Friday, 27 February 2015

What It's REALLY Like Being a Full Time Fashion Blogger (Who's Not a Super Blogger)

What It's REALLY Like Being a Full Time Fashion Blogger (Who's Not a Super Blogger)

Being a full-time fashion blogger, to those who are either hobby or non-bloggers, may appear (on the surface) to be an endless round of attending fashion events and receiving free designer clothes. However, nothing could be further from the truth for me.

It wasn't until I received a comment on my Bloopers and Outtakes post a few weeks back that I was inspired to explain what it's really like being a full time fashion blogger (who's not a super blogger). I'm pretty certain my life is nothing like Chiara Ferragni's or Nicole Warne's so I was taken aback a little when I read this comment:

...I hesitate to click through to your blog sometimes when I see your posts popping up in Bloglovin, as I class it under one of my "Urrrggghhhh life is so perfect there, I can't be bothered to look at that perfect version of life now" blogs. I think you may just have gained a loyal reader in me with this post. You are normal... your body is not stick thin (you do have curves)! You obviously do laugh at yourself! Wonderful post. Loved it.

What struck me was that a reader had actually thought (before seeing the bloopers) that my life was "perfect" and that I had a "stick thin body". I was taken aback by the comment because I have never, ever thought either of those two things about myself, neither before nor after becoming a full-time fashion blogger.


THE THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT MY OUTFIT PHOTOS AREN'T AN ACTUAL REPRESENTATION OF MY LIFE - THEY'RE STAGED PHOTOS SHOWING OFF WHAT I'M WEARING. 

I gave a lengthy reply explaining what my life is really like - and this post is basically an extension of what I said there.

My "glamorous" life isn't glamorous at all

The thing to remember is that my outfit photos aren't an actual representation of my life - they're staged photos showing off what I'm wearing only. Photo shoots done on holiday are different - as are those done when we've gone out somewhere for the day - but 80% of the time they're just taken outside my parents' or sister's house, or along the country lane just down the road from where we live, or on the path along the river down to to the local supermarket. Nothing at all glamorous about any of those places!

Secondly, I am quite, quite normal - but this of course depends on your definition of the word. We all come in all shapes and sizes, and truthfully we all know there isn't a right or wrong size. I also don't have a 'perfect' life at all (but then what does that mean anyway)? I might think that Living in LA = Perfect Life, simply because the weather is so great all year round... I'm sitting in cold and rainy England writing this. To me, that's not in the slightest bit perfect or ideal. Yet I'm sure my humdrum tales of travelling up to The Big Smoke will make many a non-Brit go all misty-eyed and long for the adventure of a few days in London; it's all relative.

So I've broken down what - for me - life is really like. I may be a full-time fashion blogger but unlike the Chiaras and Nicoles of the blogging world, I don't constantly jet around the world and design collections with top brands. Here it is: The good, the bad, and the ugly (but in reverse)...!

The Ugly

If you're thinking it's all glamour - nothing could be further from the truth. For example...
  • I work from home. Some days what I'm wearing is so utterly uncoordinated that I'm ashamed to answer the door.
  • I have as many bad hair days, bad skin days, feeling-fat-because-my-skinny-jeans-are-so-tight days as the next girl.
  • Much of the time I'm in my onesie all morning and then finally get dressed at 1pm - just jeans and a sweatshirt - because I'm not leaving the house. Or I'll put my workout gear on in the morning even though I'm not exercising till the evening, but I can't be arsed to change later (or I want to save on washing). So not glamorous.
  • My bedroom is nearly always a tip because I'm trying on everything to wear and don't have time to put it all away immediately because I have to get out the door and catch the last light to get a photo shoot in. My dressing table is a bombsite.
  • I work past midnight most evenings to "try and get it all done" before the next day then wake up feeling absolutely shattered. I never feel like a glamorous fashion blogger in the mornings. Or the afternoon. Maybe a little when I've done my hair and makeup and I'm off out in the evening.
  • I can easily put on 7lbs in a week (it's happened before) if I eat too much and stop exercising - having a sedentary job means I have to be really careful about my diet and fitness routine.
  • Most Instagrams of bloggers' work areas would have you believe we all have beautiful white gloss desks with only peonies in a vase and a laptop (completely wireless) on it. I have a dusty desk with a PC and huge widescreen monitor, leads coming out of everywhere and piles of notebooks and nail files/nail polish all over the place. I'm not going to Instagram that.
  • Standing outside in the winter in a party dress is no fun when it's only a few degrees above freezing. I long for the summer months when the days are longer and the temperatures are higher and I'm not biting off my husband's head while he fiddles with the camera's settings and prolongs my freezing agony.
  • Keeping accounts, creating invoices, doing your tax return and chasing payment is no-one's idea of glamour. I don't have an accountant or an assistant, much as I'd like both.
  • Trying to budget for anything is hard when you don't have a regular income. If clients delay their payments you may receive hardly any money at all coming into your account one month, and then a mini-windfall the next.

