Friday, 28 January 2011

Friend Friday: Blog Mechanics

Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email  This week we are talking about the mechanics of blogging, the technology behind it and our picture taking process. The biggest challenge for me has been getting good outfit shots and I didn't really do them when I started blogging because I felt I couldn't do them on location and didn't have a good backdrop.  I don't think I am alone here so I've explained here how I got around it.

1. What technology do you use in blogging? (computer, camera, video camera, tripod, etc...)

I use my boyfriend's Nikon D5000 SLR and an old tripod that he's had for years.  If I'm out and about or travelling and its not practical to carry the Nikon I take a small Canon Ixus 970 IS to take snaps.  I have a Samsung laptop and although I have access to Macs (Mr V is a big Macintosh fan) I tend to favour Microsoft as I'm more familiar with it from having used it for work.

2. What computer and online technology do you use? (blogging system, photo storage, photo editing tools, etc..)

I use blogger as I like the look of it and just want to keep things simple.  I do actually have a Wordpress blog for something else but don't use it very much.  I use the Microsoft picture editor to edit my photographs as I find it quick and easy to use.  I recently bought Premiere Elements and am trying to learn how to use Photoshop but am struggling to get used to it.  I just stick photos straight from my laptop into blogger.  I find faffing around with Flickr and then loading from there into blogger too time consuming.

I have the technological equivalent of an abacus for a mobile phone so it is never involved in blogging or tweeting.

3. What is your process for taking pictures? 

Depends what I am photographing.  Anyone who visits this blog regularly will know I don't just do outfit shots.  I take a combination of photos of things in my wardrobe, some outfit shots and sometimes I take photos of events I attend such as London Fashion Week or fashion buying trips.

At the London Fashion Week trade shows.

Sometimes there will also be pictures of where I travel to and the occasional other random thing I find ascetically appealing thrown in.

A morning coffee.

Most of the photos on my blog are taken by me but some are taken by Mr V (who is actually a pretty good photographer!).

Taken on a jetty by Mr V at my brother's wedding in Oz.

As for my process, it's pretty much trial and error at the moment.  When I shoot objects clothes, shoes or jewellery, I have an idea of what I'd like the image to look like, set up the shot, take a photo and fiddle with the settings until I get the effect I'm after.  Usually I'm trying to pick out a detail I like in the clothes.

Trying to capture the studs on my gloves.

The majority of my outfit shots are now done in the comfort and privacy of my own home and I take them myself.  There is usually a comedy of errors going on behind the scenes before I get a shot I like.  I use a tripod and a remote but often I'm pretty rubbish at hiding the remote and it appears in the shot!

At home in my kitchen with the remote which annoyingly, sometimes gets in the shot!

Getting outfit shots in outdoor locations is problematic as I personally cannot bring myself to pose a squillion times in front of an SLR in public on my own.  So if there is an outdoor shot it chances are Mr V was with me and took it.  He tends to be a lot more careful than I am about choosing where I stand and the camera settings.  But usually he is working under extreme duress as when we are out in public with the camera the picture process is more like - "Quick! Nobody's around! Let's take a cheesy outfit shot here before anyone sees us!" Click!

Riverside: Taken in Oz after Mr V went for a windsurf

4. When it comes to backdrops for your photos what do you consider? Do you scout locations or shoot the same spot daily?

If I'm taking a photo of a piece of clothing, jewellery or a pair of shoes I usually take them in my flat and arrange them on a bit of furniture, my dresser, on a ledge or on the floor, any place where I think that features I want to highlight will show up nicely, where there is good natural light and where I can avoid photographing any mess in the background.  No mean feat!

My jewellery collection

A white wicker chair in the bedroom often gets used for shoe shots.

For outfit shots I have a recently re-painted, white wall in my kitchen I usually use as a backdrop.  It has been a life saver as it currently remains dark until about ten in the morning here and is too dark for photos by about four in the afternoon.

My White Wall is my makeshift photography studio!

Add to that the constant cloud and rain in London and the chances of finding natural light for photos of anything when I actually have time to take them is pretty low.  I'm also concerned about taking pictures alone in public with the camera perched on a tripod out of my reach and it getting stolen, especially as it is not my camera!  I live in a big city where unfortunately this is a risk.  So outfit shots outdoors at the moment are not possible for me unless Mr V comes along or I can hide away from prying eyes in long grass with the remote and take them unnoticed!

Taken in a local park hiding in the grass with my camera and remote

As a result of all that I had to find a backdrop at home that looks okay with flash photography.  I find the plain white wall works well as there is minimum interference from other things like brickwork or furniture in the background and you can actually see the detail of the clothes.  It also means I can play around with the settings, the tripod and poses until I get a shot I'm happy with.  If I had to do all that outside with spectators I would be mortified!

Trying to fit my fluffy coat in the view finder!

I don't really scout for locations.  Occasionally Mr V and I bring the camera along if we know there is going to be some decent natural light when we go out on our daily activities or on an excursion.  We have been known to sneak a photo on our grocery shops.

Grocery shopping

If we see somewhere that looks like it might make an interesting backdrop we'll whip the camera out but it's not preplanned other than "lets bring the camera along with us today and see if we can get an outfit shot along the way".

Taking a sly outfit photo with an interesting door we happened to spot near Borough Market

To get over our inhibitions about taking contrived and posed outfit shots in public Mr V and I now also have a little trick of pretending to be snap happy tourists wherever we happen to be, Australia, Spain or England.  This is particularly easy to do in London as the city is overrun with visitors taking photos.  So if we are in central London it's pretty easy to blend in with other tourists and take shots with iconic London scenes as a backdrop!

A nice side effect is that we are getting some nice photographs that will serve as mementos charting what we've done and where we've been as we have often in the past neglected to do this even when we go on holiday!

Pretending to be tourists strolling through Southwark.

5. If you could splurge and get one new piece of equipment what would you be buying?

The Nikon is Mr V's so at some point I should splurge out and get my own.  But its not essential at the moment as he hardly uses it unless we are on holiday, if I have a flamenco gig and the handful of times when I tell him to bring it along on an outing for a few sly outfit shots on location.  A portable tripod would be handy but I don't think I'll ever overcome the nerves of setting up and taking photos of myself alone in public.

A flamenco outfit shot by Mr V.

What I really want to splurge out on now is not a new piece of equipment, but a short digital photography course.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Cropped Leather Motorcycle Trousers

You might remember I bought a pair of cropped leather motorcycle trousers and a feather coat during the festive season and I had hoped to wear them for New Years Eve.  Well I did wear the leather trousers, but as we had a rather low key dinner with friends I left the feather coat and gold lamé glitziness at home.  However, in the spirit of my last Friend Friday post about outfit planning, I did make the time the weekend before last to do a trial try on of the outfit I had originally planned to wear to see if it works.  Since there has also been a special request to see the trousers in an outfit shot (Mrs Bossa!) I'm posting the result.  Now I just need somewhere to wear it to...

