- Sarah Bray, wearing Tory’s Alberta coat and Alastair eel stripe bag, photographed by Taylor Jewell
- The Alastair eel stripe bag, photographed by Taylor Jewell
- Bray, wearing Tory’s Velma dress, photographed by Taylor Jewell
- A snapshot from Bray’s New York apartment, photographed by Taylor Jewell
- The Alastair eel stripe bag, top shelf, right, photographed by Taylor Jewell
Growing up in Texas, Sarah Bray dreamt about the world she saw in magazines — faraway locales and beautiful photo shoots, inspired by everything from Romanov princess dressing to Spice Girls moxie. The Style Writer at Town & Country magazine further honed her love of fashion in the hallways of Vogue, the New York Times, Neiman Marcus and Elle Decor. Here, Bray downloads us on her personal style.
My family has been in the oil and gas industry for generations in Texas. For me, magazines were an escape from my small town where life often centered around ranches and oil wells. The pages were a fantasy gateway into a glamorous world. Growing up, I had subscriptions to everything from W to National Geographic to Elle Decor, and I would tear my favorite pages out and make collages all over my bedroom walls and notebooks.
My style is…
Influenced and inspired by what the day has in store. Every morning I think about who I am going to meet (what’s their personality, what do they do for a living, etc.) and where I am going to go (the decor or feel of the spaces I’ll be in). If I’m covering an equestrian competition, I’ll go full-on boots, white blouse, patterned silk scarf and tailored blazer. If I’m going to an interior design cocktail party, I’ll likely wear a really unique look that’s vintage and bold jewelry. If I’m with my Southern girlfriends, it’s always ladylike, most likely a feminine sundress and big earrings.
You can never overdress or overpack in my book. When I went to the South of France this past summer, I packed four different straw sun hats! When I went to India in the spring, I only packed embroidered caftans and exotic gold jewelry. In Cuba in February, I wore modernist prints and Mid Century silhouettes.
My beauty look…
I love, love, love lipstick. I’ll go into different phases of wearing bold reds, mauves or corals, but I never leave the house without it on. One of the jokes about SMU girls (and Texas women) is that we don’t even go to the gym without our hair and makeup done. It’s true!
Personal styling trick or tip…
For me fashion is never about what something costs or what brand it is. Half of my wardrobe is vintage, and they’re unbelievable finds I’ve uncovered at Housing Works, Goodwill, Etsy and random thrift stores. The most important thing is quality of materials, craftsmanship and how something fits your figure. Feel the material, look at how the piece is constructed and try it on.
As much as I do love vintage finds, I always invest in my shoes and handbags. You could be wearing the most beautiful dress in the world, but if your shoes and handbags are beat-up the whole look is off. Also, poplin white blouses and button-downs — they go with everything and make anything instantly classic and chic.
Go-to outfit to go from office to cocktails or dinner…
I love a high-waisted full skirt with a cream blouse or cardigan tucked in and topped with a blazer or fur over-the-shoulders. I gravitate to very Grace Kelly silhouettes and colors.
Best style advice I ever received…
These aren’t style advice. but I adore these quotes! “Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you,” by Elsie de Wolfe. And “There’s only one very good life and that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself,” by Diana Vreeland.
First fashion memory…
My nanny was an amazing seamstress and loved to sew matching outfits for my American Girl doll and me. I would rip photos from books and magazines of a dress that I loved and beg my parents to take me to the fabric store so I could buy yards of the closest fabric I could find. From a lace dress Anastasia Romanov wore in a royal portrait to mini-sized Spice Girls tour costumes — I had the ultimate little girl’s dress -up box! By the time I was in high school, I had become pretty fearless with my look. For prom, while most girls chose sparkly princess-cut gowns, I wore a bubble dress painted with abstract shapes from Diane von Furstenberg’s runway collection.
My style icons…
Lynn Wyatt, Diana Vreeland, Marella Agnelli, Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline de Ribes, Empress Sisi, Talitha Getty…. I am inspired by women with a fearless sense of style and bold personalities to match.
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