My little blog was featured in the Scotsman (the biggest Scottish newspaper) last week as a case study for a feature on fashion and food bloggers looking at the reasons why people have these blogs and why they are so popular.
The article was called The Online Stepford Wives. I found the Stepford Wives angle a little odd, I can kind of see it in that fashion and food blogging is about domestic things, about taking care of one’s appearance and making lovely food, but that’s about the end of it. Food bloggers are not usually also fashion bloggers and vice versa. Surely the Stepford Wives idea is all about (well-groomed) conformity and pleasing men, whereas fashion blogging is a celebration of creativity and individuality (or at least, individuality in uniformity) and the vast majority of fashion bloggers and blog readers are women.
Once it got past the Stepford wives comparison, the article was actually an interesting exploration of the fashion blogging phenomenon from a non-blogger perspective. I was particularly interested in the food blogger’s comments that her blog started being less ‘her space’ and more about her readers. This is not something I’ve felt myself, but I can completely see how it happens.
I was pleasantly surprised by my own case study, which is actually entirely my own words, just shortened a little. In the interest of completeneness, I am reproducing my answers to the journalist’s questions below, so you can see for yourself.
if you’re a blogger yourself, what your answers to these questions would be? Do you agree with me, or are you more negative? If you’re a reader without a blog, what do you think?
1. What inspired you to start your blog?
I originally got into taking pictures of my outfits via the wardrobe remix (WR) group on flickr, in which people post pictures of the outfts they’ve been wearing, with an emphasis on ‘remixing’, i.e. combining your existing clothes into new combination, rather than necessarily buying new things. It has a great sense of community, and people give each other positive comments. I’ve been a member of since 2007, after seeing all the other amazing dressers, I felt like I wanted to contribute to the community.
I started the blog at the very end of 2008. I had originally meant for it to be quite knitting-focused, to promote my etsy shop (where I sell handknit accessories), but the shop never really took off at the time and I quickly found that I enjoyed posting about a variety of things that I’m interested in as well as the knitting. I am constantly inspired by all the amazing things I find on the web and in the blogs I read, and the blogosphere community pushes me to develop my style and my ideas.
2. What made you want to post pics of your outfits?
It made sense for me to incorporate the outfit pictures into my blog, since I was taking them anyway because of WR. The blog was originally just an extension of my flickr activity (I was already very active on flickr), although it’s now gone beyond that.
3. How much thought do you have to put into each outfit before you are blog-ready?
I only post about a couple of outfits most weeks, so I do put quite a lot of thought into the outfits I post. I make sure the outfits are interesting enough to post, and make sure I haven’t worn that particular combination before. I particularly enjoy putting together unusual colour combinations – something bright, maybe a bit unexpected and surprising to some people. I also like to promote sustainable clothing by wearing a lot of things that come from charity shops or vintage shops, and to show that you can look great without spending a lot of money.
I do wear a lot of outfits that are nice, but more classic and not particularly interesting (mainly for work), but I don’t post these on the internet, because there are so many people wearing similar clothes everywhere, that I don’t really think they need to be documented.
In the blogs I visit, I prefer bloggers who have a strong sense of personal style and express themselves through interesting outfits, and I try to do the same for my blog. I tend to think about it what I’ll be wearing while I do other things though, its not like I sit down and write down what I will wear the next week or anything.
4. How does it feel to have people comment on what you wear?
The positive comments are a big part of what keeps me going with both WR and the blog. I feel like I keep saying this over and over again, but the sense of community you get is really the thing that makes it all worthwhile. I feel flattered that people like my style of course, and it’s particularly nice coming from people who share my interest in sustainable/second hand/thrifted clothing or slightly off beat personal style. It’s nice that my efforts at dressing interestingly without spending a lot of money are appreciated.
5. Do negative comments hurt your feelings?
I don’t think I’ve ever got negative comments on the blog actually. In the part of the fashion blogosphere I’m in, it’s an unwritten rule that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything, unless it’s specificallly asked for. I don’t invite critical feedback on my outfits, because if outfits don’t work (and quite often they don’t) I notice it anyway, through my interaction in the ‘real world’. I also don’t participate in personal style websites where people are asked to rate your outfits, because I don’t think it should be a competition who looks ‘best’. It should be about expressing yourself and celebrating creativity and difference. Style is such a subjective thing anyway, and if people don’t like what I wear, they can just click away.
6. How does it feel to show your wardrobe to the world?
I don’t think I have anything to add that i haven’t already covered above – it’s nice to get positive feedback from everyone out there and feel part of a community. And it’s actually not really that I share my wardrobe with the world – only the part of the world that reads fashion blogs, so these are people that already ‘get it’.
It can actually be difficult to explain the concept of outfit posts and fashion blogging to people who don’t know about it. It’s become so normal to me, but I do appreciate it can seem little weird (and self obsessed) to other people. I don’t really mention the blog to friends and family unless they ask me about it.
7. What do you get back from blogging?
The main I get from blogging is the inspiration from all the other bloggers and found out about some really interesting things I would never have otherwise. I’ve ‘met’ so many people from all around the world that I feel like I know, although I’ve never met them face to face. This interaction is the main thing.
Another thing is that blogging has allowed me to work out what I like and why I like it and to develop my personal style and aesthetic, not only in fashion, but also art and design, photography etc.
I enjoy learning new skills and growing a blog’s readership is a great way of teaching yourself photography, photoshop, writing, basic graphic design, html and many other things. It’s a challenge to make my blog better and I’ve already developed a lot since I first started.
Blogging about fashion, craft and design is also a bit of a lighthearted antidote to my day job, which I really enjoy but can be quite serious. Blogging can be quite time consuming, but no more so than following the football closely, or having an avid interest in art house cinema for example. It’s my hobby and it never feels like work. If it did I would stop.