The Skirt: Why Are Women Obsessed With Personal Style Blogs?

"The Skirt" is an ongoing series in which Four Pins' resident lady friend, Rachel Seville, becomes the most important woman in your life.

So I don’t know if you guys have heard about THESE INSANE WOMEN who take photos of THEMSELVES in, like, CLOTHES, and put the photos ON THE INTERNET, but it is, like, ALL OVER THE MEDIA. The AdWeek piece was just the latest in a rash of articles spanning several years, pointing at personal style bloggers and their astronomic rise with an eye that purports to be both savvy and astonished (but is usually just the latter).

That this is still newsworthy, years after bloggers were seated front row at fashion week, implies that traditional media think people still can’t wrap their head around this whole “personal style blogger” thing. It seems like guys can’t, either: “Um, kind of lame,” said my boyfriend, a guy, when I asked him about personal style blogs. “Except yours is different,” he appended, because we are in love and I am the best.

Men are no doubt all up in the club with fashion love at this point. But menswear blogs tend to position garments as objets d’art: “This is a jacket that’s made from the canvas sails of JFK’s boyhood sloop, and every three days you have to soak it in a special wax for four hours, but it looks really dope against the shadow you have for the first two days after you get your beard trimmed at Freeman’s.” Even when guys are talking about a jacket, they’re still talking about it like they’re under the hood of a car.

Most personal style blogs are like the work of a painter who’s only ever seen 'Starry Night' and a coffee table book on Thomas Kinkade.

Personal style bloggers don’t do much talking. We’re just taking photographs of ourselves in clothing, usually in sunglasses and looking at the ground, once in a while smiling a bit, as if to say, “Hah, that thing on the ground, that’s vaguely funny.” Here’s one from the other side. In this one, I am looking at another area of the ground, so it’s different. Here are twelve more photos that are variations on the theme of standing there. The outfits don’t even have to be interesting—most personal style blogs are like the work of a painter who’s only ever seen “Starry Night” and a coffee table book on Thomas Kinkade.

If you describe what a personal style blogger does, it sounds a little like the spam ads that frame weather.com with majestic absurdity: “SoHo woman makes $3000 a week working 2-3 hours a day from home!” It takes a notable amount of vanity and an inverse amount of propriety.

So why do we do this? What makes this absurd undertaking worth it, worth like, you know, being subject to the judgment and derision of the entire internet? Especially when the odds of being able to do it successfully full-time are so low?

The answer is best summed up by a lyric from the theme song of the ‘80s cartoon Jem and the Holograms: “Glamour and glitter / Fashion and fame.”

Look, when a woman looks at a personal style blog, something happens to her. The blogger has put more thought into what she’s wearing than her, so it feels like she looks better, even if she doesn’t. And the blogger is probably somewhere kind of nice, like in front of a Starbucks in her native Orlando, but the one with all the palm trees in front of it. The blogger is probably thinner than her—frankly, this is because she has usually Photoshopped herself. BUT the photos are generally shitty enough (sorry, boyfriends of style bloggers) and the format simple enough (a blogging platform! That’s free!) that her first thought will pretty much always be, “I could do that.”

In fact, I guarantee every girl you’ve ever checked out at a bar in the last year has thought to herself, with varying degrees of earnestness, “This is a nice striped shirt. Maybe I should dragoon my friend into taking photos of me wearing it at my parents’ house in Westchester. Then I’ll put the photos on a blog.”

“It shall be called ‘Lipstick and Larchmont.’”

You probably know 100 people who use Twitter, and you only need like 200 followers before someone will send you something for free, or at least invite you to a cool party.

And on that last word of Jem’s mantra: “fame.” Personal style blogging rarely works in the “blog one day, get famous the next” kind of way. In fact, it rarely works in the get famous ever way. But "Being Famous in New York" and "Being Famous on the Internet" are two niches that, laid out in a Venn diagram, overlap in "Personal Style Blogging." And it is not hard (or, you know, meaningful) to be famous there, at all!

Like, I am the least famous fashion blogger I know. And yet, here I am, writing on this hip, buzzworthy blog because I put on clothing I already owned in ways I already wore it and had my boyfriend take photos of me in the street.

You probably know 100 people who use Twitter, and you only need like 200 followers before someone will send you something for free, or at least invite you to a cool party.

Suddenly it feels like you’re making it. In reality, nothing is happening at all.

Rachel Seville is a writer living in Brooklyn who believes in miracles. Read her blog, Pizza Rulez, here and follow her on Twitter here.

  • http://tianapezite.tumblr.com/ Tiana

    As a woman, I also don’t understand why we are so obsessed with fashion blogs, (that does not mean I don’t follow some). Girls who ask other girls for insight on how to coordinate an outfit or how one should dress to a certain ‘event’, the latest being Six Flags… REALLY! Do you not own clothes and do you not know how to put a bottom and a top together?? I think the ones that are most obsessed with the ideal of fashion blogs is younger girls, those interested with being trendy. Older women are more secure in their stylistic ways and are less swayed by current trends. Do we really think its going to be ‘trendy’ when you’re thirty to wear a crop top and cheeky shorts with Jeffery Campbell Litas, probably not. Most of these ‘fashion’ trends will be outdated once someone blogs something different.

  • http://www.cargocollective.com/ameerswork Ameer

    Now, I think this is where the dynamic shifts between men blogs and women style blogs.

    Most menswear besides the trendy hypebeast and super, ultra hipster are pieces that are timeless. Utilitarian, causal, business casual and the like (while used in certain social spaces and events) can be generally worn as young as 5 (which was when I was trained to do so) up until you are an elder.

    Trends for men’s fashion tend to be only about color and a different way to arrange and merge different social spaces into one cohesive outfit where as women’s fashion goes from super conservative and modest to off the cuff, bodacious and revealing. There’s obviously not much of problem to us, though I do recognize the issue of young women in my peer group trying their darnest to fit in and look “hip.”

    The common misconception I tend to find is that you need to wear what everyone else is wearing to look attractive and stylish, where it should be about what pieces of apparel, accessories and footwear appeal to your heart. (Although one should look at social clothing etiquette so that you don’t look like a fool)

    Everyone innately knows a rudimentary form of color theory so colors that clash aren’t in your best interest and that colors that compliment each other or exude a specific type of emotion is something you should put together.

    We all learn eventually!

  • http://thezeka.tumblr.com/ Ana

    I may or may not have fallen off my bed with laughter.

  • Joanne

    You are now officially the blogger of all-time-satire in my life (alongside Leandra Medine and occasionally Rumi Neely), that you should be awarded a Oscar Fashion Award for it. Nay, call it the Joanne Fashion Award, or maybe Rachel Fashion Award if I’m feeling particularly generous. Eek.