The “Influencer Look”: Whatever Happened to Individuality in Blogging?

Whatever Happened to Individuality in Blogging? (images via rewardStyle

This is not a post about fashion bloggers and what they wear. This is about representation and visibility.

All the images above are taken from one source: emails sent to me from my affiliate programme, rewardStyle. Even if you’re not a blogger, you’ve most likely heard of their shopping app, details of which can be found in the captions of many bloggers’ Instagram posts. The basic premise is that you sign up to, and you get details and shopping links of the items shown in posts of the Instagram accounts you follow.

What the emails from rewardStyle have been showing me for a long time (well, forever) is a very homogenised line up of bloggers and influencers. The lack of variety and diversity is alarming. Not just in age, colour, size, etc. (that’s worrying enough), but in what they’re all wearing.

All the variety and ingenuity of “street style stars” that was so prevalent in blogging 6-10 years ago seems to have vanished.

They’re still out there, but no one seems to be plugging them.

Brands don’t seem to be using them.


Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links which means if you click through and buy I may receive a small commission at no cost to you (click here for my full disclosure).


How fashion blogging worked 10 years ago

Now this is purely my opinion of course, and what I’m NOT doing here is criticising anyone for their choice of clothes/style/hair/makeup. Regular readers will know that I’m the person that started the hashtag #iwillwearwhatilike. It means that women (people!) have the choice to wear whatever they damn well like, whether that’s wearing every single trend going and changing their look regularly, or sticking to the same classic look for years, or wearing avant-garde ‘out there’ styles, or going full-on leathers at age 70.

No one has the right to tell anyone else what to wear – or what not to wear. Respect the occasion and you’re good to go.

But what was so exciting about the sudden rise of fashion bloggers (or should I say style bloggers) in about 2009 was that it showed the everyday woman of ANY age and ANY colour and ANY background and ANY size that there were women out there who looked like her. Who dressed the way SHE wanted to dress, not how the magazines told her to dress.

In other words, you didn’t HAVE to dress like – or look like – models in magazines or on the catwalk.

I was excited by books that featured up-and-coming fashion bloggers like The Nylon Book of Global Style and The Sartorialist. They were full of funky street styles that I pored over. Not necessarily outfits that I’d wear myself, but they had elements that excited me. I could get inspiration from these street style stars. They pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and be more daring.

Not many of them are still blogging today, but recently I was going through the books I bought back then and thinking about the blogs I followed at the time.

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Things are verrrrry different now.

Of those still blogging, very few of those I followed/still follow have maintained their unique style. Many of them have morphed into what I call the “Influencer Look”.


Fast forward to 2019

I can’t remember the last time I read anything about street style stars. Today it’s all about “Instagram influencers”. The whole point of blogs originally was to show that we didn’t have to look the same as models in magazines and wear this season’s clothes… now it seems that all we have pushed down our throats is this standard Influencer Look.

I’m sure you know the look I mean: long, perfectly curled blonde (or bronde) hair. Lots of pastels, florals, ruffles, off the shoulder tops and distressed denim. Strappy heels and pointed ankle boots. A golden tan. Instagram makeup with huge lashes, perfectly groomed, bushy brows and nude, matte lips.

THIS BIT’S IMPORTANT THOUGH: What I want to make perfectly clear is that I do NOT dislike this look. I think these girls look incredible. Believe me, if that look suited me/my personality I’m almost certain I’d be donning the ruffles and strappy sandals as well.

What I find so disheartening is that nine times out of ten, that’s ALL we see in campaigns featuring influencers: The Influencer Look. Influencers are starting to look as homogenous as models in magazines.

Isn’t that what we were so glad to see the end of when fashion blogging became a thing?!

This was what was presented to me as rewardStyle’s picks in one email to me (i.e. this was ALL the influencers featured):

Whatever Happened to Individuality in Blogging? (images via rewardStyle

See what I mean? Long, blonde, perfectly curled hair: check. Ruffles: check. Strappy sandals: check.

Where are the street style stars…? Where are the pink pixie cuts? The customised leathers? The beautiful hijabs? The tartan Doc Marten boots? The vintage queens?

Why are we not seeing all the women who present us with something that’s NOT cookie cutter, that’s NOT “this season”, that’s NOT what all the other brands are showing us?

That’s not to say they’re not out there – they are. I hope that my featured blogger series highlights some of the bloggers who can offer us something other than the Influencer Look (I have lots more posts in that series in the pipeline). Last year I went to an exclusive blogger event, and of the 20-odd girls there only three of us were not 20-something, white and slim – and sporting the Influencer Look from head to toe. I was shocked at just how little effort the brand had made to invite a diverse range of women.

Though now, looking back, I can only think it was on purpose to have mostly that specific fashion tribe representing their brand…?

What’s basically happened is that we’ve come full circle, back to one type of “look” being promoted and pushed the whole time like it was in magazines.

It’s such a shame that individuality isn’t celebrated as much anymore. Or rather I should say that brands, PRs and the media don’t celebrate individuality anymore. And although it seems like it, I’m not just picking on rewardStyle here; many brand campaigns feature a mass of what seems like cloned influencers (like my example mentioned above).

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Because I know that we want more variety, more diversity. We’re open to it. Why is it that brands are so afraid to do something different?

Let’s get back to using street style stars”, I say… what do YOU think?


Catherine signature

P.S. As a lovely antidote to this, how about this amazing scarf from Karen Mabon – now THAT’S what I’m talking about!! No cookie cutter influencers here…

Karen Mabon fashion scarf

P.P.S. The UK Blog Awards is tonight – it premieres on YouTube very soon at 6:30pm UK time! Watch it live-streamed below (I was the UKBA19 fashion judge and we have two 40+ finalists)!


  1. Michelle
    30 December 2019 / 12:57 am

    Just came across your blog while shopping, and you are the first one I have ever decided to follow. From across the pond, I’ve been disheartened by the weight of expectation since I crossed the 50 line four years ago. Even my husband admonishes me to ‘dress my age,’ whatever that means. I’m 5’ tall and weigh 130 lbs. – short but proportional and I’ve been told I pass for a decade younger. All good…but I’ve lately wondered: ‘What does a 50-something woman wear? Is it different from 40+ or 30+? Do I throw out all of my clothes and buy house dresses and Velcro strap sneakers? [That last is sarcasm.]

