Choices and Changes, Part 2

But wait! There’s more!

My realization that there was a disconnect between how I was dressing and how I wanted to dress is actually a fairly recent one. A month old now, maybe two. And I’m pretty certain it was spurred on by my hatred of polished nails. Not on you or anyone else, on me. Polished toenails work for me all summer: They’re easy to do well, easy to refresh, and don’t generally chip. (At least not on me. I don’t kick things very often.) My hands are a different story. Despite weekly polishing sessions, I still suck at doing my fingernails and more often than not either smudge them within an hour or chip them within a day of application. Also? I actually LIKE the way my unpolished nails look. My hands feel more like they are my own when they’re naked, or sporting a quick coat of clear. But two forces were at play that made me feel like polished fingernails were important: I worked in a style-related profession, and I dressed in a pretty traditionally feminine way. Either force on its own might not create sufficient pressure, but combined they had me painting my nails every week, cursing all the while. And I found myself wishing for something, a change or an excuse that would allow me to do bare nails without degrading my credibility.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have also shifted to a flat footwear-centric lifestyle. Working at the boutique has me on my feet and walking for seven-plus hours, closet consults and personal shopping trips have me walking for three-plus hours, speaking gigs and teaching and workshops have me on my feet, and on days when I’m running from meeting to meeting heels make me absolutely miserable. And although I still love how they look, heels make me physically miserable even when I’m NOT running all over creation. They pinch my toes and make the balls of my feet burn and cause my back pain to flare up. And I stubbornly dealt with all of those irritants for years, but I just can’t anymore. Heels are great for occasional wear – and I will definitely still wear various styles of heeled shoes – but flats are my new everyday style.


And then there’s my hair. I started wearing it messy and vaguely rocker-ish in January, and both it and I are happier for the change. Although my new hair sometimes played off my fit-and-flare dresses and ladylike heels fairly well, giving off a slightly rockabilly vibe, I eventually began to sense a disconnect. And although I still loved my hair and the unruly, curly, punk-tinged look it lent me, I realized I had become weary of the dresses and heels. Again, not so weary that I ditched them all and swore them off for eternity … but weary enough to make a conscious change.

So. I decided to change my style because of my hands, my feet, and my head. For starters, anyway.

I also began reevaluating my relationship with color. I am susceptible to the collector mentality and the fallacy of the “complete” wardrobe, which means I often felt compelled to find and buy the things I loved in every color. Which is expensive. And, as it turns out, wholly unnecessary. At least in my case, this practice created a wardrobe full of fabulous possibilities but little cohesion. When I had time to do some outfit planning, I’d find myself pulling out the same things in the same colors every time, and failing to build outfits around them. And when I lacked time to do outfit planning – which has been the case for what feels like eons – trying to cobble together a colorful outfit that didn’t look slapdash was just too hard. I either wore outfits I’d worn before and knew worked, or I reached for neutral mixes.

Many of my style consult clients express feelings of guilt over their black-heavy wardrobes and expect me to chide them. But even when I was dressing like a color wheel, I never did. Black is chic, versatile, and timeless. It may be harsh and it may not look fabulous with everything, but there is nothing wrong with it being the platform upon which your wardrobe is built. Many of my style clients also express a desire for outfit formulas and interchangeable pieces. “Garanimals for grown-ups” is a phrase that literally DOZENS of women have used to describe their ideal styles to me. And for the first time in my life, I want that for myself, too. I still love playing with clothes and will still try to carve out time to workshop interesting and unusual outfits, but most weeks I have neither the time nor the energy. My stuff needs to go together. And an “all colors welcome” palette makes that virtually impossible. I want lots and lots of black, with side orders of gray and olive and burgundy. I’m finally at a point in my life and style evolution where I want a limited palette.

So I’ve been culling out anything that isn’t a neutral, a jewel tone, or a cool bright. I may ditch one of the last two groups eventually, but I want to give myself a little leeway to play and experiment. Right now, it’s been nothing but neutrals for weeks. I’ll be interested to see when and if I feel like wearing colors again.

