2.25.2013

Q+A: Sarah // software engineer


longtime readers of my blog may already know Sarah, who kept a lovely blog chronicling her love of Isabel Marant, motherhood, and building an easy chic wardrobe. in a world saturated with celebrity moms chasing the latest fashion trends, Sarah's unfussy, consistent style is refreshing and inspiring.

read on for the interview!

hello there! please introduce yourself to LAM readers.

Hi everyone, I'm Sarah, and I'm a software engineer (and mother of two young kids) living in the SF/Bay Area.

how would you describe your personal style? 

Oh gosh, I don't know, boring? But really, I think in general, my style is pretty casual, leaning towards bohemian in the warmer months. I guess I say boring because at this point in my life, I have sort of a set uniform … pretty much a blouse or sweater, pants or jeans, and some kind of flat shoe (sandals, boots, ballet flats), and a jacket if needed. Oh, and those who know my closet well will see that I almost exclusively wear Isabel Marant/Etoile (part of the reason I also say I'm boring), albeit the most subtle version of her things. In my fantasy life, I am a Dries van Noten woman, but there are numerous reasons (cost, fit, lifestyle) why I'm not. But that mix of bohemian/romantic with utilitarian that I love about DvN, I can often find in IM clothing.


has your style changed or stayed mostly similar over the years? when did you become interested in style?

My style has definitely evolved over time, though the rate of change has slowed down drastically. What I wore as a teen has nothing to do with what I wear today, but things haven't changed all that much since my late 20's. At the same time, I think the overall feel of how I dress is somewhat constant … the fact that I favor casual clothing, that I've always been more on the conservative side …

I'm a quiet, laid back, and introverted person, and I think that is reflected in my dress, even if my "style" has changed. I think I've always loved clothes, even back when I was a young girl belting my oversized tshirt just like Madonna. But once fashion became more accessible to me, after I got my first real job and sadly, the invention of online shopping, my interest definitely took off.


how has becoming a mother to two young (and super adorable!) kids affected your approach to style and clothing? are there any challenges that you have to work around?

Hahah, thanks :) Dressing around a life with young, active children is a challenge! Part of it is the fact that when you're with your kids, you really want to be with them. Running around, climbing trees, on the ground picking wild flowers. When my son's face is full of birthday cake and he decides to give me a big hug, the last thing I want to do is shy away from him because I'm afraid of staining that precious white blouse. So as much as I can, I try to wear really sturdy clothes around my kids … jeans, sweatshirts, sneakers (and I'm not talking about infamous hidden wedge sneakers that would be terrible for hiking). But it also means learning to let go a bit and realize, it's only clothes! It's a work in progress, I have a weakness for pretty blouses that don't stand a chance against my kids, so I need to work on getting sturdier tops and such.

what is a favorite work look? what do you look for in your wardrobe items for weekday vs. weekend?

I guess the work week is my opportunity to wear clothes that aren't necessarily child proof, but at the same time, since I work in a really casual environment, I have a surprising amount of overlap between my work clothes and weekend clothes. For work, I'm more likely to bring out a silk blouse, but that's about the only difference! In terms of what I look for in items in general, I always tend to stick to items in neutral colors (black, beige, grey, navy), and I tend to like things that have a lot of ease to them. Even when I wear skinny jeans, I much prefer if the fit is a bit slouchy in the hips. And I absolutely hate to iron, so I always love clothes that look great (or even intentional) when a bit wrinkled.


when you kept a style blog, we often exchanged thoughts about working towards a curated, edited wardrobe. how would you characterize your wardrobe today?

You know, I'm not exactly sure what my thoughts are on this. I was really into the whole idea of the small, well curated wardrobe and buying only a few, albeit perfect, pieces each season. But now, I honestly just don't really think about it. I shop entirely based on instinct, do I love this thing and will I really wear it (this is really important, no buying for a fantasy life). Maybe I have the luxury of already owning a lot of clothes that work for me, and perhaps that's a result of years of having a relatively consistent style and buying things towards that style. But that's not to say I don't have gaps in my wardrobe … when it's completely cold outside (for the Bay area), I often have to repeat the same few outfits over and over. So I guess I'd say that perhaps my wardrobe isn't perfectly edited, but it's not something that worries me or makes it difficult to get dressed in the morning!

I think sticking primarily with one go-to designer has helped me become a lot more focused with my purchases and has lead to far fewer mistakes. It's so true what they say about having too many choices. It's kinda liberating to just look at one designer's (or store's) offerings and picking a few of those things that you really love. A lot of people would say that's not very creative, but I don't particularly care.

what do you love shopping for? what do you hate shopping for?

There are definitely two things I have a weakness for: blouses and shoes. For some reason, I can't seem to get enough of peasant blouses. I don't know what it is about shoes, especially since it's not like I'm the type of person to walk around in a pair of killer heels. Is it cheating to say that I hate shopping for bathing suits? Oh how the body does change after two kids!


what are your current essentials? is there an item that's special? what's the story behind it?

I guess I've already talked a lot about my uniform, the blouse/pants/flats thing. Otherwise I'm a pretty unfussy person, I don't accessorize much. Occasionally a scarf, but only when it's actually cold. Maybe a necklace or a bracelet, but more often than not, I'll have completely forgotten to put any jewelry on besides my wedding band.

I have a lot of items that have sentimental worth, because they were from my mom or my grandma, that aren't really part of my everyday wear. But I'll say that my favorite piece of clothing is a quilted Isabel Marant jacket that Aissa helped track down for me in Paris. Although it's dry clean only, due to the suede trim, it's not difficult to spot clean, and I feel like it encapsulates everything that I love about Marant.


what bag do you carry for work? what's inside?