    I’ve always thought people should dress according to their personalities. So, I enjoyed reading this article and appreciate the determination to be an individual in the face of pressure to conform to a type or an age. I think that brands aim for a type because it’s easier. But, I wish they would use more variety of body shapes and ages to model the clothes.

    In the US, Gen X is still setting the trends in some ways. A lot of styles are marked by the 80s, especially grunge; they take the best aspects of those styles and even throw in the occasional plaid.

  2. 2 May 2019 / 10:36 pm

    I do not follow many FASHION BLOGS……..BY the way SINCERELY,LOREE blog sent me here as she enjoyed your article!She lives on the island of MALTA and you may want to pop over and THANK HER!She writes an amazing blog on THINGS.
    I AGREE with EVERYTHING you have said here.YOU NAILED IT!As one who is coming into the ADVANCED STYLE YEARS these young girls all look the SAME and I find it to be VERY FAKE!Seems Money has taken over……..I must do what the others are doing so I can get……….WHAT?FAMOUS,Money, More LIKES…………….its all becoming a bit TOO MUCH!IT was FUN back in THE DAY but I have to say THE ADS in the BLOGS bother me SO MUCH!They take away from the BEAUTY of the photos and the writing………..just my two cents as I live in the STATES.
    Where dressing has become SO CASUAL ITS SAD!

  3. 30 April 2019 / 9:14 am

    I found this post really interesting as a 50 plus, definitely not a size 0 AND a blogger who uses RS. I have been to the RS conference 4 times! Yes I do stand out 🙂 There is a small core of 40-50 plus bloggers that go and the reason I do is the education provided and the networking especially with brands who probably wouldn’t notice or approach me. Those of us who do go are trying to raise the visibility of the 40 plus diverse bloggers and the fact that we have a very loyal and engaged audience even though we may not have 50000 Instagram followers! It’s a battle. I am the only UK blogger over 40 that has been there for the 4 years I have been. In fact this year there were 4 of us from the UK and the other 3 were in their 20s. I like you Catherine joined RS in the early days so don’t know whether I would be accepted now, but in their defence I will say that they are vary supportive of me. I also think that they present what the brands demand which is the look you describe, it’s business and that’s what’s making money. I think it’s the brands that need educating that there is also a lot of money in more diverse markets – I would say especially 50 plus and Plus size. It seems crazy to me that a brand with an anti ageing cream is using bloggers under 30 to promote it! I have raised the topic of having a 40 plus gathering in Europe rather than Dallas and will keep banging my drum

    • Catherine
      30 April 2019 / 6:52 pm

      That’s a VERY interesting insight, Maria – thanks for sharing! I’ve been to blogging conferences for exactly the same reason, and even hosting a 40+ blogger meet up to try and encourage other older bloggers to attend them. Brands DEFINITELY need educating about diversity – and the fact that there’s money in diversity as you say – but doesn’t it seem like we’re now going backwards as opposed to forwards…? It’s so frustrating!!

      • 30 April 2019 / 7:21 pm

        It is frustrating. Brands never approach me unless they want a “mention” in return for a “free whatever”. Well it’s not free because it’s costing me time and money to create a post and a free whatever doesn’t pay the bills. The fact that I get invited to the RS conference should say to them that I do generate a lot of sales! I will say also that there are some very successful 40+ bloggers in the US BUT a lot of them also have the “influencer” look 20 years on 🙂 The market there is obviously much larger too so whilst there is more competition there is also room for diversity. I met one plus size blogger 2 years ago in Dallas and she is doing brilliantly (you mentioned her in one of you round up posts, Alison from Wardrobe Oxygen) but I think their plus size offerings are so much better than ours and that helps. Beth from Style At A Certain Age is another lady I met who doesn’t fit the stereo type, but gets plenty of sponsored brand work including good old M&S. M&S are one of the few who are good at using more diverse bloggers in both size and age but there is a long way to go. The fashion industry needs to cotton on to the fact that we want clothes that have a nod to the trends but are good quality too and we are happy to pay for it if we find it because we won’t be throwing it out next season. And I agree about the Gucci belt and some “Instagrammers/influencers” wouldn’t have anything to wear if H&M or Zara – both of which I avoid for that reason – went out of business 🙂

  4. 24 April 2019 / 3:43 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for this post Catherine — I could not agree more. I’ve been with RewardStyle for four years now and not once been reposted. The homogeneous nature of what Rewardstyle encourages and supports is so alienating. Not only for bloggers but for readers too. It’s really made me question whether I want to switch up my affiliation — it’d be so wonderful if there was a RewardStyle-esque business devoted to promoting individuality and (eek!) sustainable fashion and less materialistic lifestyles. But perhaps thats an oxymoron?


    • Catherine
      25 April 2019 / 10:09 am

      It IS alienating, isn’t it Ashley?! Which makes no sense seeing as (fashion) blogging is meant to be about regular women and community! I think your idea about there being a rS-style platform to promote diversity would be amazing. We can dream…!

      Thank you for your thoughts x

  5. 23 April 2019 / 4:47 pm

    100% agree! I call them “mall fashion” influencers. They all peddle the same items from the same stores and style them in the same ways. It’s a shame that RewardStyle isn’t doing anything to promote diversity since they have such influence. The RS conference just happened and EVERYONE LOOKED THE SAME. Not only was there no diversity in age, body shape or ethnicity but they were all wearing the same thing. Some of them were even wearing the exact same outfit and accessories – and were proud about it. What?! I’m not saying that I’m a trend setter or wear the most interesting things but at a conference that is supposed to celebrate the people that are the most influential in the blogging game I hold them to a higher standard.

    • Catherine
      25 April 2019 / 10:12 am

      I can just imagine what the rS conference looked like, Jessica… it makes no sense at all, does it? (And it’s so arcjhaic and disappointing, isn’t it??) And what’s with the being proud of looking like everyone else – I can understand if everyone was a teenager, but these are grown women. How brands will pick YOU out to work with you when there are a thousand other bloggers who look exactly like you I’ll never know. “Mall fashion” influencers is a good description!

