I’ve never interviewed anybody in their closet, but, given the Pinterest-worthy craftsmanship of the small bedroom turned walk-in-wardrobe I’m sitting in, I can’t say I’m not happy to be here.
I’ve been keeping tabs on Grace Liang for a while — me and nearly 30,000 other website visitors who visit her blog Color and Grace each month. I have a list of questions I want to get through. Yet, before we can discuss how she started her blog, what it was like moving to the U.S. from China, and what her fashion goals are, there’s something on my mind.
“When you come in here, getting ready for the day, how do you even decide between all of the great things that you have?” I say, transfixed on ceiling-high shelving units home to Jeffrey Campbell platforms, Louboutin stilettos, and vintage Chanel block heels.
Turns out there’s a method to her style. Liang plans outfits the night before, tries to not wear the same item often, avoids spending a lot on trends, purchases high-quality pieces, and sifts through her wardrobe at least twice a month to filter out clothing and accessories that don’t make her feel happy.
Seems reasonable. But the sentiment she shares next makes me pause.
“I don’t want my clothes to hold me back,” she says. “I try to tell myself that your memory is in your brain; it’s not in certain things.”
One of the last things I’d expect a fashion blogger to say, especially one who appears to be as successful as Liang, is that, ultimately, their image of success is not tied to the physical pieces they wear every day.
But, I believe Liang when she tells me this because since launching her blog in 2014, I’ve noticed that she has the tendency to be really honest with her readers. In between photos of colorful dresses and designer handbags, Liang has shared her experience growing up in poverty in China, how challenging learning English has been, and details about the last days she spent with her husband, who passed away from lymphoma earlier this year.
“A lot of people tell me I’m different because I’m real,” Liang says. “That’s the thing I really try to keep. Real means I’m not 100 percent pretty every time. I don’t have a fancy house. I don’t go to a fancy party every night. It’s just real life.”
Real life — even for those who have collaborations with stylist Stacy London, relationships with local fashion designers, and an appearance in Marie Claire magazine — isn’t always easy. It’s not easy to live through, and it’s not easy to write about, but Liang has done both.
Before she could count Saks Fifth Avenue as one of her favorite retailers, she was living in Shanghai. She moved to the city after graduating from college and working as a teacher near the rural town she grew up in. Liang and her family lived in a small house with a straw roof, dirt floor, and no running water. They couldn’t afford more than two meals a day, much less new clothes. As a result, Liang wore her brother’s hand-me-downs and was frequently mistaken for a boy.
Despite her upbringing, she remembers accompanying her mother to the tailor when she was in middle school and flipping through books that featured models in beautiful clothing.
“I think that’s the first time I realized how much I love fashion, but I had nothing,” Liang says. As she describes on Color and Grace, it wasn’t until she was in Shanghai that she had the opportunity to experiment with her appearance and began seeing herself as more than “plain looking at best.”
Liang moved to metro Detroit in 2007 to be with her husband, who she initially met when he was working for his American employer in Shanghai. The stories she shares with me show how close the two were. He took photos of her when she started posting her daily outfits on social media, tagged along to fashion events, was a vocal supporter of both her blog and newest project — starting a clothing line — and even constructed the closet we’re meeting in now.
“This house is a really reasonable price, although it wasn’t everything on the list I wanted,” she says about their Troy home. “So he said, ‘let’s bet on this one, and I can make this small bedroom into your walk-in closet,’ and I said ‘ah, that may be OK.’ ”
The memory makes her smile, and I smile back. Turns out fashion can be both inspirational and aspirational.
To learn more about Grace Liang and read her blog posts, visit colorandgrace.com
5 Metro Detroit Fashion Bloggers to Follow
Color and Grace isn’t the only site you should have on your radar
CHARLENE CHIOMA OKWU: Corporate software engineer and fashion influencer “Charlie G” thrives in strong color and patterns. These sartorial choices, along with her dedication to spotlighting minority bloggers in Detroit, make her blog stand out. iamcharlieg.com
LALA TRIPS: Whether it’s an honest take on millennial pink, thoughts on Detroit fashion, or a story about her first heartbreak, Trips doesn’t hold back. Plus, her style, which veers toward edgy fashion-forward items, is killer. lalatrips.com
LEAH VERNON: Inspired to start her blog because of the lack of beauty diversity in the media, the body-positivity proponent puts her master’s in creative writing to good use on her site. Alongside creative fashion shoots, articles on Vernon’s blog explore self-worth and social media, feminism, body image, racism, and stereotypes about being Muslim. beautyandthemuse.net
MICHAEL-ANTHONY SPEARMAN: A Detroit-based designer and stylist, Spearman focuses on fashion for big-and-tall gentleman on his blog. Visit his site for posts dedicated to summer layers, pulling off denim on denim, stepping out of your fashion comfort zone, and more. thebigfashionguy.com
VEESH L. SWAMY: Swamy’s blog revolves around the philosophy of being versatile, lively, and stylish. Majoring in global supply chain at Wayne State University with a penchant for well-tailored suiting, he’s also the founder of luxury menswear line Blanc. livevls.com