And, amazingly, I’ve found that I want to wear more pants. If you’ve been reading this blog for many years – and huge thanks if you have! – you’ll remember that I’ve posted multiple anti-pant rants, describing how uncomfortable and unflattering I found them on myself. You may have noticed, though, that more and more pairs of jeans and pants have crept into my wardrobe over time. And although absolutely zero pairs of low-rise pants look or feel good on me, and very few pairs of mid-rise pants look or feel good on me, many pairs of high-rise pants both look and feel good on me. And since those styles are now readily available, they’re what I’m wearing. We’re moving slowly but steadily toward the long, brutal Minnesota winter, and I’m sure I’ll bust out the tights and skirts on occasion. But since I’m craving change and loving my jeans and slouchy pants, I’m betting they’ll dominate my looks.

Other ways I narrowed my focus: I overdyed some of my bright tee shirts and dresses to make them more muted. I sold and donated bright bags, necklaces, scarves, shoes, and clothes. And the main thing I did while culling and honing? I looked at each item and asked myself, “Would a badass wear this?” If the answer was, “No,” I got rid of it. Possibly the most helpful tactic I’ve ever used to focus my personal style. Husband Mike has pointed out to me that a badass can wear absolutely anything she wants since badassery is more of an attitude than a look. And I agree. But the question still helped me because “rocker” is too specific and “cool” isn’t specific enough. The badass in my mind has rocker and trendy and Boho and casual elements to her. You can see some of the images I collected throughout this process over on Pinterest. I add more almost daily.

I think many of us feel like personal style is a project that we will someday complete, that eventually everything we own will look and feel great and we’ll just be done. But in the vast majority of cases, this is untrue. Because our lives change, our bodies change, our needs change, our tastes change. And it’s only natural that our personal styles will change right along with them. Although I’m a creature of habit who often fears change, this particular shift excites me. I feel like I’m going in a direction that is both familiar and new, and making choices that are far more specific and narrow in focus that have already helped me feel more grounded and calm. Three years from now I may take my style in a totally new direction, or it may have settled and shifted organically into a different version of my current vision. But whatever the case, I’m glad to have arrived at this particular stop on my journey. It feels like a good place to pause and rest, then explore a while.

Originally posted 2014-09-09 06:23:40.

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50 Responses to “Choices and Changes, Part 2”

  1. maria

    These days I’m having a similar style change too: for some years now I’ve been striving to reach a feminine look, with skirts, dresses and heels. I really wanted to become one of those feminine women that wear make up all the time, have they’re nails always done to perfection… But for my current life as a student it’s not the ideal look, and heels are not something I can wear easily, so these days I’m reintroducing my old high school style (jeans+sweater/t-shirt), only more polished and with trousers that look good on me and nice sandals/boots that are still comfortable but not trainers… And I will also wear skirts and dresses, I still love them, but I’m not trying to be someone I’m not anymore, because most days I’m just happy with a minimalist look made of comfy items that fit me and are ideal for my shape, and I don’t feel frumpy at all, even if it’s just jeans+sweater!

  2. Zaianya

    What you’ve described here is exactly the kind of look I’m currently trying to cultivate myself. After years of non-style (there were things in my closet my mother had bought me for my *freshman* year of high school), I despaired because the only clothes I was drawn to were black and silver, jeans and t-shirts, low boots and flats. Now I know (in part thanks to this blog!) that such a look IS a look, and it can be stylish, and I’m ready to dive into a wardrobe renovation.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Natalie

    I like the term ‘badass’! I have a similar style, I love black and I’m not ashamed!! Actually today I am wearing a light grey skirt and a white t-shirt, and my colletagues have all expressed their shock and surprise that I am not wearing black! Never mind my shoes…. (black suede almond toe dorsay flats – my normal style is boots!).
    I do wear make up and keep my nails polished, but usually with dark colours. My make up has become more neutral over the last couple of years as well, to fit in with that laid back casual persona that I have. Jewellery too – of late I have been wearing much more simple earrings, with a particular aesthetic that fits to badass/rocker/tough style.

  4. LongTime Follower

    I’ve been following you for years and, while I loved your advices and found your style really great, I always wore flats and pants (and coats, because weather). I’m happy that you’ll go for such outfits from now one ! =)

    I also learn about colors and its impact through your blog, and have also decided to go for mixed of neutrals with less colors. You might love “Love by Lucy”, her blog is full of just this!