      Thank you so much for commenting x

  6. 23 April 2019 / 3:04 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Catherine. It perplexes me, when I was that age (pre internet to be fair ;-)), we all wanted to dress as individually as possible, yes we liked some of the same things but there was a lot more fashion diversity, and like you say we didn’t have much interest in the homogenity of magazines/high fashion either. Also there was a lot more thrift shop hunting and general seeking out of different looks pre internet shopping I think.

    I feel awkward criticizing any fashion blogger/trend because I am not one, I will say the older bloggers/bloggers my age I follow do tend to stand out more in terms of creativity. I honestly think a LOT of the younger bloggers’ “look” is an attempt, conscious or not, to blend in and promote an image that they believe will make them monetarily successful, as it has worked for so many others. Which unfortunately leads to saturation/stagnation as your collage proves. It IS odd brands don’t spot this as problematic, I guess as long as they are making money that is all they care about it. Representation matters to many of us but not enough to be heard it feels like sometimes. Hopefully something will give, it does not really show blogging in a positive light or inspire anything new if we only ever see one thing. I also miss the street style blogs of old, there is a missing link with urban ingenuity inspiring fashion, or the artist types who interpret fashion through a new lens entirely. A bunch of thin young white girls recreating each others looks are never going to represent cultural or fashion diversity in the end, even if their mass produced slogan tees originated from an authentic moment.

    • Catherine
      25 April 2019 / 10:18 am

      Thanks Steff for your thoughts! I don’t think it’s about criticizing the actual bloggers or the trends themselves (as I mentioned I do like this look), what we should be doing is criticising the brands, the PR agencies, the platforms that promote this one type of woman/look. I think it reinforces this attitude that bloggers are all freeloaders who don’t do any work except pose with skinny coffee and stay in hotels for free – when they all look the same and are all doing the same thing and promoting the same products (or rather, those are the only ones that the media shows) then we’ll NEVER shake off that misconception.

      The public need to see diverse women doing diverse things and promoting diverse products as you say. The fact that we’ve come full circle and the advertising industry has pushed us back round to what they were shoving down our throats 15+ years ago is VERY frustrating…!

  7. 23 April 2019 / 12:26 pm

    This was an interesting read! I guess I didn’t realize this because the blogs/bloggers that I read and follow are all very different from each other so I do see a lot of individuality. Maybe it is also because I belong to the 40 and above age group so I read the blogs that span the 30 to 60 year old range!

    • Catherine
      25 April 2019 / 10:20 am

      That’s good to hear that you follow a diverse range of blogs, Mireille – I do too, but it’s a shame that brands are STILL not using them very much…!

  8. 21 April 2019 / 4:28 am

    Hi, Catherine – This is so insightful and fascinating…and scary! The powers-that-be seem to always be in control in every area of society; what can knock them out of the way so that the highest good of the masses can prevail? I know that sounds very political, but it’s so frustrating. I’m afraid control over the internet is key. They know it, too, and are attempting to take it over in more ways than one. The exciting thing is that bloggers have made an impact, and I hope they can continue to make strides. This post is one that can help. Thanks, Angie –

    • Catherine
      21 April 2019 / 7:05 pm

      Gosh you’re so right Angie – and yes I agree, it’s completely frustrating. YES to them making an impact and YES to them continuing to do so… thank you for such a great comment/insight! x

  9. Bella the Queue
    19 April 2019 / 7:11 pm

    Well said. I stopped following blogs a while back as I ran out of time to see more and more of the same. The “successful” blogs became more and more skinny, white and often times blonde, and I was relating less and less.
    The original style of street style is still happening just the big companies can’t seem to make money off that it seems, and so it goes. Thanks for posting this.

    • Catherine
      19 April 2019 / 7:29 pm

      Thanks Bella – so sad, isn’t it… street style was so exciting and vibrant, it seems we’ve now just gone back to how it was when we only had magazines as reference!!

  10. 16 April 2019 / 11:44 pm

    MAybe that is why I am a RS reject, I don’t fit that perfectly made mold. Which I am ok with, since it is a very saturated thing RS.

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 5:20 pm

      I think it’s a lot harder to be accepted by rS now, Stephanie – they actually approached ME not long after they started up I assume because they were looking to get bloggers to sign up with them. Not sure how I’d fare now…!

  11. 15 April 2019 / 5:04 pm

    Bravo, Catherine! I still remember when I first discovered WIWT on Flickr, over 10 years and MIND BLOWN. As you said, so many different people, plus size, straight size, traditional, bohemian, thrifted, preppy, all the styles! It was SO inspirational! But sadly, most things tend to homogenize over time and grow more alike. And certainly, brands are “showing the money” to influencers who strut their brands, so I get it.

    I always get a kick out of a group who says WE’RE DIFFERENT and they’re showing that they’re in the “I’m Different” group by all dressing alike, ha ha 🙂

    But a post like this is a good reminder…REMEMBER TO DARE TO BE DIFFERENT!


    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 5:29 pm

      Actually Poppy Dinsey (WIWT) was one of the first ever bloggers I followed, Bettye! I found it so curious that she would photograph her outfit every single day, no matter what she was wearing. I remember pyjamas and a swimsuit making appearances! Oh, how times have changed…

      • 20 April 2019 / 8:00 pm

        So just this week I took a little trip down Memory Lane, back to Flickr (which has sort of lost its golden charm of days gone by), in search of some old school style bloggers…and it was just sad. I did discover a blog by one of my old favorite WIWT Flicker-ers and it’s great – her look is not as “home-grown” as it once was, but it IS years later and (hopefully) we do evolve – but she’s still got a distinctive style so I’m happy for that discovery.


        • Catherine
          30 April 2019 / 6:53 pm

          It’s lovely to discover people you’d forgotten you used to follow, isn’t it Bettye? Like I did when I went through the street style blogging books I bought!

