it's personal


Late last year or early this year (I can't remember), I began reminding myself to take a picture of my outfit every day, with a vague idea that they would somehow coalesce into a coherent post.

Blogging has come a long way since I created my Blogspot account a decade ago. I blogged because I loved suddenly discovering a community of people who loved the power of clothing and fashion the way I did - people who took grainy pictures in front of their dusty mirrors and messy rooms and shared them just because. I grew up reading fashion magazines but had no one to share my awe for my fashion idols Calvin Klein and Helmut Lang - and certainly no one understood why I was so enamoured of the style of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Discovering certain Livejournal pages and threads on TFS brought a previously silent world to life. I blogged because I was excited to be part of this space.

From this era of bloggers, stars emerged (of them, Susie Bubble remains the most prominent and happily, true to herself), though it was nothing like what followed. Until 2010, 2011, I could look forward original and thoughtful posts on Dreamecho, Style...A Work in Progress, Nonsense in Stilettos, Childhood Flames, Le Portillon, No Signposts in the Sea, Discotheque Confusion (she's still blogging!), Capture the Castle, Bakerby, just to name a few. Their blogs had less to do with a covetable or trendy aesthetic, and more to do with the fact that style was truly a part of their personal narrative, a means of expression. I got the feeling from their outfit posts that they didn't dress well to be admired, they dressed well because they admire a well-dressed self, whatever that might be.

The professional-looking style blogs we see today come from a very different place - less fangirl, more businesswoman. They don't interest me that much though. I prefer straightforward expressions of personal style - real clothes worn by real people who understand the power of fashion (like The Chic Pragmatist, or Pret a Porter P).

Many of the bloggers I mentioned above have stopped blogging - it is hard to blog if you are holding down a full-time job or full-time studies, so it doesn't surprise me that people have moved on. It was always personal after all.

I look at these photos of myself and I think about how sometimes people think there's nothing "blog-worthy" about what they wear. This is nonsense. Life is not a magazine shoot. Style doesn't only belong in magazines. I've chosen clothing as one way of communicating to the world who I am,  and why wouldn't I post a picture of what I'm already wearing out in the real world, for all to see?

I think style blogs have a bit of a bad rep now - stimulating the appetite to shop is one key criticism. I think it's sad that the desire to dress well is often conflated with the need to acquire more, more more. I'm not sure how to undo that association, or whether it is even possible. But I do know that I continue to admire great style, and I continue to care about how I dress, and that is always going to be part of the narrative on this blog. You put it out there, because it's your point of view, and it doesn't matter what anyone else makes of it.


Archana said…
Brilliantly said ! I attempted to write the same, but got distracted along the way with the negatives.

Your outfit collage posts are my favourite. I am glad to see them back.

Your navy blue dress and brown oxfords combination in very similar proportions is what I wear everyday. Every time I see it on you, it makes me happy.
Brittany said…
I'm glad that you are still blogging. I truly enjoy the simplicity of your posts and style. Yes, many people have faded out and I think that has do with the popularity of Instagram which has been a huge transition for many bloggers as well as a money-making tool. I know that my past favs like Childhood Flames and Bonjour Tristesse don't update based on style, but alas lifestyles change.

I agree with all your sentiments and CBK has been a huge influence of the years with me as well. I wanted to ask what do you think about Maryam Nassir Zadeh clothes and shoes?
Well said! I don't read very many style blogs, partly because of the criticisms you've mentioned, but your blog is one that shows a truly personal point of view.
J. said…
The woman from No Signposts in the Sea now blogs here:
You mentioned many of the blogs that I, too, used to enjoy!
jesse.anne.o said…
Agreed, I like the nitty gritty personal blogs vs the branded blogs. I think I'm glad there's finally such a definitive split so that hopefully the former becomes its own identifiable and findable thing again, instead of feeling like the unwanted stepchild.

