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After One Year In New York - Kara


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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

After One Year In New York - Kara

Kara, Feb 2007

Kara, Aug 2007

So I'm walking down the street in Soho the other day and see a young lady that would be great for a photo.

I introduce myself but she is already talking to me like she knows me. While she is talking (how was Sweden....blah, blah) I'm completely distracted trying to figure out how I know her. Finally she mentions that I had taken a photo of her last February at the Proenza Schouler/Target sale at Opening Ceremony.

So I take the picture and that night I look up the older photo she described and I was STUNNED.

I could not believe is was the same girl - I never would have recognized her.

All the big smile and Midwestern charm (she is from Oakbrook, Chicago) from the first picture are still there but now they are wrapped in a more sophisticated, urbane exterior.

She had mentioned she emailed me once about an internship so I found the email and replied asking how she had created such a dramatic change.

She mentioned the usual stuff like better stores (less mall shopping) and being inspired by the streets of New York (and my blog) and that New York just helped her be who she really felt like she was.

Actually the line that I think was the most telling but that she said like a throw-away qualifier was "I didn't know anyone in New York when I moved here...."

I think that is such a huge factor. To move to a city where you are not afraid to try something new because all the people that labeled who THEY think you are (parents, childhood friends) are not their to say " that's not you" or "you've changed". Well, maybe that person didn't change but finally became who they really are. I totally relate to this as a fellow Midwesterner even though my changes were not as quick or as dramatic.

I bet if you ask most people what keeps them from being who they really want to be (at least stylistically or maybe even more), the answer would not be money but the fear of peer pressure - fear of embarrassing themselves in front of a group of people that they might not actually even like anyway.

If you were really honest with yourself and really wanted to change your style what is keeping you from doing that? Is it really the cost? Is it really your psychical shape? availability of goods? Or is it not fitting in at your office, or PTA, or skateboard park?

Anyway, I have another example of this "New York effect" that will blow you away.

You have seen her recently on the blog and the difference between the first shot and the recent shot is shocking.

I will post those shots around 6pm

Comments on "After One Year In New York - Kara"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:57 AM) : 

that's a great post and a great picture!
thanks for your blog sart, that all I can say. I'll be moving to work in new york soon and that post change made my day!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:15 AM) : 

yeah its nice.... unless you and all your family and friends are from nyc. Where do we go to break-out then?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:16 AM) : 

She looks amazing!
Keep the midwestern charm but wrap in that cool, original New York style. She looks great! I love the long bangs


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:17 AM) : 

that's great what new york did for her, but sad that people feel like they cannot change themselves for fear of what others think. i guess i grew up a wierdo because i was really small and my mom would help me sew things for myself, but i dress and make myself up however i want and the people i know thank me for it!
also, i live in chicago, and have been noticing more people with a better sense of style. you just have to really look. people here go for themes, i think. this weekend, i went to a wedding and my theme was peacock.


Blogger Injoy said ... (9:18 AM) : 

nyc change you!


Blogger Suzy said ... (9:21 AM) : 

I totally agree! I have been reading your blog for months, but this is my first comment. I moved overseas a few years ago, and I have to say its the most liberating thing you can ever do - no-one knows you so you can be whoever you want to be. It's amazing!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:25 AM) : 

Brilliant post.

"...all the people that labeled who THEY think you are (parents, childhood friends) are not their to say " that's not you" or "you've changed"..."

I think that says it all.

Even when people say they don't care what anyone else thinks, these people that are closer than that have an influence--or maybe it's not an 'influence,' but some sort of 'No, that's not me, but I don't want to go into explaining who I am and why it's not this.'

At least that's how it is for me. People have stereotypes and the comments about how 'I' am not me [or dressed like 'me'], because this is not how they see me, can get really tiring and annoying after a while.

So when I'll move to study in a British uni, I will have the freedom to be me and dress the way I really want to dress.

But I think that for a lot of people it's sometimes not even a conscious choice--just the feeling that now you can do this.


Blogger Jane Flanagan said ... (9:25 AM) : 

I agree that moving to a new town is very stylistically freeing, not just because you become more brazen and self-reliant in your choices, but also because you meld the styles of the new & old places.
I can't wait to see more like this! While one signature style is admirable, this kind of dramatic change is truly inspirational.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:25 AM) : 

great photos as usual! and what a great post. I agree 100% with what you are saying! you can really tell the difference between people who have made that big move in their life, and people who haven't.

hope see you back here in stockholm soon!


Blogger B said ... (9:26 AM) : 

Wow, I'm absolutely blown away by her transformation... SHe's lookin' HAWT!


Blogger Alice Olive said ... (9:33 AM) : 

She looks wonderful! The hair is so dramatic.

I TOTALLY agree about being in a new place where you know no-one and can re-interpret yourself. From my own experience, it's extremely liberating! No one knows you to edit (or judge) your style and no one knows if you're taking a personal 'risk'. It's definitely made me broaden my scope and even if it's not 'me' (that's the voice of doubt playing in the background), I am thoroughly enjoying it. Surely that's the point of personal style in any case...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:36 AM) : 

I'll take the midwestern "before" girl anyday


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:36 AM) : 

I really enjoyed this post. I will be starting a new job this fall and will be moving. My job prospect in New York has fallen through so I will be moving to Milwaukee. Not sure what the "Milwaukee Effect" will be.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:38 AM) : 

I totally relate to what you're saying, I was born in Paris and lived there all my life and I feel like my style is OK but it's not exactly me. I don't wear all the clothes I would like to and this is due mostly to the fact that I still leave in the neighborhood where I grew up and I am too preoccupied by what the people I grew up with might think. This is really silly because most of them are not even friends just old acquaintance from school...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:39 AM) : 

sart, thank you for the inspiring post. kudos. :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:04 AM) : 

Anyone know where her sandals are from ("after" photo...)? Thanks!


Blogger click said ... (10:04 AM) : 

love this blog!!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:09 AM) : 

She looks very elegant in the 2nd picture, if not a bit affected (NYers can smile too, no?)


Blogger Holly said ... (10:12 AM) : 

just half year and she's completely another person!!!!!!
NY is really a great city! but i love her big big friendly smile!!!!! (also the cute pink short shorts)
maybe i should quit Hong Kong somedays to give myself a makeover >v<


Blogger DJ FunkyGrrL said ... (10:17 AM) : 

Her appearance looks so much more sophisticated. With regards to Sweden {since I'm Swedish} it's nice to know my country received some good publicity :8) We are always confused with Noway as reindeer people??? With regards to your model, she definitely has the fashion look inspired...Change in a big city, opposite making this happen in the former, depends how ones is raised. It can become a cultural issue more than a societal one.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:22 AM) : 

I had my overhaul when I left NYC, where I'd always felt that people scrutinize your clothes so closely that it's hard to venture outside of your comfort zone. I moved to a small town that had a thrift store where they'd let you work whenever you wanted in exchange for a bunch of free clothes; my style loosened up a lot.


Blogger materfamilias said ... (10:26 AM) : 

Amazing transformation! Interestingly, I'd just posted a comment on Une Femme D'un Certain Age's blog noting the difficulties of dressing in a small resource-based (lunchbucket) town where compliments on style choices are often thinly-veiled allusions to superficiality and profligacy. For me the next big city is Vancouver, BC, and I love the freedom it affords me to express another whole side of myself.


