifteen women here are a representative sample from a larger work entitled Persona Project: Safe & Sexy, in which Hughes explores the considerations at play in women’s choice of clothing, revealing the influence of personal history and social convention. The photographs are based on early anthropological portraiture Hughes saw while working at the Smithsonian film archives, as well as “before and after” series popularized in magazines in the 1990s — both of which feature head-to-toe frontal perspectives. Viewed collectively, the women’s individual personas come into sharp focus.
Canada & its place in the world. Published by
the non-profit charitable Walrus Foundation