In October of 2013, newly graduated from college and frustratingly unemployed, I fulfilled a major dream of mine simply by clicking “Sign Up” on wordpress.com: I had become a blogger.
In its early days, my blog was anything but fashion. Eager to begin a freelance career but armed with only subpar clips from a college freelance gig, I meant my blog to showcase my writing skills. I wrote about lifestyle and social issues, and I wrote a lot of book reviews, thinking that I had read so many books in my life; I may as well put my English degree to good use. It wasn’t doing anything else at the moment.
By November, I was taking outfit photos. Since 2009 or perhaps even earlier, I had loved the idea of being a fashion blogger. Their photos were just one notch below glossy, they had status, style, sass. I loved fashion and had always yearned for an outlet to express my sense of personal style, and in a fashion blog I had found it.
Naive and idealistic, I put together outfits from clothes I had already, asked my parents and sisters to take snaps of me out in the snow or on really cold days, in front of our Christmas tree. I used skills from an old photography job to edit them, and I slowly built up an audience doing what I love: writing.
Now, I write about everything. My blog is fashion, style, photography, travel, and a whole lot of books. It’s a weird little place, but I love it. And it comes with perks: Broadway tickets, free clothes, some digital galleys of new book releases, and on one occasion, even a selfie stick. It’s been nearly two years, and I love being a blogger. Not only has it given me writing opportunities and a freelance career, but it’s also a whole business in and of itself, my little corner of the world.
And recently, it’s given me a distinction I never thought I’d have, however modest it may seem. I’m now one of the ranks—a fashion blogger.
I first saw the benefits of this distinction earlier this year, during February’s New York Fashion Week. I was invited to a small blogger party thrown by a mid-range online clothing retailer. The party, located in midtown Manhattan, was chock full of fashion bloggers armed with their Canons (as I was), well-heeled, -coiffed, and -spoken, networking and receiving whole tote bags filled with free stuff. Cosmetics were handed out, services such as manicures and makeup application were offered, and one item of clothing from the site’s new line was given to each attendee (that you could pick yourself). It was like blogger heaven.
Because this was the first time I had ever been anywhere like this, for weeks I was excited to go. I agonized over my outfit and when I got there, I inevitably felt under-dressed. Everyone else seemed so much more glamorous than I did. Their shoes were cooler, their outfits were better styled, and they were way more confident. I was just wandering around, with a new friend by my side, trying to figure out if they had made some kind of mistake inviting me. I took all of the things, and left with all of my swag, feeling on top of the world.
I was invited again for this season’s NYFW, and again I went. Instead of thinking about an outfit for weeks, I threw on something I just put together: an all-black ensemble with a pair of Jeffrey Campbell sandals, a boho necklace and a burgundy felt hat. This time, the event seemed run of the mill, and I took some samples of things, thinking I probably wouldn’t use them.
I got my nails done a shiny nude color, and thought that I was perfectly following that “naked manicure” trend I had seen so much of. I took a photo of the attendees at the party and sent it to a friend, who remarked that there were so many indoor hats. He asked me, “Are you wearing a hat?” And I said yes. Yes I was.
While I was online to get a manicure, a young fashion designer from LA approached me with her friend and her photographer. She told me she loved my outfit and asked to take my picture. I obliged. I chatted with her for a bit and then thought how comfortable I felt in this room—more comfortable among other, fashionable, shiny fashion bloggers than I ever had before. It seemed like I fit in.
I wore the same hats as the confident fashion bloggers wore. I knew the trends, and I wore them perfectly. I had colored hair. I had the right shoes. I had even achieved that vague, rather bored expression (this was unmanufactured—I was a little bored, hungry, and eager to be home in pajamas on this rainy night). And I realized that I fit in because I was unconsciously following a script that all of us fashion bloggers were. The thought made me slightly uncomfortable.
This feeling was driven home to me when I spotted one girl who seemed like she stuck out from this walking Lookbook app. She wore jeans and a simple, albeit fashionable, top. She wore classic shoes, beautiful but decidedly not trendy. And she had clipped her unhighlighted hair back from her face with a clip that was missing two teeth. I instantly smiled when I saw her; she seemed unpolished, devoid of signature red lipstick, as if she was just being herself. She was the exception in this room.
I love fashion, and I adore personal style even more. I shamelessly love trends, and I buy fast fashion because of it. I will proudly wear my felt hat and I love boho style. But was I conforming? Were we all conforming, in the name of expressing personality and unique style?
People start blogs presumably because they have something to say, a personality to express. I love that aspect of blogging. I love that I can write and talk about the things I love, from the perfect fall boot to 19th century Romantic poetry. Bloggers, like myself, pride ourselves on expressing individuality. Unfortunately, I think that’s one trend that’s declining in favor of “looking the part.”
I’d done it. I’d looked the part by dressing a certain way. I did like the things I wore, but I styled these items “the way a fashion blogger would.” I wanted to fit in, instead of standing out. Does that negate my intentions—to express myself? Are any of us really innovating? Or are we just perpetuating trends and styles that other people have begun?
I don’t know, but I do know that now I’m a little bit more conscious of the pressure I’ve felt to conform to this world. And I want to make a concerted effort to care less about fitting in, and making more efforts to truly show my personality through style, book choices, topic ideas, even my blog’s design.
New York Fashion Week, at its heart, is about innovation in design and is a gigantic walking museum exhibition. I’d like to take those base ideas and apply them to my own little business, to make sure I’m actually, honestly, expressing my style. Otherwise, I’m just one of the crowd.