Blogger Unknown said ... (10:30 AM) : 

GREAT post. You should do more of these before/after New York shots and stories, for sure. Sounds like a book idea!


Blogger OTC said ... (10:30 AM) : 

WOW. The "Midwestern girl" version is adorable and the "NYC girl" version is, well, very NYC. She looks great in both but for different reasons.

As long as she is still true to who she is on the inside, kudos to her; she clearly found her home. I was just about to write on this very topic on my blog, but instead I'll just post a link back here - Sart said it all.


Blogger Pumpkin Man said ... (10:32 AM) : 

What you said about looks and peer pressure was right on. Great post!
I would love to see more postings like these, with the "behind the scene" aspect and longer texts on special subjects. Very inspiring and well written.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:33 AM) : 

here's another vote for the midwestern girl and her open, winning smile.


Blogger Pret a Porter P said ... (10:38 AM) : 

What a transformation! Her hair, her pose, everything about her, streamlined, chic, and still a pinch of cute!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:39 AM) : 

The New York effect !
Only NYC can have that liberating effect on you.
Total freedom to be.


Blogger Susanna said ... (11:06 AM) : 

First, I so want her boots from the first picture.

Second, I've found that working from home has really freed me stylistically. The only person I have to please with how I look is me, so I can experiment more.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:21 AM) : 

I thought the "before" and "after" were switched when I first looked. And I prefer the "before", but this may have to do more with her pose than anything else. She looks self-consciously sexy and cute in the "after", and a little like a doll or cartoon character. And those bangs hide her eyes; it must be most annoying to wear them.

But it's great she's having fun experimenting and her "after" shoes are to die for! I'm sure she'll find many ways to express the different parts of her personality, while still keeping some Midwestern practicality.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:26 AM) : 

I dunno, I think she was more experimental stylistically in the first picture - loved the layering and mix of textures, not to mention the smile.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:28 AM) : 

The shoes in the 'after' photo are perfect. If anyone finds them, please share!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:35 AM) : 

I like the midwestern 'before' photo more. I think I appreciate "trying" to stand out and look like you want more than the instant-win of wearing expensive, boutique clothes. The less special your clothes are, the more you have to really have style to make them look distinctive.


Blogger Tori said ... (11:37 AM) : 

so inspiring, i hope to move to ny soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:41 AM) : 

The exact opposite happened to me when I moved to NYC. I had to pack away my cute dresses and heels and buy a big puffy jacket and wellies. I had to run around all day- up and down subway stairs in the rain and snow. Function became a bigger factor than fashion for me after one bitter winter and a steamy summer. (Ironically- I'm a costume designer.)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:42 AM) : 

interesting photos and I agree with your words. The few times I have visited Paris I felt beautiful such wonderful architecture and boutiques seem to cast a spell on one.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:47 AM) : 

I'm afraid that I'm not convinced. We all learn and make adjustments to adapt to the environment we find ourselves in. Is the scrutiny one is under in New York to be edgy and original any less "peer-pressure" than elsewhere? Are Rei Kawakubo bangs and all black really that unique for New York? She looks great in both pictures, but the self-consciousness of her latter pose tells me that she heard the liberating message of her new environment loud and clear, right down to the It bag.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:03 PM) : 

In the second photo she looks amazing, but do I detect a little lip enhancement in her Olsen-like smile? Not said in a mean way, just something i noticed.

I grew up here, and when i was living in st louis, i had no friends because i dressed like a ny'er. (too avant garde for them). now i am back and i feel so free to be truly who i am, inside and out! there's no place like ny!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:07 PM) : 

Ah, I completely agree with your psychological wonderings... i did a very similar thing in moving somewhere where I knew no one, and it does give you more freedom to change and experiment... no one knows you as anyone different than that.


Blogger FeiraChic said ... (12:10 PM) : 

I totally agree.
I had a similar experience when I was younger and it was definetely liberating. I believe that if you're not ashamed of "daring" it makes you more creative.
Great post. By the way, her new hair cut looks fabulous.


Blogger Françoise said ... (12:10 PM) : 

sart, what an interesting question. in fact since i've been reading your blog, i started buying clothes again and getting away from my regular levis jean-tee shirt uniform. for me, the pressure to "conform" is what has prevented me from dressing up and following my own style. fear of being judged fickle or superficial by paying too much attention to my own sense of fashion. thank you for this blog. i consult it every morning before starting work!


Blogger Anastasia said ... (12:13 PM) : 

a cool post - great to see the change but she still looks happy and comfortable to me in the first pic...its not a bad thing...
Im glad she feels she has found herself and her style in the new city ...its amazing how a place can create such a change
...I bet she isnt wearing those short shorts anymore...


Blogger wendy said ... (12:24 PM) : 

love this blog and her bangs...

the sandals in the "after" pic is chloe


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:29 PM) : 

great shot Sart

nice to see her in a sophisticated outfit , contrasts well with her whimsical look


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:39 PM) : 

this post was very inspiring, and she looks absolutely stunning after, and even good to start with.. my question is... how does she see under those bangs?


Blogger fauxfauxreal said ... (12:39 PM) : 

wow, that was a fast change.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:40 PM) : 

hey you! Awesome post, congrats! I do like the way you comment your pictures but this one was just great. I live in Brazil and few years ago I've moved from a small town to Rio de Janeiro. Big changes. In fact, being around those people who don't want you to change makes getting a new and more "myself" style a hard thing to get. Even Rio de Janeiro is cruel about that, people here are not that openmind. But still.. it's all about selfsteen and courage to be who you are, I guess..


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:47 PM) : 

Hahaha Wow! great post and the most powerful 'before and after' I ever saw! If it was for a product, I would buy it immediately haha (Ahem...not that I would need it of course...ahem..ugh ugh)


Blogger Cook said ... (12:53 PM) : 

i agree with the incredible transformation - and how it was made possible by being in a city where no one knows your name. however...i'm not a fan of the NY sassiness...its almost as if she feels like she's too good for her home now. i'd rather see the smile...

however, the hair is hot. if only i could pull off that look...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:55 PM) : 

Before and After, the girl is still adorable! I am glad she is the person she wants to be, and I am amazed that the outside so earnestly matches the inside!

Bravo! New York is not the big bad place that some people would have you believe it to be!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:01 PM) : 

Sart, my husband's number one response when I try to get him to step up his sartorial game always starts with "But the guys at work will say ..." "The guys at work" are part of the oversize T-shirt and big shorts crowd--with Hawaiian shirts for special occasions! I've been trying to get him to read your blog for inspiration. Maybe this will do it. As for me, I've always been that girl who's proudly doing her own thing fashion-wise.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:05 PM) : 

I live in a medium-sized Canadian city and whenever I visit New York City, I always feel this relief, that I can finally wear my whimsical, quirky clothes without feeling awkward or bizarre. Here in my hometown, I tend to tone it down a lot in order to blend in, and meet others expectations of what "well-dressed" means. I think it's time for me to just be who I am, no matter what place I'm in. You've given me a lot to think about. Thanks for such a lovely post.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:09 PM) : 

As great as she looks in the "after" pic (and she does look great) ... there is a purity in the "before" pic that is perhaps more rare than great style.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:21 PM) : 

I don't dare to change, because I live in conservative and mega-critic Milano:...I have a "pear" shape (very italian: small top and wide bottom...) so I always dress with oversized tops and wide-leg pants. If I would go in another country, where less attention is given to the body-shape, I would immediately wear a fitted dresses....