I'd been looking for a good high street version of the cropped motorcycle trouser Isabel Marant did this season. I tried on a couple on the high street and found them either too big at the waist or too long.  As I'm quite short a cropped trouser is never actually going to be cropped on me!  I was quite tempted by a pair by Vila on ASOS, as modelled here by the lovely I'm Not Emily Brown, but they sold out in my size before I could get to them.  Topshop to the rescue! This one appeared online shortly after my Vila disappointment.  They are a length that at least didn't need taking up at the ankles and I liked the top stitching details, distressed finish and metal zips.

You know that old adage that the sales person in the shoe department feeds you when you are dithering over whether to buy a pair of leather shoes that are uncomfortably tight somewhere? They'll tell you with absolute confidence that because they are made out of leather the shoes will stretch with time and wear to be comfortable.  If you heed their advice and buy the shoes you will for certain cripple yourself trying to walk in them before the leather ever stretches enough.

Well this scenario is what ran through my head when I was trying on these trousers in a size eight and ten.  The eight only just buttoned up and it was very difficult to get them over my overdeveloped flamenco dancer calves.  Once they were on I could barely move in them, but their fit certainly had the right sort of spray on look I was after from a pair of leather trousers.  The problem was that if I put on so much as half a kilo they'd be off limits.  I like my food, so I took the ten to be safe, worrying also that the leather might tear before stretching.  The ten buttoned up easily and I could actually sit down in them without showing builder's bottom!

Since I bought them I have worn them a lot! They are comfortable, warm and people who look like respectable, law abiding citizens cross the road to avoid me (great when you're in a hurry).  But guess what?  The leather stretched! So now they are a bit baggy around the waist, thighs and rear and I'm wondering if I made the right decision size wise because they will probably stretch further the more I wear them.

Do tailors take in leather trousers?  I hope so!  I would like to get even more wear out of them this year without them looking like they don't fit well anymore.  I see Rachel Zoe is plugging them for Spring and I had to chuckle at her suggestion that they can be made office-appropriate with a blazer and lace-up booties - ahh bless!  I can only imagine the type of office that she's got in mind!  Gotta love that woman.  Maybe I should send her my CV...

Cropped leather motorcycle trousers, Topshop; Feather Coat, Topshop Boutique; Navy cotton vest, Cos; Lamé blouse, Milly (via Ebay); Boots, Michael by Michael Kors;

Monday, 24 January 2011

Comment Love

I had an amazing response to my posts about Vogue Three Strikes Vogue - You're Out! and Anti Fashion Resolutions and this post is a big thank you to everyone who commented.  From reading all your comments it is apparent that there are many other women out there who love clothes and fashion but have the same issues with the type of content I've highlighted recently.  It was very interesting to see how many people had said they had stopped buying or reading Vogue altogether.  These are intelligent, discerning women who put a lot of thought into how they dress and Vogue manages to completely alienate them. 

We don't often have the time to read all the comments on the posts of bloggers we follow but I have had some very interesting and thoughtful ones that I felt were really worth sharing.  These are but a selection of my favourite comments - the ones that got me thinking, nodding my head vigorously at the computer screen or that made me laugh.  Thanks once again everybody for providing such a lively and thought provoking discussion.

Aesthetic Alterations said...

Those quotes--wow--they're offensive. A business woman myself, I'm more than a little pissed off. While this may be merely a midwestern thing, I have to work hard to be taken seriously as a professional woman in this environment, and even more so as I clearly enjoy the sartorial pleasures of life. So what's with a *woman's magazine* undervaluing the challenges, risks, and pressures that inform real-life business pursuits by women?

the Citizen Rosebud said...

I never really thought about how much I roll my eyes at the text of my issue of Vogue, and Harper's Bazaar, but they are perennially out of touch with real life. Although I may quibble with your personally about the stripes (loved them for years, and even as a chubby I wear them) and the black bra under everything, I am not trying to dictate my personal preference de facto. Like the kid who calls out the Emperor, you've nailed it, nude is nude is nude, and Vogue's cluelessness to real life stands out stark naked.

The Elegant Bohemian said...

Interesting post.....I normally just buy In Style and Lucky. Occasionally I'll pick up Elle. I've gotten a Vogue about a year ago; but to be honest, I can't even relate. Stick thin models, over the top editorials, housing priced shoes...c'mon. Who lives in that world and is that even a world that I want to be a part of? Vogue doesn't own "style". Many fashion bloggers I've seen have it in spades and they didn't take a second mortgage on their houses to get it. Vogue, to me, has always seemed too "to the manor borne" for my taste.

Prêt à Porter P said...

"Black Model" tribe. It is so ridiculously stupid, that you can't help but laugh at it. I think any non-white model knows that she's going to have an uphill battle in making it. But once they make it, these girls HAVE STAYING POWER. Unlike those pouty doe-eyed 14 yearold girls that are interchangeable, entirely forgettable, and can't convey any sort of personality in a photo.

tinyjunco said...

...seriously, this kind of tripe shows what happens when advertising dictates content, and when the editors/writers/etc. of a publication inhabit a completely different socio-economic universe than their readers - unawares, yet. that's the beauty of so many style bloggers - they are part of their own audience, and write unconstrained by demands of advertisers and profit.

...the mindset of being fascinated by the rich and well-connected simply because they are rich and well-connected seems to be breaking up, more than a little due to the availability of diverse viewpoints out there on the 'nets. and not a moment too soon!

JTWisdom said...

I get these magazines in the mail but half the time I shake my head because I never see a variety of sizes and shapes of women. It does me no good to see one woman who is curvy or not a size zero and see everyone else in the magazine razor edge thin.

jill815 said...

... had a similar reaction to something I read in the US Vogue for January when Lauren Santo Domingo talked in an article about rich women being "shut out" from buying EXACTLY what they saw on designers' runways. I thought, Are you kidding me? Do you expect me to believe that somebody as wealthy as you is "shut out" from anything you want? I put the magazine down after that article and haven't been able to pick it up since.

Vintage Vixen said...

It's like reading a magazine from the 1950's what with "their families' financial clout", "Their husband's blessing"and sticking black women into a "tribe" no wonder the girls who work for them dress like post war debutantes.
I was reading this month's Easy Living in the opticians today and snorted out loud with their "Fashion On The Cheap" advice of wearing a £16 cocktail ring on each My coats don't cost that much. Bring on the revolution.

Comtesse de ferveur said...