  5. Charlotte Peck

    Sally, I have been reading your blog for many 5+ years, in fact you were one of the first fashion bloggers I followed. I adored your fit and flare style and you gave me the courage and desire to try new looks and be bold with color. When I read your last couple of posts I had to smile because at almost 50 I have decided it is time to change my style-I want to go for more of that sophisticated, unstructured style, leaning more towards black and grays. I still like some color, especially around my face. This is mainly due to the fact I quit coloring my hair a year ago and let the gray shine through. I loved reading about your journey and you now have inspired me to cull my wardrobe to the pieces I crave. I have a hard time doing this, I am always think I should keep things, even though I am not really wearing them. Thanks for all the great posts and look forward to more.

  6. Anamarie

    I don’t think it’s necessary to have your nails done if you dress in a feminine way, but I understand why you’d think so. I personally love to paint my nails and have gotten very good at it. I despise chipped nail polish though, nothing ruins a head to toe look quite like it. I always have nail polish remover cloths in my purse, just in case. Sometimes I use my nails to rebel. My law firm recently had portraits done. We were all told to wear dark suits, white shirts, and dark shoes. The men all look the same except for tie color. The women all look the same. It’s hard to see in the photos, but my nails are Tiffany blue!

  7. PolarSamovar

    You go, Sally! I have learned a ton from you, and as a flats-wearing non-office worker, I’m excited to see what you do next!

    Although I certainly never thought that your style had gotten stale, I think that changing your focus and continuing to evolve your style is going to keep things fresh around here. I don’t come here for heels, skirts, and color in particular, I come here for your insights. Presumably those are going to continue!

  8. Jennifer

    I’ve been trying to come up with a name for my style, or at least what I would ideally like it to be, for years now, but could never articulate it. Your pinterest board finally did it for me: slouchy casual! I’m now looking forward to the upstate NY fall weather to indulge in slouchy casual 🙂

  9. Kelly

    I rarely if ever comment, but really just wanted to chime in on two things:
    – I’ve been on a similar personal style journey for a few years, and LOVE the new elements you’re bringing into your own style. I actually find it MORE relatable. If nothing else, I think we can all relate to the struggle that sometimes you wake up with a wardrobe that doesn’t feel like “you” anymore.
    – The pin board is really just amazing. I’ll always be grateful for your effort to share a diversity of sizes, ethnicities, and expressions of style. Thanks for all you do, Sally.

  10. r.s.

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I second all of the other positive comments. And I am right with you on the nails. I no longer put enamel on them – ever. Just trim, file and apply clear polish. I do like it on my toes, and keep color on theme pretty much year-round. But about 3 years I ago, I decided to just absolve myself of ever having to paint them again. I was happy with the way they looked without color, and it was just too much of a pain to keep them up when I knew they’d inevitably be smeared or chipped almost as soon as I’d finished them.

  11. Andrea

    Thanks so much for these last 2 posts, Sally. I stumbled upon your blog just about a year ago when I turned to Google for help on pants lengths, and I’ve been a daily reader ever since. Selfishly, I’m really excited that you’re turning your attention to more neutrals, flats, & pants as these speak to my own style much more than dresses and bright colors, but personal style differences aside, what keeps me reading your blog is that it’s thoughtful, well-written, interesting, and most of all, kind. Through your blog, I have started following a number of other great style blogs, and I truly feel that I’ve learned a whole new language this past year. Suddenly, catalogs and magazines make a lot more sense in many different ways! I’m having more fun with clothes than I ever have (and have the receipts to prove it…. :/ ) and learning so much not only about what works for me, my life, and my body, but WHY these things work the way they do. So again, thank you — whatever aesthetic direction you take, know that you are providing a great service to those of us who are otherwise missing this kind of guidance in our lives. Best wishes for your journey, & I look forward to the next year and beyond!