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What It's REALLY Like Being a Full Time Fashion Blogger (Who's Not a Super Blogger) | Not Dressed As Lamb

The Bad

Then there are the things that seem bad, or annoying, or a chore, but they're actually pretty great if I stop and think about it because they wouldn't happen if it wasn't for the blogging. Moaning about it to other people makes it sound like you're ungrateful. For example...
  • Some days I can receive up to five deliveries: 1. Things I've ordered because I keep seeing great-stuff-I-can't-stop-myself-buying on other blogs; 2. Things my husband has ordered because he now has a blog too; 3. Freebies from brands (yay). Constantly jumping up to answer the doorbell does get a little testing when you're trying to work from home, however.
  • As a result of all the deliveries and parcels we get, there is almost always a mountain of packaging that needs to be sorted in the middle of the living room floor and I never seem to be able to keep on top of it.
  • If I'm doing something for a brand or magazine and I need to go to London (95% of things are in London), I often have to catch the stupid-o'clock train to get there (the 06:51). Over two hours on the train getting a cricked neck and bemoaning my lack of sleep and dark circles under my eyes is not fun - then I have to do it all again in reverse to come home the same day.
  • I get a constant stream of emails offering me "the best deal ever": Pick something from a brand that sells $15 dresses and write all about in a blog post and follow up on social media. If $15 dresses were edible I'd never have to buy food again. Or I could burn them and save on heating bills....?
  • Haggling over fees with brands and PRs isn't exactly ideal and sometimes I wish for a fixed salary again - then I remember that I am in control of my earning power, and no one else.
  • I had a look at the posts I published in December and January and counted how many outfit posts I published: it was 16 in total. So out of 62 days, I only featured what I wore on 16 of them. That's roughly 1 in 4 days. But it's nice to look back and see that I did make an effort on some days at least.

The Good

Now these things do sound more glamorous, though these opportunities take up a very small percentage of my time. Working for myself is also a huge benefit. For example...
  • I won a competition last year with Fever London last year to model their SS14 collection with four other bloggers. We all had a vintage makeover and there were about six outfit changes - we were shooting in the street in central London. But it was February and it was really, really cold.
  • I've done photo shoots for three magazines now: with Rachel the Hat for Woman & Home, for Good Housekeeping (April 2015 issue), and for the Sunday Times Style (coming out 1st March). Getting your hair and makeup done and trying on fabulous clothes never gets tiring.
  • I won a competition to become a brand ambassador for La Redoute for a year and got to go to Paris for three days. Need I explain more...?!
  • As a freelancer I have complete freedom to do with my time whatever I feel like doing and when. In the summer I can spend the day outside relaxing and then work in the evening when it's cooler. In the winter I can snuggle up in my home office wearing three pairs of socks, a blanket over my legs and keep a hot water bottle on standby without looking unprofessional or like a bag lady (to my colleagues, if I had them).
  • No two days are ever the same, and you never know what you may be offered next. I'm totally addicted to checking my emails because I am so excited about what the day could bring in terms of brands to work with or a "fan letter" (for want of a better expression) from a reader. Those days are the absolute best.

Blogger photo shoot
Above left: Getting my hair done for the Francesco Group photo shoot; Above right: Good Housekeeping photo shoot. If only this were a "normal" day for me...!

