This list might better be called “six ways fashion blogging changed my style” because it’s what I’ve noticed and learned in all of my years of blogging. But while written from a personal perspective, I feel like it’s a pretty universal experience from anyone who has been fashion blogging for awhile. The truth is almost anytime you set out to document something you end up changing/effecting what you initially wanted to record or study. Even science finds that observing something can change its behavior or outcome; look up “the double-slit experiment” for a fun mind-puzzle...
1. A blog helps you develop or figure out your style. I started my blog while I was in college and getting over some of my adolescent body hang-ups and self-consciousness. I had some ideas of how I would like to dress but I wasn’t certain how to execute them; where to buy clothes I liked, how to afford clothes, how to style things on my body, etc. Magazines weren’t very helpful since everyone in them seemed to be tall and live in a completely different world than I did at my rural college campus with a part-time job as a cashier. Through blogging though I started to gather fashion inspiration in one place which helped me figure out exactly what things I was attracted to: vintage films, full skirts, bright colors and prints, romantic images, etc. I also started to take photographs of my outfits which helped me “see” what was working on me and helped me remember how certain outfits made me feel. Like, I could look back on a week of posts and think “that looked nice, but I was a bit uncomfortable all day” or “that felt good, but the colors probably weren’t the best combination in the world.” Without blogging and this record of what I liked and was wearing I don’t think I’d be as confident a dresser as I am today.
2. Blogging teaches you about fashion. I’ve never taken a course in fashion, but similar to being a self-taught photographer I’ve also learned so much about the industry through blogging. For kicks and blog posts I’ve researched and become familiar with vintage fashion designers, costumers (like Edith Head), and editors who have are continuing to influence fashion designers and editors today. Now I know that the hilariously dopey model in the beginning of Funny Face was actually real life model Dovima and that the editor in that movie might have been based on Diana Vreeland who helped launched many photographers, models, and actresses careers. I also know a number of fashion terms for seasons, styles of clothes, and what-have-you I would not know otherwise. All of this makes me a more critical and informed consumer. It means when I look at a new runway collection I can also see how pieces are inspired by the past and recognize when high street brands are copying runway collections. I’m not saying I’m a fashion expert by any means and there are still large gaps in my knowledge, but blogging has definitely made me a more informed person and that in turn affects how I dress and shop.
3. You learn some things photograph better than others. Even with all of the positivity of how blogging has helped me figure out my style and how I want to dress, there are things blogging stops you from wearing...sort of anyway. You see some pieces are just more photogenic, or look better in the locations where you have to photograph. For awhile dyeing my hair blue seemed like a BIG MISTAKE because blue hair does not go in my natural surroundings—little dirt roads, rustic buildings, etc. The same is true for certain clothes--some clothes I swear look good on me in person but make me look like a toad in a photograph. Ok, not a toad, but the point is: very unflattering. The biggest culprit for me would be midi or just slightly longer dresses and skirts. In “real life” these pieces have movement and you’re seated or there’s a breeze, but a photograph is a frozen frame with a skirt just hitting you at exactly the wrong spot. So sometimes you steer away from clothes are you interested in because you know they won’t photograph well or you don’t know where you would photograph them, even though you can picture how and where you would wear them. Sometimes you still buy these things, but you don’t wear them on the blog.
4. More is more. One of the signs of success most people look for when they’re blogging is getting their first freebie. I think the first thing I got from a shop for free was a gorgeous grey purse; I wore it to death and carried it in dozens of posts until carrying my school books in it started to wear on the straps. It was the perfect example of a good freebie though; the shop was one I already liked, they asked me to pick my favorite item from their shop so of course I chose a piece I loved, and then it really did end up being a useful piece in my closet for years. I don’t really see freebies aren't really my favorite part of blogging (or how I measure success), but it’s impossible to deny that they are part of the game. On one hand I welcome freebies (that fit my style) because I went from being a full-time student and part-time cashier who didn’t have much disposable income, to a freelancer who similarly doesn’t have that much disposable income. Receiving pieces from shops and designers I admire allows me to expand my wardrobe when I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to. Of course the downside is sometimes blogging makes bloggers (and non-bloggers who follow people online) feel that they constantly need new things. You can feel pushed to not repeat clothes and accept things that don’t fit your style because at least they’re new content. It pushes everyone towards getting a lot of things they don’t need. More is more, but more is not always best.
5. Blogging can make you feel like you need to change your style to stay relevant. At first when you start blogging and have a distinct style it’s great; you stand out from the crowd and you really know what you like. But eventually blogging about that style for several years means people will start to ask, “when are you going to start dressing or doing something different?” Which makes sense from a consumer standpoint; people tune in for something fresh and if you don’t change things up then they get bored. But it doesn’t make sense from a personal style standpoint—if you know what you like, have a distinct perspective, then that's really the whole point. Changing your style to stay interesting would mean you no longer have personal style. I wouldn’t stay I “stood out” for my unique style at any point, but I would say my style has been pretty consistent from the beginning. When I moved to Northern Ireland last year a few people commented that they were surprised my outfits were basically the same styles as what I wore in the states. But I don’t know why people thought moving (or even getting married or getting older) would drastically and suddenly change my style; I certainly never claimed it would! Again I can understand why people would like to see something new, unfortunately I can’t promise that. To me it only makes sense to continue wearing clothes I like and feel good in. My style might go through micro changes, but ultimately I’d be surprised if the mainstays of my style (full skirts, winged eyeliner, oxfords, random/novelty purses, etc) would ever really change…or at least not anytime soon. I’m open to the possibility of outgrowing my silly purses and winged eyeliner; the point isn’t I refuse to change but rather I’m going to let that change happen organically when I actually feel drawn to other things rather than force things in order to stay relevant or hip.
6. Blogging makes you bolder. This might relate to how blogging helped me develop my personal style, but in addition to helping me figure out what I liked it gave me courage to wear the clothes I wanted to. As I mentioned above fashion magazines weren’t very relatable since the people in magazines lived very different lives from me, but through blogging and following other personal style bloggers in similarly rural locations I realized I didn’t have to be a model stomping the streets of New York or Paris to wear what I wanted to. And as I started to get comments on my posts it made the side-eye I sometimes received in “real life” more bearable. Like, “go head and whisper about my funny clothes, six people online said they liked this dress!” Full disclosure: the whispering could be about anything and only perceived as judgment through self-consciousness and paranoia. The point isn’t people would whisper/look, but that even if I perceived judgement I didn’t let it bother me like it might have if I had stayed offline in my little shy shell. And that’s my main hope when people read my blog; that through being myself and wearing what I like, other people feel also feel inspired to dress in a way that inspires them no matter where they live or what they look like. With or without blogs I hope everyone can figure out a style that makes them feel good as they go about living their lives.