If you are a person who posts outfits to a blog – and especially if you make money off of said blog – here are some of the things that are generally expected of you:
• That you be normal and approachable, but also look wrinkle-free, perfectly lit, and impeccable in every single image. (Without ever using Photoshop.)
• That you avoid wearing the same things over and over again, but also avoid spending lots of money acquiring new things or wearing too many items that were sent to you for free.
• That your clothes fit perfectly at all times even though you are subject to bloating, weight gain and loss, and unexpected dryer shrinkage just like everyone else.
• That you be unashamed of your curves and bulges and natural disproportionality, but also that your figure be perfectly balanced and traditionally flattered at all times and by all outfits.
• That every outfit you post be unique and inspirational, but also re-creatable and accessible. Normal but not boring, innovative but not weird.
• And, above all, that you be receptive to all forms of input and critique of your personal style, yet also remain “authentic” to your own style and sense of self.
These are not accusations being leveled at you as an individual, but rather observations gleaned from years of reading comments, participating in communities, and having discussions with fellow bloggers. You may not think or say these things yourself, and you may not see them everywhere you look and read. But they are being thought and said. Constantly.
Much has been written about authenticity or lack thereof in style and lifestyle blogs, and I am loathe to re-hash that body of rhetoric here. But let me say this: A blog is a tiny window into a single room in someone’s life. If you expect to see the entirety of that person through that tiny window into that single room, your expectations are unreasonable.
This blog is now entering its eighth year. It has been through many changes and so have I. And after all these years of pouring my time and energy and passion into this website, I have become quite weary of the bizarrely contradictory expectations laid at my feet, and at the feet of all bloggers who post outfits.
Like all people, I am influenced by the comments and critiques I receive. I am, after all, a person – something I always feel ridiculous writing, but also something that seems to be frequently forgotten or overlooked. For a long time, I heard readers saying that they loved how I wore color and how boldly I combined various shades. I have enjoyed wearing and playing with color for years, so I took this tidbit and ran with it. To extremes at times.
When I quit my day job and became self-employed three years ago, I heard readers saying that they wouldn’t be able to relate to me anymore since I could suddenly wear whatever I wanted. I enjoyed dressing up every day and wanted to be relatable, so I made sure to keep wearing dresses and heels and blazers and office-worthy attire.
And now? Now, friends, I need a change. Over the past year, my work has become much more active and mobile, so the high heels are no longer practical. And somehow those heels have become more irritating or I’ve become more sensitive, because these days I am in flats nearly all the time. Although I will always dress up for speaking engagements and press appearances, I do not work a regular office job and therefore do not need to wear office-friendly attire on a daily basis. Instead, I am gravitating towards denim, neutrals, leather, and all things casual rocker. It’s a facet of my personal style that has always been present, but now I find myself wanting to let it dominate.
I have donated or sold more than a third of my wardrobe this summer as I’ve moved toward a revised aesthetic. I’ve picked up a few new pieces that will fill in gaps, but am relieved to have downsized somewhat. Especially since I want my new look to be more pared-down and simple. And although badass, rocker-y looks aren’t unfamiliar to me I’ve never attempted to focus on this style alone. So I’m sure I’ll put together some weird outfits with a few items that have been held over from my more formal, retro looks as I experiment. I’m sure it’ll take some time to find my groove. I’m sure this will be a rocky, uneven, fits-and-starts learning experience.
And I’m also sure that some of you will miss me wearing gobs of color. Some of you will find my outfits un-relatable. Some of you will feel like I’m not highlighting the “best” aspects of my figure as much as I used to. Some of you will get bored. But it dawned on me recently that I was no longer dressing for myself. I constantly encourage all of you to wear what makes you happy, but I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I was wearing stuff that I thought would make YOU happy … but that no longer aligned with my own dressing desires.
So I’ll still do the occasional retro frock and heels, trot out the full skirts and cardigans once in a while. But I may style them differently. And overall, you can expect me to look considerably more muted, casual, and comfortable. And just so you’re warned: I may wear the same things over and over because I want to make the most of my wardrobe. I may look wrinkly because I actually wear the outfits I photograph, and worn clothes don’t look freshly pressed. I may wear things that look too tight or loose to you because my weight fluctuates and sometimes I’m not acutely aware of those changes. (See above re: personhood.) I may wear outfits that fail to balance my figure or conform to traditional flattery maxims because I am more focused on feeling good than looking tall and thin and balanced. I may wear things that you hate or don’t understand or would never in a million years wear yourself.
And I hope that you’ll stick around because I have worked hard to make this blog much, much more than a chronicle of my style, my outfits, my looks. I have worked hard to make this a space for questions and answers and exploration and sharing. I post outfits because, as a reader, I draw inspiration from the outfits of other bloggers, and because I know it helps to have a visual to go with a voice. But I have worked hard to create a blog that isn’t all about me. And since many of you have told me over the years that you don’t like or get most of my outfits, but still love and value my advice and writing – something that humbles and honors me every time I hear it – I hope you’ll stick around through this change. If you do, you’ll get to see a conscious, active evolution of personal style.
And if you don’t? I completely respect that and I wish you well. But knowing what I know now, I need to focus less on conforming to expectations and focus more on being who I actually am.
Originally posted 2014-09-08 06:29:43.