Vogue UK has gone so downhill with Shulman at the helm - it's all syrupy now and like one big Enid Blyton novel for grown-ups, with its picnic blankets, completely outdated notion of the English rose and hapless but wallet-happy husbands. You are so right about the heinous compartmentalisation of non-Caucasian models. 'Tribal' as a trend (and it's one of Vogue's favourite buzzwords) always makes me feel queasy. I thought Vogue was meant to be a bunch of Oxbridge graduates but have they heard of post-colonialism? Oh, and not marrying? I could go on but my blood is boiling when I think of it all!

Penny Dreadful said...

I actually find that line on the dry cleaning really offensive. Really REALLY offensive. I quite like some of these things (orange platforsm for instance, though why they chose a photo where the models toes were sticking over the end is beyond me), but the point is the terrible writing. Every time I read Vogue I feel like screaming, they treat their readers like idiots and the writing is utterly inane.

Gem Fatale said...

I am actually doing my dissertation on why mags are going down and blogs are coming up, and am doing a case study on Vogue, and where it's going wrong! I might have to reference this blog post in my dissertation because you've highlighted A) how totally alienating and unrealistic this magazine is, B) the way fashion blogs are challenging new media by offering a REAL opinion on something, and C) the way these types of blog post can influence readers into seeing through the facade

Mrs Bossa said...

They've overstepped the boundary from laughable and harmless to offensive. I'm particularly appalled by the tribal reference. In my experience they've been bizarrely out of touch, and I'm sick of their frankly nauseating method of interviewing. You've reminded me why I stopped buying Vogue several years ago; there was one article about weight, and how it limited fashion options. "But," - the author specified - "I'm not talking about the size 18s. Let them eat rice cakes and shop at Marks and Spencers. I'm talking about the fun-loving, Helmut Lang-wearing size 14s...". There's no denying fashion is sizeist, but to be so blatant...

Shopgirl said...

I read Polly Vernon's last column for the Observer (I think it was!) about how it is legitimate to enjoy shopping and fashion as a hobby - just as it is to enjoy food or sport. But it is magazines like Vogue that continue to portray fashion-interested women as air-heads who live, first off their daddys and then their husbands. This isn't real!! We fashion-obsessed shopaholics (or is that just me?!!) earn our own money to spend on our outfits and it doesn't run to £550 for an outfit either!

Haute World said...

This is one of the many reasons I've stopped reading both Elle and Vogue (the UK editions at least... and the fact that both Cheryl Cole and Victoria Beckham are this month's cover models doesn't make me want to pick up another copy either). I've always wondered about their almost colonial mindset but Jill's explanation sheds a lot of light. And I was a little stunned when I finally read the Vogue Paris edition yesterday... I could (almost) handle the nudity of the 75 year old woman, but the children were unnecessary. I wonder if Tom Ford is to blame... said...

Preach it, sister! What I think is just as sad is that despite this being 2011.... traditional western beauty ideals are STILL imposed on all races. 'Ethnic features' are considered a bad thing.

Look at celebrities such as Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez. Regardless of their skin tone, their features/bone structures are totally Caucasian like. Therefore they can be considered pretty, and sexy. Whereas a female celebrity who also flaunts her sexuality but is more ethnic looking is branded as a crazy or gross chick.

But for the sake of pretending to be open minded, image based industries such as fashion will occasionally promote a token 'ethnic girl' such as Alek Wek. Who is drop dead gorgeous, but will never be marketed as the bombshell the way Georgia May Jagger is.

And don't even get me started on how these beauty standards are thrust upon the rest of the world! In Togo, heavier women have always been part of their cultural ideal. It's been this way for centuries, and for the most part they've lived the same lifestyle as their ancestors have. But shortly after television was introduced, glorifying slender women and demonizing the larger frame, within one year 11% of women had eating disorders!

And don't even get me started on how women in Asia are getting eyelid surgery to give themselves rounder eyes, like those they see in the ads for imported western products they're constantly bombarded with. As someone who comes from a multi cultural heritage, this sort of thing is very upsetting to me

SabinePsynopsis said...

Since I also just cancelled my subscription I can only say: We are on one wavelength! They are totally out of touch (which is no surprise if all their interns/later employees are daughters of wealthy families). And to think that many of the greatest designers and stylists come from very humble background... It's sad. Alexandra Schulman really looks and sounds like a sensible person. Does she get dictated from the the top bosses?

Tali said...

Very very well said. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and I agree with everything you said!

I hate when they define their models by race. 'Black models' etc.. I don't introduce people by 'this is my asian friend' why do they feel the need to draw the attention to the obvious. We do have eyes to see color after all! I also notice they are selective about their racism. If a model with black skin has long straight hair and a sharp, thin nose she isn't placed under black label. She is placed with all the other models in collages. However if she has natural hair and a wider nose.. she is considered to be 'black'.

The only magazine that disgusts me more is Tatler. The whole thing is dedicated to ass kissing bachelor & bachelorette lists.. (all the people in these lists are related to the editor, of Royal connection, went to Eaton.. all resemble horses.) All the people in these lists end up modelling in the magazine. Not one dress looks attractive as it ends up on some buck toothed 12 year old countess who has no idea how to pose for a photo.. the whole fashion element lost! In that magazine they act as if it's an achievement for a woman to have ANY job. Makes my blood boil!!

Courtney said...

Are they serious? Putting models into "tribes" and then calling one of the tribes "black girls?"

I don't know what race politics are like in Europe, but my American mind is just boggled at this point.

First of all, that's just not right. It's so not right. It's a very well known fact that many fashion magazine fetishize black WOMEN (NOT GIRLS!) as exotic and even compare them to animals. So to say tribe is just ....SO WRONG. What is this? The 1930s. Seriously

Vogue, get it together.

jessica said...

Like I said in my comment to your last Vogue post, I stopped reading Vogue ages ago as overall, I found the content false,dull and devoid of any real personality. It is clearly aimed at a target demographic, which is, the type of people currently working at Vogue right now.

As for the ludacris bargain outfit for 550.... all I can say is (well something rude) Ive recently switched careers which resulted in a rather large switch in pay. i can no longer afford to shop like I used to but I regularly get entire outfits (great outfits!) in Primark.. for 30 bucks... in your face Vogue.

Milly said...

Your argument is not only a strong one but also, as the comments attests to, a universal one. Vogue really do seem to reside in a 1940s post-war valley with their Tatler neighbours. Not only are they out of touch with majority of the 'modern woman', they also have a knack of offending this very same group often. It is laughable that they could see nothing wrong in identifying Black models as a current fad and part of a tribe. Seriously!? In this day & age??

I do not expect every single magazine to represent me but I most definitely do not expect to be excluded either. Reading magazines such as Tatler & Vogue leave me feeling exactly that.

As if the message they are championing is that they are not for people 'like me'.