I was going to mention No Signposts but someone beat me to it!
Lori said…
I personally wasn't able to detect the problems with the commercial blogs from the beginning. I thought it was a welcome change: the many personal photos of excellent quality were a big attraction. I thought blogs were a good departure from women's magazines. Then I slowly realized that the photographs (most done by hired progessionals) were all there was, and even those were styled so much that they didn't bear any resemblance to real life. And then of course there was the extreme and unbridled consumerist push and the lack of any substantial editorial content. It beacme almost unbearable. Blogs used to be a way to know someone, to get into (a part of their) head. It's nothing like that anymore. Anyway, I miss the old days too, and yes, maybe there is hope of revival if so many of us see the value.
Anna said…
And that is precisely why I always go back to your blog. I love seeing how regular people dress. I enjoy the process, the thought you put into it, and more anything, I love that you are consistent. I start out following a "fashion" blog because I liked the blogger's look. Then at some point, she starts looking too magazine ready and well, not like herself anymore. Its the unique identity of the blogger that I find myself going back to - it shows in the way she dress. I don't care if it's a "uniform" or essentially the same look. It's that look that precisely caught my attention in the first place. I hope you never stop sharing your outfit posts - it's been years, and I still thoroughly enjoy them.
Shutterbug K said…
You're inspiring me to get loosely draped trousers. I also like the washes on your jeans; I hope we get to see the Nudie raws evolution in your pictures.
materfamilias said…
Yes! Just need to say a big "Yes" to all this. I think we've lost so much over the last three or four years. Fashion-blogging was just a part of my overall interest in blogs, but it was an integral part -- I think perhaps that mirrors the reality that Fashion was (only?) an integral part of the Fashion Blogs that most interested me (a different line-up than yours because of my age, which is, um, older). The best ones reflected a whole person with a whole life, and that life wasn't supported by more clothes from more companies than any one person could ever truly house or wear in a regular working life.
Thanks so much for keeping the faith, waving the banner, maintaining the staked claim, even. . .
lin said…
Archana: Thanks! I was at one point on the verge of going into the negatives, but i thought there was no point in me going into what yourself and others have already said so well.

I love it too whenever I see someone dressed in a manner I "get", that makes me go home and show a bit of love for something i already have.

brittany: Thank you! MNZ - like everyone else i think the shoes are very, very cute, though not my style as I almost never wear heels, even low ones, and I've tried to give the low heels a try. I've never seen them in person though so i don't know about the quality. Clothing-wise, it just looks too much like things you can find in a vintage store, and i think those awkward fits are pretty hard to pull off!

Patience_Crabstick: Thanks! i love a beautifully styled, lit, and composed photo too but it's not the same..

Pret a Porter P: I remember that blog too! it's so interesting, how good style really leaves an impression doesn't it, even when it's someone you don't really know. And I do like the immediacy of IG, being able to comment easily.

J: Thanks for the heads up! I spent like, 30 min going through her posts before I had to run off..

jesse.anne.o: so cool you're still blogging as well :)

Lori: Me too. Once the gloss of it wore off, it became kind of boring. it's the same with IG.

Anna: Thanks! I really like outfit posts too, i think it motivates me to dress better because i'm inspired by "ordinary" people dressing well.

Shutterbug K: Loose trousers are such a godsend when it's so warm. I'm not sure if there'll be anything to show with the Nudies in the next few years - my jeans don't really show any real change until they pass the 5 year mark.

materfamilias: "more clothes from more companies than any one person could ever truly house or wear in a regular working life" >> well put! the same thought occurs to me when i am tempted to buy something; all these "favourite" dresses i wear maybe once every 2 weeks, why would i need another dress? where would i find the time, adorable as it is?

bora said…
love everything about this post! the outfits, the honesty, and the writing!
I still follow quite a few fashion bloggers, but now that I'm more or less settled into my style I'm drawn to the more personal ones as opposed to the ones who have an entire team behind each post. Even on IG even though there are tons of accounts with gorgeous professional photos, I prefer the ones I can have a 'rapport' with (even though I've never met any IRL!). I've always admired those fashion bloggers who have made a career out of blogging though. It's not easy to hold the fickle fashion audience much less make money out of it. It would be interesting to watch how they evolve as they head into their 30s/40s/50s! More power to them.

I've switched platforms over the years, started with StyleDiary then blogspot and now tumblr and IG. I'm not good with words so I don't have much to blog about, but I do think keeping a visual outfit diary helps me and I still find it fun. I'll probably keep blogging in some capacity even if it's sporadic, because fashion has always been a nice escape for me (if not so nice for my wallet!)
Jessica said…
Well said! I used to follow Childhood Flames and Capture the Castle as well. Both of them have definitely influenced my personal style. Compared to you I'm pretty new at the blogging thing myself and I often get a little discouraged when I delve into the world of professional fashion blogs (size 0, gorgeous pictures) which is ridiculous of course. Blogs like yours definitely keep me motivated and I love the outfit collages!
Aïssa said…
Thanks for the "straightforward personal style" blogger appreciation!
I agree on all accounts: what attracts me with blogging is getting a peak at someone's personal sense of style, the way they dress depending on their environment not to conform to the goût du jour or a filtered glossified life.

Your style is personal, looking at your collage, I see "you", your own taste for clothes and not a fashion blogger caricature. By the way, where did you get that navy dress (bottom, middle) and white tied at the waist top (just above)?
lin said…
Aissa: the dress is actually black, and it was from the recent lemaire+uniqlo collection. i love it. the white blouse is from a singaporean label called in good company but i bought a year ago and i dont think it's in their webshop anymore...

Popular Posts