  12. 15 April 2019 / 12:45 pm

    I agree with what you say here Catherine, we see the same looks over and over. I myself do like the ruffles, the off the shoulder tops and the strappy sandals BUT I look nothing like the influencers that we see on insta and that constantly appear on LiketoKnow and nor do I want to!! I may have the same top /shoes/bag as someone else on insta but that’s because I actually like it, not because I’m not individual and feel I need to look like everyone else. I follow people on insta for so many different reasons, a real diverse group of people and I love that but we need to see more of these people and it’s about time brands started promoting us as individuals. I’m with Gail on the new hashtag #standupforindividuality

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:32 pm

      I love the ruffles too, Steph – unfortunately as with most trends the more I see it, the less I want to wear it. And MY GOD the Influencer Look has been done to death, it’s a shame really because it’s such a pretty look!

      I checked the #standupforindividuality hashtag, it’s not being used… that might be a really good idea to get it going like #iwillwearwhatilike!!

  13. kate
    15 April 2019 / 12:09 pm

    yep reading blogs used to be fun, bloggers doing try-ons
    now it’s all the same look as noted above
    or all new agey mid’life nonsense that even at my age bores me

  14. 15 April 2019 / 11:54 am

    Pretty unfortunate – if I would’ve gotten this email, I would’ve had to turn it away simply because none of these bloggers appeal to me. Not one! No individuality, no representation. Not trying to take it there, but it’s pretty sad that more cultures, colors, and styles aren’t deemed as marketable.

    Thank you for writing this post!

    xx, Chanda |

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 12:32 pm

      I never read ANY of the rewardStyle emails for exactly that reason, Chanda – I delete immediately. Just every now and then they’ll include a woman of colour or someone who is ever-so-slightly bigger than a size zero… it’s the tiniest token gesture, and an insulting one at that.

      Glad you liked the post, thank you x

  15. 15 April 2019 / 10:39 am

    So agree with your article. Where is the individuality and the slight wackiness? And street style – yay! Thanks so much for drawing attention to the homogenised look we get all the time. Let’s be a little different!

    And I love that scarf 🙂

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:24 pm

      Street style seems to have all but disappeared, hasn’t it Penny?!

  16. 15 April 2019 / 1:27 am

    I don’t really get into influncers or anything like that. Of course, I have no style-LOL. Thanks for hosting and I hope that you have a wonderful week.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:33 pm

      Thanks Patrick 😉

      • Courtney
        1 May 2019 / 4:41 pm

        Great post, Catherine! I blogged about 10 years ago and quit about 4 years ago. I totally agree with you on your observations on this look. Now so much of fashion has become so boring on-line. I actually get more inspiration from living in Austin and seeing people in real life than online. But even now, this influencer look leaks out into the real world. It’s like the modern stepford wife.

  17. 14 April 2019 / 4:13 pm

    A great topic Catherine.
    Personally, I love the classic “influencer” look… it’s a sign of the times and we’ll look back on it as the look of the decade.
    I’m not influenced by that type of influencer.
    I just love their look.
    I’m only influenced (when I say influenced I mean finding my self buying something worn or recommended) by people who I can relate to.
    Buying a hair product recommended by someone in their early 20’s who is wearing hair extensions is not going to happen.
    Buying a nail polish or a neon overcoat I admire on an over 40 blogger?
    I love the strappy sandals and ruffles and perfect hair… I’d like to see how they coped after a Scottish spring day.
    Blown to bits, frozen to death and soaked to the knickers!
    Keeping it real.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:34 pm

      I love the look too, Samantha – I just go off something I see worn by everyone else (what seems like) all the time!

      “Soaked to the knickers” LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. 14 April 2019 / 11:45 am


    you have hit the nail on the head as usual. I was invited to sign up LTK but refused because it is such an effort to see the garments origins. It really is for the US based market?
    The minute I see a’like to know it’ I usually scroll on or unfollow.
    For us UK based bloggers far more money to be made as an M & S affiliate or , to be chosen to represent a brand in a public campaign. (As you and I have done many times!)

    Love this return to a good old blogging discussion….

    mwah mwah Ash xxxx

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:40 pm

      I started using LTKit too when it first started, Ashley – but I was getting ZERO sales so it seemed like a total waste of time. People get a bit miffed if you don’t to the exact item (which I kinda understand) but whereas on the blog you have space to explain that you’re re-wearing something and “here are some alternatives”, you don’t have that on IG/LTKit.

      So I gave up using it a LONG time ago. Unless you’re wearing ALL new stuff ALL the time there’s really no point to it. And that’s a real environmental no-no now, isn’t it – it goes against everything we’re trying to drum into people about slow fashion = good, fast fashion + hauls + wearing once = bad.

      Yep, in-depth brand collaborations are much more my style, as I know they are yours…! xx

  19. 14 April 2019 / 1:26 am

    I agree with you! It’s so frustrating that companies preach diversity and have it as part of their mission statements, but their social media campaigns fail to reflect those ideals. There’s also a lack of diversity in photography style for their campaigns. I understand wanting a cohesive look, but there may be influencers out there who have a moodier photography style, but they’d be a great fit for the brand, but they get overlooked…

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:41 pm

      Agree with everything you’ve said, Daenel – you’re right, they preach diversity but don’t have it in their campaigns!!

  20. 13 April 2019 / 9:31 pm

    Catherine, I SO agree with you, and that’s been one of my big gripes with RewardStyle. They only seem to push the one aesthetic you’ve shown here. And then those bloggers get the attention of brands and campaigns. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:42 pm

      It’s REALLY frustrating, isn’t it Susan… I think a lot of bloggers are turned down by rS not because of their numbers, but because of their aesthetic 🙁 (we’re back to the 1970s again)!!

  21. Kirsten
    13 April 2019 / 7:50 pm

    Thank you. Agree completely and always appreciate your courage in stating issues.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:42 pm

      Thanks so much Kirsten x

  22. 13 April 2019 / 5:35 pm

    Nailed it! You are so right and I think we become so numb and accustomed to the same ol’ looks, we don’t even notice. At least, I know I don’t. Happy weekend!

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:44 pm

      You’re right, we ARE numb to it Lisa… one day I received yet another email from rS which I (as always) immediately deleted but then thought HANG ON, those girls were all exactly the same as last time, and the time before, and the time before that… hence this post!

