The Internet is chock-full of fashion blogs these days, a phenomenon that is thrilling in its representation of the democratic, globalized nature of the world wide web, but also one that is tiptoeing towards serious overkill. To follow them all would be virtually (pun-city) impossible, and as consumers we end up weeding out the personal favorites from the ever-growing bunch. As I’ve gotten older my tastes have definitely changed, and I gravitate more towards the blogs that harbor a fresh perspective, an atypical model (in a sea of perfectly toned, expertly coiffed Barbies), and interests that go beyond the confines of trend-lust. I routinely erase certain blogs from my bookmarks menu when I find that all they post is self-indulgent outfit shots, or regurgitated crap from other sites. I love the indulgences of daily costumery just as much as the next fashion fiend, but that isn’t enough to keep me reading anymore. There appear to be two types of bloggers out there as well: those who believe their shit doesn’t stink, and those who are fully aware that—like us plebes—their shit is quite ripe. In the same vein, there are those who seem to view other bloggers with an openness and yearning for connectivity, as opposed to those who retain a more cold and competitive attitude towards the other fish in the sea. Having met and or spoken directly to a lot of these ladies and gents, I’ve encountered both types—experiences that have inevitably colored my reverence, and lack thereof, for certain sites.
There’s been near-constant discussion of the ever-increasing blogger presence and clout within the fashion sphere. Many find it irritating or undeserved, and while I hear a lot of their points, I also find it indicative of the fashion world’s surprisingly close-minded, cliquey attitude. High school really has nothing on this crew of quick-to-judge cats. You’re in, or you’re out—if there’s a middle ground, it’s shrouded beneath its own supposed mediocrity. There are a few bloggers at the top of the hierarchy whose allure I fully understand, but also a solid amount of snooze-worthiness that, like the look and personality of the cliché popular girl, feels inauthentic and stifled. In case you, too, are fed up with the fashion world’s selective cheering for a small subset of the blogger population, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite sites to revisit, coupled with my reasoning for why that is.
- The Glamourai – Kelly Framel is definitely a ‘big man on campus’–the campus being that exclusive land where bloggers with real fashion-world influence roam–and she deserves it. Her blog is not a narcissistic abyss of pretty posing (although her poses are pretty), but one of the only internet pit-stops that gets my adrenaline pumping re: fashion in a way that equals (if not exceeds) fashion magazine spreads of yore. Never condescending or preachy, Kelly Framel’s artistic vision is built on an ethos of ‘the more the merrier’—constantly exploring new cultures and ways of life, pushing the boundaries of an often dull reality for the more exotic locales of the imagination. Fashion here is charged to 100% –it is not just the latest trend, but a deeper exploration of art history and the creative method. I read her site to feel good, and to remind myself why I love fashion. Not for what has been deemed cool by the mainstream, not to feel less-than-good-enough, but, rather, to revel in the individual self, and the many different selves that are out there. I double dog dare you to not to fall in love with her styling skill, her intriguing words (and insight into why fashion is so damn alluring), and the site’s top-notch photography. It’s a daily escape—one that, for me, is absolutely routine.
- Lulu and Your Mom – Though Lulu Chang is a very busy lady these days, working on numerous other projects including her ace clothing line The Fashion Club and her new Asian-centric fashion and beauty website Show Me Everything (also a must read), she continues to put forth engaging and witty content on her original blog. Lulu, who was one of my favorite 20 Sense interviewees, is not afraid to be candid about what intrigues her and why, often discussing the entanglement of fashion with sensuality. Desire is always present in Lulu’s aesthetic vision, and it’s not to be shunned or ashamed of—it is simply human. Brains-times-beauty is always the case here, with her truly unique perspective and lingo always managing to make even the simplest thing (clear nail polish, a leather skirt) insanely covetable. Oh, and, the woman is hilarious.
- Karla’s Closet – I’ve followed Karla Deras and her site since the earliest days of fashion blogging, and it’s been so fun to watch the continual transformation of her style. Her look combines a real reverence for fashion history (she studied fashion design) with low-key street wear, often mixing an uber-classic silhouette with an accessory you might expect to be more at home in a hip-hop music video. No surprise—as she loves the genre and it’s counterparts, R&B and rap. If Grace Kelly and Tupac had a love-child, I’m pretty sure Karla Deras would be it–and yes, that look works, really, really well. She is admirably picky in her collaborations, too, only choosing to work with brands that truly reflect her inherent style, and seems dedicated to not getting caught up in all the famous-blogger-hubbub. Though her site has grown to be immensely popular, she seems to enjoy hanging out on the periphery much more than being the star of the proverbial show.
- afterDRK – Sabrina Meijer is not flashy or loud—her style is grounded in an easy-going minimalism—but despite her pared-back proclivities, her site is always fun to read. Perhaps it’s due to her sometimes self-deprecating sense of humor and casual tone, but she quickly feels like a long lost friend. Hailing from Amsterdam, she provides readers with a snapshot of a different lifestyle, but also highlights just how much the different locales of our ever-more globalized world have in common. She privileges amazing photography over everything else, not wanting to fall into that tired trap of self-centered outfit post after outfit post after outfit post (as none of these ladies do), and treats her site more like a monthly publication: each ‘issue’ has a different theme. Her posts run the gamut from home tours to beauty talks, introducing readers to intriguing women from around the globe. Lately, she’s begun creating her own editorials—and while Kelly may be who you turn to for the more fantastical, Sabrina is who you’ll want to look towards for a more reality-based whimsy.
Looking back on my selection, I realize these women all have one major thing in common—an absolute pride and confidence in their femininity, and not femininity as defined by the upper echelons of society (“don’t eat too much, wear this/not that, always be sweet not sassy”). The way they dress is so far removed from a man’s opinion or what mainstream culture dignifies as enviable—they all push the envelope in their own ways, by simply being themselves. Like the rest of us, their style and personalities transform over time, but their integrity—their identity—is always unabashedly front and center. So many bloggers seem to be putting on, whether it be by using gigantic words incorrectly (oy vey, enough already), proselytizing about what we must wear and what we absolutely shouldn’t, or setting a dangerous example to young women by shrinking before our eyes and enabling a message of conformity. The aforementioned ladies are the absolute antithesis of that, and thank goodness.
Other favorites include: Stop It Right Now’s Jayne Min; Maria Van Nguyen; Hanna Stefansson; Columbine Smille; Harper & Harley; Marta Cygan of Life of Boheme; Jeanne Damas; Karoline Andersson; Shini Park of Park & Cube