Adelle (the Fashionista Lab) said...

First, I made the decision not to buy Vogue years ago. I sat in Borders auditioning magazines (as used to be my habit), and in Vogue I read an article written by an older socialite about growing up around people more famous and wealthy than her. I was like... really? Vogue thinks I want to read about rich people talking about being rich? I never gave Vogue a second thought after that. I mean, clearly I'm not the target customer.

And that "black girls" tribe really gets my goat. OOOOOH it gets my goat! Seriously? black girls are in the same category as girls with short haircuts?! As you said, Black girls can have short hair, can smile, etc. And it's also so personally disappointing. Is that all people think when they see me? They don't see my smile, or my personality or my hair or my personal style... just my skin color? I like to think a feature like that wouldn't fly in the U.S., but the modeling industry is wack across the pond as well.

I subscribe to Elle and somehow that all-white model call slipped my notice. But to Elle's credit, they consistently write thoughtful articles that actually apply to real women's lives.

Cloud of Secrets said...

I am laughing in shock at the suggestions (at the items themselves, especially the five-sizes-too-big blue hospital smock Fendi shirt...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Links à la Mode

It seems my post Three Strikes Vogue - You're Out really struck a chord with other people and it has made the IFB Links à la Mode list this week.  Judging from the stream of comments I've had it seems I'm not the first to take issue with the magazine's lack of sensitivity in many areas and it's interesting to see how many bloggers who commented said they gave up buying Vogue precisely because of these sorts of things.  I hope someone in Vogue Towers is taking note!  I got some cracking comments on this post and intend to dedicate a post soon to highlight my favourites.  Meanwhile check out the other great articles by the other bloggers listed this week.

links a la mode

"I have confidence that spring will come again, Besides which you see I have confidence in me"

Edited by Florrie Clarke of Intrinsically Florrie

Within  this week's links I kept noticing a resounding honestly in the  heartfelt posts. When we blog or choose an outfit we are putting  ourselves out there for all to judge, and it's not surprising that doing  the activity can have an affect on our confidence for better or for  worse, especially when feedback starts coming in.
There's also been a  sense of rebellion in the air: from the emergence of the punk style to  controversy over Vogue, and in the week that saw the spectacle which is  the Golden Globes rises a questioning of what the red carpet is all  about.

Links à la Mode: January 20th

  • A la Modest Drawing inspiration from Kabukis, Rainbow Brite, Ladytron, and Padmé Amidala while on Tatooine
  • Antares: Alfa Scorpii Fashion without mercy: do I have to choose between fashion and my beliefs?
  • By Anika Who gets to label me and my worth? I do! An honest account from this  curvy fashionista who fiercely supports all of our rights to label,  embrace and love our fashionable selves, what ever our size.
  • City of Glitter To Cover-up or Not To Cover-up? A post exploring foundation and its role in our self-esteem.
  • Crimson Rosella Blogging: A Self-confidence booster?
  • Depict This The challenge of wearing vintage clothing in the real world
  • Elle Enchanted My take on what bloggers need to consider before accepting a sponsor.
  • Fashezine Inspired by Jennine Jacob's post on how fashion blogs will evolve in 2011, I thought I'd try my hand at a video.
  • Fashion Limbo Online Christmas Shopping, the Aftermath - on lost packages, refunds and independent retailers.
  • Fuyume The demise of the kimono industry.
  • Fish Monkey's Writing Stuff Why I don't think that red carpets have any relevance to fashion.
  • Independent Fashion Bloggers: 5 Tips for Taking Better Photos of Yourself
  • Intrinsically Florrie The fashion show that's made me impatient for summer.
  • Karma-Style Blog Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj have 'FoF' - Fearlessness of Fashion. Do you?
  • My Heart Blogged Falling head over flats. My flats collections, and why you don't see me wearing heels.
  • Scarlet Letter Style Why is the fashion world so critical? I have an idea on how to fix it
  • The Column of Samantha Tyler Of Punks and their influence on Fashion
  • The Fashion Pawn The fourth part of The B.O.B Series discusses all "About You:" Tips for your About You Page.
  • The-Loud Mouth Sometimes, garbage piles up: Fashion blogging isn't just a hobby. For some, it can be an emotional release.
  • The Taxonomy Of My Wardrobe Three Strikes Vogue - You're Out! Three examples of how the fashion  bible is inexcusably out of touch with readers and losing relevance in  today's world
  • The Simply Luxorious Life Why Not . . . Create Your Own Signature Style?

New@Shopbop: Bassike, Shakuhachi, Nissa, Minnetonkas, FreePeople, Tibi, AIKO, Bird, Myne, Black Halo, Kova&T, Hanii Y

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Marble Print Maxi Dress

I have been buying a little too much in the sales but my goodness the discounts are good! I bought this silk maxi dress for £25 in the Warehouse sale. Annoyingly, shortly after my purchase it was reduced further to £20! Curses!

The dress is designed by Daisy Craver, who won a competition run by Warehouse in conjunction with the British Fashion Council Colleges Council (now there's a mouthful for you).  A graduate of the University of Westminster, she produced a small and impressive collection for the high street chain. Described rather deliciously as feminine meets rock chick, it included studded leather leggings, silk maxi dresses and separates, a leather tee shirt dress, unusual biker jackets in ponyskin or foil print leather and studded ponyskin belts. Now that's my sort of designer! I was salivating over most of it when it first came out but incredibly, I managed to exhibit restraint and waited to see what turned up in the sales.

I finally caved in when I saw this dress reduced online. The sheer silk has a wonderful marble print and the  front draped design lends it a very Grecian feel (hence my rather hopeless impersonations of a Greek statue in these photos).  Come summer it will be lovely as an evening dress and I imagine that worn without the accompanying slip, it could double as a glamorous cover up over a bikini.

But I wanted to wear it now, so I used it to spruce up a plain wool maxi dress and break up my usual head to toe black.  I removed the slip that came with it and threw it over the top of my wool dress.  It's harking back a bit to my childhood days of being forced to wear long woolly garments under pretty dress but what the hey, I got to wear the dress out on the weekend without freezing.  It also made the dress a bit easier to wear during the day as the layering took the evening wear edge off it.

You can still grab some great pieces from the collection on sale online.  You don't often hear of Warehouse doing designer collaborations such as these and I thought this one was a lot better than some of the things I've seen in Topshop's designer collaborations.  I hope the collaborations continue and that Miss Craver will go on to do even greater things.

The strappy boots are Michael by Michael Kors which were going for a song at the Harrods sale.  I love it when I find a designer label at high street prices!