  23. 13 April 2019 / 4:30 pm

    You are right they all are look-a-likes. I think that has always been the case that women between 12 and mid-twenty all sort of wore a uniform. Now it’s this instagram influencer look how you call it. Back when I was in my teenage years it was what today is called Bohemian style. In my 20s, it was the banker style, the punker style. Fashion is about self-expression, yes. In the case of the youth, it’s also protest against the generation of the parents. It always has been that way. Gen X (your generation) and the babyboomers (my generation) are about #IwearWhatIwant, indivivuduality, diversity. The Millenia are all about being equal. That’s ok when that’s what they want. What’s worrysome though is that it’s all the same body type. Belonging to a minority, well in the US, everyone belongs to a minority in one or the other aspect, this body stereo-type may be a problem for the teenagers who look up to the women 10-15 years older than they are (like we did back then).

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:48 pm

      It does remind me of teenage girls Nicole – where you see groups of friends out and about wearing almsot-identical clothes. But it makes sense, when you’re a teenager that’s what you do, you’re trying to find your tribe, find your identity. And that’s okay! But we’re grown women, and those girls will be one day too, and it’s such a shame that brands and ad campaigns have totally reverted back to the “one look system” they pushed on us years ago. It seems they (advertisers) weren’t ready to embrace street style and individuality: it’s like it had a good try, but ultimately nothing changed…!

  24. 13 April 2019 / 4:02 pm

    Great post. Oh for sure- there’s a definite homogenized look, but it will run it’s course just like everything else. Those young girls are pushing what sells and some of them are making a good bit of cash-ola in their businesses, doing it. Their age group buys everything in like 2 seconds with about 2 clicks. And to be honest, when has blonde hair and ruffles NOT converted to sales? 😀 In my day, at the same age, a whole slew of girls shopped at Debs for the same 80’s- equivalent look and price, lol. Reward Style caters to them because it’s what’s driving sales, period. In a similar vein, it seems like UK bloggers do not rely as heavily on affiliate marketing as US bloggers do and seem to get more sponsored posts…..would you say that’s true- or is it just the ones that I follow?
    ~Melissa xx

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 1:56 pm

      Having a blogging friend (Michelle Tyler) move from the UK to the US a year ago, I’d say that most definitely yes, UK bloggers do not rely as heavily on affiliate marketing as US bloggers do and seem to get more sponsored posts, Melissa! I find it strange that brands don’t want to promote brand loyalty and authenticity through ongoing collabs with bloggers and would rather just push sales constantly with a shop, shop, shop mentality.

      And yes, I agree the ruffles will run their course, but then it will be replaced with another look. About 5 or 6 years ago the Influencer Look was swing dresses with white Peter Pan collars, statement necklaces and coloured tights with chunky Jeffrey Campbell heels… that gave way for the ruffles and strappy sandals!! It’s a neverending cycle 🙁


  25. Book Goddess
    13 April 2019 / 3:37 pm

    This is a thought from someone admittedly not involved in the “influencer” world. I’m pretty sure that Alison is right about the money aspect. And we all need money. As Dorothy Parker remarked, “a girl must eat.” So perhaps full time bloggers need to find a different way to get income from their enterprise. The brilliant Maria Popova of Brain Pickings politely encourages donations and subscriptions to her blog. I’m grateful to bloggers like Catherine and Alison who are thoughtful and original. We should support them.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 2:05 pm

      I make very little money from affiliate links, Goddess – it’s pocket money really, nothing LIKE a full-time income. My main money is earned from brand collaborations, sponsored posts, making videos for brand campaigns, etc. I know that many bloggers DO make a lot from affiliate earnings, but when it crosses over into brand campaigns like the event I mentioned (where the majority were sporting the Influencer Look) it makes no sense. Surely to reach a wider audience with your brand/product (which in this instance wasn’t the clothes they were wearing) you need to invite a diverse range of women.

      And with the number of brands (and the diversity of brands!) that are associated with rewardStyle, you’d think they’d promote MORE than just the on-trend ruffles and strappy sandals… it makes no sense for rS to promote such a narrow range of styles… talk about reducing your market!! So I totally agree that we should be supporting more individual bloggers, not least because what they wear can still be bought through rS-affiliated brands!

  26. 13 April 2019 / 3:16 pm

    It’s all about conversion rates right? I gave up using RS on my Instagram a long time ago because I simply don’t convert to sales. Probably doesn’t help that I actively discourage my followers to shop heehee.
    Regardless of the shopping aspect, the worst part of this, in my opinion, is the absence of black skin. White privilege is clearly the ideal product here which is very sad indeed.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 2:13 pm

      Yes the conversion rates thing does make sense MT, but not when you think of the diverse range of brands available on rS!!

      eBay, Etsy and Oxfam are on rS, so are all the brands that sell plus size clothes, so it’s still possible for them to promote those bloggers who do NOT wear the Influencer Look… they just choose not to. I bought my last two awards events gowns from Etsy as you know – okay, you can’t buy the exact same one but promoting vintage or pre-worn brands SHOULD be a responsibility of rS. Fast fashion leaves such a bad taste in your mouth, it’s long overdue for rS to step up to the plate and support brands that promote slow fashion, isn’t it 🙁

  27. 13 April 2019 / 12:47 pm

    I am in the over 60 category of blogger and I write about what I want, I write about health issues, books I have read, places I visit and yes there are some fashion posts but I write about stuff I want to share, because it has worked for me. I started my blog a few years ago because I found the young blogger/influencer had no relevance to my life.

    I believe you are right in your assessment. I am for individuality, honesty and transparency at every age.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 2:15 pm

      At EVERY age – you’re absolutely right, Hilda! And as rS have bloggers of ALL ages/backgrounds/colours etc. signed up to their platform it’s pretty appalling that they only support those that fit the Influencer Look and brand 🙁

  28. 13 April 2019 / 11:59 am

    Holy Freakin Canolli Catherine! As a “like-to-know-it” reject with over 5,500 Instagram followers, I was told my feed wasn’t conducive to what they want. Perhaps it’s because I don’t pose pigeon-toed, i don’t look down at my feet whilst holding sunglasses, and I don’t have long hair cascading past my shoulders.
    But I’m glad. I’ve no photographer, my camera tales less-than-stellar photos, and I smile!
    My blog is my baby and my IG is fun! I get to review wigs and products on my own terms and I love that!
    Thanks for another great post!!!

