Photo: Getty images
Jump onto Instagram and there’s @GaryPepperGirl in another random rooftop photoshoot, @TuulaVintage hop-skipping around Europe, and a thousand #WhatIWore posts featuring impossibly thin girls wearing impossibly expensive threads, prompting the usual smattering of comments - “I DIE”, “Gorgeous”, “Amazeballs”. I know, I know, haters gonna hate. But I swear, if I see another fashion blogger post a picture of Diptyque candles, a vase of peonies in a clean white loft, or an overspilling Celine tote from which Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment, fashion week invites and a Smythson diary flows, I’m going to punch something.
These blogs purport to be about showcasing real-life personal style and, as most put down in their About Me sections, seeing beauty in the everyday. The problem is, the “everyday” things they feature often cost two-month’s worth of my disposable income. With the succinct dropping of a designer friend’s name or a TwitPic of their hotel suite or latest purchase off Moda Operandi, my ability to relate is instantly lost. I’m left scratching my head, wondering how on earth a freelance stylist can afford such a lifestyle.
I have the same reaction to street photography blogs - Jack & Jil, Garance Dore, Citizen Couture et al. A quick scroll-down of The Sartorialist and all I see is off-duty models on their way to a casting call, fashion editors decked out in head-to-toe designer threads (riding a scooter, to add insult to injury) and the occasional 50-year-old Asian male hipster wearing Air Force Ones and stylishly upturned camo slacks. Originally conceived as a means to democratise our perspective on contemporary fashion and create a two-way dialogue about how it relates to everyday life, the most popular blogs now almost exclusively feature photos of the wealthy elite in clothes I’ll never afford.
Where are the thrift store chic outfits that used to feature so prominently? Where are the everyday girls who haven’t dressed up – consciously or subconsciously - to be style snapped? Are photos of expensively clothed, size zero subjects (couched as “real” women) walking the streets of SoHo really so different from watching the latest runway shows from New York Fashion Week?
The fashion blog genre used to be about defying the mainstream and challenging traditional, glossy notions of beauty, not reaffirming them. It was once about celebrating the “every woman”, creating a space for expression and celebration of one’s self. That essential element of realness is now missing.
The most renowned fashion blogs have become mere extensions of what we see in magazines and advertisements. There’s the professional photography, expensive product placements, heavy editing, the supermodel good looks. Their creators constantly eschew the opportunity to showcase real people in all shapes, colours and sizes, wearing real clothes that push the boundaries of what’s considered fashionable. The images they publish instead perpetuate a false and repetitive picture of what constitutes everyday style, worn by would-be models with friends in PR and access to lots of freebies. They’ve set an unattainable goal of perfection that links fashion with wealth and discredits beauty in diversity. The “every woman” has become yet another meticulously curated example of what every glossy fashion magazine stands for, where the same aspirations for high-culture and luxury apply.
The thing is, if I wanted to see a bunch of well-dressed photogenic freaks doing fun, invite-only stuff, I would’ve bought this month’s issue of Vogue and flipped to the back pages. When I consider everyday style, I see something more real, more graspable, yet still subversive. The best style bloggers should be challenging our eye and training us to appreciate things that are new, yet accessible - not rewrapping looks straight off the catwalk and adding a rose-tinted Instagram filter.