Dress, Daisy Craver for Warehouse; Wool maxi dress, Cos; Boots, Michael by Michael Kors; Cardigan, Akiabara

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Leopard Print and Tweed

Ever since Dolce and Gabbana sent leopard print blouses worn with tweed skirts down the catwalk I have been itching to give it a shot myself.  Not content with mixing leopard with polka dots I suddenly quite fancied having my leopard seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.  Like meat served with chocolate sauce, it was a combination that sounded so bad on paper that there was the distinct possibly of it actually turning out to be very good. 

I have to say I quite liked the final result - a collision of the prim and proper with the reputationally racy around waist level, injecting a little of that classic D&G irony into an outfit but without the pricetag.  I layered up with some black knits to pull it together and add warmth, then hid it all under a big black coat!

I wore this outfit shopping with Mr V. weekend before last.  I figured since the seventies are coming back in a big way next season I'd jump the gun and work a billowy blouse and wide legged trouser ahead of time.  We were trying to find Mr V. a new winter coat in the sales but, as he is a very particular man about his clothing, we came home empty handed.  My new winter coat on the other hand, is getting some very good use!

Shearling coat, Nigel Preston & Knight; Trousers, Kate Moss for Topshop; Boots, Pied A Terre; Leopard print blouse, Topshop; Long sleeved black Heat Tech tee, Uniqlo; Cardigan, All Saints; Snood, Cos; Pendant, Vintage;

Monday, 17 January 2011

Studded Leather Driving Gloves

I bought these gloves last year when studs were all the rage.  Although I photographed them in the summer I thought I'd post these photos since I've been wearing them again to add a silver accent to my winter blacks.

Gloves have always fascinated me.  Perhaps it's because I grew up in warm climates and it was just never cold enough to need to wear them.  Rather than a necessity against potential frostbite, they seemed more like luxurious decorative accessories, worn simply as an extra adornment, which made them seem all the more desirable.

As teenagers desperately seeking to escape the dreariness of the Australian suburb we called home, my sister and our friends would often visit a vintage clothing shop together called Memory Lane which was tucked away in a tiny shopping arcade in the city centre.  It was probably one of the only vintage clothing shops at the time and it had a window full of decadent displays of the most amazing and dramatic vintage clothing and accessories.

There was always a basket near the door teeming to the brim with pairs of vintage gloves of every length, fabric, design and colour imaginable.  The store owner was an elderly lady who was good natured enough to allow a gang of broke teenagers with an unrequited love for vintage clothing to regularly rifle through her collection oohing and aahing, knowing full well we didn't have the money to buy anything.

She would also talk us through the history of pieces we found interesting and one day I became very taken with a pair of tan leather gloves with backs of champagne coloured crocheted cotton.  I had never seen a pair of gloves so unusual and so lovely.  She told me that they were driving gloves and I remember being starstruck at the thought of this bygone and more glamorous era, where people would wear such beautiful gloves just for driving.

Now whenever I buy gloves I look for some interesting detail in the design so as to combine a form I find pleasing with function.  It also means I take much better care not to lose them!  When I bought these my sister was visiting from Australia.  She looked a little envious inspecting my purchase, running her fingers over the studs as she sighed to her boyfriend, "wouldn't it be great to actually need to buy gloves like this because you have to wear them?"

For an excellent and inspiring example of DIY studded gloves then check out the amazing designs of the divine Miss Devilishly Pleasurable.  A true glamour puss who also recognises the power of gloves in dress she does rather fabulous DIY jewellery too and has the most gorgeous, to-die-for girly flat with a parlour and boudoir!

Studded leather driving gloves, Karen Millen

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Links à la Mode

I am pleased to say that my post Anti Fashion Resolutions picking apart one of Vogue's January articles made the IFB Links à la Mode list this week. Nice to see Grit and Glamour, Sugar and Spice and Reva Rags 2 Roses there too.  Many thanks IFB!

links a la mode

Reflections, Realizations, and Resolve

Edited by: The Curvy Fashionista
After we blazed into the new year with resolutions, ideals, paired with moxie and gusto, we also came into the new year with questions, self realizations, and new inspirations. This week's round up features some of the most though provoking, feel-good, and reason to re-examine your closet!

Links à la Mode: January 13th
  • 365 Fashion Rehab: New Year, New You. You don't need a whole new wardrobe to be on trend
  • Beautifully Invisible: Children and the Fashion Industry: When are they TOO young?
  • Confessions of a Fashion Editor: What makes a blogger?
  • Dress With Courage: A fashion survey forces a closer look at my love affair with denim.
  • Fashion Limbo: A woman's right to (pretty) shoes - why you should never stop celebrating yourself
  • Fashion Writes: What influences, motivates, drives, and empowers women's decisions on buying certain trends (or not buying!): popularity vs. the struggle and desire to stand out and remain original.
  • Freeda Style: The clichés "Everyone's a critic" and "I don't know art, I just know what I like" apply every single day. Are you just getting dressed, or are you a wardrobe artist?
  • Grit and Glamour: Friend Friday: Goals, Imperfection, and Finding Your Voice
  • Holier Than Now: Closet Full of Money: My System for Recycling Clothes for Cash (or Karma)
  • I’m Freestyling: I love clothes, wearing them, buying them, feeling them—but all love has its limitations...
  • Independent Fashion Bloggers: Three Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog in 2011
  • Mischief My Dear: Gilt vs. Ideeli (Members Only Shopping: A Review)
  • Mode Stylist: push the boundaries of style with who you are.
  • Modern Day Damsel: Sprucing up my wardrobe - 10 items I absolutely have to buy this year
  • Pretty Shiny Sparkly: The Secrets to Successful Fashion Blogging
  • Revas Rags to Roses: What I look for in the Blog-O-Sphere
  • Satoriography: A how-to post for surviving winter without sacrificing your style (or any limbs to frostbite).
  • Sugar and Spice: MORE Cash Than Dash - have fashion magazines lost touch with their readership? Do fashion blogs do it better?
  • Taxonomy of My Wardrobe: Ever feel like you can't relate to the snooty editorials in fashion glossies like Vogue? Well you're not alone.
  • The Curvy Fashionista: This hair of Mines- A love story
  • The Demoiselles: Is fashion-sharking just as bad as body-snarking?
Shopbop Jewelry: Gorjana, LaMer, Nixon, KORS, Freelook, BINNS, Juicy, Noir, KJL, Alkemie, Alexis Bittar

Friday, 14 January 2011

Caped Crusader and Friend Friday - Outfit Planning

I can't believe it is Friend Friday already!  This week we are discussing outfit planning.  Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email

Answering this post has been very enlightening for me as I've come to realise I don't really plan outfits for my daily, normal, run-of-the-mill activities.  Instead I plan outfits in a very unstructured, spontaneous way, conjuring up some really outlandish outfits I could potentially wear when the time is right.  I think this is probably a fundamental flaw in my approach to dressing but organising my wardrobe like clockwork doesn't really come very naturally to me!