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 2:17 pm

      Unfortunately you’re EXACTLY right, Cathe – that’s exactly why they would have turned you down, judging by the other bloggers I’ve spoken to who have also been turned down by rS. If you don’t fit their aesthetic, they’ll most likely reject you. Leaves a really bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it…?!

      SO glad you do what you love! Don’t ever change!!

  29. 13 April 2019 / 11:37 am

    What happened was the monetization of Instagram. The majority of people who use Instagram to shop are under 30 and they’re using Instagram to try to create a life they don’t have but want. Like we did decades ago with magazines, but now they can actually afford some of the items featured. And with the affiliate program being in Dallas, Texas there’s a certain aesthetic there as there is for most major cities across the globe. And these women make a lot of money being clones. You can’t make a lot of money linking to your vintage dress or the sweater you purchased three years ago or the scarf you knit yourself. Money talks, and for Instagram the money is in slim white women under 30 with a slight tan, long hair (natural or extensions), a Gucci belt, skinny jeans, delicate gold necklaces, and some slouchy sweater falling off their shoulder with a designer bag. But I think the tide again will be turning. In the US, I see so much desire for diversity, so many people protesting, brands extending their size. I don’t see the age diversity being first (unless they’re sprinkling in an extremely toned over 50 champagne blonde with a Gucci belt or a sleek silver vixen with a designer wardrobe) but I am happy to see that people are complaining when there isn’t size or racial diversity and brands are seeing they need this to continue to succeed. And posts like this Catherine, where you bring to light the imbalance in the influencer industry. Thank you!

    • 13 April 2019 / 4:20 pm

      Agree with this 100% Alison. Spot. On. The Dallas TX thing as well- is a HUGE reason that they all look the same! I DO see racial and size diversity in so many BRANDS now. And I agree- it’s already beginning to change. It always does and always will.
      ~Melissa xx

      • Catherine
        15 April 2019 / 2:32 pm

        I always knew that the founder of rS is from Dallas, Melissa – I just get frustrated with rS in that they make out that we’re ALL in Texas and we ALL want to wear that look. The OTS tops and denim cut offs just don’t work in cold, damp Britain…!!

        If rS don’t support the brands and the bloggers who ARE diverse then it’s always going to be an uphill struggle, isn’t it? x

        • 16 April 2019 / 5:26 pm

          So true. (And until Alison mentioned it, I never gave a thought as to that being the reason they all look alike. 😀 😀 ) I’m a long, long way from figuring it out, that’s for damn sure. I recently wrote a post on how bloggers make money on the gram and through affiliate links, because I get asked about it a TON. But writing the post, along with THIS post, really got me thinking about how I’d like to move forward. I think like maybe 5 people in the whole world actually read words right now, lol- but surely that will change, right? (right??) I love marketing and trying all.the.things– and while it is frustrating, my brain seems to be enjoying trying to figure this out. On a side note, I think the young IG-ers are starting to shake in their sandals a little bit-a lot of them are suddenly putting some effort into their blogs. I saw rS post: “You’ll never influence the world by being just like it”, which made me laugh out loud! 😀 😀 Anyway- thanks for making me think, love.

          • Catherine
            17 April 2019 / 6:37 pm

            OMG they really said that Melissa?! Oh, the irony…!!!! *rolls eyes*

    • Linda
      13 April 2019 / 8:06 pm

      YES–“Influencers are starting to look as homogenous as models in magazines.” YES–“And these women make a lot of money being clones. ” The whole idea about being an “influencer” is empty, based on commodities: what you wear, where you shop, what you cook…. Authentic style is about your creativity, individuality and understanding of yourself. Real cuisine is about understanding the history of food and cultures, not some overworked mess (aka flavor bomb) that a home cook has photographed in dark light. Being an “influencer” is a vacant pastime–but perfect for cookie cutter, consumer-followers of fashion, cuisine and design, etc. Thanks much, Catherine, for writing about this.

      • Catherine
        15 April 2019 / 2:37 pm

        Thanks Linda – I really dislike the term influencer, but here it makes perfect sense. If you’re only going to promote one look (and one look only) in order to sell, sell, sell, then yes, the reason you are being promoted IS to “influence” people into buying stuff.

        It’s as if the hard sell is the only method that works: it’s incredibly old-fashioned and outdated to assume that consumers are robotic and have to be told what to buy, isn’t it…?

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 2:28 pm

      Thank you Alison – you’re absolutely spot-on! I didn’t mention the monetisation thing as the post would have gone on forever(!), but that IS the reason why as you say.

      rewardStyle is a brand within itself, and they have a certain aesthetic… it’s not JUST rS though as I said – many brands fail to present a diverse range of women in their campaigns, even when they don’t sell ruffles or tanning cream or anything else to do with the Influencer Look.

      However things are changing, albeit slowly – I’ve worked with Revolution Makeup and Avon in the last year and both brands invited a VERY diverse range of women (and men!) to work with them, it was an absolute breath of fresh air.

      Pushing the Influencer Look to rS users who are in the Texas area makes perfect sense, but when you live in dull, rainy England and you’re nothing like a size zero or aged 22 then the ruffles and strappy sandals that they push in my direction makes no sense… it’s kind of insulting that they don’t even attempt to personalise the emails even by country (I’m forever being sent invites to rooftop events in NYC, for example)!!!

      Glad you liked the post Alison, thanks for a great comment x

  30. 13 April 2019 / 11:34 am

    You know, Catherine, I hadn’t really thought about this, but you are spot on! I guess I haven’t had much time lately to scroll through my IG feed to see what you are talking about. Maybe that is a good thing, for me, as it has not influenced my individual style in any way. And I agree with you. I think these women look amazing with their long blonde locks, ruffles, and strappy sandals, but it is so not for me personally. I think I may have it tried some of these looks once or twice and quickly realized….so not me! And returned to my crazy out of the box ways where I can be Goth, then preppy, then punky, then retro, or maybe a mix of it all in one, whenever I want, however I want, because that is MY style! And while it took me into my 40’s to be proud of my sometimes strange sartorial choices, once I hit that place I realize that others really do appreciate my quirkiness even if they would never wear what I am wearing. Great post, my friend!


