On Self-Improvement + Being Curious.

On Self-Improvement
sunglasses // bag // coat

Something that I’ve been thinking about a lot right now has been the idea of self improvement and always being curious. I think it’s the most important thing and it it’s something that really dictates how I live my life and the people I choose to surround myself with. James Nord was talking a little bit about this in his episode on the new Fohr Ground podcast and I found myself nodding my head as I listened. He was talking about wanting to have better taste in music at some point, and making the decision to actively work at that to have better taste. I am like this as well and think it’s so important to be constantly learning, striving, growing, evolving.

The older I get, the more I realize how little I know.

In some ways this is a little bit depressing. I often compare myself with friends who are so much better read than I am; friends who speak so eloquently and drop big words into conversation without seeming pretentious or try-hard; friends who grew up with money and traveled the world from a young age; or friends who studied Art History in college and just know SO MUCH MORE THAN ME. UGH WHY DID I MAJOR IN BORING FINANCE (oh wait – it got me a great first job). Also, friends (like my friend Victoria – her playlists are insanely good) with amazing taste in music. But comparisons aside, realizing how little I know is also exciting as there is so much more to learn.

Outfit Details:  Topshop Coat // Theory Cashmere Sweater // Paige Jeans // Celine Sunglasses // J.Crew Belt (old but this is similar) // Soludos Boots // Chanel Purse

Outfit Details:  Topshop Coat // Theory Cashmere Sweater // Paige Jeans // Celine Sunglasses // J.Crew Belt // Soludos Boots // Chanel Purse

I will caveat this list by saying I realize my lifestyle (single, childless, self-employed!) is probably more conducive to all of this learning. A lot of my girlfriends are on their second or third child so they’re lucky if they have time to spend twenty minutes reading, let alone going down an art rabbit hole online or looking up new words every day.

Some things I’m personally working on…

My vocabulary.

As I read, I keep a running list of words I don’t know and look them up later. And then if I’m comfortable, I try to work them into conversation later in the day. For the past couple weeks I’ve assigned myself a “word of the day.” I’ll look it up and try to work it into conversation if I can. I was actually thinking about making this a little series on my Instagram story – would that be interesting to you?

With art.

Art has become one of my biggest passions simply because of how it makes me feel but every time I go to a museum it’s another rabbit hole of how little I actually know! Last weekend I went to The Met with a friend who majored in art history. My little notepad on my phone was full of follow-ups and things to look by the end of the day. I really love spending time with people who do know a lot about art and I try to absorb everything I can learn from them.

With books.

My year of books post was really fun to write but also a wakeup call. I read a LOT of trash. And that is totally fine; reading has always been more about escaping than learning but I do really want to read more literature this year – classic books, books by foreign authors, things that will challenge me and make me use my brain a bit more! You can absolutely do both and have a mix. My aim is to alternate; adding more non-fiction, business books, foreign books, and classics to my reading routine… in between the thrillers and YA, of course!

With music.

I’ve always said that music is my weakest link – I know a decent amount about art, books, movies, and TV but always find I’m behind on music. Honestly, I have the taste of a 70 year old man (I looove classic rock and would be happy just listening to The Beatles/Rolling Stones/Billy Joel all day). But I would like to have better taste. I always listen to my Discover mix on Spotify which has helped me discover new artists I like, and having friends who make amazing playlists helps with too.

Or just being mindful of what is playing and taking notes if I like it. On Wednesday we saw Dianna Agron at Cafe Carlyle. I loved all of the older songs she sang and wrote them down as she went. When I got home, I made a playlist (and then used Spotify’s suggestions to add to it). I learned a lot just from that simple exercise and can’t stop listening to the playlist.

With food and restaurants.

An ex called me a restaurant hype beast which was really grating. Food – good food – has always been incredibly important to me (haha that sounds funny) as I grew up in a restaurant and my parents always prioritized eating well (both healthfully but also with developing our palate + trying new restaurants). I didn’t appreciate this nearly as much as I should have as a kid but I really appreciate it now. I read Infatuation at least once a week, I check the Eater Heat Map every month. Also, I have a google doc with old standbys +  all the places I want to try.

