What we wear can have a big impact on our body image. That’s why I’m excited to share my interview with Sally McGraw, a style consultant and freelance writer who authors the blog “Already Pretty.” (One of my favorites!)

Sally recently published an incredibly helpful and inspiring book by the same name: Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body By Learning to Dress It Well. The book is packed with practical tips and wise words. It gives readers a fun, very personal and thoughtful approach for exploring our style.

I love how Sally defines style: It’s “personal, emotional, unique. Style is created by an individual with tastes, needs, and a specific set of curves and angles.”

Below, Sally reveals how exploring her personal style helped to heal her body image issues. She also shares her top three style tips, her inspirations and what self-love means to her — and much more!

Q: In your book, Already Pretty, you share how exploring your personal style helped to heal the hatred you felt for your body. Can you talk a bit about how style has done that?

A: You bet! I used to utilize so much energy hating my body that I exhausted myself into depression. For years I tried to change my body with diets and exercise, believing that its shape and size were the root of the problem, but I just kept on hating it. When I began exploring fashion and style – dressing in fun, flattering, and form-fitting clothes – an unexplored universe opened up to me.

For the first time, I respected my body. I realized that there was nothing wrong with my body. I saw my body as integral to my identity. I wanted to show it off, and decorate it joyously, and hone my personal style so that I could understand it on new levels. That connection between looking good and feeling good, as it relates to style, is what inspired me to launch Already Pretty.

Because when I started to dress in a way that made me look amazing and feel amazing, I finally stopped actively, continually, exhaustingly hating my body. And I immediately wanted to show other women how to make that connection so they could stop hating theirs.  

Q: What inspired you to write your book, Already Pretty

A: I wanted to provide a style guide for women who felt excluded by the current crop of books. So many style guides tell women that they must dress to make themselves look as tall and slim as possible. I feel like that is so confining, and alienates women who either can’t or don’t want to achieve those ends. All women deserve to enjoy personal style, even those who will never dress how the celebrity stylists say they should.

Q: In the book you say that style is a form of self-care. What do you mean by that? 

A: In my experience, the cycle of self-loathing is inextricably linked to the cycle of self-neglect: Feel bad, look bad, feel worse, look worse, and on and on. But I maintain that a cycle of self-love can be perpetuated by a cycle of self-care.

If you feel awful about how you look and allow yourself to LOOK as awful as you feel, you spiral down. But if you feel awful about how you look and work against that negativity – beautifying yourself with the tools you have at hand – you spiral up.

Caring about how you present your physical self to the world makes you more present in your body. Presence in your body feeds itself, creating more care. The cycle of self-care feeding self-love creating more self-care allows you to broadcast a profile of self-respect and power.

It reminds you that you can control how you feel about yourself. And that’s powerful good stuff.

Q: What would you say are your top three style tips? 

A: 1. Flattering clothing shouldn’t pull, pinch, or subdivide your body.

2. Accessories can make virtually any outfit look more polished.

3. Wearing clothing that makes you feel happy will make you LOOK radiant

Q: You also stress that the ultimate goal is love for your body, personality and yourself. What does self-love look like for you? In other words, what does it mean to you? 

A: I’ve realized recently that my version of self-love is mostly about being gentle and forgiving. I’m a driven, ambitious perfectionist, which means I am VERY hard on myself. Across the board. My goals are never impressive enough, achievements never grand enough … and body never quite beautiful enough.

I am constantly reminding myself that being harsh and unforgiving with myself and my body never makes me feel better. So I’ve been focusing on trying my best, and forgiving myself when I can’t quite meet my own (admittedly lofty) goals or ideals.

Q: What would you like readers to take away from your book?  

A: That there is no one right way to look good. Wear clothing that makes you feel powerful, gorgeous, and unique. Period.

Q: Which style blogs inspire you the most? 

A: I will always love Fashion for Nerds. Audi inspires me on a daily basis! I’m also enjoying The Fashionable BureaucratCurvy Girl ChicSimply Cyn, and Wardrobe Oxygen.

Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?

A: My book is almost entirely new content. Less than 10 percent of it has been drawn from my blog, since it outlines a self-guided makeover process that is both detailed and linear. If you love my blog, you’ll love the book, too … especially since it contains writing and ideas that will be completely new to you!

Oh, and there WILL be a Nook version soon … it’s in the works, I swear.

Thanks so much, Sally, for sharing your insight!