Fashion bloggers also bleed
An usual post today reflecting my current mood I suspect, as I am feeling rather cynical at the moment. And the main 'fashion' topic that has been on my mind lately is about what it means to be a fashion blogger and why most of the clichés conveyed about fashion bloggers are generally just myths that deserved to be debunked...
Myth number 1 - Fashion blogging is cool.
Wrong. Most of us just live very normal schizophrenic lives, suffer from the same family disorders and frustrations at work, feel like we have nothing to wear on a daily basis. But we also spend way too much time taking selfies (a word coined because of the very existence of fashion bloggers I believe) or silly flatlays with worn out roses, matcha teas and it-seasonal-bags. We look like absolute nut cases in the streets as we either take pictures in front of everybody else or scroll down through our Instagram feed (and bump into many baffled and angry people in the streets) before we get home because our husbands will at best taking the mick out of us for ‘putting hearts’ on strangers’ pictures, at worst give us an ultimatum because this craziness has got to stop. We get frustrated about very important things like getting the wrong filter (or photo margins). We panic when we have a signal failure and lose track of where we were in our feed. We get depressed (and therefore buy more clothes on line) when we hit a low(er) phase in terms of our blog 'traffic' (and obviously we also become familiar with stupid useless jargon). We agonise over why this blogger has got so much more likes and followers when nothing she wears you would actually buy. Fashion blogging is not cool and it actually comes with some pretty severe side effects and downsides, like becoming judgemental (as demonstrated above towards other bloggers who like you are just trying their best), or hearing your 5 year old say ‘mum you never have time for me because you’re always at work, taking pictures or writing on your blog’. True story. No comment.
Myth number 2 - Fashion bloggers never pay a dime for their clothes.
Wrong. That may be true for the most successful among us who started ages ago and/or have the figure of a 20 year old fashion model who has not eaten in the last 5 years. But these only (and reassuringly) represent a handful of us. Lucky them (although I think I would rather eat and drink). Most of us actually pay for our clothes and have not even gone into fashion blogging in order to get any such presents. We just do it because we’re passionate about style and fashion, because this is our crazy personal escape from the daily routine.
Occasionally, we do get nice gestures from certain brands. And sometimes it happens to be the exact sort of brand you would want / already wear and when that's the case it feels pretty amazing, mostly because of the recognition from a brand you like telling you that you fit their profile (rather than the feeling of getting something for free actually). But most of the time, when we do get approached, it’s from random brands reaching out so that you will promote their anti-ageing cream made of cutting edge chemicals that will revolutionise your life and that of your followers (yeah, right), or to get you to post pictures of a new line of bed mattresses (yes you heard right).
Myth number 3 - Fashion blogging is easy.
Yes and no. Creating a website is very easy these days. But there are some basic rules worth being aware of though. And I fell into every single beginners' pitfall when I started. Your domain name is important, not just because these days it’s next to impossible to find some catchy name that’s not already in use. But also because it matters if you want people to be able to find you. I initially chose a domain with an é in it, how little did I know that this would make it next to impossible for people to find my blog! Including for those who genuinely wanted to read it (my family of course). Writing about the things you care about can also be straight forward but posting a new article does not necessarily mean it is going to be read. Like with your domain name, there are tons of stupid things that will influence how much impact you have: How many articles have already been published on similar topics, your readability (grrr) assessment (mine is always shit because my sentences are too long, my choice of words sometimes inappropriate (ergo), and English not my mother tongue). And then there is also the research, finding interesting information about certain trends, cool looks that you feel will provide inspiration to your readers, the best and/or cheapest options on the market etc.
But I guess an even bigger issue revolves around balancing frequency and content. You want / need to publish posts on a regular basis in order for people not to lose interest in what you have to say but more often than not, life gets in the way. Doing this properly, like anything, takes time. But sometimes work (your actual paid work) will occupy most of your mind and when you get home in the evening there isn’t an ounce of creativity left in you. Sometimes family comes first. Seeing you spend your Saturdays and Sundays online in front of your laptop is not necessarily what they consider to be ‘quality time’. And no matter how excited you may be about a new style you’re keen to share, there is nothing more rewarding than a weekend well spent with your loved ones. Finally, there is the question of the photographs. I am lucky enough to have a professional photographer at home. So if and when I do need proper pictures, I only have to ask (nicely). But that’s pretty uncommon and a number of us just end up becoming photographers ourselves, wandering around the streets with tripods doing weird poses and becoming experts of timers, or we just use amateur photos that our relatives (including our own kids) reluctantly accept to take.
Myth number 4 - Fashion bloggers always look good.
