"The Skirt" is an ongoing series in which Four Pins' resident lady friend, Rachel Seville, becomes the most important woman in your life.
When I get on the internet as an intelligent woman who loves fashion, there isn’t much for me to do. I look at the candy-coated Instagram feed the Man Repeller has savvily embedded on her site, and check in on Stop It Right Now or Sea of Shoes for visual inspiration. I always go in for Jenna Sauers’s quirky snark on Jezebel, and once in a while I’ll plunge into the weird erogenous rabbit hole that is the new features section on The Cut. But a lot of the fashion news there—and much of the content that’s on Racked, Fashionista, and Refinery29, for that matter—is either stuff I’ve already read about in Women’s Wear Daily, or an eight million-image slideshow of all the pastel peacoats I can choose from this winter.
Frankly, when I get online to read a blog about fashion that’s consistently engaging and funny, smart and authoritative without being condescending, and doesn’t make me neurotic about a waning interest in reading, I usually end up here. I read wishing there were posts on how a Rachel Comey oversized blazer-esque coat will make you look like A Little Princess who has gone super luxe with Mr. Carrisford, but can’t forget her humble roots, instead of on a Concepts x Canada Goose Lodge Hoody; and a hysterical, but insightful exploration on how to actually use a blog to propel yourself into the fashion industry in place of calls for menswear young guns to slow their roll. Or at least a slideshow of Oscar de la Renta’s red latex pieces from SS ’13 Photoshopped onto different hot dogs.
I’m not the only woman who feels this way. Whenever Four Pins comes up in conversation with fellow gals, a near universal lament is, “I wish there were a site like that for women.” And, as mentioned recently on Twitter, this site gets a lot of its traffic from people googling “Four Pins for women.”
It’s not that there’s a lack of sites for us to visit. Jezebel, Racked, Fashionista, Refinery29, FabSugar, and, as it increasingly expands its subject matter, The Man Repeller, are just the tip of the iceberg. But it’s an iceberg that lacks depth, because these sites just don’t seem to be giving us what we want. The tendency to create packed slideshows of products organized around one (often seemingly random) trend favors lazy consumption over informed and tasteful shopping. The extent to which they talk about evils of Photoshop frequently just comes off as a way of twisting the perpetual obsession with women’s bodies into something that seems more palatable. A fifty word summation of a news story with a link to the source is fine, but isn’t reading (and, I bet, writing) a hilarious musing on a news story, like potential plot lines for Style Girlfriend’s upcoming film, much more fun?
In other words, women’s blogs need to become tastemakers rather than scrambling to reflect our perceived interests and taste.
Other sites just seem too willing to meet everyone at a low common denominator, rather than entertain and steer them towards something more interesting, more intelligent. They seem resigned to the reality that I’m here because I don’t want to finish making a spreadsheet right now. They don’t seem terribly interested in attempting to push me to go back to the spreadsheet in 20 minutes with a newly refined and witty opinion on why online dating is making us all awkward beer-chugging zombies whose idea of an opener is “Sooooo....”, which I could easily bust out on my next date as a weird sort-of-meta-ice breaker.
Even though these sites feel and look progressive on the face of it, they still seem tied to the adage that the only things women want are to have better sex and a thinner body (or at least better nail art).
But I think women want more. We don’t want to just gaze slack-jawed at pictures. Of course images are necessary for any blog, and slideshows are a boon for advertising. But there’s no reason why these can’t be a way to read people to good writing, or at least more carefully curated and accompanied by commentary that’s as funny as the slideshow format is lucrative. We want to read. It feels absurd to have to assert that women want to read, and they want to read things that are funny, thoughtful, and yes, lengthy, but unfortunately I feel this needs to be said. Last week, Leandra Medine introduced a guest columnist who penned a discourse on filling an online shopping cart with unattainable merch and then abandoning it. It seemed very much the sort of thing that might appear on a women’s version of this site—commenters went crazy for the writer’s wit.
What’s more, there needs to be more refined focus on why a piece of clothing or trend or whatever it is that we’re being shown is cool or interesting. It’s not enough to just say, “It’s a trend!!!” or, “but it’s in a bunch of stores!!!!” or, perhaps worse, “but these are all photos of celebrities!!!!”
In other words, women’s blogs need to become tastemakers rather than scrambling to reflect our perceived interests and taste. The era of seeking to be authoritative and painfully servile at once needs to end.
So, women of the internet, who wants to help me start Four Boobs?