So when I say I'm just as 'normal' as the next person hopefully you see what I mean. The outfits I publish are the slightly more dressed up times, but that's because I want to give inspiration to those who may not dress up ever, or to those who want to change things up a bit, or to those who are afraid of wearing bright colours and in their forties and are looking for 'permission' to do so. As Amber wrote in her post Are Fashion Bloggers Fake?, "Most bloggers (myself included) carefully select which aspects of their lives they want to share with the internet."

Me, too. In order to make women feel positive about themselves I feel a responsibility to be as positive as I can be, whilst retaining a sense of normality and a touch of honesty about the whole thing.


IN ORDER TO MAKE WOMEN FEEL POSITIVE ABOUT THEMSELVES I FEEL A RESPONSIBILITY TO BE AS POSITIVE AS I CAN BE, WHILST RETAINING A SENSE OF NORMALITY AND A TOUCH OF HONESTY.


I hope that I do that... I have enough loyal (and brutally honest!) readers who would definitely tell me if I was losing my touch on reality.

I'm basically very lucky to be doing something that I love, and to love what I'm doing (which isn't too much to ask from a job, is it). I never, ever thought I'd be one of those people who does a job that they absolute adore doing - it can just be a bit crazy sometimes and not really make sense. Take photos of yourself and put them on the internet? As a job?! That's just bonkers.

The thing that tickles me most about being a full-time fashion blogger is that as I don't have a 9-5 anymore I work from home rather than going to an office every day (like I used to). So that means I have more excuses to stay in my onesie all day. And in turn, that means I have to make much more of an effort now to dress up in order to have non-pyjama outfits to feature on the blog.

How ironic is that...??

Catherine

P.S. Like this post? You might enjoy reading how I created my own at-home glamour: How To Star In Your Very Own Luxury Brand Advertising Campaign

Linking up to: Let It ShineBrilliant Blog PostsFriday's Fab FavouritesSunday Funday
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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What to Wear on a Luxury Yacht for Summer 2015 | Grace Kelly Inspired

Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
I am so excited to be publishing these pictures - I've got sea, sky, the most beautiful light imaginable and full-on nautical style. Every so often a magical photo shoot happens, and this was one of those times. So why am I down at the coast (the wonderfully named fishing village of Beer in Devon) I hear you ask?

We photographed these pictures down by the sea because I've entered the OCEAN Exclusive Blogger Challenge to create my perfect yacht outfit for summer 2015 - what I would like to wear on one of their yachts, in other words. I thought it would be impolite to wear anything other than nautical style - so it's white and navy all the way. As the prize involves a day trip to Monaco (how amazing would that be), I also thought it fitting to be inspired by Monaco's most famous princess, Grace Kelly. I gave a 50s-style outfit a modern twist with a bold navy and white tunic dress over navy slacks, striped pointed espadrilles and that essential accessory for any aspiring Princess Grace: the wide-brimmed sun hat.

The photos show me down at the harbour waiting for my dream yacht to come and pick me up - the yacht of my dreams would be a navy and white yacht called "Belle Isle" which I chose because it coordinates perfectly with my outfit. Of course, I'd only travel on yachts that don't clash with my outfit choice, darling. And the interior and the deck are to-die-for. A girl can dream, right...?!!

So who knows, maybe I'll get to go to Monaco for the day. Fingers crossed for me in the competition :)

It may still be freezing in many parts of the world but I am SO looking forward to some warmth coming our way very soon - it was nice to "think summer" putting this outfit together. Are you into nautical looks? What would YOU wear on a luxury yacht (and have you been on one?), I'd love to know!

Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
Nautical style: Navy blue and white floppy hat, cat eye sunglasses
Tunic dress: Asos | Trousers: Asos | Shoes: Asos | Hat: Asos | Sunglasses: c/o Lulus (similar sunglasses) | Watch: Fossil | Nails: Models Own Chrome Blue

Shop the look (and the yacht ;)


Catherine x
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P.S. Like this outfit? You might also enjoy two other nautical-inspired posts from the archives: Tribal Maxi Dress At The Quay and All I Need Now is a Yacht!