For this post I recreated last Sunday's outfit.  This is an example of one of these pre-planned outfits which was eventually worn to an art gallery exhibition.  I thought that I'd be quite unassuming in a London art gallery wearing a cape and that surely it would be teeming with arty types dressed in far more dramatic things.  Boy was I wrong! So many people were fairly dressed down (it was Sunday after all) so I felt a tad overdressed.

1. How do you determine what you will wear that day?
How much thought I put into it really depends on what I'm doing and where I'm going, but the single most important factor for me is the weather.

English weather is very changeable and so mastering layering is important for people like me who really feel the cold.  I usually layer up, go outside to do a temperature test, and layer up some more if required.  Even in the summer.  I have been known to get down the street before turning around and going home again to get more layers as was the case with this outfit, I forgot there are no sleeves on capes so your arms get cold - I ended up with six including the cape!  I swear I must be coldblooded.  Lying for a long time on a warm rock in cold temperatures before mustering the energy to get up and do anything makes complete sense to me. I'm sure if I donated blood the vials would be rejected and returned labelled "Blood Type: REPTILIAN"

Before deciding on footwear I'll also take into careful consideration if I'll be walking or standing a lot or catching public transport.  I do love heels and often carry a pair with me to change into if I'm wearing flats to travel and need to be dressier later, but I'm so over hobbling around a big city just to be stylish!  On Sunday I opted for flat biker boots instead of the heeled ones pictured because the exhibition was large and we were going to walk around the neighbourhood afterwards.

Lately I've also been making an effort to prioritise things that I haven't worn yet.  I love capes but it has been too cold to wear them until recently.   When the temperatures got milder I jumped at the chance to wear this one  mainly because the label has been hanging accusingly on it since I bought in back in November.

2. Do you plan outfits out in advance for a whole week, month, weekend? 

Never. I wish I could be that organised as I am sure I'd get much more wear out of my clothes that way.  I'm much more about throwing something on and running out of the house most days which means I can end up wearing the same things all the time and looking pretty dull.

I do however, regularly think up outfits in my head using the more interesting pieces in my wardrobe, but it's not even really with a specific event in mind at the time or even really thinking about whether it is suitable or practical for what I'm actually doing on a daily basis (which it almost never is!).

Either I think of a piece I own or I may have bought a new piece I like.  I will then mentally plan an outfit around said piece.  When the planets and stars are aligned correctly and the right occasion arises, then I'll wear it.  The result is that I have many of these so called "virtual" outfits which haven't been worn yet!   This outfit was constructed around the cape and I was trying to show off the line and shape of it whilst remaining warm under what is really quite a drafty garment.

The only time I do plan ahead in great detail is for big events.  Then I will be meticulously planning everything down to the handbag, hosiery, shoes and jewellery ahead of time and even go shopping if necessary.

3. Do you have any specific way of tracking outfits and items already worn so you don't repeat?

Apart from committing them to memory no.  However this blog is turning out to be a useful archive of outfits in itself and taking photos of outfits is proving to be a great way of seeing what works and what doesn't for me.

I don't have a problem with repeat wearing of an outfit if I find it really works for me, but I might tweak it a bit by changing the shoes and accessories to keep things interesting.  For instance I really like this outfit and would wear it again but I had originally imagined it as pictured here, paired with these sky high shearling boots.  So this is the upgraded version I plan to wear next time I feel a calling to wear a cape.  The beauty of layering is that adding and removing them is also a sly way of varying outfits.  I could change the gilet for a furry one in the cold or lose a few layers if it gets warmer.

4. How do you discover new combinations of items in your closet? (Trial try-ons?  Hanging items together?)

Hanging items together does generate ideas for me as I have an open clothes rail in my bedroom where a lot of my clothes are on permanent display.  I tend to mentally juggle these and items concealed in my other wardrobe (for which I have to rely on memory) to create new combinations just before going to sleep. But I'm a bit strange like that.  It's my way of counting sheep!  I would also recommend learning the art of layering - playing around with different ways of layering up generates new ideas for me all the time. 

Nothing however, beats a trail try-on to show you whether your virtual outfits look as good as you imagined them to be in the cold harsh light of reality.  Trying things on is pretty much how I get dressed day to day.  Sometimes I'm working from something from my virtual outfit memory bank and sometimes I'm working from a blank slate making it up as I go along.  I try something on, see if it works, take it off if I don't like it, try something else on instead and repeat the process until I either like what I see or I run out of time and need to get out the door.  It usually means I end up leaving a huge mess behind me in the bedroom and that I leave late!

5. To streamline the process for 2011 what is one new thing you can do to cut down your dressing time?

Probably to sell everything and start again with a capsule wardrobe of some classic items and wardrobe staples where you could pull pieces out and it all instantly fits together into snap lock outfits!  Sounds like I need a fashion fix from Gok Wan.  But life would seem a little dull by comparison.  I like to think some creativity is born out of my daily chaos!

I would love to be one of those ladies who has Polaroid snapshots of all her shoes pasted on the outside of her shoe boxes and has everything for the week ahead lined up to wear on pristine padded hangers, but that is just not me.

However I do now realise that I'd definitely benefit from more planning on a regular basis than I currently manage for my daily outfits, rather than getting carried away styling special ones I may not ever wear in my head.  Or maybe I should just plough through the virtual outfits and wear them regardless of what I'm doing!  Just wear that sequin jacket and feather skirt to Tescos!  If I also made the time to do more trail try-ons when I have a spare moment rather than when I am about to get dressed to go out then I'll know what does and doesn't work in advance which would be a huge timesaver.

How do you plan your outfits?

Cape, Leather leggings, Wool turtle-neck, T-shirt dress, all Cos; Draped wrap cardigan, All Saints; Hooded zip gilet, Kaylee Tankus; Thermal top and tights worn underneath, Uniqlo; Shearling boots, Topshop; Necklace, Merle O'Grady.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Three Strikes Vogue - You're Out!

Vogue, Vogue, Vogue... you've gone and done it again.  There was your January column about how our winter gear is so passé and should be thrown out when it's still zero degrees outside, dishing advice that our husbands should pay for our shirts to be pressed and to top it off your French edition featuring oversexualised images of children as highlighted by MJ at Fierce (you know, pornography uses the excuse that it's art too).

As if all this was not enough then your February UK edition has delivered yet more gems to demonstrate how fast you really are hurtling out of orbit in terms of your fashion relevance in the real world.

First up as the object of my derision is the More Cash than Dash column.  I bought this month's copy of Vogue after Emily of Sugar and Spice alerted me that it a featured an outfit totalling £550.  I digress to her excellent post about why their selected items do not a budget friendly suggestion make - think sleeveless trenchcoat and leather legwarmers at eyewatering prices.  May I suggest the more appropriate title of More Cash to Splash?

