In her popular blog, AlreadyPretty.com, Sally McGraw invites you to stop punishing yourself for too-tight jeans and ill-fitting dresses.
"It was a huge revelation to me that instead of dieting my body into submission, I could dress it beautifully without having to change it," she said. "I was already pretty -- I just had to acknowledge it."
The blog, which she describes as "the intersection of style and body image," is part personal style diary, part advice column. In it, McGraw models different looks -- dressy shorts, cowboy boots, wrap dresses -- to inspire other women to feel comfortable in their own skin.
McGraw, who lives in Minneapolis, shops at thrift stores to keep her look updated. "The Twin Cities thrifting scene is top-notch," she said. "I'm one of those people who is constantly shopping."
Here are some of McGraw's figure-flattering advice tips for summer dressing and her favorite places to shop:
When it's too hot for pants, McGraw suggests wearing shorts. Bermudas are perfect for the shy, but showing some knee and thigh often looks better. "In my opinion, a hem length at least one hand's width above the knee is almost universally flattering," McGraw said. J.Crew and Lands' End are good sources for shorts with inseams from 3 to 12 inches.
"Even though belts can cinch your waist, adjust the fit of a loose garment, move your perceived waistline and other magical things, women fear them," said McGraw. To overcome any belt aversions, she recommends starting with a simple dress and a scarf. You use the scarf as a belt, finding a width that works for you, and experimenting with where it best fits on your body.
Cooler arm coverage
"I believe that every woman has the right to bare arms, regardless of how tan and toned those arms may appear," said McGraw. For those who wish to keep covering up, McGraw suggests open-weave wraps, scarves and tops. "Any loosely woven accessory -- be it poncho, shawl, scarf, or even jacket or bolero -- will give coverage without impeding airflow to your pits and arms," she said.
The idea of wearing a pump that matches your skin tone is not new advice, but McGraw suggests extending that idea to sandals, as well. "A nude shoe of any kind allows your leg line to extend all the way to the ground, tricking the observing eye into believing that your legs go on for miles," she said. "Your legs will thank you."Pretty deals
Valu Thrift: This is McGraw's first stop for "midmarket brands."
2145 Hudson Rd., St. Paul, 651-702-5920.
Fashion Avenue: McGraw goes for designer garments, such as Diane von Furstenberg, at reasonable consignment prices. Get on the mailing list for sales alerts.
4936 France Av. S., Edina, 952-929-7919.
Opitz Outlet: This is "TJ Maxx on steroids," said McGraw. Dedicate an afternoon to browsing the racks.
4320 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-922-2435.
Rewind Vintage: This "absolute wonderland of vintage goodies," has a "mind-blowing collection of cowboy boots," she said.
2829 NE. Johnson St., Mpls., 612-788-9870.
GH2: The sale and consignment spinoff of high-end shop Grethen House is the spot for designer deals. Watch for the occasional 90-percent-off sale.
318 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-378-0509.Pick of the week:
$15 (through July 31), www.mytoweltopper.com
Local designer Sairey Gernes has turned her attention to solving a problem that has long plagued women: how to keep your towel on while you do your hair and makeup. She created the Towel Topper, an elastic band that secures your towel and is cleverly disguised with a pretty ruffle.
SALES AND EVENTS
Bridal sample sale: During the event, bridal gowns will be $49 for samples discontinued before 2009 and $149 for those discontinued after 2009. Designers include Maggie Sottero, Mori Lee and Alfred Angelo. Bridesmaid dresses will be $29, mother-of-the bride dresses $39.
Through Sunday, Glenrose Bridal, 582 W. 78th St., Chanhassen, 952-934-3434, www.glendrosebridal.com. Appointments recommended.
Artist opening at Cliché: See the latest work by Cassie Grimes and get a discount of 20 percent off anything in the store.
7 to 9 p.m., 2403 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls, 612-870-0420, clichempls.com.
Slip Into Summer fashion show: The rooftop bar at Seven will host summer looks from Houndstooth Boutique and Nani Nalu.
8 p.m. show, Seven, 700 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-238-7770, no cover.
b. (a resale shop)'s first anniversary: Take 10 percent off items in the store all day, then celebrate with a party at Honey. The first to arrive will receive swag bags, desserts and appetizers.
Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177 email@example.com