Linking up to: Visible Monday, Let It Shine, Share in Style, Monday Mingle, Style Sessions, Trend Spin Link-Up, What I Wore Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Passion for Fashion Friday, Fashion FridayFriday's Fab Favourites

This is a competition entry for the OCEAN Exclusive Blogger Challenge. I have not been compensated by Ocean.
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Monday, 23 February 2015

White Lace Top, Rusty Red Plaid Jacket and a Classic Leather Pouch

White lace roll neck, plaid jacket, army green trousers
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You could say this outfit is a little mismatched, but I like it all the more for that. I'm wearing my delicate lace roll neck sweater (AW13 and sold out, sadly) which contrasts nicely against the rusty red brushed plaid jacket, and then I've teamed them both with very  masculine army boots and army green trousers. A pretty, pouffy ponytail and candy pink nails (confusingly) add more femininity - but what I really love is the stand out colour of the Shinola leather zip pouch I was kindly gifted to style.

I went with an outfit that would provide a total contrast to its natural leather colour - I purposely didn't want it to actually match anything else I was wearing. I guess it's an all-purpose item, but I love it as a clutch and used it that way when we went out to see the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at a live concert last week. It's perfect for your phone, money, tickets, keys and lip balm - and has the added bonus of that gorgeous leather smell.

I'm also going to be using it as a sort of posh "pencil case" for when I meet with clients. Together with my laptop it'll look smart, holding my reading glasses, a couple of pens, small notebook and phone. Much nicer than scrabbling around in my handbag for those essentials you always need in a meeting...! The quality of this zip pouch is exceptional - you also get a little credit-card sized metal certificate with the name of the person that made your pouch: thanks, Eric Scott! Shinola is an American brand specialising in leather goods and watches and has recently launched in the UK. You can check out the rest of the Shinola range here.

Do you have any smart accessories like bags and purses that are dual purpose? And do you (like me) still like to use a grown-up pencil case or equivalent... Let me know in the comments!

White lace roll neck, plaid jacket, army green trousers
White lace roll neck, plaid jacket, camel leather pouch
White lace roll neck, plaid jacket, camel leather pouch
White lace roll neck, plaid jacket
Leather pouch: c/o Shinola, Jacket: Asos (I also love this one), Roll neck: c/o Oasap, Trousers: Asos, Boots: c/o La Redoute, Pendant: c/o Venus With Love, Sunglasses: c/o Lulus (similar), Watch: Asos, Earrings: Asos, Gold rings: Asos, Nails: Models Own Pastel Pink




Catherine x
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P.S. Like this outfit? You might like to see how I styled the same top and trousers with a leather jacket in October!

Photos: Silver Londoner | Linking up to: Visible MondayLet It ShineShare in StyleMonday MingleStyle SessionsTrend Spin Link-UpWhat I Wore WednesdayThrowback ThursdayPassion for Fashion FridayFashion FridayFriday's Fab Favourites

I have written this post in collaboration with Shinola. All content is original, however, and opinions are my own and 100% honest.
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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Some of My Favourite Fun and Fabulous Links - February 2015

Favourite fun and fabulous links February 2015
So as this is my third monthly Favorited Fun and Fabulous Links post, I think I'm now safe in saying that this may well be a regular spot on the blog. I've decided to try and stick to the fourth Sunday of each month... we'll see how that goes! Meanwhile, enjoy your Sunday with a romp through this fabulous lot :)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Megan's inspired me to layer my faux fur gilet (vest) over a floral maxi. Just need to get a patterned maxi now - I lurrrrrve this 70s inspired dress. And this one.

Patti's playful poncho/sweatshirt hybrid is one of the coolest pieces I've seen in ages.

Nothing to Wear t-shirt - Kremb de la Kremb
Just about the best Dress Down Friday work outfit I've ever seen thanks to Ann's "Nothing to Wear" t-shirt.

I can't get enough of Design Seeds' colour palette ideas (the photos are so beautiful in themselves).