And while I'm at it can I also assure you that it is perfectly possible for your stylists and wardrobe team to walk into Primark or a charity shop without spontaneously combusting?  Really, millions of women in the UK do it all the time.  If I remember rightly your favourite cover girl Kate Moss learnt how to style clothes in her broke youth by habitually dipping into charity shops.  Didn't seem to do her sense of style any harm.

If you thought the suggestion that you should get your shirts pressed on hubby's account was offensive then cop your Vogue-weary eyeballs on these beauties from the article "Magic Touch" on female entrepreneurs investing in fashion.  If you think this is about celebrating self made career women then these come with a health warning: high blood pressure may result.

"...there is a new generation of sharp, ambitious fashion-savvy women who use their families' financial clout and impressive contacts to forge new careers by investing in others."

"...these women are already experts at micromanaging their [domestic] lives to perfection...They've simply added business to their checklist, and more surprisingly, with their husbands' blessing"

Surprising indeed.  I didn't think that things could get any worse but then yesterday morning I saw this post on That's Not My Age about an article I hadn't got around to reading yet.  Turning the pages of my own paper copy with some trepidation there it was in all its barrel scraping glory.  The horror! The horror!  This is Vogue's attempt to embrace diversity.  To describe black models as merely part of a separate model tribe rather than just acknowledging them as legitimate models in their own right. 

Image from February edition of Vogue UK, The Catwalk Report

Can we not just call them models rather than black models?  In the same way that magazines have tended to fetishize plus size models instead of incorporate them as a normal part of their fashion aesthetic, if you're a model and you happen to be black it seems you are relegated to being a kind of flavour of the month, like a pouty, smiley or tough look. Notice something else? All of the three latter characteristics are completely changeable for other models: the pouty ones can stop pouting, the smiley ones can frown instead and the tough girls can grow their hair out.  Not much you can do about your skin colour if it suddenly becomes unfashionable.  And as That's Not My Age succinctly put it on her blog: "Can models not be black and pouty, black and smiley, black and tough?"

Vogue is not the only culprit that has this kind of blind sightedness in the way they misrepresent or under represent women of an ethnic background other than white Caucasian.  Elle's December edition featured a "Model Power List" of the faces of 2010.  Of the twenty almost exclusively white models who made the list Naomi Campbell was the only non-white model featured.  Not a single Asian model was selected.  With the variety of ethnic backgrounds of models working out there now the inclusion of Naomi Campbell, who as a supermodel was also a statistical rarity, seems nothing more than a token gesture on the part of Elle.  No mention of Alex Wek or Jourdan Dunn, and fresh faced newcomers were abundantly represented so as long as they were white.  In this day and age this seems crazy.

How do magazines get it so wrong?  Surely that's what editors are for?  To weed out the inappropriate?  To provide balance without it seeming a blindly token act?  In part I believe the lack of diversity in the offices publishing these magazines is responsible, and I don't just mean in terms of ethnicity but also across different socio-economic groups and mindsets.  I got a very insightful comment from Jill of Street Style on my previous post about Vogue recounting her experience of trying to get some work at the magazine and I reproduce it here to illustrate a point:

"...I actually spent three hours once, sipping tea and reading magazines while waiting to meet HR at Conde Nast (a 'crisis' had developed, the sweet JUNIOR HR girl told me when we finally had our interview, because her boss couldn't get out of the meeting: two girls at Vogue had gotten into a cat fight and one was threatening to quit and HR had to intervene). All I wanted was a little freelance layout work, and I ended up doing my own layouts as an 'audition'...

When I sent them, the HR girl emailed me within minutes: someone at Vogue was really interested and she'd get back to me. Whoever that was must have changed her mind. I never worked a day at Conde Nast.

The truth is very simple: it is harder to get into the sorority that is Vogue UK than it is to run for President. It's not just because I'm American: this is a very tight group and they only hire their 'kind': an intern will be the boss's friend's daughter.. and it is so not a meritocracy...

I don't feel bitter about it at all, and I sound angrier than I actually am: the HR girl was a very sweet, albeit posh little thing ... In fact I remember exactly what she was wearing: a pink twin set. Pencil skirt. Clear stockings. Court shoes. And pearls."

The problem with a magazine staffing only "their kind" is that only the viewpoint shared by this elitist group makes it into the editorial content.  This isn't limited to their narrow sense of fashion and taste but also how they view the world at large.  It may well be naïvety rather than malice behind such editorial gaffes but the message that is received is nonetheless very offensive.

Husband or Daddy an investment banker or from a wealthy family? Well £550 is going to seem like a pretty tight budget for just one outfit then isn't it?  Don't have to relate to people from different racial backgrounds to yourself on a regular basis?  Then it must seem totally acceptable to file them away under some condescending label that makes them slightly more understandable to you while you congratulate yourself on your token effort to celebrate diversity.

I recall a time when Vogue actually had a letters to the editor section, and occasionally you would get an irate reader dressing them down for some offensive feature that would at least let them know that they were out of line.  Mysteriously this section disappeared about ten years ago, effectively cutting off any avenue for reader interaction.  It meant they could publish what they felt like without any fear of repercussion by giving voice to their readers' reactions in subsequent issues.  I personally feel that since then the obnoxiousness of the content has increased exponentially.

Even if I never bought Vogue again I am now realising that there's nowhere to hide because I'll hear about such ire inducing articles via the blogosphere.  So Vogue please stop now.  Hire some real talent instead of somebody's well connected niece and start producing content that at the very least doesn't offend our sensibilities.  If I wanted to read about high society and the super wealthy there is Tatler.  If I buy Vogue I expect to read about fashion.  Period.  And girls, I don't know about you, but I can't really bring myself to take cutting edge fashion advice seriously anymore from a fashion magazine where HR is dressed in a pink twin set, pencil skirt, clear stockings, court shoes and pearls, can you?

Monday, 10 January 2011

A Stroll Through Southwark

The perfect hat for a stroll around Southwark: a baker boy cap! The London borough is where Charles Dickens spent some of his youth, eventually setting some of his novels here. The area around Southwark is where the old London and the new spectacularly collide.  Here you can find a fascinating mix of old brick warehouses, gloomy dripping tunnels and grimy back streets providing the backdrop to throw into sharp relief daring new architecture projects with their high, angular facades of steel and glass.

At night these ancient streets and tunnels are ingeniously lit to remind the visitor that we are in fact in the 21st century. Strips or spotlights of coloured lighting punctuate the gloom - violet strips under bench seats, blue spotlights up lighting trees or coloured spotlights on walls.  Even beneath the arches of the tunnels are lit with gaudy fluorescent strip lighting or studded with fairy lights to mimic a starry sky.

