It is such a pleasure to feature Sarah Blunkosky as our first Facebook Group Member of the Month for 2023. With Sarah’s permission, I am telling you that not only is Sarah a valued member of the group, she is a cilent and one who has undergone one one of the most incredible transformations since hiring me. While Sarah and I do work together, I cannot take sole credit for how Sarah’s style has evolved.
First, credit must go to the members of my Facebook Group who rally and support each other in such meaningful ways. As Sarah has transformed, it was with the guidance of the group that also helped her find her ways. Second, much of the credit needs to go to Sarah herself whose style blossomed bigger and more authentically the more she honored and listened to her truth. in many ways, I have felt simply like a conduit who helped her bridge the connection.
Sarah is a kind, open and gracious member of our community and I am thrilled to include her and her wise insights in this series.
Location: Fredericksburg, Virginia
Q: What do you like most about being a member of Bridgette’s Facebook Group?
A: I love learning from the phenomenal women members. They’ve shared such helpful ideas, items, and encouragement- it’s such a wonderful online community of encouragement and fun. I especially love it when they share their outfits and adventures, whether it’s a member’s business trip to the Hague, a member’s trip on the Oriental Express, or a homemaker’s outfit share for a trip out for brunch with her girlfriends, it’s really fun sharing little snippets of lives and laughter.
Q: The biggest benefits you have received from being a Group member
A: There are so many! During our long quarantine (we had to super quarantine for several immune-sensitive folks), it was a place to hang with online friends and share style pics and online stories. It was wonderful learning about others’ fashion needs: from starting new jobs, returning to the office after a long quarantine, what things look nice on Zoom calls (this really helped me as I serve most clients online now); and even celebrating folks’ wedding dresses or outfits for hosting parties. It’s a wonderful human-to-human place. I especially loved learning about high-quality fashion brands that were working toward more sustainability, tips for online consignment shopping (I love buying gently used items that can last forever); and even magical items like this granny-style underwear from the Vermont Country store that you can wear under your dress in the hot and humid summer so you don’t get sticky thighs (thank you, wonderful group member, who shared this cool item)!
Q: What would you tell women who haven’t joined The Group yet?
A: Women often fear entering spaces where they will be judged or made to ‘compete.’ This is not the space. The group has been so fun, supportive, and informative. I also love how we can tag Bridgette in for questions and perspective- kinda like a fashion support system, you can tag in whenever you need input or advice, and have a question on where to find something. I especially love it when members take pics of their window shopping in other countries- so fun to see the shops in Paris or cities in Australia- those are so cool.
A: I would describe my style as comfortable, calm, and welcoming. As a journey more in this space of midlife, I especially love wearing clothing that is soothing to me and others, so I don’t do loud prints or bright and bold things that much. My eldest child has Down syndrome and autism things and I learned years ago that for many folks, some patterns and things can create sensory overload so I purposefully try to wear calming colors, things without bold logos, and nothing flashy or meant to intimidate. I’m a caregiver and integrative learning coach so my style is like a laid-back caregiver/homeschool mom teacher look; though I have some nice blazers and power pants for contract work and public meetings etc.
Q: How did you discover your style?
A: My personal style has shifted from being a teenager, then in college, to post-college and graduate school, then to stay-at-home mom, and then finally into a hybrid homeschool mom/integrative learning coach functional wardrobe. When I was 16, I worked my first non-neighborhood babysitting job at a teen clothing store in the mall and that was where I shifted from a baggier tomboy look into a more bohemian teen look (we had a discount and had to wear clothes similar as sold in the store so I had fun getting cool 1996 era skirts and shirts, clunky mary janes (which my middle child wears a similar style. Oh my).
When motherhood came, I became more of a stay-at-home mom (I always wanted to work part-time but she had some complex medical issues so that had to wait a few years) and shifted into more of a casual teacher/librarian style with jeans and t-shirts with sweaters.
I’m forever into the teacher/librarian look (some of my favorite people are teachers or librarians), so that’s a fun one I feel good about- comfy jeans with a comfy t-shirt framed by a nice duster cardigan is a favorite look, or comfortable leggings and a ballet tunic to share and do yoga in, these are lovely favorites. I love nice jeans and blazers when I go to do research in archives or do Zoom meetings.
Q: What advice do you have for others trying to find their style?
A: Have fun getting in touch with your inner geek- whether its your inner craft geek, book geek, sport geek, ______- I don’t think people really care what someone’s style is per se, I think folks truly admire others when they are leaning into authentic to them style— so where is your joy? What fabrics feel nice on your skin? What clothes help you embody your favorite parts of yourself? That’s what I love to see. I admire the CEO feeling great in her blazer and comfy Zoom pants if that feels good for her, the teacher wearing her favorite bright colored accessories with her a-line dress; the retired woman now caregiving for her husband at home wearing a new dress with a bold print she’s excited to wear to go out with for a much-needed respite day with friends for shopping. What clothes help you drape your favorite self? That’s who I love to see.
A: Honestly, it’s a long-term challenge adapting to my wonderful and ever-changing body. After three pregnancies, I’m now approaching Perimenopause and some health challenges, so trying to make peace with how things shift and alter over time (as they should). Sometimes though, when I try on clothes, I’ll see an old image of myself pregnant or I will have to give it some time to ask, am I looking at myself today or what was a few years ago? It’s a fascinating inquiry but sometimes challenging when asking, should I buy this or not LOL:)
So I’m practicing a lot of healing self-talk, a lot of gratitude, and acceptance. I especially love the works such as: The Body is Not an Apology, and Radical Acceptance. I also love following influencers in the body acceptance movement with varying sizes and heritages- it’s really exciting seeing women’s beauty expand beyond the toxic standards of days past (we still have much to do).