Alyson ponders why should we keep our age a secret. Something you won't find me doing, ever: I'm 42 and a half, you know (she says in an 82 year old's voice).

Dee Goldberg instagram.com/deeegoldie
Dee Goldberg's Instagram feed is just about the most fun and inspiring feed I've seen in a long time. WHAT a woman.

Sport's for us older 'girls' too, you know. Adele says "I know a lot of women my age who don’t exercise and can’t seem to find a way in. Showing older women as fitness role models might inspire them, as well as show younger women that fitness is achievable for life". Hear, hear.

I'm all sorts of dying over Viktoriya's mustard with greens outfit... The patterns! The textures! The colours!

Frassy - "Mod"
Audrey's photo shoots are everything I'd love mine to be. Utterly inspirational. Plus her attitude towards blog sponsorship and monetizing her blog sums up my own attitude towards it perfectly.

5 common misconceptions about bloggers - I'm all of these but especially number 5.

Some excellent, practical tips on how to make SEO work for you.

I love me a great 1970s look (so on-trend for 2015) and Amy's "Rolling Stones groupie" outfit is spot-on.

Lauren McBride blog
Award for best new-to-me blog I've found goes to Lauren of Lauren McBride. Her style is classic, modern and funky at the same time - check her (and her beauuuuutiful eyes) out.

Finally...

Yes, Helen Mirren looks amazing. Yes, I'm glad older women are being used to sell beauty products. Yes, she can totally rock a leather jacket.

BUT...


Since WHEN would Helen Mirren catch the bus??!!!!
Catherine x
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P.S. Like this post? You might want to check out January's Favourite Fun and Fabulous Links!

Linking up to: Let It ShineBrilliant Blog PostsFriday's Fab FavouritesSunday Funday
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Friday, 20 February 2015

White Coat With Tartan Scarf and Patterned Tights Under Distressed Jeans

Winter style: Long white coat, tartan scarf, distressed jeans
Here's something I saw on Pinterest that I actually tried straight away (yes it does happen!): Patterned tights under distressed jeans. It solves so many problems...

  • How do I keep my legs warm in the winter when my jeans have holes in them?
  • What do I wear on my feet with my monk shoes, brogues or loafers when I don't want to wear socks?
  • How can I get more use out of all those patterned tights I bought when it's too cold to wear skirts?

So Pinterest isn't just a highly addictive social media platform that keeps us entertained for hours on end pinning things we'll never bake, sew, wear, construct, paint, knit, build, cook, visit, create or copy. Oh no... sometimes we actually try doing some of that stuff. Amazing, huh?! 

Seriously, though - it was one of those ingenious styling tips that I tried and it really worked. It got a great reaction on my Instagram feed (you can follow me here if you're not already!) and it'll be perfect for the winter-to-spring transition that I mentioned how much I'm looking forward to in my last post. In the meantime I can still wear it with my smart white coat (or smart black coat) and tartan scarves (boy, I'm gonna miss those come summer).

What do you think... are patterned tights under holey jeans something you can see yourself trying? What other simple styling tips do you have - or have you seen on Pinterest? Do let me know!

Winter style: Long white coat, patterned tights under distressed jeans
Winter style: White coat, tartan scarf
Winter style: Long white coat, tartan scarf, distressed jeans
Winter style: White coat, tartan scarf
Winter style: White coat, tartan scarf
Winter style: White coat, tartan scarf
Coat: Asos (nearly sold out but this one is similar), Scarf: Asos (similar), Sweater: c/o Damart (similar), Jeans: Asos, Tights: Asos, Shoes: c/o La Redoute, Bag: c/o La Redoute, Watch: Asos, Sunglasses: RayBan, Nails: Models Own Chrome Blue


Catherine x
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P.S. You might want to see how I styled my gorgeous white coat first time around - all neutrals that time!

Photos: Silver Londoner | Linking up to: Visible MondayLet It ShineShare in StyleMonday MingleStyle SessionsTrend Spin Link-UpWhat I Wore WednesdayThrowback ThursdayPassion for Fashion FridayFashion FridayFriday's Fab Favourites, Fun Fashion Friday
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