Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Fashion Blogging: Does It Actually Improve Your Style - or Do Fashions Just Change?

Fashion Blogging: Does It Actually Improve Your Style or Do Fashions Just Change?

Does fashion blogging improve your style?

Looking back at some of my early outfit choices that are there for all the world to see on my blog, I've been recently pondering whether my style has actually improved in the last 4-5 years, or whether it's simply the fashions that have changed. To me, some of the choices I made are pretty appalling and it makes me cringe looking at them now. But then I did start the blog with the intention of improving my style as I approached 40 - a project that simply continued and became my career.

Does fashion blogging - and all the subsequent studying pictures of yourself on screen wearing different outfits - really improve your style?

Whilst getting my blog redesigned my blog last month, I ended up having to sort out pages that needed a bit of reformatting [it's, ahem, work in progress still] and lost myself in some of my old outfits from 2011 and 2012, hereby known as Not Dressed As Lamb: The Early Years.


If I compare what I'm currently wearing to the outfits from my first 12 months of blogging, my style was kind of awful (in my eyes) now I look back on it. There are a few outstanding moments, but not many.

Is that change because my style has actually improved? Has writing a personal style/fashion blog had an effect due to me studying so many pictures of what I look like wearing different outfits - or is it that fashions have (inevitably) changed? That's always been my advice when asked for a fashion tip: Photograph yourself and study the pictures, not your reflection in the mirror. It's the only way to be truly objective about an outfit.

HAS WRITING A FASHION BLOG ACTUALLY IMPROVED MY STYLE - OR IS IT THAT FASHIONS HAVE (INEVITABLY) CHANGED?

Other factors that could have made a difference are the improvement in my husband's photography and the fact that I know how to pose better, in ways that flatter me and my body shape more. You'll also notice that my face looks... odd in some photos (I can't think how else to describe it). You can tell I hadn't yet worked out my "blog face" and my expression looks like one of pain or bewilderment in some of the old pictures.

I thought I'd simply put forward a few cases for your perusal (amusement?) - you may not think they look as bad as I think they do, but it's rather embarrassing for me to show these. So starting with...

Blog outfits 2011-2012

Case no. 1: Colour Blocking

I thought I'd start with the least offensive ones first. Colour blocking was big around 2012, and while it hasn't really gone out of style, the colour blocking here is let down by shoes I wouldn't wear now (so that's one point for fashions changing), too much crumpled cotton (one point for style improving) and an overload of "arm candy" (another point for fashion).

So the scores are: Style Improving 1, Fashion Changing 2.

(The original outfit posts can be seen here: Left | Middle | Right)


Blog outfits 2011-2012

Case no. 2: Coloured socks with peep-toe heels

=Cringe= These seemed to feature in just about every other outfit - I could have featured a ton of these. But was this ever really in fashion? I can't say I remember coloured socks and shoes specifically being a trend, but they are done by fashionistas on and off these days - but so much better. Add to that bad trouser lengths (my error) and yet more messy accessories (fashion) and it all looks terrible IMO. I'm going to blame this look on my bad judgement, because some girls like Michelle do 70s-style socks and shoes with aplomb.

This round: Style Improving 2, Fashion Changing 1.

(See the outfit posts here: Left | Middle | Right)


Blog outfits 2011-2012

Case no. 3: All a bit of a mess

There are some I just can't explain. Where do I even begin with these three? I have a feeling Improving Style is going to win this round.
To start on the left: The cropped denim jacket and much, much longer striped sweater. With clashing turquoise (shirt) and cobalt (sweater and wedges) that just upsets me. Definitely a point for my style improving.
Middle: Somebody put me out of my misery! Individually these might look okay (aprt from those shoes), but altogether it's a mess, and not even a hot one. Another point for style.
Right: I look like a nurse who's tried to adapt her uniform for a night on the town because she left her LBD at home. I seem to have hacked off the sleeves of my scrubs and put my nurse's belt back over the top. Plus: Platform peep-toe wedges. Yet another style point, but also one for fashion.

Final round: Style Improving 3, Fashion Changing 1.

(See the outfit posts here: Left | Middle | Right)


The conclusion...

That brings the final scores to: Style Improving 6, Fashion Changing 4. While this is, of course, just a bit of fun and entirely subjective (I'm sure you'll let me know your opinions in the comments below!), it goes to show that a lot of it is down to the fact that fashion blogging has improved my style.

FINAL SCORES: 
STYLE IMPROVING 6, FASHION CHANGING 4.

