When Over | Under rolls around each month, I’m always a little in awe of the amazing women out-and-about in this world, sharing their unique talents. Especially women entrepreneurs. There’s a special place in my heart for a woman who takes a professional leap into the unknown, and not only makes a living, but inspires other women along the way. I have to admit that I have not personally met this month’s style maven, although she hails from Minneapolis, my old stomping grounds. But what I can do is share a brief bio that’s pretty darn impressive. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce Sally McGraw who is a freelance writer, blogger, and personal stylist. Currently, she is a contributor to the Minneapolis Tribune and Huffington Post. Impressed? There’s more. Sally has also been covered by coveted magazines: Lucky, Glamour, Redbook, and More to name a few. Can you believe she still finds time to squeeze in a weekly gig on Fox 9 Morning Show? I’m exhausted just thinking about the calendar she maintains. What a firecracker! In between all of these features, Sally is the creative talent behind her wildly popular blog, Already Pretty, that has racked up some formidable statistics since its inception. Currently, Already Pretty is ranked by Fohr Card #330 out of #7004 blogs. Definitely a force to be reckoned with. But what I personally love about this blog, and the fearless woman behind it, is the mission statement: “My primary mission is to show that body knowledge gained through explorations of personal style can foster self-love and self-respect.” Can I hear an amen? I don’t know about you but, ladies, I think it’s time to take a deeper dive and see what makes Sally tick. Are you ready? Enjoy!
Sally, are you over or under the age of forty?
Under. I’ll be 39 in January.
When did you start your personal style blog, and what was the driving force behind that decision?
I started the blog in September of 2007. A coworker friend had approached me for some personalized style advice, and I was positively giddy at the prospect of helping her define her style. I wrote up a list of guidelines – seasonal style rules, wardrobe basics, and the like – and handed it over a week before our little closet consult. She read it and literally said, “You should put this on a blog. People would love it.” So I did. Because I ALWAYS do what I’m told.
And also because the timing was perfect. I wanted to have a larger conversation with other women about the connection between style and body image.
I used to utilize so much energy hating my body that I exhausted myself into depression. For years I tried to change my body with diets and exercise, believing that its shape and size were the root of the problem, but I just kept on hating it. When I began exploring fashion and style – dressing in fun, flattering, and form-fitting clothes – an unexplored universe opened up to me. For the first time, I respected my body. I realized that there was nothing wrong with my body. I saw my body as integral to my identity. I wanted to show it off, and decorate it joyously, and hone my personal style so that I could understand it on new levels. So the nudge from my coworker helped, but it was that connection between looking good and feeling good, as it relates to style, that inspired me to launch Already Pretty. Because when I started to dress in a way that made me look amazing and feel amazing, I finally stopped actively, continually, exhaustingly hating my body. And I immediately wanted to help other women make that connection so they could stop hating theirs.
As a style blogger you receive countless questions from readers, what is the one question inquiring minds ask more than others?
Hmmm. I’m actually not sure! I get a lot of questions about the long-over-lean dressing formula (http://www.alreadypretty.com/2012/01/how-to-do-long-over-lean.html), which could be because traditional style advice rarely touches on it. It’s all about dresses or separates and how to make those work, even though a tunic and skinnies is a combination that looks and feels great to countless women. I talk about it, so women ask for specifics: How to make it work for petites, an apple-shaped figure, someone over 60, etc.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
There are no wrong decisions. Every decision you make is the right one for you at that exact moment.
Having found success in a field that requires self-motivation, what advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Find a way to keep yourself organized. You’ll manage your time well if you know what needs to get done when.
I put everything in my Google calendar: Social engagements, dentist appointments, even reminders to change the furnace filter! But I also use it as a tool for keeping myself on-task: Whenever I take on a new job or project, I look at my calendar and block off time on specific days to work on it. I also have recurring entries for tasks like my sale picks posts and link roundups. Everything I do is in that calendar, from outfit posts to my TV appearances to my ghostwriting projects. And it’s all color-coded, of course, so I can tell at a glance which tasks are conference calls, writing, or out-of-the-house appointments.
Do you have a motto?
I do: If you don’t ask, the answer is always, “No.”
How do you define success?
Finding prosperity by doing something that is both good for you and good for the world.
What is it like running your own business?
Tiring. Every month brings in a different amount of money depending on which projects I’m working on, so I’m constantly balancing my need to make enough to pay the mortgage with the amount of time I can reasonably work without losing my marbles. But it’s also extremely freeing. When I worked my various office jobs, anything done outside the building had to be done on my own time. As a self-employed person, I can have lunch with colleagues and know that, while I’m having a lovely time, I’m also networking. It’s not wasteful or strictly social, it’s part of my ongoing professional development. I like being in a position where I don’t feel guilty for activities that don’t involve being chained to my computer.
Ocean, lake, or pool?
I’m a double Capricorn with Taurus rising – all earth all the time, baby. So none of the above: Forest, please. A lake nearby would be nice, but I won’t be swimming in it!
How would you describe your personal style, and how has it evolved?
I’ve written extensively about my recent style evolution here http://www.alreadypretty.com/2014/09/choices-changes-part-1.html and here http://www.alreadypretty.com/2014/09/choices-changes-part-2.html. In a nutshell, I wore and loved flared skirts and high heels for ages, but about a year ago those combinations started to feel wrong and forced. I’d always loved edgy, rocker looks and chose to embrace them and leave everything else behind. I feel this style suits my lifestyle and personality far better. I feel much more like myself.
You are a weekly guest on your local Fox 9 Morning show. What do you love the most about this segment?
This’ll sound corny, but it’s the people. The Fox 9 team is SO MUCH FUN. They genuinely like each other, and when they’re laughing on-camera it’s because they’ve found something to be truly funny. They’re warm and supportive and always happy to see me when I sidle into the studio on Wednesday mornings. It’s a blast.
What do you think of first impressions?
I think that although you can’t control what others think, you can control how you choose to present yourself. Comportment, dress, grooming, and overall appearance constitute the first levels of information about ourselves that we offer to the observing world. I would never sat that they are the most important, but they are the first, which makes them worthy of effort and attention.
What would you tell your 20something self if you could?
Sometimes the things that you’re good at aren’t good for you. (A lesson hard-learned.)
What is your favorite aspect about blogging? Writing, personal styling, collaborating?
I love that blogging allows me to communicate with women all over the world, to have a truly global conversation. I’m a lone wolf most of the time, but when collaborations work it’s thrilling to feel in sync with a like mind and work together toward a shared goal. I love personal styling because I’ve always, ALWAYS gotten a hug at the end of each consult: I love knowing that I’ve helped someone feel better about herself. And writing is as much a part of me as breathing. I can’t not do it.
You speak openly about body image on your blog. Do you see opinions changing on the subject?
I think most people are in agreement about how difficult it is to grow up a woman and maintain a healthy, positive body image. At this point it’s more of a question of what do we do next? How do we help? What can we change so the girls coming up behind us have it easier?
I see some steps in the right direction, but there are entire industries built on women’s physical insecurities so there’s a lot of money tied up in how crappy we feel about ourselves. For that reason, I think it’s going to be a long haul before we see far-reaching, significant change.
What 3 words describe your current life?
Wasn’t it lovely to read Sally’s insightful responses? Can you tell she’s a writer?! Ladies, please take a moment to stop by Already Pretty to catch Sally’s latest post. Sally, a big thank you for agreeing to be featured on Over | Under.