I’ve been told I’m a good friend to have as if we’re making a plan I am always happy to pick the restaurant and make a reservation. I know this obsession can be seen by some as pretentious or “paying for ambience” (that same guy used that term which also annoyed the heck out of me) but it isn’t just about trying the fancy/expensive new place, it’s about finding the best dim sum or hole in the wall ramen spot! If there is good food to be eaten, I want to know about it.

Outfit Details:  Topshop Coat // Theory Cashmere Sweater // Paige Jeans // Celine Sunglasses // J.Crew Belt // Soludos Boots // Chanel Purse

Some things I don’t really care to further my learning on…


This is probably a little surprising given what I do for a living. But I have friends who are SO up on the latest designer and who is who of the fashion world. Honestly, I just don’t really care. I’ve been scolded (in a joking manner) for not knowing who is who and I always laugh because I really just don’t care. I care about style. Also, I like to shop but do I care who is in and out at this or that design house? Not particularly.


I remember when I was 22, I bought a book about football in an attempt to learn more about it to impress a boy. My parents still tease me for that. I don’t like sports, I don’t care about them. Also, I will go to a sporting event and eat all the things and be social but at the end of the day I just don’t care!

How about you?!

Grace Outfit Details:  Topshop Coat // Theory Cashmere Sweater // Paige Jeans // Celine Sunglasses // J.Crew Belt // Soludos Boots // Chanel Purse

Grace Atwood Outfit Details:  Topshop Coat // Theory Cashmere Sweater // Paige Jeans // Celine Sunglasses // J.Crew Belt // Chanel Purse Grace Atwood Outfit Details:  Topshop Coat // Theory Cashmere Sweater Chanel Bag Grace Atwood Outfit Details:  Topshop Coat // Theory Cashmere Sweater // Paige Jeans // Celine Sunglasses // J.Crew Belt // Soludos Boots // Chanel Purse

photography by Carter Fish.


Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. I’m even more of a mess when it comes to the books I read – if I even pick up a book these days! I used to be such a bookworm but since Netflix entered my life… nuh uh. I’m trying to read at least one book a month now – ANY book, as long as I pick it up and finish the damn thing!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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  2. I feel you on the reading and vocabulary, specially because english is my third language and I only became fluent in my 20s. I feel the same about fashion, I know my personal style and do not care about the rest. For music I’m 50/50, I thankfully grew up in a household that played a lot of classic French music and I genuinely love them so I allow myself to listen to all the trashy songs I want too lol. Love this classic look on you Grace.


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  3. I feel the same way! I’ve been practicing French, even though I am NOT good with languages. I have zero background in it and I’m surprised by how much fun I’ve been having with it– way different than being forced to learn a language in school!

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    • languages are so hard as an adult!!!! i tried french classes after a breakup and didn’t do so well with it. it’s so fun when something sticks though!!

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  4. Paula:

    If you’re looking for a good art history book, I would recommend “The Judgement of Paris” by Ross King. The page count is a little daunting and it can be dry at times, but it takes the reader through the rise of impressionism in Paris and really changed my experience in museums around the world from knowing the history behind the paintings.

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  5. Funny enough, I studied Art History (and business) in college and since graduating, it’s always been a goal for me to learn more about finance! Haha.

    briana | youngsophisticate.com

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  6. What I’m actively learning about:
    – valuation and other startup finance work – it’s by far my weakest link when it comes to my job, and arguably the most important this year. I’ve been having a lot of calls with very smart friends prefaced with “I apologize for the very basic questions.” Feel like dusting off that finance degree, Grace? ;P
    – American healthcare policy – because I want to and because it’s a big part of my job.
    – crochet, because it makes me happy to work on a project while listening to Bad On Paper and sipping a cup of tea.