  12. hmbalison

    I wrote a post that seemed to have disappeared. I wanted to tell you Sally that I’ve so enjoyed your blog, and I’m glad you no longer feel obligated to dress for your readers. I like learning about your style transformation, and I think taking us on your journey is just as valuable as dressing for the office. I think people get stuck and they don’t know how to flow with their lives–me included. I hope you’ll still add color in once in a while. You inspired me to be more flexible with color, so I hope we still see awesome scarves or bags making their way into your outfits. As for heels, my motto is that life is too short for my feet to hurt….

    And now another question for you: I’m contemplating letting my hair go gray. I’m 51 and work in youth-oriented Silicon Valley, but I’m a writer who works remotely, so I don’t have to be in the office very often or attending events. My natural color used to be dark brown/black, and this is the color I dye my hair, but I have to do it every two or three weeks. How do I go about going gray? My hair is currently in a long bob, and I DO NOT want to cut it all off and go short. That is not a good look for me. What if I look old with gray hair and washed out instead of gray chic? How do you let go of the hair color you’ve had all your life? But I feel a yearning not to be tied to hair dye for the next 10-15 years. Have you explored this topic in your blog?


  13. diane

    I’ve been reading for years, and I totally get and love the evolution of your style. I also chopped my hair in to a new do that is more “me” and am in the process of figuring out who my closet wants to be when it grows up. And for the record, you have always been a badass.

  14. Nancy Warren

    OMG, the nail polish issue! Someone just said to me last week, “You always dress so perfectly, Why don’t you polish your nails, though? You would look so much more finished.” Now, I love clothing, love fashion, and typically dress in a very professional, classic, feminine style. But I too hate nail polish on my fingernails (toe nails, no problem). My hands are tiny, borderline bizarrely so for the rest of my body, and I have to keep my nails short, because I have young children, spend a great deal of time working at a computer, and like to garden. I think nail polish just makes my fingers look stubbier and calls attention to my hands that, at least in my mind, are out of proportion to my tall, long limbed frame. And it annoys me a lot that clean, nicely shaped, short nails are not considered “finished” enough.

    Love the blog, and love your style, old and new.

    • shayelea

      I dress in a very feminine manner (and by that I mean a lot of actual 50s-60s vintage, done straight, not the tatted-up rockabilly look.) I HATE nail polish, so I may be biased here, but I actually think that presenting so feminine is a good reason NOT to polish my nails. I feel like it would be too much, that on me it would turn from an expression of my personality into a caricature. On the other hand, I have a tomboyish friend with an edgy haircut, who pulls off long polished nails wonderfully!

  15. Ginger

    New direction here?

    I have never been a heels person so I’m not surprised to hear you say that once you were on your feet a lot you decided they weren’t so great.

    One of the unique things about your blog was the “black-out” quest a few summers ago. I find that many bloggers, mostly urban, but definitely young and old, display a sameness of style and often it revolves around black and neutrals.

    I know that black and neutrals are wardrobe staples, and that too much color can take a gal in the clown-worthy direction, but I am not sure about this public proclamation of black. I’d rather see you tone down the colors -no more bright purple dresses with royal blue tights- but not fall back on black. Lord knows the next thing you know you’ll be touting leopard shoes.

  16. Mary


    I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I really want to tell you how much I love these two posts. I’m in the middle of trying to do a shift in my colors/overall style from conservative and largely black and blue based to more funky but still professional with more color. Your line about ‘would a badass wear this’ really helped me in the thought experiment shopping and culling entails. Thank you!

  17. sabine

    It’s a youthful modern style and looks great! Also red is dynamite on you!

  18. rmstanek

    “Husband Mike
    has pointed out to me that a badass can wear absolutely anything she
    wants since badassery is more of an attitude than a look. And I agree.
    But the question still helped me because “rocker” is too specific and
    “cool” isn’t specific enough. The badass in my mind has rocker and
    trendy and Boho and casual elements to her.”

    I would go a step further than HM and say that a badassery is more of an ACTION than an attitude or a look. Someone who dresses in bland or frumpy clothing but is fighting for better nutritional policies at her kids’ school is far more of a badass than someone who wears all black but doesn’t even bother voting. These are two extremes for comparison: most of us live somewhere in the middle with both our clothing and our actions.

