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!


  1. Hello...just saw you listed at FF....what a compelling post here...and honest.

    Great answers and views on these awesome insightful nice to meet you:)

  2. These are tough questions--really tough questions! I admire how you answer them so honestly, as well as point out some uncomfortable assumptions beneath the questions--especially when examining the meaning of "success." I'm glad there are bloggers like you out there who illustrate clearly the relationship between sartorial choices and life choices. I can get totally sucked in by the "fashion-editorial" styling of a lot of young, hip, beautiful bloggers (I've always been such a sucker for styling!), but at the end of the day, nothing is better than seeing how a piece of clothing is *lived in*. You show and discuss that constantly, and I love it.

    I look forward to seeing more of these wardrobe pieces of yours. You have such an eclectic treasure trove! It's a pleasure watching how bring the pieces to life and discuss how they fit into *your* life!

  3. When I got into fashion blogging, I thought the very same thing - that I had to live up to Vogue Mag standards in order to be successful. But, like you, when you get to know other bloggers who live up to their own standards, you can't help but feel at least a little more comfortable in your own blogging skin and realize there is a piece of the blogosphere that you can carve out just for you!

  4. I love your answers! I really like how 100% honest you are...and I used to watch MacGyver as a kid, and I loved that show! That answer made me smile.

    Kirstin Marie

  5. Funny this subject, because just this morning I was thinking about the blogs that stay with me and realised that even though you do not show yourself, you've got a very strong voice and your posts always make an impression on me... The Sartorialist was not only the first blog ever I looked at, to me Scott and Garance are the 'mum and dad of the blogging world' - they stand for themselves.
    Concerning my own blog I try not to compare myself with others, but follow my inner vision. I actually don't know if I could cope with the internal stress of being read by hundrends and thousands of people. xoxo

  6. Thanks for the mention, ARE diverse! I always feel like I'm at the U.N. when I hit your blog, and I love it.

    And you are right: The Sartorialist did set the standard, and least in terms of street style photography. It's been amazing to see the growth of blogs since then!


  7. "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 ...."

    how exquisitely refreshing to see this concept expressed by someone in the style blogosphere! (as opposed to just hearing it in my own head, like usual) i'll go a bit further and say that a lot of the styling, photography, etc. is creative in one sense (that they are able to produce images which are credible as high-fashion editorials) - but in another sense, these type of bloggers are just riffing on already well-worn themes & norms (which is why their work is instantly recognizable as 'high fashion editorial worthy').

    which is fine. But i do think that it takes more creativity to produce a unique and original vision (in pictures or words or etc.), and that it also takes creativity, openness, and thought in order to recognize & appreciate that new creative production. IMO this explains some of the differences in the popularity of various blogs.

    Very thoughtful & honest answers to these questions, V! Terri at RAGS Against The MACHINE has some interesting answers to this FF as well, touching on some similar issues of 'what's popular'.

    Kudos to Katy for starting Friend Friday, and to all the thoughtful participants!! steph

  8. I came here to say what I wrote on my own post: TOTALLY AGREE (with what you said) - thank you.

    Then I read every word of this post. I love the way you write, Veshoevius, and it's not surprising that Sabine commented, too - because I really identify with how she thinks - but I love the way you THINK.

    One thing tho that I disagree with you two about: I don't necessarily see Garance and Scott as the king and queen of the blogging world. I like them, but maybe it's because I've met (and photographed) them each separately - and together - that I see them as the same flawed human beings as the rest of us, not gods. (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain).

    I LOVE this topic and questions and I have a really stupid one: are we allowed to post it after Friday? I totally forgot what day it was! I mean, I knew, but I forgot to do a FBFF post and I just did that whole big one. But I really want to sink my teeth into this topic because for the first year or so, before I actually met another other real, human friends who blogged, I just assumed I was the only one who would periodically go to 'those' blogs and just beat myself up, like a child with a loose tooth - just rubbing myself in the pain of how rubbish I was. I still don't understand why I don't get 200 comments and other people do, but I don't actually care anymore. All I want is one good one, like yours just now.

    I can't believe I'm letting my sushi go warm, and missing Gosford Park, to write all this, but you are just so damn good! xx

  9. Thanks Jill. I don't have any interest in Scott or Garance as people, nor see them as gods, nor see that this or liking them having anything to do with acknowledging their work which is really what I set out to do in Q 1. Come to think of it I rarely visit Garance's blog as it just hasn't grabbed me as much as The Sartorialist did.

    Schuman wasn't the first person to go out and photograph people and what they wore in a kind of photo log commentary - Bill Cunningham was doing that years before. I do think however that Schuman was a pioneer in that his work was of a quality (much in part due to his savvy use of a social media platform) that catapulted a global interest in fashion blogging to unprecedented levels.

  10. Veshoevius--Can you believe that I've never once visited the Sartorialist, but after this video I'm going to check him out.

    I do think your voice is quite distinctive and certainly your style is. Keep up the good work.

  11. Your answers really struck a chord with me. So well written~and brought up many other good points that I didn't see in other ff.

