The Dangers and Advantages of Following Fashion Bloggers

How I dress is pretty important to me. Clothes aren't just what I wear to avoid being naked.  Clothes are fun.  They are a form of self expression. They help me look my best. I might even go as far to say they are form of art that also conveniently prevent me from being naked.

Dressing isn't always easy.  I have a body that's hard to fit.  I don't have a million spare hours to browse every store and website to find pieces I love.  I also don't have unlimited funds for buying the right clothes when I do find them.  Sometimes I need help trying to find out what's out there and how to put it together into the perfect outfit. 

This is what makes style bloggers so useful.  They are out there finding the trends and making the purchases and putting the outfits together.  I can look at an outfit post and see if I can replicate it with something I already have in my closet, or I can use it to determine if I want to buy something new.  They provide resources for the best retailers for short women.   Most bloggers include links to the places where I can buy their clothes, or if it's an older piece not currently offered by the brand, they provide a link where I can buy something similar.  They also tell me where the sales are.  I can Pin outfits for later inspiration.  I credit many of my wardrobe choices in the past year to the influence of fashion bloggers.

There is a dark side to the fashion blog world though.  Browsing fashion blogs can be as frustrating for me as it useful.  Take a look at some of the blogs I follow and  you will see why.

As a short woman, I tend to follow petite bloggers.  I follow Extra Petite, Stylish Petite, Just a Tina Bit, Cute and Little, 9 to 5 Chic, Color and Chic, and Style is My Pudding regularly.  Other blogs I sometimes visit include Sydne Style, Retro Flame, Wendy's Lookbook, Walk in Wonderland, J Petite, Lace and Locks, Hallie Daily, and Fashion Me Now.

When I venture away from the petite bloggers, I like Kendi Everyday, Not Dressed as Lamb, Atlantic Pacific, and The Age of Grace.

Here is the problem with following fashion blogs.  Check out the petite blogs.  What do all of those bloggers have in common?  If you say, "They're all thin," then you know what I'm talking about.

All it takes is a glance at a few of these blogs before you notice petite bloggers are overwhelmingly thin.  When I say thin, I mean tiny.  I'm talking about no significant curves.  I'm talking about women who could probably shop in the children's department.  Petite fashion bloggers sport spaghetti strap slip dresses, backless sweaters, and off-shoulder blouses, because they never have to worry about how their clothes will go over their much-needed bras.  Petite fashion bloggers will tell you they found the perfect petite swimwear, but it's almost always because they don't have to cover squishy bellies and have a cute new bikini.  Their stomachs are all flat.  Petite fashion bloggers walk around in tiny shorts in the summer because they don't suffer from chub rub on their thighs.  When Jean Wang excitedly blogs about how she found the size 00 fit her nicely and wasn't too big, I just want to give her a whack and knock her on her bony butt! (She clearly doesn't weigh much, so it wouldn't take much effort.)

I know it's petty of me to talk in such a resentful manner.  Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and I can't give any blogger a hard time for inhabiting a certain body type.  That is hardly a hallmark of a good feminist.  It's just so frustrating that there is no place in the fashion world where I can see my body type represented.

From time to time I do searches for "curvy petite bloggers" and usually end up seeing blogs for the plus-sized crowd.  When I say plus-sized, I mean size 14 and up.  These bloggers are lovely women, but their fashion needs are different from mine, and they may not always be shopping at the same stores.  When I do find a petite blogger who is a bit thicker than average, but not plus-sized, the blog is often not as outfit-centric as their slim counterparts.  The blogs tend to focus just as much on beauty and haircare products (I have my own routines and don't have much interests in other women's routines), travel, and shopping resources.  They aren't useful for outfit inspiration and that's my main reason for following these blogs.

Why is a woman who is within an inch or three  of 5' tall, wears a respectable size 10, has D-cup boobs, a curvy butt, and a less-than-flat stomach so hard to find online?  I sometimes feel the fashion world is sending a message that it's okay to be short, but only as long as you are tiny.

I may have to face the truth that clothes just don't look as good on my body as they look on a thin woman.  At least that's the message I feel is being sent here.

