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...
Case no. 1: Colour BlockingI 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.
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)
Case no. 3: All a bit of a messThere 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.
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...!
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!
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 Stories, iwillwearwhatilike, Visible Monday, Let It Shine, Monday Mingle, Style Sessions, Turning Heads Tuesday, Trend Spin Link-Up, What I Wore Wednesday, Brilliant Blog Posts, Throwback Thursday, My Refined Style, Passion for Fashion Friday, Friday's Fab Favourites