So not true. And it’s actually visible on my Instagram feed where I have tried to commit to sharing my styles on a daily basis and there are quite a few hit and miss… And even if your followers are generally kind enough to be supportive no matter what, the hardest truth comes from those at home. How many times have I heard my husband say: ‘you can’t possibly walk out of the house dressed this way?!’. Fashion bloggers tend to adopt this casual cool look (and when they're French it also involves many leopard accessories, and lots of gold layered bangles).
Well first, for a midlife full time working mum like myself that’s quite simply a no go most of the time. Those who follow me on a regular basis will know that I enjoy pushing the boundaries of workwear appropriateness having worn hoodies to the office, very short shorts, jeans most days and trainers too. But there is a limit to what I can allow myself to indulge in if I actually want to keep my job! Just today I was asked if I was going boxing and if I had stolen my trousers from some ninja... And second, there is the whole ‘I may look cool but do I actually look good?’. My husband’s preferred look could be summed up as ‘chic and sexy’. So forget about boyfriend shirts, boyfriend jeans, forget about boyfriend everything. That may be cool but apparently not particularly sexy. I would actually disagree with that assessment. Oversized shirts can be very sexy in my view. But anyway he does have a point (sometimes). I have become more interested in being a cutting edge street stylist wannabe than I am in looking good, am more interested in looking slim rather than feminine. It’s all very shallow but also ironically I probably no longer wear the styles that suit me best. But I don’t care because I look cool anyway, right?
Myth number 5 - Fashion bloggers are nice people.
Partly true. When I went into blogging, over a year ago, I was a naïve young starter (meaning I was totally deluded and clueless) and I actually thought I would reach out to all those bloggers I enjoyed following to say ‘hello, I am out there, crazy about your stuff and would love some helpful guidance from someone of your experience as I am just embarking on this adventure’. I won’t name names of course but needless to say this was a rather disheartening and painful initiative. Not a single answer. Zero. Nada. Rien. And it's not like I was trying to use their limelight as all my messages were private. I am sure they were very busy... It made me feel like a usurper and really put into question my whole motivation. This world may be all gorgeous lipstick smiles on the surface but it’s a battle of sharp nails in reality.
Now that’s not to say all fashion bloggers and social influencers are like that. I met many lovely, incredible ladies who I enjoy very much keeping in touch with on Instagram, and when times allow, catching up on their latest blog posts. To name the few I am most in contact with and share the love: Abbie and her amazing mum travel blog from Bikinis and Bibs, Bean and her very inspired small talk on Small Town Threads, Joanna and her amazing boho dresses (and passion for Champagne) from LoveStyle40, Lotte and her flair for interior design on Yes Please Blog, Sarah and her words of wisdom (need to read her 'what made me smile' more often considering how cynical I tend to be) on My City My London, Michelle and her great tips on how to buy more for less (I should try that more!) on Retro Chic Mama, The gorgeous Hazel who just recently started blogging too on A Fashion Addict Style, Lexi and her daily dose of eccentricity from Welcome to Lexiland… And on Instagram of course, Michelle from @gingernparsley (Michelle who cooks amazingly, if you’re London based and never managed to put together a proper meal, check her out), Sarah from @sep19europhile (Sarah, who I don’t think has ever missed any of my posts), Dana and her very kind heart, her colourful life, her lovely red shoes and gorgeous smile from @dana_andtheredshoes, Lisa who makes me laugh a lot, and also makes me feel much better about all my swearing and drinking from @thelittlepeopleandme, Jenny and her incredible enthusiasm (never seen someone smile so much, it's refreshing) from @scandinavianstyleblog, Kitty and her uber stylish life from @kitskool (she also has an incredible smile), @rue_des_petits and her perfectly catered selection of all things cute for kids, and her amazing pics of Lisbon. Love you guys! And there are many, many more…
Ultimate Myth - Fashion blogging is vane.
Yes and no. Of course in the grand scheme of things who cares what you’re wearing and how you’re wearing it? We’re all going to die and that’s not going to be a very stylish experience (I told you am feeling rather cynical today). But fashion does make us smile when we feel good about what we are wearing, it makes us laugh when we realise our fashion faux pas, it protects us when we need to shy away from others, it puts us forward when we want to stand out. Fashion also creates unexpected bonds. These may all start from tiny anonymous squares but there is nothing stopping us from pushing those boundaries. I have met so many inspiring ladies along this journey. And those of us who realise a bit late in life they had some sleeping creativity in them waiting to be unleashed, it only takes a wardrobe to express and reinvent ourselves. Fashion truly is "the attempt to realize art in living forms and social intercourse." (Francis Bacon).
So maybe not so vane or cynical after all. Let’s keep calm and carry on blogging!