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:34 PM) : 

You can be anonymous in new york. The same reason people bump into eachother on the street and don't say sorry or any of ther other multitudes of rude behavior is the same reason you can wear whatever you want.


Blogger Carolina Lange said ... (1:36 PM) : 

Wow, what a great story! She looked beautiful and now she looks amazing!


Blogger Carolina Lange said ... (1:37 PM) : 

I love when people invest on themselves!


Blogger Keiler said ... (1:43 PM) : 

I've been admiring your blog for a while and was particularly moved by today's statement about transformation. I'm midway through a yearlong project in which I'm replacing my entire wardrobe with handmade clothes. I started the project because I felt a desire to change myself. I believe that a change in style will enable other internal changes as well. I had minimal experience in sewing when I started, so the project so far has been more challenging that I had imagined.

Regarding transformation- aside from peer influence, it's hard to achieve it because inevitably it requires real growth. I admire the woman you photographed, and I love your observations.

My own transformation is the subject of my blog -

I come here regularly for inspiration and access to a wealth of informed fashion opinions. I would greatly welcome advice.


Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey said ... (1:46 PM) : 

Nice photos, Sart! That second photo is really hot. I can't help feeling that the first pic is pre-boyfriend. Just a hunch. Maybe she acquired a NYC boyfriend since you last saw her back in February? A new romance can really affect your sense of style, which is all about feeling confident about yourself and feeling good about life. She looks as though she fits right in NYC.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:48 PM) : 

I find that it's pretty lame that people have to change themselves in order to fit in when they move into another city. Obviously, if you have to change yourself, then you really are not being your true self.

Also, most people who think that the second outfit is more New York really have no idea what is really New York. Is it really edgy or different to dress all in black just because it's the stereotype that New Yorkers dress all in black? She is just perpetuating a stereotype instead of being herself. People really need to get out of Manhattan and look how people dress in other boroughs to see how REAL New Yorkers dress, not wannabes who come here from practically the middle of nowhere.


Blogger Maria - FashionFame said ... (1:55 PM) : 

Wow, i just love this second picture of her!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:01 PM) : 

She looks great in both!
Like some commenters, I moved from a big city to a small town and had to adjust my clothes to fit in more. Truth is I never did fit in and wish I had just stayed true to myself. Now I'm back in a big city and loving it!


Blogger Butch said ... (2:12 PM) : 

Scott, any number of things can inhibit--or encourage--personal self-expression. It's nice, though, to see the style evolution here.

Is it just me, or does the hair-redo make all the difference?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:24 PM) : 

I like her clothes in the "after" pic but not her hair/bangs. Too affected. Also her attitude in the "before" pic is very innocent and charming.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:28 PM) : 

I think this girl works at the Marc by Marc Jacobs store on Bleecker St. She really is quite lovely. You never forget style like this, I think.
I actually gave my resume to her yesterday, haha.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:31 PM) : 

Wow! You really hit the spot in your post. I live in Helsinki, and it's a city a lot smaller than New York, so all the changes you make kind of just happen slowly. I have a great shirt by Marjan Pejoski hanging in my closet, but I'm not exactly sure yet what's the place to wear it.. maybe to school tomorrow ;)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:38 PM) : 

I completely agree with all your thoughts in this post. In high school, I was miserable because I felt I couldn't dress "true" to myself - I was surrounded by Abercrombie clones, people without any appreciation of fashion as a form of self expression. Once I got to college, I felt so liberated. My style literally changed overnight. It's frustrating, because some of my old friends accused me of altering myself too much, even though I felt I was actually acknowledging myself for the first time.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:56 PM) : 

really interesting post. I agree that changing your environment can have a huge impact on how you style yourself, and how you see yourself. I live in a midsize, averagey English town... and everything is 'average' about it. Fashion-wise, its population has a pretty bland look; even the uni students have a bland, homogenous uniform. I moved away for a few years to a larger city, and my sense of style completely broke out - I could and did go nuts. I've since moved back and my stlye has calmed down to a basic look, but still a few quirky twists. I always put it down to growing up, no longer going for such attention seeking getups, but if I moved away again, I'm sure I'd start dressing more inventively again.
I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I do miss dressing up but I guess this way I look for more subtle and innovative details instead.
I think it's inevitable that you're going to blend in with whatever is going on in your environment, whether it is a small town, or a cosmopolitan city. But once you recongise your own sense of style, you can carry that wherever you are.


Blogger O-Ren said ... (2:56 PM) : 

Oakbrook? She lives so close to where I'm from!

And watch out, NYC, Chicagoans/Midwesterners are on an incredible rise stylistically, that's for sure :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:00 PM) : 

ah, I absolutely adore this girl! - and, what you wrote there. it is so true! I wish I could break-out, go to New York or someplace else, and finally be all that I've dreamed I could be.

People around you will always influence or prevent you somehow from drastically changing, even though it is the most natural change - for yourself.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:01 PM) : 

Very inspiring, Sart!! I will be moving back home to Chicago in 5 weeks after 13 years in the West Coast and I am in the midst of transforming myself both physically and sartorially. The timing is just coincidental by the way. Or is it? Hmmm. Coming from a very conservative family, I totally and completely feel your observation about peer and family pressure.I've always wanted to change my look to fit my personality and desired lifestyle, with more independence and edginess, but I always felt like something was holding me back. This particular post has truly, TRULY inspired me. I cannot express enough my debt and gratitude. Thanks. Get ready Chicago, here I come!!!!


Blogger fashion and food said ... (3:06 PM) : 

she may look different to people outside of nyc, but in nyc, there a girls dressed like her everywhere. she looks so contrived and put together in the second picture. there is a elegant naive-ness in her first picture. now she just looks like every other hipster.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:18 PM) : 

i think my main problem is both money and where i live. i'm not afraid to dress with my own sense of style- its just i live in a suburb- its just not as fun! i don't mind when my friends think i dress weird (aka trendy) but really its much more fun to do that in a big city! money also plays a part- i dont' have the budget to afford the waredrobe i'd like to have!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:06 PM) : 

on my first day in new york, a friend told me that my style would become much more eclectic and unique. and he was right. it was not a pressure to be edgier, but the fact that no one looked twice no matter what i wore. so now i dress in whatever make me feel happy or creative and some of the most inspiring dressers are those elderly new york women who have developed a totally unique sense of style.


Blogger dnqcnn said ... (4:19 PM) : 

im really amazed by this story cause i'm kind of doubting to go to new york after im done with school..
finding myself, figuring out who i really am. every time you picture yourself to be someone you really like at the moment. you have a person in your life that inspires you and you start to act like them because you wanna be just like them and you really feel like that's you. but it isn't. it's someone else. and those people who actually are themselves get really admired by others becáúse they're being themselves. i still need to figure out who that person (me) is... thank you for this story


Blogger Eric said ... (4:28 PM) : 

I think she looks fantastic in both pictures. The biggest transformation I see is that she looks so confident and comfortable in the second one. She looks fun and bright in the first one, but is not as carefree as she is after the change.