  19. PaulaB

    Two comments in one day – this might be a record for me. This is the thing that resonated with me the most: “I found myself wishing for something, a change or an excuse that would allow me to do bare nails without degrading my credibility.” My reaction to that was almost cold chills. The only excuse you need is that you like them!! I’ve almost always “done” bare nails. It’s easy, cheap and I prefer them. THAT IS ALL YOU NEED FOR ANY STYLE CHOICE. The title of your blog is “Already Pretty”. You are. We all are. There is no need for any embellishment that one does not DESIRE. Obligation should play no part in it. The notion that we aren’t credible or ok without a particular embellishment or item is just playing into the business of making women feel inadequate so that they run for the nearest retail outlet/beauty shop to correct the problem. We can ALL opt out at any point for any reason – we’re already pretty. 🙂 Go for it!

  20. PaulaB

    hmbalison, I feel compelled to respond to your comment. I am 52 and letting my hair go gray. My photo is two years old – before the process began. I work full time in the office at a software company, but am fortunate to work with people of all ages. I simply felt that I wanted to be more real, and hair dye every few weeks was not that for me. My hair is naturally dark blonde streaked with gray, but my color was much lighter, so it sort of looks like I’m growing out highlights (but not really). I’m in my tricolor phase! I have cut several inches off to help the process along. My hairdresser suggested that I switch to semi-permanent color with regular trims until all of the processed hair grew out. I chose not to do that, and just went cold turkey. If you aren’t comfortable with the cold turkey approach then you might try the semi-permanent idea. When all of your permanent color is cut out, you can stop the semi-permanent and you will be back to your natural color. If you feel old and washed out, you can always go back to coloring but I think if you make some minor changes to your wardrobe and makeup you can look fresh and chic!

      • Laura Poehlman

        I’m 46 and have a premature gray streak since my early 20’s and now there’s lots more silver and white in the original streak! I’m growing out to natural and have used pigtails as a way to blend the growing out streak/gray because I like my long hair. Once the streak is as long as mid-ear I will consider a big chop to complete my conversion, but I might not. If I don’t ultimately like it, I can change it again, but having noticeable silver at my roots every two weeks makes me think I will embrace the natural gray as if it were a silver unicorn. I hope so at least!

  21. Anne

    Sally, I like so many of your readers have enjoyed your last two posts. While I don’t blog, I do keep a clothing journal and have done so for about 3 years now. Last spring I wondered to myself if my tastes were changing because my life experience was causing them to evolve or if the selection available to me was causing me to consider a new look. Chicken and egg stuff I suppose, never the less, it is comforting to watch some one else think out loud their style evolution. Enjoy your new phase. I know I will have fun watching and getting inspiration from the sidelines.

  22. Karolyn

    I’m been reading for years and never felt a need to jump in however, I wanted to add that I love the evolution of your style and look forward to the “badass” outfits! My office has gone extremely casual (jeans and sweaters and dressy tops/blazers) and this will give me inspiration in a different direction. As I get older I notice the shoe issue as well. I sprained my ankle in the spring and spent all summer in flats and am very reluctant to go back to heels so will jump right into flat boots from sandals. Thank you for being you!

  23. LucyV

    Sorry, I’ve never in my life heard of someone saying one is not “credibly” feminine unless one’s nails are painted. I think you’re just making up problems for yourself. Wear what you want because you want to wear it – that’s badass, not leather and black and denim.

  24. Kate K

    Again, I’m so excited about this, Sal! I’d be happy to watch/read about your brilliant thought process even if I was content in my own style, but I feel like I’m also going through some style changes right now, and it’s great to watch how you’re handling it (with grace, style and aplomb, of course!)

    It’s funny to me how much hair plays a part in this. I chopped my hair last summer, and I finally feel like I’m myself. Now it feels like the rest of me needs to follow suit.

  25. shayelea

    You go, Sally! Nail polish is the worst and flats are the best. Signed, a continuing reader who dresses in colorful vintage dresses and still feels pretty badass (but I know what you mean!)

  26. shayelea

    Most of the women I’ve seen transition from dyed to gray go blonde (or blonde highlights) for a bit to A) get used to having lighter hair and B) make the eventual transition from dyed to not dyed a lot less harsh. It’s what I plan to do when I stop dyeing. I’m 35 but went premature gray at 16, so I’ve had awhile to think about it. 🙂

  27. Bobbi Rubinstein

    Just wrote a comment on yesterday’s post and now one here … your sense of energy, adventure and freedom is contagious. And I also feel weird about not painting my fingernails. They chip. Too much effort. But I do like my toenails done during the summer.