    What I’m not spending my time on:
    – sports reading – while I enjoy it, it’s the first thing that goes out the window when things get busy. This is especially true when the Eagles’ season is done.
    – music – honestly, I’m totally content to stream Victoria’s playlists and whatever Spotify puts together. The Piano Guys is lovely to have streaming for any reason at all.
    – anything the current president tweets.

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  7. Nicole:

    Grace, it’s like you are reading my mind! Studying abroad last semester and taking a really great interdisciplinary, discussion-based class this semester have really opened my eyes to the same concept. I truly love learning and always try to pick up new things. I am always making new notes/ lists on my phone of things I am picking up in a museum, while reading… I keep a list of new words as well, and I love the idea of 1) having a word of the day and 2) featuring this on Instagram (or even the BOP Instagram if that audience would be interested too, I’m sure!)

    Absolutely loved this post (and the outfit, too!). Also, a book recommendation for some art history/ city/ arts knowledge… Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin. I’m about halfway through and really enjoying it. I love art/ art history and the flaneur is something I’ve spent a lot of time studying, so seeing it in an entirely new light while also learning about incredible female authors in cities that I love has been a great learning experience. I read one chapter a week/ when I’m in the mood but it’s so different than what I usually read and am enjoying it!

    Happy Friday!

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  8. I love this. I think always learning and growing is so important. It makes us more compassionate and empathetic for sure. I agree with the reading goal — I work in publishing, so I’m always reading new books as they come out, but I really want to try and read some books I *should have* read in high school, and other classics.
    As for sports, I’m a die hard baseball (lol NY Mets) fan, but other than that, I don’t care. I’ve tried to watch with my boyfriend but am always bored out of my mind.
    Travel has also become more important to me. I didn’t travel internationally at all growing up, so now that I have some of my own money, I’m always saving to see new places as much as I can.
    Since the election I’ve become much more in tune with politics, and I’m trying more to keep up with actual policies and current events. I’ve started reading just the front page of the NYT and clicking articles that interest me.
    I also have a pretty trashy taste in music, but one thing that’s helped (aside from having a boyfriend with a better taste in music) is seeing bands live. Not only is it fun, but I often come away liking the opening act as well, and add them to my playlist, which just continues to grow.
    I’m not as adventurous with food, which is lame because I’m in NYC, arguably one of the best food cities. I have a few places that I go to over and over again, but I’d love to broaden my horizons.
    Over the past year I’ve also tried consciously to learn more about wine and beer. I’ve taken a few classes and appreciate much more what I’m drinking and where it came from. the only downside is that now I also refuse to drink anything that I don’t fully enjoy.

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    • I would like to learn more about wine as well. My dad is a wealth of knowledge in that department and I always try to soak up as much as I can from him!

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  9. Gia:

    I love the idea your vocabulary idea! I would definitely be interested in seeing which words you’re choosing on Instagram!

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  10. Abby:

    Love this!!! I really try to broaden my knowledge via reading too – what has really helped me is that I try to read a different genre from the book I just finished (If i just finished a light book i will then read something heavier). I also try for at least one non-fiction a month (whether it’s a historical figure, business or self help book).

    Also, I love your word of the day idea and would love to see this in your instagram stories as it would help me.

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    • Yes, that is what I do too – alternate!
      So glad you’re into the word of the day idea!

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  11. Jenny:

    Word of the Day in IG definitely sounds interesting! Also I think your taste in music in perfectly fine. I’m not really up on what’s currently popular either. On my IPod 99.9% of my music choices are from the 20th Century, and very little came from the 2000s. I try to catch up on today’s music whenever I’m running. I’m a foodie myself and just returned from Spain, and I was told that I took more food pictures than anyone in our group. I also feel the same way about books. In fact one of the learning ones I’m interested to tackle is one of your recommendations: “Nobody Wants to Read Your S*it.” Great thoughts in insight!

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    • I’m so glad you would be into that!
      And can’t recommend Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t enough!!!