Blogger Unknown said ... (4:42 PM) : 

I completely concur about how New York supplies the opportunity to "find" oneself. Even as a native New Yorker, second generation Italian, who went to three high schools in the city, I have always felt free to express myself and change myself, because on a day to day basis, you never see the same people. Moving to a small town for university made me realize how fortunate I was to grow up here.


Blogger T38 said ... (4:43 PM) : 

kara is now more sophisticated


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:48 PM) : 

Wow, she really changed a lot! I love it! And I can understand what you mean by saying that friends can keep you from changing to the person you actually are.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:50 PM) : 

She looks great, very chic... but is the fresh-faced smile automatically replaced with the weird lipped Olsen twin smile upon arrival in NYC?


Blogger Jennifer said ... (5:07 PM) : 

you know, i've always done my own thing and always accepted the judgment and comments and looks from others.
i have found travel to be hugely helpful, style-wise, if only to eventually visit a place (and i have) where i totally click with the attitudes and fashions of another place better than i did at home. but even without that, i was able to figure out my independent style, and no place has had that effect on me where i am transformed. in sync perhaps, as i said above, but never transformed.

as for the pictures... it would be easier to gauge the impact of ny if there wasn't such a huge discrepancy in her fashion budget. she looks like a typical nyu student before, and then she is dressed to the nines in the after picture. her shoes are beautiful and impractical (funny that she's sitting - i mean even if you found her that way, it does draw a contrast to her comfort in the first picture, where she's standing and not hiding behind hair and solid black), her dress is gorgeous and at least looks very expensive, and her haircut, omgd, it's brilliant. i LOVE LOVE it. if only someone would finally solve my eternal hair crisis and tell me what the perfect style would be for me. she has certainly found it for her. i find the "after" picture and style in it absolutely delicious. and i'm happy for her if she has concluded that this is who she was inside. clearly, inside she's a ny-er. but she looks like one in the before picture too. just one with less $$.


Blogger positively the same dame said ... (5:59 PM) : 

i do think that you have hit on a basic truth here, which is that anonymity can encourage self-expression, but i have found that nyc remains unique. conformity certainly exists (and thrives, in certain communities) but generally speaking it is a city that celebrates individuality and creative expression.

i have lived in fairly large cities where the entire population seems to dress essentially alike (been to d.c. lately?) and where even members of the "artistic" community tend to conform to a certain degree, but i don't find that to be nearly as prevalent in new york, no doubt due to the fact that it is such a draw for artists, extroverts, leaders, and forward thinking-types in general. people seem to come here because they are driven to be different, to get beyond the limitations they may have felt imposed upon them in other places.

i have found it tremendously freeing to know that there is probably nothing i could do or wear that will even raise an eyebrow on the subway. even if if i should happen to run into someone i know, there really isn't much that they haven't already seen (and ignored), and on a daily basis.

actually, i think that the only pressure i feel here is to NOT be predictable and boring. that, combined with the sheer terror of running into sart and his camera, is all the motivation i really need to think outside of the box. and that's a good thing!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:08 PM) : 



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:19 PM) : 

I used to hate my clothes. Being buxom with a strong physique and strong facial features I simply looked very ordinary and felt very ordinary in what my friends wore, and with the hair styles they had. Nothing was more sartorially depressing and unflattering on me that a t shirt and a pair of jeans.

Finally I had to brave the ridicule of my super casual home town, family and circle of friends and dress in a different way entirely, in a way I wanted to. Heels and skirts and blouses and dresses may not be the norm where I live, some folk may think I look 'too dressy' or up myself but it's what feels like me and it's what looks best on me.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:51 PM) : 

Beautiful, beautiful dress. And great shoes!

I agree about social circles dictating style, to a certain extent. It is very difficult to re-vamp your closet knowing that everyone around you will notice the drastic change.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:52 PM) : 

sart - i fully agree with your idea that the fear of negative feedback from loved ones (or anyone, for that matter) is a factor that can hold back a person from achieving their ideal individual style. but i definitely think that other factors do hold significance.

personally, i know i would face some commentary from family and friends if i changed my style, but i will gladly do so when i am finally able to afford the clothing i wish to wear. as a recent college graduate, even buying something at a place like j.crew or nordstrom is pushing the budget for me.

i understand, and agree, that style is not about wearing expensive labels and "manufactured" looks. it is about individuality and effectively conveying one's self through the clothing he or she chooses to wear. i just feel that creatively designed and well-made clothing is what i feel best in.

(sorry... this is a rant for me. it's just a point of frustration for me that i feel like i can't wear what i want to. yet.)


Blogger MARIA H said ... (7:03 PM) : 

In deed NYC works as a style arena, but is not like there is something in the water that makes people change. In fact I was amazed that only a minority is actually stylish...
Maybe the fact that people share the street and public transportation more than in any other city in the states is what creates opportunities for people to manifest their style to others.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:05 PM) : 

the most gorgeous lady i've seen in a long while!!


Blogger alyse adlard. said ... (7:24 PM) : 

I cannot have been more enthralled by reading this post.
I've recently visited NY and although it was for a short 7 days, I feel as though it has liberated me from the Victoria BC, Canada fashion norm. I've always had a thing for fashion, but never knew how to fully take charge of it. Experiencing NY lets people seize the phrase "Screw what you guys think.".


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:35 PM) : 

she is a lil' hottie. supercute.
makes me realize that i seriously need to edit my wardrobe.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:43 PM) : 

I can't wait to move to ny and dress sartorially all year round, I live in fl and its just hot. al the time. hot hot hot. I do my best with it but it makes no sense towork at it unless you live for air conditioning, which i don't. helllooooooo, nyc!


Blogger Anhoni Patel said ... (7:44 PM) : 

I agree with C.S. - there's something beautiful and innocent and wide-eyed in the first photo that is killed by sophistication in the latter.


Blogger a. fanny said ... (8:02 PM) : 

reminds me of my student days in n.y. circa 1981. I always felt the city chews you up and spits you out, and what comes out is pretty special.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:09 PM) : 

I think that this blog has contributed to change many lifestyles, like a teacher of mine says "You have to wear the red dress no matter what others will say" the hell with others =)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:10 PM) : 

What a wonderful post to wake up to! I think people definitely need to be reminded that their own opinions and beliefs are worthwhile and should be regarded as well as those of the people around us. As for Kara, I'm glad she's been able to find herself in NYC... hopefully one day I too will have that opportunity!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:12 PM) : 

Sart, I've been a fan of your blog for over a year and just can't say enough great things about it. I love the 'before' and 'after' shots- very realistic in regards to how an environment can affect your personal style.
I think that for me, what's holding me back from wearing exactly what I want is a multitude of reasons: money (still dealing with grad school debt), work environment, and living in a small town. There's not much around me that appreciates and resonates 'personal style'. But it's blogs like yours that keep my hope alive, as NYC, like for many others, is this magical place where you can have it all, fendi bags and fabulous vintage dresses!!


Blogger Jenny said ... (8:18 PM) : 

Wow, she is beautiful!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:24 PM) : 

WOW what a difference. Remove internal obstacles and rejoice in human potential to change.

Are they "better" ? Well only if the change has been what the person themselves wanted to do - not just substituting one set of constraints for another.

I have noticed that when I travel I become more daring aesthetically.


Blogger Sarah M. said ... (8:59 PM) : 

amen to that!