    What a great sense of community I get from reading all the comments.

  28. Gerrilyn

    Sally, Welcome to fashion maturity! Let’s stop being fashion’s Barbie Dolls and be real women with lives, needs, preferences, and choices and give up what we think are society’s expectations. It’s about being yourself, and having the confidence to do so. I am 62 years old, retired for 7 years, and always been fashion-minded. I’m just now finding my fashion groove for this phase of my life. And it does not involve wearing heels every day and putting toxic nail polish on my nails because others think it looks more “finished.” It’s not me, I don’t want to do it, and I am up for the challenge of finding other ways to achieve the look I want, AND be true to myself AND comfortable. I look at all this as an opportunity to blaze a new trail that needs to be created, a blue-print for others who would like to forge their own fashion route, buck the system, and look different, attractive and fabulous. Good luck in your endeavor, congratulations for getting to this place, and since you have a public forum I encourage you to spread the word that living for others does not a happy woman make!

    • Noeb49

      Gerrilyn, can you describe what you currently wear? I’ve recently retired and live a very casual lifestyle but I’m still having trouble figuring out what I want to wear. Thanks!

      • Gerrilyn

        Noeb49, I live in southern California so the weather gets a vote in what I wear most of the year. I can’t relate to fall/winter fashion magazines because it rarely gets cold enough here for coats in the day time, even blazers! The trends feature layers, but that’s also too hot most of the time, are most polyester garments. Given all that, in summer, I’ve been wearing solid colored “pedal pushers” which is a euphemism for shorter cropped pants because I am only 5’1″. ( I don’t wear shorts much because my thighs have seen better days.) I have a bunch of different colors of pedal pushers and they all fit the same. They do have elastic waists for comfort, but I wear all my tops out so no one knows anyway. On my bottom half, I really concentrate on immaculate fit since that is my problem area. Then I put more effort into finding more interesting tops where I can have more style and variety. Lately I have been favoring longer oversized tops since my pants are pretty fitted (long over short). I wear sleeveless and short sleeve tops in the summer, mostly natural fabrics. I look for interesting color combinations, details, and youthful interpretations in Misses sizes. For fall, I have bought a few kimono shaped tops that I will layer over sleeveless tops and wear with my pedal pushers until the weather actually gets cool. I can wear the kimonos in poly since they fit loosely and air can circulate in them. For fall and winter, I’ll be wearing long versions of my cropped pants, and stretchy skinny jeans. A trend I really like right now are dressed up long sweatshirts, and I have bought several. All are knits, some are textured, most are neutrals. My skinny jeans are in the colors of a rich burgundy, mustard, black and gray. I wear 3/4 sleeve knit tops in later fall and long sleeve tops and thin sweaters on cooler winter days. At my height, proportion is key. And I wear jewelry as my accessory. I like scarves, but too hot here most of the time. I usually wear earrings, a couple of bracelets, at least one ring. If my top is plain, which is hard to find right now with all the embellished tops, I’ll also throw on a long necklace. I also wear cute flat shoes with an open vamp, makes my legs look longer with all my bottoms, and do not match them to my outfit. My shoes are usually a style feature. Everything I wear is comfortable, casual but stylish and I get a lot of positive feedback from my contemporaries. A long answer to your short question! LOL!

  29. Reilly

    “Would a badass wear this?”

    Again I say to you: HELL YEAH!

    You rock, Sally. I’ve commented (or thought about commenting) a few times recently as this discussion began to seed (style change after going pixie? Hell yeah. Style change due to a busy life style? Hell yeah!), and I’m so excited to see what you will do next. Rather than feeling like this is the end of something, I think it’s a great new chapter. Can’t wait for all the new posts as you develop this style and experiment.

  30. Une femme

    Badassery, yes!! I really like the direction your style is taking. I’ve come to believe that style shifts are sometimes needed as our lives and circumstances change. As we continue to grow and evolve, it’s only natural that our style should as well!

