Call them the clotheshorse sirens of cyberspace: fashion bloggers who post photos of themselves swanning in their latest outfits, often daily. In a sort of online high school cafeteria/runway, such people as Los Angeles’ Emily Schuman (Cupcakesandcashmere.com); D.C.’s anonymous, conservatively sleek E. (Districtofchic.com); and New York City’s model-pretty Kelly Framel (Theglamourai.com) strut their ensembles. Yes, these visual style diaries do inspire (e.g., boots I bought after seeing them on E.’s feet). But does their “I feel pretty” vibe provide any service, other than feeding the egos of these camera-happy shopaholics?
What drives these women — and a few men — to anoint themselves models? And why do they both fascinate and annoy me, an old-fashioned stylista who would rather wear sweatpants to Fashion Week than show off my wardrobe on the Internet?
Maybe these mostly 20-somethings, bred on Instagram and Facebook, can’t even get dressed without fishing for compliments.
“These blogs are so indicative of Gen Y,” says Michael Fisher of New York City forecasting firm Fashion Snoops. “These bloggers are very self-aware and used to being able to share everything. They want feedback.”
Pinterest tells us that the masses like to tout their perceived good taste to the public, even if it runs toward neon neoprene dresses. But using your body to broadcast your flair — especially without much useful advice (how to walk in platform shoes, whether a new Georgetown shoe store sucks or not) — reeks of “look at me!” fever.
“What trips me up about personal style blogs is the idea that everyone looks great every day,” says D.C. blogger Rachel Cothran of Projectbeltway.com, who prefers brainy discourse on fashion and street-style shots of locals on her site. “I can’t imagine self-paparazzi-ing that way.”
New Yorker Leandra Medine, aka Manrepeller.com, does run photos of herself on her blog. But unlike many in the Sisterhood of the Endlessly Photographed Pants, she doesn’t accept “gifted” merch (freebies). And she seems in on the joke, showing herself in haute frocks, but with unshaven legs and goofball expressions.
“Blogs should start a conversation,” Medine says, and, sure enough, the lively comments section of her site features as many “fab dress!” love notes as critiques of her mix-and-mismatch style.
Still, most blogs are mere echo chambers. Local girls Carlis Sanchez and Katya Ananieva of Spicycandydc.com show off their clash-y, slightly trashy outfits in what seem to be Shaw alleys. The Glamourai’s Framel pouts and peacocks in an Ali Ro sheath above a link to the brand’s website. Comments on both sites are nothing but glowing. “Many bloggers edit out negative comments, so you see a skewed little world,” says Fashion Snoops’ Fisher. “From an editorial perspective, it amounts to personal fan pages.”
All fashionistas know part of dressing well is boosting self- esteem. That, plus the creative rush of assembling a photo shoot celebrating yourself, must drive many bloggers. Some (Framel, Medine, others) earn a living selling ads and collaborating with brands.
Maybe such blogs aid the style-unsavvy, who surf them when they don’t know what to wear. “I try to inspire via regular outfits with a twist,” says Cupcakesandcashmere.com’s Schuman. D.C.’s Abbey Brandon, who stars in monument-backed shots at Districtdressup.com, says, “My blog pushes my style and fashion-forward ideas.”
Brandon does a nice job using our fair city as a stage set, and Schuman has hip boots. But there’s so much myopia here, with bloggers flipping their hair for unseen photographers (boyfriends, tripods). They’re like little girls, all dressed up, with no place to go, staring into the mirror.