Friend Friday – negative blogging

by Franca on 1 October 2010

America's Worst Dressed

I’m starting a new series! I’ve joined Friend Friday over on Modly Chic. The idea is that there’s a set of questions and a number of bloggers answer it every week and then you can compare and contrast. I’m not sure I’ll be doing it every week, as the questions don’t come out til Wednesday (which may mean Thursday for me because of time difference between here and the US, where most of the others are based) but I will try. You guys seem to enjoy my arguments and musings posts, and I’m thinking of this basically as a low-level version of that, the structure is obviously dictated by the questions, and I’m going to just leave these as stream of consciousness type things, and not spend so much time pruning the writing. I often spend days and weeks on my arguments posts so this will teach me to be faster!

America's Worst Dressed

This weeks topic is about negative fashion blogging, basically slagging off/citiquing someone’s outfit. Like an online version of what heat magazine does with celebrities but with either fashion bloggers or real people snapped in the street as the subjects.

I haven’t immersed myself hugely in this area, and haven’t come across any of the sites that take pictures of strangers with hidden cameras. Of the ones that use photos already on the internet, there’s Fashion Bloggers Why? and Lolbook.nu and there used to be a tumblr site called Wardrobe Rejects, which took photos from the wardrobe remix pool on flickr and which I have the ‘honour’ of having been ‘featured’ on, but is now taken down. So I have some first hand experience!

So anyway, on with the questions:

1. Do you post pictures on your blog, or would you if the opportunity
came along, of people with poor fashion//beauty sense?

I don’t, and I wouldn’t. I think style is a completely subjective thing, there is no right or wrong. Who is anyone to say that they are the arbiter of style? I think there’s a place in the online world for every sort of style, it just needs to find it’s niche. For any outfit, someone will like it and someone will hate it. Fact!

I consider myself to be a vaguely weird/creative/unusual dresser and I like to take risks. Sometimes when you take risks it doesn’t work out and you look stupid. Happens to me all the time. And you know it yourself when it doesn’t work from the reactions of people in real life and you move on and try something else. You don’t need someone going on about it! It’s still a better thing to have tried something different, and to have failed than to just wear safe flattering things over and over again, in my opinion. I love other people wearing silly things! The world needs to be more adventurous! Highlighting times when someone took a risk and it didn’t work just kills that sense of adventure.

Also doing these kind of posts just doesn’t sound very fun! I like being positive and gushy about things and telling the world about what I love. I don’t want to spend any time actually actively looking for things that I don’t like. Life’s too short! If I come across an outfit I don’t like, I just click away and forget about it.

The Hippie And The Frump

2. Do you read any blogs that highlight the bad? Why?

I don’t. I did have one afternoon bingeing on Look at this f***ng hipster, and lolbook.nu, which is actually really sweet and gentle in its piss taking. Both of those were like a year ago though, and I haven’t been back since (except just now, to research this post). I’m just not particularly interested, for the same reasons that I wouldn’t post this kind of thing myself.

Another reason is that my taste is obviously just so different from most people’s and I often don’t agree with what people are saying makes a good outfit. When I flick through heat-style magazines (which I don’t buy, but do like looking at), I am always drawn to the fashion ‘don’ts’. Particularly if that fashion don’t is from Paloma Faith, who constantly crops up on these kind of things. Heat magazine really don’t rate her aparently, but I adore her. Let me rephrase that. I don’t adore her – I find her music boring and it really annoys me that she pretends to be stupid when she clearly isn’t – but I do adore her outfits. Vintage style plus super bright colours? Absolutely! The outfits might be ludicrous, but mostly they’re ludicrous-genius! That’s the kind of thing I would wear if I was in the public eye regularly and had a huge wardrobe budget. And then I’d be there in the magazines with a big red cross next to my picture.

America's Worst Dressed, 1970

3. Should these bloggers get permission to post the pictures from the
subject in the same way the street-style blogs do?

On these blogs that take pictures of people in the street without them knowing, yes, definitely. Though obviously then noone would give permission, and the blog wouldn’t exist, that’s why they take secret pictures in the first place. But noone has the right to do that and I’m surprised that it isn’t against some law.