I start up my senior year of high school in a week and I am determined to not be confined by the style limitations caused by peer pressure that have affected my wardrobe and presentation every other year of my life. Something about being the oldest and and having no one to look up to (stylistically) at my school except myself now probably has something to do with. I'm hoping I won't adopt what they call "senioritis" once I am admitted into college and show up in an outfit that lacks any personal enthusiasm.

This post really came at the right time as I am about to do all my back-to-school shopping. Thank you! I now just wish J.Crew wasn't a mall store that fed the masses.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:06 PM) : 

i want to experience the New York effect!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:12 PM) : 

Having lived in OH, moved to NYC, and now back in OH - It's not always easy to find a capable hairstylist/cut/color. Nor is it easy to find options other than the edgy/beyond-the-mall look. Personal style rises to an obsession in order to be distinctive when the selection, grandeur and encouragement of the city is thousands of miles away. Peripheral blinders are needed to cut out the uninspired mundane that is so prevalent in the burbss. THANK YOU Sart for giving us a daily dose of inspiration.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:31 PM) : 

Can anyone id the dress and bag. I love her after; she looks simple and chic


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:33 PM) : 

I like what you say and I think it's true that it's worrying about the people close to you that tends to hold back your sense of style. And I hope you're right that this is the "real" girl in the second picture.

But it sure looks to me like both of these girls experienced the opposite of liberation. Came to New York and started dressing exactly like everyone else.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:10 PM) : 

Wonderful changes.


Blogger Shaina said ... (10:22 PM) : 

i think the anonymousness of new york helps to bring out the creative side in everyone, whether its through fashion, artwork, music or all facets of the personality combined. there's something very freeing in being able to "be yourself" while being surrounded by millions of strangers almost every hour of every day. no matter what you do, there's always something unique about each of us that separates us from the next, regardless of how similar we might actually be. of course, there are always people who stick with trends and cliquish styles, but to each his/her own. it takes a lot more effort to move away from that, but i definitely feel it's more rewarding when you really "own" your appearance.

i grew up in the suburbs of new york and never quite fit in there. i knew from my first visit to the city when i was 6 years old [really, no joke!] that this was the place for me and it wasn't until i moved here that i really found my own voice and personal style, which i still consider to be a constant, evolving work in progress. this blog and all the wonderful people featured on it have definitely inspired me to NOT hinder that part of my personality.

that being said, sometimes i wonder if i'm the only 25 year old, 50-hour-a-week working professional in this city who can't afford to drop a couple of hundred bucks on a pair of shoes or a dress, even with a fairly decent salary. it's tough to see people who are clearly still in school or many years younger than me and without a steady income wearing that marc jacobs or marni dress that i would just love to have. i know i'm not the only one who is in this boat and i suppose it makes those of us without that kind of money a bit more savvy in finding and cultivating our individual styles.

love the blog, sart. keep up the amazing work!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:38 PM) : 

I think you need a whole lot more than moving to some other place to feel the freedom to change your style.The change comes from inside,not outside.It is a question of becoming mature , physically and psychologically.Sure ,you can wrap yourself easier in a new place and get a false feeling that everything is different although nothing really is different,just your outlook.I´ve noticed that AGE will help.Becoming older makes it easier.The pressure from outside eases and you don´t have to worry what other people think of your outside.You just wait and see.I have experienced this.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:48 PM) : 

The second pose says it all.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:05 PM) : 



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:12 PM) : 

Kelly and Kara went from cutsie-poo to sophisticated and sexy! From girls to ladies!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:40 PM) : 

I totally walked by you guys yesterday afternoon when you were taking that picture of her on Greene Street. I thought that was you so I definitely did a double-take!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:49 PM) : 

Kara, you look beautiful!

It's true what you're saying, Sart. Sometimes it's not enough to just leave home for college because, well, you're still a kid. To really blossom, sometimes one has to move to an entirely foreign place.

Best wishes to you, Kara. You're a remarkable girl.

-- desertwind


Blogger Anthony said ... (12:06 AM) : 

Amazing!! Nothing else you can really say! She looks fantastic!

For me, your blog inspires me to wear new/different things... and best of all, I can quickly transplant it from NYC to Melbourne, Australia before the masses catch onto the trend! ;)
If only I could make the move to NYC... Im still dreaming about it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:36 AM) : 

Wow I really loved the fact that you did this series. What a great story and what amazing documentation through your photos. Gosh, kind of makes me want to move to NYC asap. Looks like she slimmed down a bit too, not that it really matters... but of all the times I've been to New York, I've always noticed that everyone is well-dressed and svelte. Instead of a makeover maybe waht most people need is a city as inspirational as New York.


Blogger Blaise said ... (1:05 AM) : 

WOW! Now that was a STUNNING change.. I mean she looks great in the older photo, but the newer one is just really sophisticated.. I LOVE her hair! ;) Great.. Great..


Blogger Last Day Emails said ... (1:17 AM) : 

It goes without saying that I covet everything she's wearing in her After picture.

But, the Before picture is SO innocent and heart warming. Even though the second picture doesn't show it, I hope she's still as happy as her before.

Another thought: if I saw her in nyc (where I've lived for the past couple of years), she'd be totally forgettable. Awesome outfit and all. But if I saw her in my suburban hometown while I was visiting my folks, I'd probably run to her and claim her as my soulmate, etc etc... Maybe this just means that I'm inconsistent!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:47 AM) : 

Hi there,
Firstly, I'd like to say a big thank you for your thoroughly addictive blog; I've not yet come across another street chic site that manages to promote the essence of each individual's style with such sophistication and clarity. After all these years though, I still have one complaint, and that has to do with the grammar of your headings and occasional captions. I know I'm splitting hairs, but I think that a little more thought to these tiny things - such as proper ellipsis in the headings - will just add a higher degree of polish to what is already an unbeatable (and daily) visual treat. Thanks.


Blogger WendyB said ... (2:15 AM) : 

Her hair is fantastic! She looks gorgeous.


Blogger Three Repute said ... (4:45 AM) : 

very insightful, well played.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:21 AM) : 

Her haircut is cute, but how does she see, let alone walk. One part of the transformation is style over comfort or practicality. I prefer both, but each to their own.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:59 AM) : 

kara looks amazing after one year. completely new look...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:00 AM) : 

to all of you originally from NYC: come to Europe to transform.
There is enough inspiration in this blog.


Blogger Pretty Young Thing said ... (8:05 AM) : 

This was definetly an eye-opening post.. at least for me! Thanks a lot for this great post and post more of such... :))


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:03 AM) : 

I don't think that it's so much about New York, as it is about any big city. There's so much more available, so of course your going to dress closer to what you want. More choice=more definition of "you".


Blogger Liz CS C said ... (9:11 AM) : 

new york does wonders.
the hair changes her look completely


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:19 AM) : 

Like her, i was changed by New York. Oh, how it does wonderful things. I look at myself back then and wow, I don't know what I was thinking. Yeah it's all about the "norm" thing and people around you and stuff. Now I'm bolder. I'm a testimony to the power of New York!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:52 AM) : 

"...all the people that labeled who THEY think you are (parents, childhood friends) are not their to say " that's not you" or "you've changed"..."

I whole heartedly agree.