I suppose the petite fashion blog world is doing something the rest of the fashion bloggers aren't doing.  Style blogging has long been criticized as the domain of narcissistic, privileged, white women.  Petite bloggers are not all white (most of the ones I follow aren't white). On the other hand, They are often  privileged regardless of race.  They live in a world where buying Chanel bags and Stuart Weitzman shoes are everyday purchases.  Sure they do incorporate some inexpensive retailers into their daily outfits, but so many bags and shoes cost more than my entire clothing budget (even when thrifted).  I have yet to find a petite blog made up entirely of clothes from Target and H&M.  (Let's be honest, I don't shop at those stores either, but I think there needs to be more resources out there for those who buy the bulk of their clothes from low-end retailers.)

Another issue I have with fashion bloggers of all size is the unrealistic world they tend to present.  Everywhere a fashion blogger goes she looks put together and polished.  Even if she's just hanging around her apartment in her underwear, she looks groomed and beautiful.  If she works out, she always wears the most prestigious fitness clothes (and you know how I feel about fancy fitness clothes).

This winter has shown me just how ridiculous style blogging can be. I need to see clothes worn in a way that I can realistically wear them.  This is winter.  Winter means snow.  Winter means cold.  This particular winter has shown us some extreme cold. The east coast has seen some major snowstorms.  Fashion bloggers aren't reflecting that. Weather is nothing more than a backdrop for photo shoots and they will wear what they like no matter how cold it is outside.

Take this example from New-York-based blog Wendy's Lookbook.  This post is dated January 8th.  That was when this region was digging out of a snowstorm and shivering in bitter cold.  Look at her frolic.  She looks like she's having the time of her life in frigid weather.  Note the heels on her boots.  They are not really suitable for slippery conditions.  Her coat is wide open.  She wears no gloves or hat.  Who dresses like this?  Even chic New Yorkers put on the North face coats and the waterproof boots this time of year.  Those of us living on the east coast haven't been frolicking.  We're just barely tolerating. I still cringe when I see a blogger with bare legs on a winter day.  It's not just the cold that bothers me either.  How do you avoid getting shoe bites when you're wearing close-toed pumps with no stockings under them?

Occasionally a blogger gets it right.  I was grateful to Damsel in Dior for providing this post. Maybe what we need to see are warm boots that don't look too clunky.  Maybe we need to see a cute tote bag that can easily carry the heels for the office.  Maybe we just need to be told it's okay to be unfashionable when the weather conditions don't support exposed flesh and high heels?

Would the solution be for me to start a fashion blog?  Believe me I am tempted.  I sometimes think it would be fun to expand The Essential Rhubarb Pie into a full lifestyle blog.  It wouldn't just be about food.  It would be a blog about food, fashion, travel, and fitness, as well as books and culture (a few of my passions).  But I feel that would take more time and money than I currently have.  My blogs are pretty boring looking format-wise because I use the templates Blogger provides.  To have a proper lifestyle blog I would really need to hire a designer to make it look more professional and make individual sections more easily navigated.  I would likely need to host it someplace other than Blogger, which would also cost money.  Then who would take the photos?  I have a husband with a passion for photography and a fancy DSLR camera, but no time to be following me around taking pictures of my clothing.  I don't even have time to be posing in my clothes.  My best outfits are the ones I wear to work every day and I need to get on the train and into the office in the morning.  I don't have time to find an attractive backdrop and pose for 12 different angles.  On weekends I need to get my errands done before I head to the barn.  I don't think my barn clothes would make attractive fashion posts either.  I love to dress well, but dressing well is situational.  I like a cute outfit for work or for going out to dinner or out with friends or to a party.  I also think it's perfectly acceptable to go to the market in jeans and a sweatshirt, or to the gym in a souvenir t-shirt and $10 leggings.

 If I didn't enjoy reading style blogs, I wouldn't be reading them, so I guess I need to stop complaining.  Fashion blogs, just like food blogs, are aspirational.  They're not meant to be a list of rules.  They're not meant to tell women how to dress.  They're just something to enjoy and perhaps inspire me.

Now I think I'll head over to Wendy's Lookbook and lust after her boots.

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