Q&A with Fashion Blogger Sarah Skriloff
A Poughkeepsie teen opens up on life, dating, her fashion obsession — and balancing it all with her Mormon faith
Photograph by Cassie Prettyman
Sarah Skriloff is just a normal 19-year-old: She goes to college, hangs out with friends, and maintains a popular fashion blog called “The Girl in the Check Scarf” (1,200 followers and counting). But she’s not exactly like your average teen. She’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons. We caught up with the Poughkeepsie resident, who dished about school, dating, fashion, and her faith — and debunked a few stereotypes.
Being Mormon, do you come from a big family?
I have two sisters who are 14 and 13.
That’s awesome! Did you grow up in this faith?
I did, but both my parents are converts. My mom converted when she was going to school out West. My dad because his best friend was Mormon.
Was that challenging for them?
My dad’s a Jewish convert, so it was a struggle because the Jewish religion is so against the idea of converting. But his parents reacted better than he thought they would. We still see them often.
Were you homeschooled?
I was, but that’s not a Mormon standard. None of my Mormon friends were homeschooled.
Do you have friends who are not Mormons?
Yeah, I had a good group of non-Mormon friends in high school.
Did your faith ever come between you?
They would get so mad at me when I missed one of their parties because they had it on Sunday. I was like, “What do you want me to do? This isn’t my family telling me to skip your party. I get blessings for observing the Sabbath, and it makes me happy.”
Let’s talk dating. Is it arranged?
No. But we don’t encourage dating until we’re 16, and we don’t encourage having a steady boyfriend or girlfriend until after high school. It’s so different from how people date now. It’s almost like, now, you go on one date and you’re automatically boyfriend and girlfriend. But Mormon people date around first: We go out to eat, we talk, we go home. Then if I want to have a date with someone else, that’s fine. We just get to know people.
Is that something you did?
My boyfriend and I officially began our relationship only after we graduated from high school. We didn’t cheat.
Can you date someone who’s not Mormon?
You can date whoever you want.
Photograph by Randi Butler
You started your fashion blog when you were only 14. How did it all get going?
Fashion was always captivating to me, but, since I was homeschooled, my mom said she wouldn’t enroll me in a Dutchess Community College fashion class unless I researched it out. So I cleared out the Adriance Library of every fashion book they had, and showed her I’m real about this. Once she realized I was serious, she enrolled me in the class and helped me set up the blog. It’s been going ever since.
Thanks to the blog, you receive invites to New York Fashion Week. How do you balance that with your Mormon values?
Fashion Week is completely unlike the Mormon world. It’s all about the flashy, whereas Mormonism is about modesty. I try to focus on the clothes and not the superficial aspects.
Was there ever a situation where you felt out of place?
One time when I was 15, I met this editor who was called away while we were talking. She asked me to hold her martini, and I was like, “If Mom could see me now... oh my gosh!”
Is it hard to find Mormon-approved looks to post on your site?
Finding modest looks can be difficult, but it’s doable. So many fashion editorials are all about sex. I’m really careful about what I post. If something might not be considered modest by Mormons per se — like something strapless — but still is classy and promotes the idea of beauty, I might still post it. But if it’s bare belly or has a lot of cutouts, I won’t.
Do you get negative comments on the blog because of your faith?
There are not really too many negative comments. I think when you grow up Mormon, you’re just used to it. We all get jokes like, “Oh, you’re a Mormon, how many moms do you have?” But we just brush it off. I’ve actually found I’m more popular because I’m Mormon. It never worked out, but MTV contacted me about doing a show about bloggers. They were like, “We want diverse bloggers and — being a Mormon fashion blogger — you’re pretty weird, we want you on this.”
Is shopping challenging?
There are a lot of times when I see something that’s really cute but I can’t wear it. It’s a struggle, since skirts and shorts come to the knee and our shoulders stay covered. I have so many cardigans. Wearing a tee shirt under everything, even tank tops, is such a Utah look because there are so many Mormons there. My roommate’s from Boston, and one time while we were shopping she found a tank top and said it would look cute with a tee shirt under it. I was like, “Stop it, you’re not from Utah!” We keep each other East Coast strong.
Where do you go to school?
I’m a sophomore at Brigham Young University. I’m studying industrial design.
Do all Mormon kids have to go there?
Oh, you absolutely don’t have to go to a Mormon college. There’s a Mormon girl my age who’s at Vassar. I think Mormon kids who go to non-Mormon schools might have a harder time. They feel isolated because they have friends who do things they don’t. We don’t drink, we don’t do drugs, we don’t smoke. We end up as the designated driver.
What are your post-college plans?
I would love to move back East and work for an industrial design firm. Utah’s just weird. There are great people, but I would never want to live there. I would love to raise my kids in Poughkeepsie, I think it’s great. Having kids is a Mormon priority. We don’t force women to stay home, but we believe that taking care of children is most important. My mom is a former stock broker and now owns her own brand called Crossing Bridges Coaching, and she took care of me. You can do it.