However, it's not fashion blogging itself, more the rituals that go with it. You don't have to have a fashion blog to experiment with your style choices, or to keep up with and get inspiration from other blogs/Pinterest/street style, or to photograph yourself in your outfits, or to study them on a computer screen. You can do all those things without having a blog.

I think that style can be learned. After all, who knows you better than you? I don't think it's something that can be taught, but it's one of things you can learn through your own mistakes. Sure, outside influences will always make a difference, and we need inspiration from everywhere for things to change.

I THINK THAT STYLE CAN BE LEARNED. AFTER ALL, WHO KNOWS YOU BETTER THAN YOU? I DON'T THINK IT'S SOMETHING THAT CAN BE TAUGHT, BUT IT'S ONE OF THINGS YOU CAN LEARN THROUGH YOUR OWN MISTAKES. 

So this post "proves" that it's more about me having honed my style over time than it is about fashion, though the latter does have a big part to play. Style is no different to any other art in that sense: Painters need to paint, sculptors need to sculpt, musicians need to play in order in order to improve. I think it's safe to say all the greats like Picasso or Jimi Hendrix (and everyone else in between) may have had a natural gift in those areas, but I'm sure that a few duff paintings were produced and a few bum notes were hit before they truly honed their craft.

Therefore: It's all about practice. It's about not being afraid to experiment. It's about taking a few chances, even at the risk of looking ridiculous every now and then. But as I've always said, who cares? Everyone looks back on what they were wearing 20 years and laughs, even though they know they loved it at the time.

IT'S ALL ABOUT PRACTICE. IT'S ABOUT NOT BEING AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT. IT'S ABOUT TAKING A FEW CHANCES, EVEN AT THE RISK OF LOOKING RIDICULOUS EVERY NOW AND THEN. BUT AS I'VE ALWAYS SAID, WHO CARES?

So go get yourself that full length mirror, get some photographs taken of yourself (no one else has to see them), upload them on a computer and learn by your mistakes. Remember, no phone selfies: Ask someone else to take them and make sure they stand back and zoom in (you don't want to shorten your legs and widen your body on purpose, do you?).

And just to balance it out a little, I thought I'd share some of my successes from the same period: Outfits I'd still wear tomorrow. I feel better now, like the bad outfits have been expunged...!

Not Dressed As Lamb 2011-2012
Top row: Left | Middle | Right   Bottom row: Left | Middle | Right

What do you think about your own style changing over time - do you think it's improved? What are your tips for honing your own style? I'd love to know so tell me in the comments or tweet me @notlamb!


Catherine

P.S. Like this post? You might also want to read What It's REALLY Like Being a Full Time Fashion Blogger (Who's Not a Super Blogger)!

Linking up to: Style StoriesiwillwearwhatilikeVisible MondayLet It ShineMonday MingleStyle Sessions, Turning Heads TuesdayTrend Spin Link-UpWhat I Wore WednesdayBrilliant Blog PostsThrowback Thursday, My Refined StylePassion for Fashion FridayFriday's Fab Favourites
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33 comments

  1. This is such a great topic, Catherine! And, you are right, I don't think your outfits are that bad, but I love your analysis and can picture how you would wear some of them today.


    I think analyzing photos of your outfits really helps a lot to improve your style. Photos show things the mirror simply doesn't. So many times an outfit looks great in my head but in reality not so much. And often it's just little things that can greatly improve an not-so-great outfit.

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    1. It's great that you already know about the mirror vs. pictures you take, Andrea - it makes the WORLD of difference!! I have no idea why the mirror doesn't tell us what's really there, but it just doesn't.

      Glad you like the topic, it's a good one to think about it, isn't it...?! x

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  2. 100% Fashion changing....these outfits are not (in any way) bad!
    They are just featuring items that were more "current" at the time than the ones you would wear again today...which feature more "classic" items and shapes.
    Now, this is all just my humble opinion BUT I think that we all grow and evolve and constantly change and our style should too!
    Maybe there is the odd detail that is not quite perfect here and there...but is that not real life?
    We have to keep evolving or we may as well curl up and die (wearing a beige two piece.....although a beige two piece could look FAB with the right styling...:oD)

    Anyway, whatever you think of these old looks, you must have done something right.
    Look at you now, super-slick and hugely successful style and fashion blogger...take that "wrong length" trousers!!
    This is a fun post and a great read.
    Thank you.
    XXX
    Samantha
    fakefabulous.com

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    1. Aww thanks Samantha - I truly wasn't fishing for compliments, because to me these outfits really do make me cringe...!!!!!!!!!

