No Longer Grey

The sartorial experiments and ramblings of a girl named Sarah

I’ve gotten boring

by Sarah on May 14, 2019, no comments

shirt- Zara, jeans- thrifted, shoes- Vans

I don’t know what to wear.

Actually, that’s not true. I know exactly what to wear, which is kind of freaking me out. I’ve pared my wardrobe down so much that there’s not a lot of options. There’s the three tank tops I wear as a varying rotation, the two pairs of black jeans that got me through the greater part of the winter, black boots, beat up white sneakers. None of this is interesting, none of this is groundbreaking. I’ve started to feel a sense of imposture syndrome when I tell people I work in fashion, because I wear the same thing almost every day.

The uniform is, of course, a well documented phenomenon within the fashion (and other) industries. Karl Lagerfeld had one. Anna Wintour has one. Zuckerberg’s grey tee shirt, Steve Job’s turtleneck, all are iconic styles and clothing choices that the viewer has no choice but to connect back to the icon they pertain to, the person they almost, in a way, belong to.

For years I’ve looked for pieces that stand the test of time, that feel authentically me and are always great to put on. But now that I have them, they’re almost too comfortable, the sartorial equivlant of a relationship where all you do is stay in and watch netflix in pajamas.

But now whenever I go shopping I’m caught up on the practicality of things. I want clothes I can be comfortable in all day, in classes and coffee shops and sitting on the floor of a dorm room. Clothes that can be for winter and summer. I’m asking a lot (too much?) from my wardrobe, and it’s gotten me stuck in a place where I’m satisfied, but not content with the contents of my wardrobe.

This is, of course, coming from a space of tremendous maximalism. I have a lot of clothes- just ask my mother. But somewhere between the packing for college and growing up and laundry cycle I’ve stopped reaching for much outside of my core pieces. And in stepping away from variety, into simplicity, I’ve somehow ended up at blandness, a place I never wanted to be.

I don’t think the answer necessarily lies in a shopping spree. The whole fixing oneself before taking on more thing feels appropriate here. Plus, my stylistic apathy has extended to shopping. I’m no more able to pick up a sweater in a store without examining its fabric composition than I am able to abstain from wearing black jeans four times a week.

So here’s my prescribed style diet: discomfort. Not in the tortuous sense of high heels or jeans that dig in at the hips. But clothing that isn’t quite so easy, clothing that takes a little longer to style. I want to bring the intentionality back to my style.

Tomorrow’s look? Red ankle boots. It’s time they came back.

Balancing Act

by Sarah on April 17, 2019, no comments

shirt- Zara, jeans- thrifted, shoes- Converse

Currently amidst a mess of papers, oncoming finals, problem sets and projects, trying to find a balance between everything. It’s all stuff I want to do, which is an amazing feeling. Taking time off of school while being on a gap year genuinely made me miss learning for the sake of learning. And even though I hope and truly believe that what I’m learning now is shaping me as a person and will be important to me in the future, indulgently taking time to learn about the Savannah park system, modernist novels as music and the history of blazers just for the sake of knowing things also feels wonderful.

There were so many times last year that I craved the support and learning for the sake of learning that is college. After moving out and being on my own for more than six months in two big cities, I had this me versus the world mentality that both was exhausting and largely unnecessary but also created tremendous internal growth in a very short period of time. Learning how to navigate the subway, how to grocery shop, write a tricky email to a boss, advocate for myself, even just how to come home to an empty apartment and be okay was something that I had to learn to do overnight. Obviously, I had a tremendous amount of support that buoyed me up and helped me along. But in the day to day, I had to be more self resilient than ever before.

Now I’m in a completely different environment, one built to support, one that is supposed to be a natural easing between life at home and life out in the Real World. I don’t cook for myself. I don’t have a 9-5 job. Instead, I have multiple advisors, deans, people that are employed with the sole purpose of providing support. Friends who I get to take classes with, eat with, live with, exist alongside every single day, all helping me manage it all.

And in that amazing, incredible support, I’ve lost some of my street savvy. I’m not quite as on guard, not quite as scheduled, not as fixated on what’s coming next. It’s a wonderful thing, because I’m learning every day how to prioritize my life according to how I would like to live, how to live a little more presently. But I also worry that I’m getting lazy about projects where nobody else is holding me accountable. Because so much of what I do is for a class, a club, a friend, for myself I’m more likely to want to take a break than I am to log some hours at work or write a new blog post.

This isn’t burnout. This certainly isn’t an abandonment of blogging. I’m just finding my footing underneath me, trying to allow both space for a five year plan and space to laugh at the idea that I could possibly predict what I’ll be doing (or even want to be doing) in five years.

Finding that balance. Taking some time, and remembering to work on balancing the “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me” mentality with the one that tells me to relax, take a break, enjoy each moment with no endgoal in sight.

How much should we be spending on clothes?

by Sarah on April 2, 2019, no comments

A while ago, while eating birthday cake in New York, a friend of mine asked about these sweatpants. They’re a pair of cashmere sweatpants from Grana, bought on clearance for $60, one of the greatest deals I’ve scored in a long time. So I told her, expecting a “wow, you savvy bargain hunter you” response. But she was aghast and had no idea why anybody would spend that much on a pair of sweatpants, and suddenly, I was wondering the same thing.

Having worked for 3+ years in the business of selling clothes, I’m used to thinking about fashion a certain way. I know the general production cycle, how wholesale pricing works, and typical price models. For me, spending $60 on a pair of sweatpants wasn’t absurd, because I knew they were high quality, made out of a super luxe fabric, and were made responsibly.