In my case, it would be "you're not leaving the house in that are you?" which has really restricted what i choose to wear everyday. When i do ignore the people around me, i find myself being so self conscious that i don't enjoy the outfit i chose.

I think even just a small change like moving from the suburbs to the city, in my case Sydney, will work wonders as the range of people will be more diverse and you'll feel more empowered to be who you really are.

Top post Sart! Keep up the good work haha

Jenn xx


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:58 AM) : 

I think the new york effect actually made her conform rather than liberate. She still looks amazing but the 'before' pic showed more spunk and originality.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:08 AM) : 

Question: is now she really being who she ever wanted to be, or she is just influenced by the cool New york environment,where the codes of how people should look are different, but still exists.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:39 PM) : 

Must say I prefer the photo taken in Feb. She looks to open/friendly/adventurous as against now and what I perceive to be following the crowd, black clothing/sophisticated-look but closed and unapproachable. Looks like she is hiding behind that big bang on her forehead.


Blogger The Spicers said ... (1:21 PM) : 

Well put!
I know many people who drastically changed their look after moving away from friends and family.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:01 PM) : 

What an amazing transformation!?!?!

You are so right about how NYC can change people's perspective of fashion (and everything else in life).

I'll file this one under "change for the better."


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:25 PM) : 

Amazing !!! She is so gorgeous and sophisticated !!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:41 PM) : 

She is absolutely amazing... great photographs


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:14 PM) : 

Lets put it this way: she looks more every-day like in the first picture and ready to go out in the second. I wouldn't agree that one is better than the other, that would be a one-dimensional view on the matter of fashion. Because it isn't all about Mulberry Roxanne bags and Chloe shoes (which she is sporting in the second picture, just to answer that question, they are second last season's Chloe wooden heal sandals, and yes, one can in fact walk in them :)), but about creativity -- which is precisely what your blog has shown us many times. Fashion is about combination, not about putting together a $3k outfit. The latter will always look decent, stylish and of course has a recognition effect. But in a way, it's the easy way out -- assumint that one has the necessary funds.
The ultimate art in styling youself is to have the creativity to be able to put together an outfit that clicks, even if it's H&M and vintage from grannie.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:19 PM) : 

I think she looks great in both pics. If you have a sense of style it will show, but where you live determines your influences.

I've been living in Chicago for a few years and every time I return home to my small-Midwestern town I sense an evolution in my style. The last time I was "home" I was wearing a fabulous hand-made shirt I bought in a boutique in Montreal and my thoroughly Midwestern cousin (bad tan, bleached hair, t-shirt-and-flip-flops sense of style) said "What is she wearing?!" It made me more thankful than ever that I live in a big-ish city.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:17 PM) : 

Thank you for the lovely commentary on liberation through fashion "expression". Being a Midwesterner with a Southern upbringing, I am blown away by the incredible freedom that washes over me when in NYC. It transforms my spirit and sense of self to be in that environment with so much rich diversity, fearlessness and absolute madness. Reading your blog was inspiring and gives me a renewed courage to dress like "myself". Again-many thanks.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:27 PM) : 

Great post! Although I like her more polished and sophisticated look in the second pic, I think the first pic shows more of her personality and carefree style. Just get the feeling that the look in the second pic was a bit too calculated...


Blogger Flair said ... (11:12 PM) : 

Great blog! The pictures were impactful and proved a point. Thanks for sharing!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:48 PM) : 

Sarto,i really admired you until i saw these comment" less mall shopping". As a young and broke girl 80% of my clothes is from mall. I don't think style is where you shop,it's about what you choose. Sorry if i misunderstood you. But it's just so sad that this girl thinks being new yorker is about expensive sandal and it bag. I am not trying to be mean.But the second photo has nothing to do with being stylish.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:59 AM) : 

"Is the scrutiny one is under in New York to be edgy and original any less 'peer-pressure' than elsewhere? Are Rei Kawakubo bangs and all black really that unique for New York? She looks great in both pictures, but the self-consciousness of her latter pose tells me that she heard the liberating message of her new environment loud and clear, right down to the It bag."

Dear deadstenographer: EXACTLY. The second picture is the EXACT New York style right now. It's what I feel I'm supposed to look like (blunt bangs; perfect doll face, slim, long body encased in a minimalist black dress), but can't achieve because I have curly, Jewishy hair and a pear-shaped body despite weighing only 98 pounds. Yeah, it's sure easy to transform if you're already perfect-looking, and I wish I could pull off this "sophistocated" style, but I really can't.I am aggrieved every day that I can't wear the look that all of these design blogs/mags tell me I'm SUPPOSED to be wearing, and now we have even one more person--The Sartorialist, no less--telling us that this look is such an improvement that it has to be showcased? Whatever. She looks like every other girl in New York I hate myself for not looking like. Please keep showing us skinny girls in plain black dresses with straight hair. Awesome.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:12 AM) : 

"just half year and she's completely another person!!!!!!"


i think, shes not another person, cuz shes "changing her style"...shes still her.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:04 AM) : 

You should do a whole series on this stuff...these 2 before/after posts are simply amazing!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:08 AM) : 

Wonderful story.
The greatest post ever.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:27 AM) : 

first picture is actually pretty cool in that it looks casually thrown together.

second has a better haircut but all the charm is gone! way too mishapes circa 2003.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:29 PM) : 

My apologies if this has already been stated, but the other half of this is being around other people who are becoming or have become more personally liberated. Anonymity is part of the equation, as well as population density, availability of clothing, personal grooming, shoes, and other options, but so is being around other fashionable, smart, and creative people and places, and having lots of them to choose from.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:32 PM) : 

Dear Sart,
thank you. You are my style advisor, my friend, my psychologist and I have never even met you. Fantastic, this post is really fantastic.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:22 PM) : 

nasne - I am also young and broke, and I don't shop at malls. I buy clothes at thrift stores (vintage and less-vintage), and I sew some clothes myself, or remake old ones.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:17 PM) : 

i lived in chicago, then lived in NYC, and at the ripe age of 25 ;) I've been in Montreal for over a year. This is where my slow metamorphosis (that began in NYC) is finally coming together.

This was not because I was afraid to embrace my own style in chicago or NYC...but I think you have to evolve and with that, your style evolves.

It's a beautiful thing! :)

PS: LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog. Always reading it. :)



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:06 PM) : 

she looks absolutely stunning and chic in the second picture, and equally adorable and fresh in the first.


Blogger Jini said ... (5:22 PM) : 

very inspiring. i can relate.


Blogger Susan said ... (5:26 PM) : 

sartorialist! i have not commented on your blog in a long time. the last time i commented was probably at my last job at least 6 months ago or so...but i have been faithfully checking your blog even though my work schedule has become more hectic. i still get so much inspiration from your photos.
i am making a trip out to ny & i am using your blog to give me tips on how to dress for the weather. if i see you on the streets i'll be sure to say hello!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:46 PM) : 

I just moved from NYC back to my native Iowa and I'm suddenly dressing much better. In NYC I worked in publishing (as one of the few untrustfunded) and basically wore cheaply made clothes because they're all I could afford. Now, in Iowa, I'm making a lot more money (and it goes much farther) and I'm actually getting to experiment with my style. I'm able to buy more expensive staples--like a nice bag or pair of shoes--that anchor my look. I read blogs like yours to keep my eyes fresh since I don't have a street scene anymore.