    I know I am in the minority about the sartorialist, but I don't get that blog. I know, I know, I must be crazy, but can someone explain what the big deal is? I get bored at that site. oopsey. Paula

  12. I've long appreciated The Sartorialist's presentation of exquisite content in such a simple package. Not even a header image!

    Your blog is a unique thing, believe me -- good, deep writing; humor; pretty sparkly wardrobe photos; and a true thoughtful joy in dramatic fashion, which you often seek out, acquire, and actually wear (and wear well). You don't just daydream over runway photos and celebrity style statements!

    I'm all hungry eyes if you post more about your cooking forays someday. I fondly remember your Borough Market study.

  13. Very well-crafted responses. You are an excellent writer, so it comes as no surprise that you didn't have any trouble finding your voice. Also, thanks for posting that video about The Sartorialist. I had been meaning to watch that, lol. :-)


  14. Great post.

    What I really enjoy about your blog:
    I love seeing your posts on your wonderful wardrobe and pictures of your jewelry. I also find myself captivated when you go to different countries, I feel as if I am there and I learn about places that I haven't been before.

    I know a little about the Sartorialist so your video was very informative to me. I have looked at his blog a few times because I would read how everyone would talk how good it is. I agree that the pictures are beautiful. It reminds me so much of rare modern day photographs and prints images in a museum. Each picture has a story to tell.

  15. Hey V: totally agree! I replied on my own post before I read your reply here and I agree even more. I actually started my blog as pure street style before I even heard of the Sartorialist. Growing up on Long Island, in the shadow of 'the City' (Not the London City- it's what we called NY) - I went straight to the Style section of the NY times and straight to Bill Cunningham's section before I even knew HIS name. It never occurred to me to be either a fashion photographer or a fashion journalist when I grew up, but I was fascinated with his recording trends (really tricky in black and white: he couldn't even show colour).

    But I completely agree: Scott has consistently stayed with this medium and as Craig (Altimara) told me at my first fashion week, he's the one who brought it to the public. He said something interesting to me: asked me 'Quick, who was the first person to cross the Atlantic?' Then he asked me the first woman. He then asked me the name of the second person, and I couldn't remember.

    A lot of the blogs that we all know now as 'famous' are the ones who got their first in their specific areas - self style, etc. Anyway I'm now writing more than your actual post! haha. I wonder if there's a limit. Here's what I wrote on my post (to save you the trip - you might have left for the Tate already - hope you love it, Gaugin is one of my favourite painters and we haven't seen it yet - and yeah, talk about flawed human beings. I just wanted to clear up that I can admire someone's work and achievement but not be a gushing 'fan' (I love that that is short for fanatic) but you said it much better: and far more succinctly!

    What I wrote:

    Hi V, totally agree in fact I really like him (I haven't seen his blog for ages but his was definitely one of the ones I held myself up to - the point of the post I mean). He's quite funny: when I met him I was actually nervous at first but immediately got really bossy with him and altho usually at that time with streetstyle shots I didn't want to waste people's time, was really kind of timid about what I asked them to do, how to pose etc, with him I started saying 'stand over there' (in the corner), and he obediently went over - facing the corner. Actually a picture tells a thousand words:

    WE were going to go to the Gaugin exhibit today! (it's our anniversary) but the Dotster's got a cold - rare for him. Hope you have a great time, looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I'll put this on your post, too.


  16. Vahni is right about the very engaging diversity of your blog. And it's true your writing is wonderfully witty and clever and funny - that's a major USP in any blog, but particularly one which looks at fashion - it's absolutely what's needed.
    xx Comtesse xx

  17. Veshoevius, your blog is always a must read. Your wit, writing style and beauty (even though you never show your face I know you have to be gorgeous) never fail to shine out. Those questions were hard and you replied with honesty and intelligence.
    I've never been that into The Sartorialist. There's rarly much to inspire me on there.
    I'm so honoured to get a mention. xxx

  18. You know my feelings, girl. I'd buy any fashion magazine that employed you as a writer! It's becoming increasingly difficult to find clever writing in them. This is why people are flocking to blogs instead. Sure, there are the purely visual ones, but I myself tend to go for the well written ones and you know I love your writing!

  19. I enjoyed reading this! Personally I've stopped reading all the big fashion blogs because they all run together, anyway.

  20. Ok so now I got to the end of the comments and I forgot what my point was going to be. I like blogs like Jak&Jil with their amazing photos, but I equally enjoy blogs like yours which actually have something to read and you can interact with.

  21. I totally laughed when I read that you've never seen the Sartorialist make a cupcake. So true. Success comes in different forms and different people are successful at different things. Stick with what you love and know.

    The Auspicious Life

  22. V, I love the way you expressed yourself in this post. You're absolutely right about what someone would think if visiting fashion blogs for the first time. I actually thought, "How does everyone have such great photographers?" ~Serene

  23. What, did you miss the Sartorialist Cupcake Special?!

    You make some excellent points here, particularly on the influence of the industry on higher-profile blogs. You know already what I think of Taxonomy of My Wardrobe, so I won't get any more effusive...only to say that I like your cerebral approach to fashion, and, as you say, your irreverence. Your following has quadrupled (?) since I first read your posts, and it's incredibly well-deserved. Your 'vociferousness' (I may be making words up now) is the icing on the cake... ;)


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