Q: What are the most versatile items you have in your closet?
A: Bridgette and the group really introduced me to so many versatile things! Let me make a list of my favs (and many of these were bought gently used online or on super sale, I am my mother Linda’s daughter:):
Halogen Duster Cashmere Blend Cardigans (I have a gray one and a navy one and will likely wear them forever)
J crew high rise jeans (Vintage Curvy and skinny, I especially love button-ups, and used jeans are rather cheap online)
Tretorn Lina (Chelsea style) boots from Costco (WOW- will wear these every winter)
A very warm blue cashmere scarf I found at my local consignment shop (it’s all I wear in winter)
J crew vintage v-neck t-shirts (gray, white, navy, and some pastel colors for my warm summer coloring self)
Theory classic coat in navy
Boden navy dresses (I have maybe 4 now but they’re really great)
A few Boden printed tops which add a little flare (I do have two printed ones I wear when I’m feeling wild)
J Jill Ballet tunic tops (I get most of these used but spend half my life in them now, whether teaching movement or doing chores around the house, they’re nice for my curves and feel good with soft leggings)
Some very soft Amour Vert Tencel tops– they feel so nice to wear on Zooms with clients
ALDI (they have these awesome Oeko Text leggings I live in)
Ray-Ban Wayfinder sunglasses (so, I used to never save for sunglasses and buy the cheaper kind but often would get headaches because my ears are very sensitive and these do not give me headaches and have been a very worthwhile investment).
Stone or crystal jewelry (I have a lot of great bracelets and necklaces from funkiebirdieamber
Moop bags (I collect these, have for years. The owner Wendy makes these great things and I wear them often)
Q: If you could go back and change the way you dressed in the past, what would you change?
A: I would try to save for a few really nice pieces, I would also try to not tolerate itchy or uncomfortable things.
A few years ago, I learned about my own sensory challenges. I have tactile sensitivity so I made peace with that. Lace is so pretty but I do not wear lace or even wear things like a zipper that will touch my skin (not a fan of the unlined zipper touching your back-ahhhhhhhhh).
I do love soft fabrics and things that are not itchy or brusque, etc.
Q: Is there a fashion purchase you made that you found more useful than you thought it would be?
A: The blue cashmere scarf- I wear it every day basically in winter. Had no clue it would be my fav, but I only want to wear that one, so it was a surprise!
Q: What about a fashion purchase that you thought would solve all your problems, but didn’t?
A: Belts. I am still not the biggest fan of belts though they have such potential LOL:)
I’ll keep you posted…
Q: How do you envision yourself when you look your best?
A: I envision a gal who had a great night of sleep, a yummy breakfast, and is excited to stick some lip gloss on (I love Nivea’s Blackberry tinted lip gloss); some nice pants, a top, say a duster cardigan and a scarf; some good boots or slip on shoes, and have a nice day.
A: I’m excited to wear my new-to-me navy Merritt Jardigan blazer to a conference in June- I can really move in it (which helps as a movement therapist) and I’m excited to connect with humans who share similar professional interests. I’m excited to wear another blazer, a maroon hounds-tooth Ba&sh blazer that just called out to me while I go on some new research adventures in archives and libraries. Wool is nice year-round in those facilities because they are often kept cold to preserve the old papers etc.
Q: What is the best fashion advice you ever received?
A: Bridgette really helped me understand better for me colors and work with my goals which have been to show up authentically and to serve my clients in a welcoming and nurturing manner. I used to wear this very vibrant and bold blue which with my already stellar intensity, actually was extra intensive. So learning about calmer neutrals and tones from Bridgette was THE GAME CHANGER. I still wear my favorite colors, just not the intense versions. I have a lot to learn as I dive more into the nuances of color, but for now, I’m feeling way better with my colors and schemes.
Oh, and Bridgette also helped share the magic of shifting from lots of black to navy, and wow- I actually calmer and happier in navy. So I switched out most of my black wardrobe items into navy- wow.
Q: The first thing you take off when you get home?
A: Usually shoes, then bra. Bras are great for many things, but at the same time, it’s so wonderful to get comfy after being out a long time LOL:)
Q: Favorite color(s) to wear
A: Navy, softer ocean blues, lavender, grays, and earthy or olive greens
Q: Favorite stores to shop?
A: Consignment shops
Poshmark (if I know what size and item I’m looking for)
Sustainable J Crew
the local outdoor stores for hiking things
Q: What makes you happiest?
A: Whether it’s working to raise loving humans, showing up as a loving friend, serving awesome clients, or researching and writing something that can help someone work towards individual and collective liberation, I’m happiest when I’m leaning into life activities that are rooted in kindness and goodness. I love being happy in a library or moving my body, hanging at the dog park, or visiting a museum.
A: Humans being authentic and leaning into the best aspects of humans. We are so fortunate to have this lifetime to dance and soak in the beauty, but to also come into ourselves. I am inspired by those who question and also those who work to keep at it, keep at the good, no matter the distraction or bleakness.
Q: Use One Word to Describe Your Style
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