A Flat Life / M.C. Saunders
STYLIST & DIGITAL STRATEGIST
M.C. Saunders is a woman of many talents. A trained ballet dancer, turned organ player in a punk band, turned pre-med, turned music industry digital strategist, this lady knows a thing or two about pivoting. With a side hustle as a stylist, she has a collection of vintage garments & accessories that dreams are simply made of. And did I mention that her eye for interior design is also insanely on point?
One might find all these accolades intimidating. However, meeting up with M.C. in her Park Slope home on a pleasantly warm February day was anything but. She is as gracious as she is stylish and I can’t wait for you to get to know her more.
What does M.C. stand for?
It stands for Mary Catherine. The backstory there is, at the time, my parents were super Catholic. However, my mom claims it came to her in a dream.
Were you confirmed (non-Catholics - this means choosing a saint in 6th/7th grade) and if so what name did you choose?
I chose Joan of Arc, which is so unoriginal. So I guess I’m Mary Catherine Joan. My grandma’s name is Mary Joan so that’s probably why I did it.
I’m St. Teresa of Avila. So where did you grow up?
I’m from Fredericksburg, VA, which is halfway between Richmond, VA & D.C. It doesn’t have a ton going on and it’s a very historical town where pretty much everything closes at 6pm. But it’s a very cute town and a great place to raise a family. After high school I got the hell up out of there but not too far. I moved to Charlottesville and studied Biomedical Engineering at UVA…. which makes no sense.
Oh, wow. Excuse me ma’am.
People are always really impressed and then they talk to me & they’re like “oh, just kidding”. Ha!
So what happened after college?
I started working for a company that did organ and tissue transplant services so we were full on the people who would go in and take out the tissues for transplants. At that point I thought I’d go to medical school & I figured this would be good surgical experience. It just turned out that I didn’t love it. Also, my parents were always like “Get a real job and that supports your hobbies.” and, for me, music was always a hobby. On the side, while I was working in my first job, I was in a punk band for a little while which was really fun. I grew up playing the piano too.
Do you sing?
I sing only when I’m forced to. I did back up vocals for the band but I was mainly on the organ. We had a very retro vibe.
What was the name of your band?
The Ha-Rang. Sometimes there was an exclamation point after it sometimes there wasn’t.
The Ha-Rang! That’s giving me a very 80s vibe.
Totally. We had t-shirts that were very pop art. It was a Victorian lady with an umbrella hitting a guy in the chin and it had that starburst behind it that said “Ha-Rang!”
Let’s backtrack a bit. How long did you last with the organ & transplant gig?
I had a quarter life crisis in my career & realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I was super depressed and I had a friend who was working for the company I’m with now, Red Light Management, and he said they needed unpaid interns. Even though I was a little older I was able to get an internship & then I was hired. Six years later I’m still with them.
Wow. That’s such great timing.
I was super lucky. People are always like “how did you do it?”
I mean you took a chance that not a lot of people would take, like an unpaid internship after college.
Yes, that’s true. But I was also still working my job full time & interning. It was intense.
So you made your own luck.
Yes, but I also didn’t take “no” for an answer haha.
Talk to me about your style. How would you describe it?
It’s probably a little bit all over the place but I’m very inspired by vintage silhouettes and patterns particularly from the 60s and 70s because those are just the most flattering on me to be totally frank. But I like to do a lot full monochromatic outfits – that’s really one of my vibes or crazy pattern clashing. It probably could be a little more dialed in…
I like that you’re not predictable though. Do you subscribe to trends?
I wouldn’t say that I don’t. In my brain I want to say that I was doing that before everyone else. But, honestly, because I have so much older stuff and things keep coming back I’m always like “oh yeah, I totally have that in my closet”. So I’m doing the OG of the trend.
Which is much more sustainable…
It is. And there are new pieces that I’ll buy because I feel like it’s really cool and I have to have it. I wouldn’t say that I’m the trendiest though only because I like to wear my pieces for more than one season.
What are the three pieces in constant rotation in your closet?
I wear tons of jumpsuits. That is my go to because it’s something you don’t have to think about at all. Weirdly, in the same vain, if I need to dress up for something work related I’ll throw on a suit because it’s just as easy. You throw it on and you don’t need to worry about it and I’ll just do a white tee under. So those are my “don’t think too hard” go to’s. As for footwear, the ones I wear the most often are my Doc Martens.
You have the Jayden’s, correct?
Yeah and they do take a while to break in so you want tall socks that cover your legs up to the top of the shoe so you don’t get all the markings. But I’ve gotten mine to a place where they’re now super comfortable.
Are there any specific designers that you like?
I really like Maison Cleo. They’re a mother-daughter duo based in France and everything they do is made to order. I think they use all recycled fabrics. When I’m buying new I try to support designers that have a good mission. I don’t say this enough but part of the reason why I really like vintage and thrifting is just because it’s good for the earth to recycle your clothes.
Tell us about your go to stores?
& Other Stories is great for just the basics. For vintage, the Beacon’s Closet in Greenpoint is amazing. Walk the West, Collections, & obviously Davis Tisdale Vintage. Lisa Says Gah, who isn’t vintage, is super cool. She aggregates a lot of great pieces, mostly smaller designers, and I think she might also have her own line as well.
So, as you know, The Anti Heel is all about promoting a flat shoe lifestyle. How often do you opt for flats and why?
On the weekends, only flats and during the week mostly flats or a chunky heel. But that’s the only heel I’ll do. I did ballet for a really long time and it just destroyed my feet. I used to be okay with destroying my feet in my free time too & wearing heels but now absolutely not. Flats are essential, if not for the sake of comfort then for just living in the city.
Did you ever have a negative relationship with flats?
Not really. Going from an actual ballet dance shoe to a ballet flat was such a natural transition. With heels, I used to think that I needed them to look more professional or dressy and now I don’t feel that way at all.
Do you feel like society still view high heels as the only way to be sexy?
I want to say that men don’t care but I truly don’t know what goes on in their heads. As for women, in Virginia it’s definitely still a thing. If it’s date night or girl’s night you are in heels. And maybe I’m out of touch for saying this but I think you look the sexiest when you’re at your most comfortable. So if you’re comfortable in heels you should do it. But if you’re not, stick to what makes you feel good.
I definitely did heels in college because I thought it was sexy. The cheap ones too with a tube top and those Britney Spears “peek-a-boo my crotch” jeans. Now I have two corns on my feet and planters fasciitis.
Haha! I was in a sorority so I understand. Body con dresses…
What’s your thought process when you shop for shoes? Do you prioritize comfort or style?
If you talked to me two years ago I would have said style first. But now, seeing several shoes languishing in my closet because I never wear them and they’re uncomfortable, I think it’s a bit more equal.
Do you have a foot care regimen and if so what is it?
I try to get pedicures because I think that’s the bare minimum. I have callouses and such from ballet. In the winter I do lotion and heavy socks. Feet that scratch the sheets are like triggering for me. I also use a tennis ball to stretch out my feet and that’s only if I’ve just worn really uncomfortable shoes.
So it seems like you have a pretty mindful relationship with your feet.
It is a mindful one but also a semi horrified one.
Why? Because of your past trauma?
Yeah, just knowing what I put my feet through and thinking about that now – years of pointe shoes. I used to be able to get up on my toes without the shoes…but I haven’t tried that in awhile. And mine aren’t even the worst I’m sure and I don’t really love the way they look. However, they’re the only feet I have and they’re going to have to take me a lot of places so I try to be nice to them.
To keep up with M.C., follow her on Instagram