I am slightly more relaxed about blogs using pictures that have already been uploaded onto a blog/wardroberemix/weardrobe/lookbook. It’s still good form to tell people first, and definitely if you ask for your photo to be taken down, that should be done, immediately, but you do have to expect it happen to some extent. If you let people blog your photos on flickr, then you have to be prepared that someone will go ahead and do that. I’m not AT ALL saying it’s right, but I also don’t think it’s as huge an infringement on privacy as some people seem to think. If you’re a fashion blogger, you are putting yourself ‘out there’ and you have to accept that you can’t control completely what happens to your pictures. Obviously its not a very nice situation to be in, but at the end of the day it’s just some person on a computer who doesn’t know you at all and who you will never meet, and it doesn’t really matter. Rise above it. Block the person, get your picture taken down, move on

When my photo appeared on wardrobe rejects, it annoyed me a bit but mainly just amused me. Mostly this had to do with the fact that the girl though that the colours in the top and and the tights in this outfit didn’t match. Oh yes indeed! When one of my explicit fashion rules is ‘any colour goes with any colour’! I obviously would have felt much worse if her criticism had been along the lines of me being fat and spotty or something (she did say some proper horrible stuff about others), but I like to think I could still have dealt with it in a reasonably calm manner.

America's Worst Dressed, 1970

4. As human beings we are fascinated with disasters – of all sorts – why do you think that is? How to the blogs/websites that highlight the negative thrive?

My guess is that it makes people feel better about themselves to see others fail. I think that’s why the celebrity dos and don’ts took off, because people were told to idolise these hollywood actors and it was then nice for people to see them look tired and a bit crap because that made them more human, and people realise they’re ‘just like us’. It’s a flipside to being jealous of their amazing lives I guess. And things like heat do act as a sort of social glue, something to talk about. And then people got used to the idea of slagging people’s clothes off and it crossed over to the blogs and non-celebrities. And maybe there is an element of education, so that you learn from what doesn’t work and avoid it yourself? Probably not though.

America's Worst Dressed

5. For many, fashion is subjective. Do you think, there can be
anything that is objectively bad in the fashion world?

No, not really. Since fashion is obviously a social thing, I think there are things that very few people in the world RIGHT NOW would think looked good, and they might be considered something approaching ‘objectively’ bad. But then, all it takes is someone really cool to come along and start wearing that thing, maybe in an ironic way, and then other cool people pick it up, and hey, it’s a trend! Any horrible (to me) item of clothing I can imagine, I can also imagine ‘working’ on someone at some point.

Ahem, a huge long rant! Did you enjoy this post? Will I carry on doing them? any thoughts on the subject?

the photos are ‘America’s worst dressed’, 1970! via glen h.

{ 13 comments }

Retro Chick October 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I've never looked at any of these kind of sites before.

But now you have me trawling lolbook. I am blaming you if I turn into a nasty blogger!

poet October 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Dieser "Friend Friday" schaut nach einer guten Idee aus; ich glaube, ich möchte da mitmachen!

Zum Thema "negative blogging": Ich versuche ja auch immer, die Dinge und Leute positiv zu sehen und keine harschen Urteile zu fällen. Andere Leute, andere Stile, und ein Hurra für die Diversität. Wer mir allerdings immer sehr missfällt und in seiner grellen Aufmerksamkeits-Heischerei auf die Nerven geht, das sind diejenigen, welche ohne irgendeinen erkennbaren Plan und Stil wild Klamotten durcheinanderklatschen und sich in ihrer Begeisterung für dieselben ausschließlich auf deren Markennamen berufen… Man kann das Konzept von "Zusammenpassen" sowohl farblich als auch stilistisch sehr weit dehnen, und ich würdige die Anstrengung, das getan zu haben, wenn dann etwas Überraschendes, Kreatives herauskommt, aber wenn noch nicht mal der Versuch erkennbar ist, wundere ich mich sehr :) Dieser Mensch auf "Fashion Bloggers Why?" hat ja besonders das Mädchen von "Sea of Shoes" auf dem Kieker, und von der denke ich halt auch, sie ist eigentlich eine hübsche, teure Anziehpuppe für ihre Mama. Aber da kann jeder anderer Meinung sein, und solange solche Leute mich in Ruhe lassen, lasse ich sie auch in Ruhe…