    • 13 April 2019 / 11:36 am

      Oh…and I also wanted to say that scarf is amazing! I have a similar one that was created by Anne M. Bray of Spy Girl a few years ago when she did her Fashion Rainbow series that featured 52 over 40 bloggers sketched in a fashion rainbow. I was so blessed to be one of those featured and then she had the entire series printed on a scarf. I will have to pull that out and style it on the blog again! I mean, my image is on a scarf. That other people wear! How cool is that!


      • Catherine
        15 April 2019 / 3:10 pm

        And thank goodness for bloggers like you who DO celebrate their uniqueness, Shelbee – we’d all be clones otherwise, thinking that the Influencer Look is what we should all be dressing like if what brands promote is anything to go by!

        Plus WOW to actually being on a scarf… that’s so incredibly cool!!!!

  31. 13 April 2019 / 5:57 am

    You are on to something. Is everyone going through a stage and think that we “need” to be the same as everyone else. Maybe a bit of a security thing.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 3:11 pm

      I think brands try to make us THINK everyone needs to be the same Deborah – I personally don’t think it’s a stage at all, it’s as old as advertising itself!!

  32. 13 April 2019 / 12:52 am

    I definitely agree that the style on Instagram is rather homogeneous. Often when looking through accounts of influencers, especially those with tons of followers, they all tend to bleed together be it in regards to the products featured, filters used or even the locations and compositions of the photos. I wasn’t on Instagram 10 years ago, but it sounds like it was a much more organic experience, which is sadly not as prevalent today.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 10:54 pm

      Instagram was VERY different when it started, Katie… we posted an endless number of times a day, we added all manner of filters, we saw everything in chronological order, there was no monetisation. And it’s the monetisation that’s made it homogenous, but even if you discount IG then you STILL have the same style of bloggers used over and over again in brand camapigns…!

  33. Lori
    12 April 2019 / 10:51 pm

    Agree 100%. I see a lot of influencers from the suburban South, often Texas, promoting white jeans and stilettos “ for the office”. It does not represent any type of real life. Try wearing that on the tube for a day and see how great you look. For what job should you wear shorts, jeans, thigh-high slits or revealing key-hole necklines? If you are in a creative office, I think you already know how to wear jeans. I am frustrated by the homogeneity but also how completely unrealistic it is.

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 10:55 pm

      The style appeals to/is practical for a VERY narrow market, isn’t it Lori…?

  34. 12 April 2019 / 10:16 pm

    I think it was the ‘Swipe Up’ feature that began the problem. It was a chance to earn money from affiliate links so they all wore the clothes from current collections in the most popular way and therefore old clothes, vintage or thrifted or altered clothes became seen less and less as there was no money in showcasing those looks. Is that too cynical of me?!
    I think there is a very slow shift beginning though as fast fashion is becoming less, well, fashionable! I’m hoping so anyway.
    LOVE that scarf!
    Helen x

    • 13 April 2019 / 12:38 pm

      Oh you are soooooo correct! I’ve actually unfollowed IG ers because of the incessant use of the “swipe up” it’s annoying!!!

    • Catherine
      15 April 2019 / 11:11 pm

      No, not cynical at all Helen – personally I think it’s been a problem for bloggers who wear vintage/preworn since the very start of rewardStyle. BUT there are so many brands whose aesthetic fits that style of blogger, so why they don’t seem to be using them I don’t know… or rather, we don’t see them.

      But yes you’re absolutely right about fast fashion falling out of fashion, I totally agree!!

  35. Navy
    12 April 2019 / 9:23 pm

    And they’re I was thinking that I am weird by being bored with all these boring looks. I know I will never be a blogger who makes the difference, who will be asked by fantastic brands, who wakes up in the morning and be surprised by outrageous numbers on my blog. But I am unique and genuine! Looking forward to see the outcome of the awards!

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 5:30 pm

      Not weird at all, Nancy – I think you’re probably in the majority (for our age group, anyway)!

  36. 12 April 2019 / 9:10 pm

    Catherine, that scarf says it all! I may be blonde, but I have little in common with the “influencer look.” I started blogging for my own personal journey as I semi-retired, and know there are lots of women out there like me who want to flaunt their own personal style!

    Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments. It’s interesting to hear about the evolution of fashion blogging!

    xx Darlene

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 5:31 pm

      The scarf is superb, isn’t it Darlene…?!! Glad you liked the post, thank you x

  37. Renee
    12 April 2019 / 8:58 pm

    OK, but back to that scarf! At first glance I thought someone had done a collage of drawings of you and a lot of the other Over 40 Collective influencers! You are clearly the inspiration for the lady in the bottom row in the peach dress and red blazer, and when I look at the blonde in the blue dress, orange jacket and big shades, that is definitely Lisa The Sequinist! Am I the only one who sees this?

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 5:31 pm

      Oh bless you Renee, that’s so kind of you!! Thank you 😀 #daymade

  38. 12 April 2019 / 8:41 pm

    So glad to read this! I couldn’t agree more. I am so unlike “influencers” and pretty much refuse to follow anybody who has that as a title. I don’t want to be influenced. I want to make connections and be inspired. Quite different. Also, as a five foot tall, 50 year old busty redhead, those looks will never ever work for me. Even if I were 20 and blonde and skinny again, I wouldn’t pull it off as well as those ladies and still wouldn’t want to see it! 😉 I would love to see IG and the internet as a whole go back to celebrating all of us in all our unique beauty, and would love to see advertisers pick up on that.

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 5:34 pm

      You sound a bit like me – as soon as something becomes popular and seen everywhere you go right off it… or at least, you refuse to wear it anymore/at all. I wish advertisers would pick up on unique style more – I think beauty brands are doing this more, but fashion brands still have a long way to go IMO…!

  39. 12 April 2019 / 8:25 pm

    …and again a banging post! Totally agree with you Catherine, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I too would love to look/dress like this but i don’t so i work with what I’ve got, and what i own or buy and make the best of it – that’s my individuality and i love it! I might not be different or wacky, but i wear what i want to wear ( i admit i do follow some trends) but i dress for what i think suits me! Thanks again Catherine for a wonderful post. Good luck in your first (i think) judging job! Will look forward to hearing the outcome. Jacqui Mummabstylish

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 5:35 pm

      Thank you Jacqui! Thank goodness you DO wear what you like, otherwise wouldn’t the [blogging] world be a boring place if we really did ALL look exactly the same…?!