Yet turn a corner and you still come face to face with a street scene that looks straight out of a Dicken's or Conan Doyle novel.  Where else would you feel so at home wearing a cape?

Southwark is one of my favourite places. Home to my favourite food market, Borough Market, here you can also find the famous Globe Theatre, the London Eye and several of London's most famous bridges including London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the relatively new Millennium Bridge.

Mr V and I went to Southwark yesterday to see the Gauguin exhibition at one of our favourite galleries, the Tate Modern. Once a dilapidated old electricity station, now it is a world class showroom for modern art and an impressive example of how modern architecture can revive the shells of abandoned industries that can blight urban landscapes.

The cavernous maw of the old Turbine Hall provides an impressive space that allows for installation of artworks on a gigantic scale like a 35 foot tall spider, or the current installation by Ai Weiwei, where almost the entire floorspace of the hall is covered in a layer of exquisitely crafted ceramic sunflower seeds, a work that questions our place in society and the powers of our actions as individuals.

Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds

Walking out onto the riverside after an exhibition on a chilly night you will be greeted by the sight of the iconic St Paul's Cathedral and its glimmering reflection in the Thames, with the bold architecture of the Millennium bridge arching towards it, a stark reminder of the constant march of the capital towards the future.

Photos by Mr V.

Cap, Accessorise; Cape, Leather leggings, T-shirt dress, Snood, all Cos; Studded leather gloves, Karen Millen; Biker boots, Gap; Bag, Marc Jacobs.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Friend Friday: Measuring Up

Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email  This week we are talking about blogging standards, success and measuring up.

1. Have you ever looked at someone's blog and thought yours will never measure up?

Continuously. I will avoid the masochism of listing them all and just say that the highest standard for me has to have been set by this one.

Best street style blogger and best fashion blogger across all fashion blog genres in my humble opinion.  And he's handsome to boot.  Lucky Garance!

2. Do you (did you) feel pressure to meet some kind of undefined standard for fashion bloggers?

See question one. Brilliant content, brilliant photography, very simple blog (no flashy Wordpress required) and a concept behind the blog that questions the way we see fashion and what is fashionable.

On a more cynical note I do still feel that the standard in order to be a really big, successful fashion blogger (street style bloggers like The Satorialist and Tommy Ton aside) is unfortunately still dictated by the standards set by the fashion industry itself.  Anyone coming to the fashion blogosphere for the first time would get the message that in order to have a successful blog you have to be young, thin, look like a fashion model, look great in transparent garments or really short skirts and shorts, have a photographer boyfriend, the luxury of access and time to shoot in amazing locations and buckets of disposable income to splash on cutting edge, designer or trendy clothes. The numbers of followers, amount of donated merchandise and advertising contracts signed speak for themselves.

If I hadn't come to terms pretty quickly with the fact that meeting such standards would never be possible for me I would have never started blogging.  It feels very similar to that pressure that bears down on your self esteem when you open up an issue of something as removed from reality as Vogue (see my tirade here) and see all that air brushed perfection that you can never live up to.

I'm old (at least in fashion blogging terms), short, certainly don't look like a fashion model and I have to take my own photos almost all of the time.  But in any area of one's life there is always going to be someone else who is smarter, richer, better looking, younger, more successful or more accomplished.  You can't let that stop you from doing things or trying something new!  I buy and wear a lot of clothes and spend considerable time and energy in thinking about how to wear them everyday.  My opinion, even if it is a drop in the ocean, surely counts.

Thankfully I made the discovery that there is a whole other world of bloggers of every description and variety who blog for their own pleasure, don't give a hoot about such standards and who I can actually relate to.  That finally convinced me that it was possible to find a little niche of my own in the fashion blogosphere where I could blog to my heart's content.

3. Many established fashion bloggers are also extraordinary DIYers, bakers, and crafty people. Do you think you need to combine all of these things to be successful at blogging?

No I don't.  I haven't seen The Sartorialist feature a single cupcake to date.  Not that this kind of variety isn't interesting when done well (see Cloud of Secrets feature on Spiced Pecans and the amazing DIY talents of Vintage Vixen!) but there are many bloggers who enjoy success precisely because they stick to blogging about a certain area of interest to them or have a blog with a specific focus.

If a blog post is about something the blogger is good at or knowledgeable about it really shows in the content. The blogger can communicate ideas with confidence and authority, which always stimulates readers like me and gets them hooked.

I happen to be a mean cook, a dab hand at sewing, DIY and crafts and could show MacGyver a thing or two he didn't know about how to use a paperclip (showing my age there) but... I don't blog about those things and I don't think I could muster up the energy or enthusiasm to be frank.  There are only so many hours in day that I can devote to my blog and it makes no sense whatsoever for me to compare what I do within my limitations to what others are able to do within theirs.  I'd rather just focus on fashion and clothes (with the odd aside about my passion for flamenco thrown in).  Besides if you saw the state of my kitchen you would be afraid, VERY afraid!

4. The most successful blogs are the ones that have their own personal voice - how are you developing your voice or how did you find yours?

Let me clarify that if I were to define the pinnacle of success for a fashion blogger it would involve something along the lines of thousands of followers, advertising revenue, being able to give up a day job for a lucrative book deal/advertising contract/modelling career/design consultancy/launch of own fashion line.

I'm not sure I agree that the most successful blogs got to where they are because of the personal voice of the blogger because in many cases the success has been gained on the back of what would sell in the already established norms dictated by the fashion industry (see cynical response to question two).  Some of them can barely string a credible sentence together but I guess you could say their self expression is mainly through the styling and vision behind the imagery they produce.

How does one find their personal voice?  This question baffles me because I've never found this to be an issue.  Maybe I'm just fortunate in that respect as writing just seems very natural to me.  I just write and edit until it is a satisfactory reflection of what I want to say.  Practice as they say, makes perfect.

5. Toot your own horn... what's one thing you do that is unique to you and your blog? What gives your blog an edge?

I think everything that can be done in fashion blogs has probably already been done so I don't think I'm doing anything particularly unique in writing about my self inflicted challenge to catalogue a burgeoning wardrobe (in a roundabout sort of way).  I will say that I pay a lot of attention to ensure that the writing is good, varied and entertaining.

The lovely Vahni of Grit and Glamour recently gave my blog an honourable mention for being diverse so if I was to pinpoint something that gave my blog an edge it would be my ability to write about a variety of subjects with confidence.  I can be serious, critical, irreverent and apparently, according to my readers comments, very funny too.

Oh and I have hundreds of pieces of apparel in my closet still to get through.  That's my content for 2011 and beyond sorted!


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