  31. Splashing In Puddles

    I’ve been revamping my style lately too. Suddenly the things I was wearing feel too fussy and I want cleaner lines, less pattern, more neutral colors. My ideal is more Parisian chic than rocker but I totally get the need for change. That’s what style blogs are all about in my opinion.

  32. ss

    Thank you thank you. I do not paint my nails and I absolutely do not like wearing heels. They make me cry and they hurt. Every fashion/clothes blogger I follow relies on painted nails and heels. It made me feel I could never hit that standard. Nobody admits to heels hurting and most women I see seem to be in them all the time! I don’t know why. I would love to see flats as a prt of your style.

  33. Monica H

    Sally, I’ve always thought you were a badass, so I’m thrilled to see it reflected in your style! I’m also looking forward to outfit posts with flat shoes. I love my heels, but my feet…. don’t. I have found it so challenging to put together stylish outfits with flats (especially for work).

    I also have a tip for any of your readers who may be having the same issues with nail polish that you mentioned above, but still want to have them as part of their “wardrobe.” I have been using Gelish Mini at-home gel polish and really love it. I was scared at first to try gels at home, but once I did, I found it to be easier than regular nail polish. No searching around for all the perfect products among oodles of store aisles, just go with the kit from the best brand. No waiting for anything to dry or worrying about messing it up – after a minute under the LED lamp, it’s completely cured! The removal process IS more time consuming. But, on the flip side, I do my own French mani (and trust me, if I can do it, you can, I’m terrible at this stuff, but I am patient) and it looks great for THREE weeks! is a blog I found with excellent information and tutorials for anyone who wants to experiment with this. I am loving it!

    Also, for those who love bare natural nails but desire a bit more “polish,” before I did gels I used to buff my nails shiny once a week or so, and use a white pencil under the tips. Still very natural, but, just a bit spiffed up.

  34. Gabrielle

    I’ve been reading your blog for years, and I always loved how you dressed boldly and with flair, though that isn’t how I dress. Now I love that you’re embracing change, and continuing to use fashion to represent your most authentic self. We all change and grow, and you’re an inspiration and an example that no one needs to commit to one style forever. I would love additional posts about the evolution of your wardrobe–like your comment that you’ve been overdying some things. It would be so useful to see how you’re incorporating some items from your formal style and making them more appropriate for your current style.

  35. SewRuthie

    I switched to clear polish on fingernails quite a long time back, then a simple hairstyle which works with my natural wavy hair and supportive flat/low heeled shoes in the last couple of years. This is something I am quite comfortable with.

    I’m really pleased for you that you’ve found a concept you can hold in your mind whilst you work through your wardrobe. I am definitely not badass but I have recently donated some of my louder items (lime green linen skirt suit) as they just didn’t feel like me anymore. How did you come to that simple description which enabled you to do the wardrobe edit?

  36. No fear of fashion

    Your change is exciting. Never thought you were a badass… and look now. I love the middle photo of you and the one on the right best. Great hair style.
    I have just found myself shifting back to dresses. I missed them after I got carried away with the skinny trousers look, emphasizing my legs (the one thing I am certain of, are perfectly shaped).

  37. livi

    I’m so there with you on the high heels. I don’t even wear them occasionally anymore because the shirt so much. I’m the complete opposite on nails, though. I love how bare nails look on everyone else, but I don’t feel like that look is “me” and can’t stand to go more than a couple of days without. 🙂

  38. Shawna McComber

    I am here for your great personality and writing essentially, so it doesn’t matter to me what you wear. I think most of us go through style changes at different times in our lives and I have been going through one too. When I began my blog I talked of having to make the change from teacher to civilian. I had been wearing my career costume and while teachers have a lot of freedom in what they wear and honestly I could actually have worn the kinds of things I really want to and am wearing now, I didn’t. I put on my teacher costume which was still a version of me but it was the teacher me. That is how I have seen your colourful outfits and fit and flare dresses with heels. The outfits look great on you but they seemed like your career costume to me so I am not at all surprised by this change.