So maybe it's not just NYC. Or maybe it is about major life change. Or maybe it's simply about finally being in a place in life/career where you don't have to scrimp to pay rent.

These days, NYC is mostly for the rich anyway.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:05 PM) : 

i disagree. i think actually what happened here is she fit in dressed like the first photo in oakbrook, then she moved to new york and changed her look so she'd fit in there. she was not expressing her true self, she was again conforming to the normal culture.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:03 PM) : 

that's so powerful! you and your blog are great and so inspiring. so unpretentious. you're so genuine.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:52 AM) : 

I moved here from Cali and have been in Harlem for one year. I happily think twice (sometimes three!) about what I wear, where I shop, what I buy. Thanks to your blog I found brilliant guidance to style...far better than any fashion magazine!!!


Blogger G. said ... (10:18 AM) : 

that's so true and i'm glad for her, i like both of her pictures


Blogger Unknown said ... (11:51 AM) : 

she looks remarkable! I love her hair...the change is fantastic!


Blogger Unknown said ... (12:11 PM) : the anonymous (jewish, pear shaped, 98 pounds) who is seemingly upset because the Sart is applauding the new look...lighten up!

I think it's apparent that Sart, et. al. are equally impressed with a diversity of different looks! Have you checked the blog lately?

Yes, the transformation is astounding, and quite beautiful...

And yes, the look is very typical for NY-- at the moment...but I'm quite sure that if her hair was cut in, let's say, a bob ala Mrs. Beckham and/or Rihanna, and she was wearing bright orange jeans (pucci and seven are partnering to make brightly colored jeans!) with flats from Tori Burch and sporting curves like Beyonce, she would look just as good and we would all (still) be fascinated with the transformation.

The real beauty of NY is that you can look and dress HOWEVER you want and still be fly. I'm sorry that you aspire to look like something that you might never achieve...but, I know what you mean.

I'm rockin' the same hairstyle...and am eating no carbs...

but whatever, rejoice in your beauty...I'm sure many more people appreciate your look than you know!


Blogger onegiantpanda said ... (12:55 PM) : 

Wonderful post, and oh so true.


Blogger krissy said ... (10:07 PM) : 

unbelievable! i love these 2 "year later" posts! i can't believe that it's even the same person (in both posts!). kara looks amazing with her cool haircut and style. great story too...thanks for sharing!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:33 AM) : 

wow, this was a wonderful blog that i could relate to. i think i'm changing now, my styles and what not, i still have a long ways to go, but i'm so differen't from a year ago. hmmm it seems like you were really taken aback by this change given the post and your reaction and what not.


Blogger anita said ... (11:39 AM) : 

Really wonderful post. I totally relate. I live in Portland, OR, and although I have lived in bigger places, my street style has evolved from my activities here, and the functions my life requires. Which is dog walker most of the time, and office worker the other part of the time. I occasionally bust out something that feels like me, sometimes I have made it myself, and people always exclaim, "oh, how fancy" or make some comment that I am being over the top.

I think all good style though, is a combination of dressing functionally and yet showing that while you know you have to dress this way for certain parts of your life, you can still manage to express yourself. This post inspires me to try a little harder, my life notwithstanding. Thanks again for your lovely pictures.


Blogger Molly said ... (4:20 PM) : 

my my my this post is spectacular. i spend my summers in new york and the rest of the year at school in austin. i definitely notice a difference in my dress in different places, though nyc never really leaves my closet.


Blogger M About Town said ... (7:43 PM) : 

I completely agree with your observation (and have linked and quoted this post on my blog- hope you don't mind)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:05 PM) : 

the thing that bums me out is that both went from practical flat boots to sky-high unwalkable heels...To me that says someone who discovered they could afford cabs.

It also kinda makes me sad.


Blogger Unknown said ... (5:39 AM) : 

that's incredible. moving can be a great liberator. i wonder though, to what degree does nyc allow for transformation as opposed to the expectation that one will mold him/herself to ny culture/style? hopefully, it's the former.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:31 PM) : 

I love this blog, but I have to say this....

Although I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, and have lived in a number of different cities, I've lived in NYC proper for the past four years. I am being completely honest with myself when I say, "Yes, it's money that prevents me from being more stylish." After having been sucked bone-dry, financially speaking, by one of the most expensive cities on the planet, I'm usually throwing on a pair of pants I bought 10 years ago that is pilling in the seat, a pair of sneakers with holes in them so I can run from subway to subway, and one of the two or three respectable button down shirts I still have left, changing into heels at the office. I'm lucky to have the (cheap and apparently unsightly) shirt on my back at this point.

It mystifies me as it much as it does the 25 year old professional who wrote above where the stylish under-30 set is getting the money to buy the designer goods they're wearing. Perhaps others are more willing to go into serious debt for the sake of style than I am. And I'm too cynical at this point to congratulate the trust fund set on their great style: it's easy to have style when you are cash-flush. As for NYC thrift shops - they're not exactly inexpensive unless you're truly willing to dumpster dive. And I have my own pit-stained T-shirts, thanks.

I know this comment is vitriolic, but this topic hit a nerve with me as I LOATHE the NYC effect. To say that people become more individualistic is truly a hoot; people come here merely to bow before new style overlords. Walk around the NYU area sometime - you're not seeing individuality, you're seeing variations on a theme. And sadly, the people most eager to enforce their newfound fashion codes (by which I mean sneering at people who aren't wearing clothing by [Insert Designer Here], people who aren't wearing item purchased for [Insert Dollar Amount here], people who aren't sporting [Insert One of Five Acceptable Au Courant Hairstyles here]) are those who most recently arrived from elsewhere.


Blogger ryan said ... (10:05 PM) : 

she is a dream!


Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (10:50 AM) : 

for anon 9:31pm
yes you do sound very bitter and cynical and very willing to blame others for your lack of effort


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:49 PM) : 

the thing that mostly stops me from wearing what I want is being perved on by old men and guys i don't want to talk to, and I'm too shy! That's why right now I'm wearing my favourite high waisted micro shorts with tights, under a trenchcoat. i live in an area of London with a lot of old, pervy men per square mile. jk


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:37 AM) : 

To anon 9:31

This can be very true: 'Sadly, the people most eager to enforce their newfound fashion codes are those who most recently arrived from elsewhere.' But not just of fashion, and not just of NYC. I disliked one city I lived in partly because it had this certain 'type' of person you could see everywhere where you looked, the haughty, well-fed, blingy type. In reality, it was the city that didn't sit well with me and, as you say, it was mostly a small part of eager newcomers that formed this visually jarring clique. I'd say it's quite natural to try to fit in by adopting a new or uniform-type of style in a new environment, it gives you confidence. But it is also quite natural to reject it consciously. I like both Karas equally, the Kara before and after - the second shot is gorgeous, as a picture. The question for me is, did she adopt something that looks like a different style because she wanted to, because it's closer to what she is, or was it because she was also under slight pressure to do so, internal or external. (Or did fashion simply change in a year to this extent?) New towns can make you do both, and only she can tell.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:31 PM) : 

Anonymous 9:31--

Do you work in publishing? Just kidding, kind of. I didn't think your post was vitriolic. I think it was honest and imploring.