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  12. Lindsey:

    I so love and relate to this post (and I agree with the items you’re done learning on – I want to look chic, but don’t care about keeping up with the latest fashion, or sports for that matter). Books and art are huge for me. A girlfriend and I were recently thinking it seems fun to try to bring back the concept of salons (as in Gertrude Stein, not hair…) with intellectual conversation and interesting speakers. It feels like a lot of work though 🙂

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  13. Lisa Autumn:

    YAY so motivating babe!

    x Lisa | lisaautumn.com

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  14. Yes yes yes to the word of the day on instagram! Or even word of the week and try to incorporate it in. I love this philosophy!

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  15. Taylor:

    I love this, Grace! Most of my new year intentions around about growing and learning, something that I’ve worked really hard to continue over the past few years.

    One of the biggest things for me is yoga. I’m a yoga instructor and a lot of our ‘continuing education’ after our initial teacher training is self study. I try to immerse myself in as much information as I can around the parts of the yoga that I feel so passionate about to better help me as both a student and instructor.

    Art is another big thing for me to self improve on. I live in Chicago and am a member of the Art Institute and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I go about once a month and carry a notebook of notes and observances that I can look up afterwards. I love being able to take friends and be able to explain things that I once didn’t know myself.

    Love these essay style posts, they’ve been so thought provoking! Enjoy your weekend in Minnesota!

    xo, Taylor

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  16. Love that plaid coat! So classic.


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  17. I can relate to this so much! I love learning and I can’t even tell you how many times I tried to learn something new like a new language or a new craft. And out of all the ones you mentioned I’d love to learn more about them too, especially art, I love museums and even though I had art history in high school, it wasn’t nearly enough for me, I still want to learn more. And even though you don’t really care to know more about fashion that’s exactly the opposite for me, I studied fashion for three years and I still love to know the latest news.

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  18. What a cute coat! Art is a big part of my life too! It’s one of my outlets to stress free life!

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  19. Lindsey:

    What is wrong with paying for ambiance?! sometimes it’s the best part!

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  20. Mae:

    This is why I subscribe to your daily blog posts, your blog is so much more interesting than most of the fashion bloggers out there – since your content is also thought-provoking, with personal/advice columns and book and art recommendations. That post when you visited Hunt Slonem is one of my favorite posts!

    I should work on continuous learning for my profession, I have to be better about learning new technologies off-hours to keep up! I also want to work on my design eye, having a better sense for visual design will help me in general, but also i hope for things like redecorating my apt!

    I dont want to work on keeping up with the latest social media trends. I don’t want new apps like Tik Tok or whatever is popular nowadays, I’ll stick with Instagram as my primary social media (and that I’m trying to limit myself and look at it less!)

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  21. Katia:

    Great post, thank you for this. I want to achieve a better version of myself all days of my life, but I also think that nobody is perfect but it’s important to learn how to be our best version…also I consider this a purpose of everyone’s life and I am happy to walk this path about knowledge and self consciousness.

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  22. Lisa:

    I love this! I really want to learn a foreign language. I have a fantasy about learning french then spending an extended holiday living in and traveling around France. And then maybe Italian.

    Also – we’d be great “restaurant” friends! I am not a foodie. Food (and eating) to me is a means to an end and not really about an experience. BUT….I love it when I go out with my friends who love trying new places because it’s something I would never venture to do myself.

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  23. Orla:

    I would love a word of the day and I would love to follow your Spotify playlists!
    My goal this year is to improve my handwriting. I’ve always wanted a beautiful, flowy script! I’ll be ordering some Spencerian workbooks on Amazon.

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  24. Tara:

    You’re willing to learn, to be open to experience and taking it all in, to grow and appreciate all around you. Don’t stop doing that, no matter what your age! We owe it to ourselves to take as much experience out of this life as we can—-and look good while doing it, which is exactly what you do! Keep at it!

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  25. I love this post! I’ve been trying so hard lately to watch older movies, read real books, learn a new language. I love the idea of always growing and learning. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  26. Denise:

    Love this, I am trying to make curiosity a part of our big adventure of moving to Charleston. I think warmer weather and curiosity help keep you young!