Grüße,
die Poetin

sacramento October 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I do agree with you 100%, and I love your black and white photos.
Have a super weekend.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Terri October 2, 2010 at 12:36 am

Yes, do carry on. Yours is the second version of these answers I've read…and they are somewhat different that the first blogger's answers. You reminded me of a feature I once loved in my teen fashion mags of the do's/don'ts. Those I recall weren't of celebrities…

Also, I am a baby blogger and I realized in reading your post that I've been snapping photos for an upcoming blog that I possibly shouldn't use. You may have helped me avoid an ethical problem!

Pull Your Socks Up! October 2, 2010 at 5:45 am

I really enjoyed reading this post and think you should definitely do it again. If this is the quality of posts for the Modly Chic blog, I'll check it out frequently. And the anti-bloggers of course;) xo

kellyroy68 October 2, 2010 at 7:01 am

My motto for life is what you give is what you get. Besides why bother so much about other peoples stylistic choices only to trash them?
I never waste my time on being negative.So,I will go on by saying that I like your blog and your experimenting with colours and that you always come up with some fresh combination!!!

Franca October 2, 2010 at 9:45 am

thanks guys! I was a bit worried noone was interested or I'd inadvertently offended someone because I got no comments at all for like 4 hours after this was posted. I do enjoy writing about my opinions, so I will carry on.

Poetin – Ja, die Sea of Shoes scheint ganz schoen vielen Leuten auf die nerven zu gehen! Mir wuerde sie wohl auch, so wie sich das anhoert, deswegen habe ich mir den Blog auch extra noch nie angeschaut.

tess October 2, 2010 at 10:42 am

Great post, really through provoking even though I agree with your opinions for the most part. Fashion rules are boring and inevitably some hipster celebrity (like Chloe Sevigny) will break them soon enough and then it will be cool again so why hypocritically complain now when you could be wearing it in a few years anyway? Also there's enough negativity in the world already, so we don't need people picking on fashion bloggers, one of the few safe all female environments. Lolbook.nu (which I just looked at after your post) is just tacky and not that funny, oh well. To each her/his own, but this is not my own.

tess October 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

And yes, I did get both of your comments (blogger pulls that "this comment is too long" crap all the time, but usually it works)

Your advice was probably the most helpful from those comments so far. I guess I will continue to be open with the girls I meet, but maybe less aggressive with the guys. Out of curiosity, does inviting a guy out to do something alone look like a date here? The only reason why I've thought about doing so is because the guy I have a mild crush on is someone I only see once a week and that seems to be a really slow way to get a friendship or relationship going. I'd like to see him more if possible to see if we really click, but I'm not really in the right group of people yet to get invited out to parties where he'd be, so I'm somewhat stuck between just waiting it out or being really aggressive.

WendyB October 8, 2010 at 2:58 am

I don't do this kind of blogging and I'm finished with reading it. (I wrote about that here recently http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2010/08/ossie-clark-is-fugging-fabulous/ ). It's easy to sit at home in your sweats making yourself feel better about your life by savaging other people. It's not like I love everything people wear — far from it — but I don't consider it my job to be pointing that out to them.

Shopgirl October 8, 2010 at 8:54 am

Those photos are amazing! Love them :)

Veshoevius October 9, 2010 at 11:19 am

Loved your answers especially this:
"It's still a better thing to have tried something different, and to have failed than to just wear safe flattering things over and over again, in my opinion."
I also agree style is very subjective and the object of fashion is not only to be safe and flattering. It is a creative pursuit and saying things are right or wrong can limit that creativity. I loved the pictures you put on here – great find! I actually love what a lot of them are wearing!!

Vintage Vixen October 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm

What a fabulous post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word and agree with you wholeheartedly (including the bit about Paloma Faith pretending to be stupid).
I haven't encountered any of those Heat-style blogs but must admit to being a little curious now you've linked a couple.
I must say that those "worst dressed" ladies from he 1970's look fabulous and many of them dress how I aspire to especially Ira Von Furstenburg, I'd kill for that frock.
Keep up the good work,
Vix

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