After living in NYC for 12 years, trying to eke out an existence in publishing, I gave up, sick of living like a college student when I was 30. I couldn't afford grown-up clothes until I left NYC. And I'm not talking about deciding between a $300 skirt or a $100 skirt. I mean I basically couldn't spend more than $30 on any one piece of clothing at a time.

I love this blog, and recognize that there is a certain amount of wish fulfillment to it. But, Anon, I appreciate the candor and frustration expressed in your post. I too (and I suspect many others) often felt that way. And I DID try. It wasn't for lack of trying that I failed to look like I was wearing well-tailored clothes. It was for lack of money.

I tried to buy the cheap clothing that looked the nicest. I tried to buy the basics. I tried to save money for nicer items, but the city was just too damned expensive.

NYC, in my (and Joan Didion's) opinion, is for the very rich and the very young. To be neither is to risk becoming a bitter person who mutters obscentities to herself on the subway.

Anon 9:31: move away from NYC. You will be so much happier. Plus, you'll be able to fulfill your own wishes and buy a grown-up wardrobe, which will look tres sophisticated wherever you end up because it will have been inspired by years of wishing you had the money to buy beautiful clothing in NYC.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:41 PM) : 

i think she's seen a new way, not that she was contrained, by family and friends before. But she's had her eye's opened up to more than her usual surroundings and luckerly she's picked up the classy side of style, not a grunge look, or punk, but hey who knows next time you bump into her, she might once again have re-invented herself.


Blogger Sarcomical said ... (5:01 AM) : 

this took my breath away. it's so true, and verbalized exactly what can get in the way of something like your personal sense of style, or other things in life.

she is incredibly cute, by the way. in both photos. but i am mad about her bangs.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:51 PM) : 

Love, love love the "after" photo. Her bangs are wonderful, her dress is fabulous and her shoes are just killing me! I heart her!


Blogger Olimpia Liberti said ... (7:39 PM) : 

I'm stuned too. Such a dramatic change! She looks absolutly gorgeous in these hair.
love it


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:35 AM) : 

Great post. one of the best


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:36 AM) : 

This post has just inspired me to wear the shockingly bright (but beautiful, in my opinion) orange fijian dress that I've had for many years but have been too timid to dare wearing in public.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:42 AM) : 



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:09 AM) : 

Kara looks much better after the change, but... c'mon, she can't see out of her fringe! What's the point of looking good when you are blind?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:23 AM) : 

I think everyone identifies with this on some level..
for me it was personality. What I wear shows people what I really want them to see, even though Im too shy to communicate to them verbally, through dance or otherwise.. I dont care what people say about my style, but its the personal bit that they would say is 'not me'. Thats not to say Im not still developing my style. This girl looks cool and collected and like she has it all together..


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:34 PM) : 

thank you for posting this.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:11 PM) : 


I claim to love fashion, but my friends and family all question why I don't dress the way I WANT to dress. Quite simply, the answer is because of them. They wonder why I don't have style as a self-proclaimed fashion addict, but they don't understand that I CANNOT stand their scrutiny. I don't even think they realize how they give me the 'casual' lookover everyday (I despise it).

I can't wait to break out of my shell. I can't even wear a cardigan out without everyone telling me "that's not you." I know VERY clearly who I am.

Thank you for posting this. I already love your blog, but I can relate to this one 100%. To me, New York is my dream city. I can't wait to graduate, and I'm crossing all my fingers that I will be accepted for school over there. I can't wait to get there... if I get there. It's not just about clothes. It's about finally showing who I really am.

Sorry for the ramble, thanks Sart.


Blogger ::N:: said ... (10:32 PM) : 

what you described is EXACTLY how I felt when I moved to Paris and didn't know anybody... my style changed and evolved according to what I observed on the streets.... when I got back to the States, I had quite a reverse culture shock but I am determined to keep it up!

Thanks for the inspiring post. and now i'm seriously considering getting bangs.......


Blogger Nail It 10 said ... (12:55 PM) : 

her hair cut is the dress and shoes~!


Blogger smallcitystyles said ... (9:10 AM) : 

What you wrote in this blog entry is so true. I feel like I went through the same thing. In high school and early college I was afraid to stand out so i dressed in a way that I disappeared into the background. A long term relationship I was in ended and at that point I broke free of the fear.
It still haunts me from time to time, but I really feel that I am more the person I am suppose to be than ever before.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:08 PM) : 

You certainly do not need money to dress well. Simply owning expensive clothes is not good enough. You must pay immaculate attention to how people wear clothes. its that little half inch or pleat that makes a difference. I shop at thrift stores and alter and or embellish most of my clothes. Creativity goes a lot further than cash.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:16 AM) : 

Wow, stunning! I've just visited your blog today and it is so inspiring. I Love NY and one fine day i will move up there all the way from copenhagen. What a transformation, wish it was me...


Blogger Dya said ... (5:51 PM) : 

I can't stop thinking about how this woman found her style. She looks awesome. Now I wish I could find mine, at the same time that I stay warm when it's cold in Paris.

When I moved here from California, I couldn't find a nice coat (within a reasonable budget) that kept me warm. I finally found one the second winter here, but it weighs a ton. I should probably take up sewing! Thanks for a great blog.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:28 PM) : 

amazing post, i love how eloquently the truth comes out in what you write. i can completely relate (and that is why i'm planning a move).


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:37 PM) : 

Wow-she found her "inner self" by dressing like every other new york chick in a black dress. Looks less like a peer vacuum and more like peer pressure.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:51 PM) : 

Where's my earlier post????

Didn't think there was anything offensive in it...

Well, 1st off: you can see under bangs like that. Trust me, I had them!

I love that she's working an 'Asian' hairstyle when she's actually Asian. A lot of us tend to shy away from the cuts that suit us to try and get permed / wavy / blond hair when our hair just isn't really suited for that. She looks cool and trendy and I think while both pics are nice, the latter indicates sophistication gained. I disagree with a few of the posts here - I don't think she's lost herself. She's just changed. And she just happens to be wearing a black dress, not all black! Lots of greek grannies around where I live in Sydney wear black dresses too, and I don't think they've 'lost' themselves to big city fashion!


Blogger Unknown said ... (8:34 PM) : 

I live with her brother in Champaign, IL; he is also stunning and beautiful, but lacks the long bangs.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:17 AM) : 

Are those velcro on her shoes/platforms whatever you call them?


Blogger the fabled needle (jen) said ... (3:58 AM) : 

kara looks fabulous after the change - i'm glad she's feeling more like her real self. i can definitely identify with this.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:55 PM) : 

Absolutely love these pictures. She looks amazing! I agree, I moved from Ireland and started to travel and live around Europe 5 years and choose my own style.I know this story.

What wonders a little independence, confidence and style can do! Brava!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:03 PM) : 

i can relate to this 300%....

although i feel i have been able to make a slight improvement when i felt confident at one point in my life.

i think its time to complete my transformation... :)

thank you for the drive.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:40 PM) : 

Please shorten your bang


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:16 PM) : 

obvious the second photo is more chic, but how can she see with that haircut? And how can she wear it on a wet day? It would turn into a fro.


Blogger Yvonne said ... (12:53 AM) : 

Thank you for posting this! I really appreciate the text, especially because I DO want to change my style. You said it-- fear of other's opinions are keeping me. But in college I want to break out and wear a fresh style that I've wanted to.



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