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  27. Stacy:

    This is actually one of my goals for this year…to discover new things and get curious about new things. I’m scheduled to attend a two-day workshop to learn all the tricks in Excel (for myself and for work), and I’m going to take a crochet class in March.

    My boyfriend and I own a sailboat, and I’m thinking about taking a navigation course to learn how to sail “the old-fashioned way” without radar and GPS, lol! I also hope to learn how to surf this year.

    I’m in a new chapter of life with kids who have moved out and lots of unexpected free time, so I’m hoping to embrace this new stage by learning and exploring. Thanks for a great post!

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  28. Eden:

    Curiosity really does unlock so much in life; it’s underappreciated and I love that your blog is going there.

    For the last few years audiobooks have been everything for me. Nonfiction, specifically memoirs, are the sweet spot: For 10 hours, you get to hear a person (any age, any history, any background) tell you all about the places they’ve been, the people they’ve met, their greatest challenges and victories. Parenthood. Failed relationships. If it’s in a foreign land or a time long ago, even better. Oftentimes new book, film, and travel interests spring from what they tell you over the course of their story. Plus, you don’t even have to leave the house–just type in your library card and boom!

    I still read paper books (especially for denser works), but when it comes to print I mostly stick to the New Yorker because those have a way of stacking up.

    A few amazing audiobooks I’ve discovered lately:
    A Legacy of Spies (possibly my favorite narration ever, by Tom Hollander) – John le Carre
    Charles Dickens, a Life – Claire Tomalin
    You’re on an Airplane – Parker Posey
    Conspiracy – Ryan Holiday
    Watch Me – Anjelica Huston
    Avid Reader – Robert Gottlieb

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  29. Leah:

    I actually wish I know more about finance than anything 🙂 Love the look, though I always wonder if those coats from Topshop, etc. can keep you warm in winter (would love to know…). For languages, I love the simplicity of Duolingo app. For non-fiction, try Yuval Noah Harari. And I really enjoy your blog!

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    • I’d say they’re medium warm. Not appropriate for the really cold weather we’ve been having but totally fine with a scarf on more mild winter days!

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  30. Diana:

    LOVE this look on you!

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  31. dana mannarino:

    I definitely need to expand my horizons when it comes to books and art. I’ve never really been into art museums (I went to school in DC, so I was big on history museums). I’m a born and raised New Yorker and NEVER been to The Met. I know. Disgraceful LOL.

    Two things I’m huge on are music and sports. I love all types of music and love pretty much every sport except soccer!

    The Champagne Edit

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    • OH MY GOD WHAT!? You gotta go to The Met – it’s one of my most favorite places in the city. Even if you aren’t into art, it’s just such a beautiful place. I’ll go with you… or go with Allie!

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  32. Paige:

    One of my New Years resolutions this year (yes, I make multiple) was to learn something new everyday! I have always loved learning and absolutely thrived off the structure of school, I figured incorporating it into my young adult life could only help me!

    I downloaded the Dictionary app and subscribed to their Word of the Day notifications, I totally recommend it! And I also downloaded Curiosity and allowed notifications on there too. Every day at noon it send me something new! It is so so easy to use and has really helped me this month alone!

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  33. Couldn’t agree more with all of this (especially the part about the more I learn / the older I get, the more I realise how little I know). Here’s to filling our heads with good, interesting things that make us happy this year and not bothering with the things we ‘should’ know, but know we don’t care about (seconding your point about sport and fashion designers!)

    Briony xx

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  34. maryst:

    My purpose in life is to follow my curiosity wherever it leads. Sometimes that means I’m going down a rabbit hole of Russian composers or watching every World War 2 movie–whatever floats my boat that day, month, year. My husband says I like to give myself homework assignments. I do it more to entertain myself than for cocktail party conversation, but I’m ready if a certain subject comes up and it’s great for Jeopardy!

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  35. Shannon M:

    I’m also on a similar path (or rabbit hole) with learning more about art. I recently discovered that MoMA has free online courses for art history! The in-person classes there are really great, but I’m enjoying the online versions, too! Def worth checking out.

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