On the other hand, I spent $60 on a pair of sweatpants, something I could have gotten at Primark for $12.99. It’s great that so many brands are turning to sustainable practices, better fabrics, more diverse hiring practices. In the long run, it will bring prices down. But the truth is that most of these “sustainable” brands just can’t compete with fast fashion pricing.

There’s a lot of stuff to spend money on. Food. An apartment. Transportation, medical bills, student loans, charitable donations, the stock market, a bowl of really good ramen, plane tickets to go visit a friend. But for me, shopping less but shopping sustainably is part of how I choose to practice environmentalism, how I try to support minority communities, how I express my creativity. It’s part of my personal style.

From a purely economics driven standpoint, consumption is good because it increases GDP, which is good for the country (cut a lot of corners there, but that’s the gist). How that consumption happens though is a much more personal problem. Buying a lot of less expensive things versus one of two more expensive pieces have the same net result, but impact a lot of different people along the way. One way isn’t necessarily better. That’s the thing about personal style- it’s personal.

So where’s the line? Would you spend $12 on a pair of sweatpants? $60? $236? At what point is spending irresponsible? 

The Creative Impulse

by Sarah on March 28, 2019, no comments

I took these photos a few weeks ago while I was overwhelmed in school, work, my personal life, feeling like I was alone and unsure of how to proceed. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with apertures and finicky tripods, much less capture and memorialize my mood. But I needed an instagram for that night (steady content correlates with engagement which correlates with a feeling of success, something my overtired brain craved), so I set up my camera, put on clothing that made me feel like the best version of myself and pretended everything was alright.

Creativity is a tricky beast. Sometimes it strikes in moments when it should come: after the second coffee, a good night’s sleep, a motivational Nike advertisement. Sometimes it comes half way through a fourteen hour plane ride, the moment your phone battery dies, while you’re reclining in the dentist’s chair. For me, the creative impulse is that moment of clarity when all you want to achieve seems within reach, like the world, though big, isn’t quite so scary anymore.

The first photo is one of the best pictures of myself I’ve ever taken. One of the best pictures, period, that I’ve ever taken. The colors are faded but strong, the lines unexpected yet approachable, the mood serene and joyful. I love the way the light hits my face, blending profile into wall, no clear end of beginning. The moment I took it, I was done with the shoot, the rush of creativity over but leaving me behind with the memento of a photo I could love.

Looking at these photos, I’m proud. Not just of their aesthetic or artistic merit, which still shoes that I’ve got lots to learn when it comes to photography. But mainly because I can be both the girl who’s writing three papers and studying for midterms and unsure of everything around her and still be the girl pausing for a moment, eyes almost shut, taking in a breath, hand on her hip while she feels the moment. Social media, photos, art, can all lie, but they can also reveal another side of the story, an alternative, often airbrushed narrative, but one that reminds us that things might turn out okay.

I had the opportunity to attend a talk with American Ballet Theater Principal dancer Isabella Boylston a few weeks ago, and her biggest piece of advice for young dancers was to keep creating. She talked about how as a beginning dancer she used to come up with choreography all the time, to constantly be creating and making something new. As she rose through the ranks, she stopped, and only recently remembered how importance the act of creation is. Though I won’t be slipping on pointe shoes any time soon, the core of the importance of continuous creation stuck with me.

It’s impossible to know when creativity will strike, when creation will result in something good. It’s not about the headspace, the gear, the ideal conditions. Sometimes, just the act of creation can be enough.

Note to self: keep making things.

NO LONGER GREY’S 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

by Sarah on March 12, 2019, 3 comments

No Longe Grey started as a daydream.

Actually, it started with that sentence, which seems a bit pretentious and flighty with five years between the me who originally wrote that and me now. I started No Longer Grey because fashion blogging seemed exciting and like a way to be in the fashion industry while still being fourteen and living in New Hampshire and not having easy access to capital-F-fashion. I didn’t know much about the industry, about style, but I did know it made me feel like I swallowed a whole greenhouse full of butterflies. It still does.

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It’s been five years since I registered the domain, selected a theme and tried to wrap my head around the idea of creating a website, a little baby brand. It’s been five years since I sat my parents down and explained why they should allow me to have my own website and post a lot of photos of myself onto the internet (thanks guys). It’s been five years of thinking about fashion, style, and how clothing fits into the world.

My first outfit post featured a thrifted Dolce and Gabbana skirt, Everlane tee and blue trench coat, clearly what I thought a fashion blogger should wear and not what I actually wore in real life. Since then I’ve taken photos of myself along more roadsides and random walls than I ever thought possible, gotten stared at by countless strangers, worn really weird things, and had so much fun.

Other parts of my life have changed. I cut off a foot of hair. I graduated high school. I moved to NYC, then DC, then off to college. I worked for a company I’d dreamed about working for (that very first outfit post featured an Everlane tee represents a big full circle moment), and with companies on No Longer Grey that I’ve loved for years. I’ve connected with other bloggers who I never would have met or known about had it not been for the magic of the internet. 

This post is a not so humble humble brag, because I’m truly proud of working so long and hard on No Longer Grey. I’m proud because it’s something I made, a creation that documents my thoughts about fashion, evolving personal style, and some of the most formative years of my life. I’m so grateful to get to do what I do, so grateful for everyone who has ever read one of my posts, so grateful for the joy writing gives me. 

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sticking with me. 

Here’s to five years more.