    I love colour and yet I am also very attracted to black and love black outfits. I love skirts but I also love jeans. I am also very fond of tunics and leggings. I know I will not ever ditch colour but I am not on a mission to be colourful. I find colourful dressing too difficult actually. I don’t buy outfits, I generally buy separates and can end up with all of the red pieces in my wardrobe not actually working with each other because they don’t completely match and I am not inclined to wear three or more pieces all in red, which is the way to make these colour discrepancies look deliberate. I also tend to prefer black basics-leggings, hose, shoes, layering shirts- although I frequently admire the coloured ones on other people.

    I have a conflicting desire to have lots to play with and yet also to simplify. I live a very casual lifestyle and often don’t leave home more than once a week so I definitely have more ‘fancy’ things than I really need. For some reason I couldn’t stop buying skirts. Another conflict I find is that my clothing taste is a little more flamboyant than my personality. I am attracted to an artsy-boho-lagenlook-hippie-sort of vibe but I am the one at the cafe sitting in the corner by herself with a book. Also, I love accessories but don’t actually wear much of them so I feel like a failed boho babe. LOL

    Many of the blogs I read feature very colourful characters with flamboyant dressing styles and I wonder if I am dull. Some are so stylish and put together amazing outfits and some bore me to tears with yet another skinny jeans, cute top and heels outfit.

    This is getting much too long, isn’t it? Anyhow I think your style evolution looks very natural and I am excited for you. I am certain many readers are like me and they are here for you, what you have to say and how you say it and do not need you to dress a certain way. I read the blogs of many people who do not dress as I do. Some people even read my blog and they don’t all dress like me either. Hooray for diversity!

  39. Mary VandeVoorde

    Go you!
    It’s funny – I have found myself doing many of the same things over the past year or so, style-wise. My seasonal purge is coming up, where I identify the warm-weather clothes that I haven’t even tried on since May, and I’m excited to pare it down.
    My friends have noted that I don’t wear bright colors as much as i did in past years, and I sort-of wish I still did, but I love the subdued neutrals I’ve been wearing (greys, taupes, black and cream) much more lately. I feel more streamlined and agile in dimmer colors.
    I never wore heels much, but now I’m also in flats exclusively for day-to-day. This is partially because they end up hurting after a short while, but mostly (I have been surprised to find) because heels slow me down! I can’t move as fast as I would like unless I’m in flats or very low heels. See: streamlined and agile above.
    I like the idea of painting my nails, so I buy polish, but never use it, except on my toes. My nails are healthy after having been a biter for my entire childhood, and I’m proud of how they look minus polish!
    Like many others, I really, really love your messy, punky hairdo, and it suits you beautifully! I also commend you for sticking to your guns, especially at this time when you know your style is evolving, and you’re embracing it. Your life is your life, and it is indeed unrealistic for every single person to relate precisely and constantly to you, your style, your preferences, your life’s work, and your badassery.
    Again, go you!

  40. Melanie

    Sally, I admire how you just out and say that you are transitioning in your style. I love the new direction you are going because I can see that you feel great. You were in a band (or two?)? I think that’s freaking awesome. And it must be difficult to monkey with style in a blog that you have carefully nurtured for all these years; it takes guts. Clearly, the women who come here appreciate your authenticity more than anything. Your photos are always professional, your writing is a pleasure to read, and you always introduce us to women with a wide range of tastes in everything from politics to fashion. Have fun on this new road!

  41. Deborah @ Stylish Murmurs

    I am a regular reader who tends to do catch ups on your blog as opposed to dropping in daily. Upon dropping by today, I was aware that a style shift had taken place.. .and I had missed it.
    Scrolled back and read this and the other post and I just wanted to commend you. I have been blogging for about 18 months and resist the temptation to hop on that merry go round that is heels, on trend outfits, no outfit repeats, etc. Sally, your blog has been one of a few that genuinely encourage and empower women to be their best selves based on who they are and how they want to present themselves. You do this so well I believe because you are real and authentic with your reader. I am thrilled you are operating in this freedom that you have encouraged in others and that you are sharing your style evolution with us. As a neutrals loving gal you wont get any argument from me:) Loving this style shift.

    • Sally McGraw

      Thank you, Deborah. I truly appreciate your support and am so glad to hear you feel my blog reflects that support back to readers!