Oh my goodness, I carry one bag which I've had for maybe 5 years, a cross body black leather purse from IM that I use 7 days a week. And besides the usual essentials of wallet, keys, phone, sunglasses, lip balm, too many receipts, I'll tend to have some kind of snack for the kids and occasionally a diaper but for some reason never any tissue! I need to work on that. I am *not* a bag person.

where do you look to for inspiration (style and otherwise)?

It's weird because I'm not really into following fashion shows, I don't read any fashion magazines (even the gentlewomanly kind), and would have a really difficult time recognizing most celebrities if they walked past me. I occasionally read fashion forums like TFS/TPF and look at pictures of some people like Clemence Poesy or Emmanuelle Alt. It's so consumerist, but I think I get the most inspiration from certain stores that have amazing styling, like lagarconne. Mostly, I already know exactly what item I want and then I just want some ideas on how to style that item. While I don't read street style blogs, I still do love reading personal style blogs (and sorry if I've been extremely quiet!). I just like seeing pictures of how real people with real bodies dress, without all the fancy photography and poses.

I'm extremely influenced by one particular woman whom I met during my blogging days, Garderoben. We still keep in touch all the time, and we don't just talk about our latest Etoile obsession but also about kids, books, life in general. I think that's the best thing about my brief foray into blogging, the friends that I made and that feeling of being part of a community.

23 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this, Miss Sophie! I used to read Sarah's blogs and I remember panicking when she announced that she would delete her blog.. it's always a pleasure to read what she has to say, and man i've missed those headless photos of hers!!

    Sarah, come back soon!!

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  2. Thanks both! What an enjoyable and inspiring read and with pictures!
    I've missed Sarah's blog (as well as Garderoben's) too, she's one of the few bloggers I truly felt connected to, with an honest and no-nonsense approach of fashion.

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  3. love hearing from sarah...that quilted jacket is beautiful. making friends has been the best part about blogging.

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  4. I remember her blog, i enjoyed reading hers too. On a side note, I would be curious to know for people that used to and then stopped blogging, if they feel they bought more fashion items during blogging than post blogging.

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  5. Sarah is awesome. Her, Garderoben, Erica, Susie So So & Marlene are my aspirational mom figures for when (if) I have kids. Kinda sad she stopped blogging and where is Garderoben? Are you going to interview her next?

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  6. Thanks for all the kind words you guys! And to miss sophie for the interview. It's really fun to be back in the blogosphere, even if for just a small stint :) I was telling miss sophie how I was feeling rather self-conscious about the q+a ... I guess it's been so long since I've shared anything on a blog, but you all remind me why it was fun!
    fleurette - well, you know where you can find me, although sometimes I'm still headless!
    Aissa - I know, I think you, me, and Garderoben are all tuned to the same channel sometimes!
    erica - I absolutely agree, I've made so many great friends, that's definitely the best part and what I miss the most
    PPP - It's an interesting question you pose, I was feeling pretty sick of my consumerism by the end of it, but I'm not so sure that I spend less vs spend smarter ... which in my case means that I've had far fewer mistakes, my ultimate source of frustration. There's this strange force when I was looking at too many tumblrs, etc, propelling me to want things that in the end, I didn't really love all that much. I think it's part of the fantasy. It caused me to stray from my style a bit, which refocused once I stopped blogging.
    Amanda - aww that's so sweet, and I concur! Garderoben, you're next!

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  7. Fabulous interview - I wasn't aware of her blog, so this is a great insight into a very instinctive dresser. I particularly relate to what she said about focusing on one designer - as I get older, I feel like I am getting there too, turning to a few designers over and over instead of seeking novelty.

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    1. sticking with a few favorites and uniform dressing is definitely something i'm relating to as well. i think it speaks to a confidence about who you are and what you like :)

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  8. Hi Miss Sophie, I am not sure why the comments disappeared but will try again.

    Well, I enjoyed this interview thoroughly. There was a blogger I used to like very much and one day, I noticed that she had stopped writing. Is Sarah the author of Mommy Style?

    Regardless, I love Sarah's aesthetics and especially what she said about not worrying that children would ruin her clothes. I agree that IM clothes are robust and sturdy in general, with the exception of the broderie ones.

    Please let me know if you start blogging again, Sarah!

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    1. hi eileen - comments are moderated so it may take a bit before they show up. this is to make sure spammers don't get through.

      and yes, sarah's blog was mommystyle. :)

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  9. Thanks Miss Sophie and Sarah! I really enjoyed this Q&A, and the pictures too! Making friends, and that feeling of being part of this nice community was the best thing about blogging for me too.

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    1. yes indeed! :) i need to email you by the way, it's been too long!

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  10. I feel myself nodding in acknowledgement as I read her answers. I can definitely relate to her style and lifestyle. It's just a different mindset once the kids come along. I love her outfits. I was paging up and down hoping to see a link to her website until I read Fleurette's comment that her blog is no longer in existence.

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    1. i think it's a really interesting balance. i always admire women who adapt their sense of self and style after becoming moms!

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  11. I loved Mommy Style!
    Great interview both of you!

    http://herribbonsandherbows.blogspot.co.uk

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  12. Love that she follows her instincts. Over the past couple of years, I've really started to trust myself (in all areas more).

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  13. Another great interview. I love her honesty when she says she has no idea about how to define her personal style or how to characterise her wardrobe. I'm the same and I simply go by instinct (certainly with mixed results but, oh well, that's me). Ah and we are also in tune with respect to the small role played by accessories. There're many jewellery items I own and love because they were family gifts, but I very rarely (if ever) wear them.

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