      Anyway that aside, it's true what you say about growing and evolving, and in a perverted way it's nice to know (IMO) that fashion blogging HAS improved my style, so the aim of my blog originally - to see if I could improve my style as I approached 40 - paid off... It worked, in other words, and I'm glad it did!! I think looking back, I think that after about a year the outfits started improving, so to me it proves that practice makes perfect and blogging definitely DID have a hand in it. Maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree, hehe!!!

      Thank you my lovely, glad you enjoyed the post xx

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    2. Hahaha...I knew you were not fishing!
      I just called it as I saw it.
      I understand exactly that you feel your blogging has improved your style and the very fact you examine photographs of yourself (in detail) must help you become more polished and refined BUT I still love these younger posts. You were rocking those socks BTW, regardless of what you might say!

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  3. I have always been a free spirit about clothes, but I must say my voice has got louder since I have a blog. Before I was alone in beigeland, now, I can talk and dress not only for myself, but for people who understand my language.
    Your blog is a bible to us all.
    Tons of love Catherine

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    1. What a lovely comment, Sacramento, thank you so much!! I bet that you always did dress flamboyantly and creatively... I can't imagine you being any other way! Hurrah for fashion blogging :))

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  4. I think that our personal style evolves over time with aging, self perception, the changes in our bodies and our self confidence.

    I believe 100% that the mirror can lie and the camera doesn't however and I often find what I like it the mirror can look hideous IRL.

    That said, I also really hate some of my very old posts. Mostly because the lighting was awful and the photography was worse.

    Fun post!

    I wrote today about breaking the rules over 40 and some of the things you wrote here mirror what I wrote as well.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. I agree with you but the mirror, Suzanne - it's always my no.1 tip!! Glad you liked the post, thank you x

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  5. I believe in style evolution and as you say taking regular photos helps a lot. It allows you to make a little bit more effort when putting an outfit together and more conscious of what best suits your body type and also what's trending. Great post Catherine!

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    1. The photos is such a weird one but it really does work, doesn't it Elsie...?! Thanks my lovely x

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  6. I think it's absolutely a clear case of... both. Style absolutely changes over the years, both in popular culture and in our perception of it. I cringe at the wide legged JNCO pants, zigzag headbands and croptops I wore in 1998, but they were SO COOL then. Ditto the zippered, suspendered plaid pants I wore with a lot of skulls and metal accessories back in 2003. But that's just because I've moved on, and it's hard to look back at yourself.

    For what it's worth, I think your Case 1: Outfit 3 (Red, White, and Blue) still holds up, and so does Case 2: Outfit 2, with a footwear adjustment.. Granted, footwear was what that section was all about :) I also think Case 3: Outfit 3 has some real potential.

    A fun idea for some future posts, if you're ever reaching, would be to do a "Then and Now," remaking some of these older outfits you feel are out of date into something that feels fresh and new!

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    1. Hey now that's a good idea, Lauren! Though I am having a major wardrobe purge, so I don't know how many of these pieces will survive...! Thank you my lovely x

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  7. Both change, I think, and you have never been afraid to experiment! That = some looks you love and some you don't but always creating. Great post, you always look fab to me,

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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  8. I love this post! I still find my style changing a lot (I'm going from "dressing like a student in your 20s to dressing like a jr. academic in your 30s" and finding it a difficult transition). I actually think the "faces" I made in my early blog years were often better than the ones I do now - I think I was more relaxed back then. It's still a journey. Thanks for sharing yours!

    -Rebecca
    Idealism never goes out of fashion
    http://mn2nz.wordpress.com

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    1. Hehe that's funny about the "blog faces" thing, Rebecca!! I just don't know why I didn't see that I looked in pain at the time...!!!!! Thank you, glad you liked the post x

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  9. What a brilliant well written article Catherine. Loved reading this, and i too have been ashamedly cringing at my previous years blog entries. Having been with each other since the start i think its fair to say we have both changed.. a lot! I have been thinking myself lately about external influence and has blogging changed my style, or am i just growing older more gracefully. My pintrest board is filled with clean lines and neutrals and this is what i am now drawn to, rather than the coloured tights (super cringe!!) and the wearing every colour of the rainbow-all at once(the shame). As much as i implore that NO ONE should look back in my archives too far, for fear of blinding them with the sheer colour explosion on their screens, it is super fun to be able to look at them as markers in my life. An online diary of where i was at at that point in time.
    And as for you, i think you're actually being overly critical on yourself, the images above are still what some seasoned bloggers even aspire to be like. Your mad skills for pattern mixing has taken you to some wonderful places and given you the crown of Queen of the pattern mixing. You would never have gotten to that great place if it wasn't for the above outfits... And for the record i always thought you totally rocked socks and shoes ;) XXX