  40. 12 April 2019 / 8:20 pm

    As one who has recently joined the blogosphere and virtual world, I appreciate your experience and take on “influencer culture”! I loved The Sartorialis and am very particular about whom I follow on Insta. I understand advertisers wanting to buy space from influencers, but the homogeneity is depressing and antithetical to personal style. It reminds me of when I was a girl. Seventeen magazine had an enormous readership and influence on teens. Totally expected! With each new issue there would be some of-the-moment hairstyle or lip color. But this extension of teen-fad style into “adulthood” is bizarre. I’m a grown-up. I get to decide my style. Getting off soapbox now…

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 6:22 pm

      Liz you’ve completely summed up my feelings where you’ve said “the homogeneity is depressing and antithetical to personal style”… never a truer word said. And yes, it IS weird to have it extend into adulthood – there can only be so many ruffles to go round, surely?!!

      Thanks for a great comment, always love a soapbox moment!! 😉

  41. 12 April 2019 / 7:43 pm

    Such a spot-on post, Catherine, as always! I completely agree. But that is why these people, brand and Instagram posts will never influence me. Because I’m not blonde, with legs to my armpits and the skinniest waist. And I detest ruffles. And prints (let’s agree to disagree). So I think it can also be a case of self selection, these people will never in a million years make it into my IG feed. I’d rather look at a plus size lady that makes her own clothes and posts them in her messy sewing room. And cheer her on and admire the craft, although I am not plus sized or like her fabric choice. Because she creates authentic! Also, I love following people like you even if your style isn’t my style, but I love your words and what you stand for. #authentic
    P.S. I LOVED the Sartorialist!!

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 6:25 pm

      I deleted that style of blogger from my feed a long time ago, Alex – and it’s so much better for it! But it doesn’t stop me seeing it all. the. freekin. time, though… brands need to wake up and do something more interesting rather than just doing what all the other brands are doing!

      Loved your reasoning for who to follow – I too follow lots of bloggers whose style I don’t necessarily like or would wear myself, but by ‘eck she’s put thought and love into her outfit and loves it herself – enthusiasm is what it’s all about for me!!

  42. 12 April 2019 / 7:23 pm

    I’m guessing RewardStyle keeps promoting this look because it converts well; it may be reflective of and/or (sadly) aspirational to their customer base. I’m happy to report that my personal IG feed is way more diverse in terms of body type, age, and coloring, and I know that many of these ladies are RewardStyle influencers themselves. Now if only RewardStyle would take a chance and advocate for more diversity…
    Cheryl Shops |

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 6:26 pm

      I assume it does convert well, Cheryl – but then how would they know whether other styles (of clothes and more diverse women types) also convert well, they’ve never promoted anything other than the Influencer Look!! I agree about them needing to take a chance. We can live in hope…

  43. 12 April 2019 / 6:22 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I aim for and am inspired by unique individual style; I’m bored by the frothy pastel strappy RewardStyle crew that all wear the same thing and look like mirror images of each other. I don’t understand the 40+ non rS bloggers who all wear THE SAME spotty jumpsuit at the same time, and the same trainers and the same Bella Freud jumpers, etc. I have come to accept that most people are genuinely not comfortable with being different; they are happier blending in and wearing the merit-badge equivalent Gucci belt they see on everyone else . Are you an influencer if you’re completely influenced by other influencers? Whoa!

    • 13 April 2019 / 12:47 pm

      Oh Honey, I’m cross-eyed as all get out, I’m old as dirt, I’ve got scars on my face from accidents and skin cancer. I have wrinkles and fish lips. I have thighs and hips. I lost 70 percent of my hair! But yet, it still works! Brands, with the exception of the wig companies I work with reject me like a college applicant with no money! But I don’t care because my sense of humor remains and I have a blast with Instagram-I also call out companies for their use of the culottent “anti-aging “—it’s pro-aging!!!

      • Catherine
        17 April 2019 / 6:30 pm

        And really Cathe, who DOESN’T have a long list of all the ways we’re not like the Influencer Look influencers? I couldn’t be further from that type if I tried…!! So glad you still love IG, it’s actually refreshing to hear someone talk positively about it! x

    • 14 April 2019 / 11:50 am

      Lisa yes yes yes!
      I’m so with you on those 40+ igers they actually make me laugh these days! talk about sheep?
      Gucci belt anyone? NO THANK YOU !

      Ash xxxx

      • Catherine
        17 April 2019 / 6:31 pm

        Oh, the bl**dy Gucci belt Ashley… I like it but good god, there must be other types of belt to wear, surely?!! Use some imagination, ladies!

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 6:28 pm

      I think you’re right about the majority not wanting to be different – but thank goodness for women like you Lisa who DO challenge the norm and DO wear whatever the heck they like!

      And KUDOS for pointing out “Are you an influencer if you’re completely influenced by other influencers?” – you’re right, you can’t be both!!

  44. 12 April 2019 / 6:08 pm

    How right you are Catherine. I’ve become very bored of the “influencer look” as applied to most bloggers under the age of 40, and the constant backdrops of Peggy Porschen’s cafe and random Beetle cars. Maybe we need a new hash tag, #standupforindividuality

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 6:33 pm

      Oh lord Peggy Porschen’s cafe as a backdrop #facepalm… if you think how large and varied London is, it’s a shame EVERY blogger and their dog goes to PPC, isn’t it Gail?!

      Also that hashtag (#standupforindividuality) is a VERY good idea – it’s not being used currently, maybe we should get it going?!

  45. 12 April 2019 / 5:52 pm

    I agree with everything you say. Although I too like the looks you write about (ruffles etc), I sometimes can’t tell the difference between some influencers that I follow and have followed for years, because their outfits and sometimes even their stance and posture are so similar xxx

    • Catherine
      17 April 2019 / 6:35 pm

      Oh I can’t tell the difference between most of them either Liz – which is why it makes no sense to me that so many brands ONLY use bloggers of the Influencer Look type? Surely their brand would stand out more if they used a really diverse line up?!!

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