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    1. Isn't it weird looking back, Rachel...?! Your style was so different then, as I hope mine was too!! But in a way I'm glad they're (to me) awful, it shows you how far you've come I think. So glad you liked the post, thank you xx

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  10. It's so interesting to see how your style has evolved through the years. I like that you have maintained your ability to wear colours and prints so well!
    I like to think that my style has changed ever since I started blogging. I have become more daring especially after becoming a mum. I went through a phase of doubt while trying to lose the post-baby weight when I didn't know how to dress my new body but as I got back to my old self, I have rediscovered the joy in dressing and started experimenting more.
    xo
    Audrey
    www.inches2style.com

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    1. That's fabulous to hear you got back to your old self, Audrey! The process of blogging really does make a difference I think :))

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  11. No one gets it right every time, unfortunately as a fashion blogger you are documenting all of your brave forays into fashion! I do not think anyone who saw those posts at the time would have thought they were unstylish - the socks with heels thing is something they keep trying to make happen, and it does seem to be an exact science! I actually really like the third outfit with the culottes in the socks with heels section - I think showing some leg with the socks is a necessary maybe? It's definitely a "fashion" thing anyway!

    I do think we learn what suits us over time the more we experiment, so experimenting and getting it wrong sometimes is actually important! So I for one thank you for your bold ventures in the name of fashion, don't be hard on yourself, we are always our own worst critics!:-) xo

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    1. I think we maybe are our own worst critics, Steff - though maybe that's a good thing! We do have a complete archive of everything we've worn so it's good to see your style improving, even if it's only to your own eye...! Thank you sweetie x

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  12. This is such a great post, Catherine, and it's really got me thinking about how blogging has changed my own style. At first I didn't think it had, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that if it wasn't for my blog, I'd probably still be wearing jeans and sweaters every day (and not particularly interesting ones, either), and telling myself I "couldn't" wear the things I wanted to. So I wouldn't say it's improved my style, exactly, but it has definitely made me more confident, about it: I do look back at some of my earlier photos and cringe with horror, though, which makes me worry what I'll think of the current ones in a few years time! I think you might have just inspired a post, actually... ;)

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    1. I LOVE it when you get inspo for a post when leaving a comment for someone, Amber... I do that a lot too! Do let me know when you've written it to make sure I don't miss it. Though I'm having trouble imagining you in jeans and sweaters all the time...!!!!!!! Thanks hun, so glad you liked the post! :)

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  13. I think you're too hard on yourself the outfit aren't that bad. I can't bear to look at my old outfits and I even used to use mirror selfies on my blog, awful!
    Lauren
    livinginaboxx | bloglovin

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    1. I never did the mirror selfies, Lauren - luckily I always had a husband and a DSLR...! ;))

      Thank you my lovely! xx

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  14. I’m not a fashion blogger but I feel the same way about lookbook.nu. I’ve been on there since 2009 and developed my style so much and got so much inspiration from it. It’s been a big part of my online life for years now and been half of the influence for fashion and style for me. Swapping events are the other so I can try different styles at almost no cost which has changed my life as a constantly broke minimum wage worker. I've definitely settled into knowing what is good on me and what I like. Simple cut clothes in bright colours and patterns is what works best. Every year I've found at least 1 new style of something to branch out into so it never stagnates. Btw, I found 1 outfit in each set that you posted that I liked and would wear :P

    https://matchamilady.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thank you Selina - you've just proved my theory right! It's funny that you liked one outfit from each set, it's what most people have said... Doesn't make me cringe any less, though!! x

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  15. I think how we dress and what we wear changes due to fashion and what we see around us. There are somethings that can be learned - what colours go with what, what cuts suit you - but some things are just inborn and can't be taught. My aunt can place a scarf just so to tie an outfit together. I wouldn't have a clue!

    I think we all have photos that we look at and think either that it was wonderful or wonder what we were thinking?! I grew up in the 80's and I have way worse photos than that! Fortunately not anywhere near the Internet!

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    1. Hehe I too have photos from the 80s but I DID put them on the internet in a post about my style through the ages, Mrs T...!!! Unfortunately my blog photos are only 4 years old but already I'm cringeing at them ;))

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  16. Without a doubt fashions change, we change and we find our style in the current style. We also just keep learning, I'm not a fashion blogger, but wow when I think of some of the outfits I used to wear, or even some I've tried more recently, thinking I like that.... But it's the most rediculous thing to wear for my colouring or shape. I live some of your outfits above #brilliantblogposts

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    1. Thank you NewMummy for your thoughts - it's definitely true what you say about the fact that we keep learning! x

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