Finance & the Fashion Blogger: Ignore-ance

Originally posted on Dramatis Personae by Ashe Mischief:

I write this from a personal place, one that has been a big part of my life for nearly a decade and more thoughtfully impacts my daily life now.  I’d been a stupid teenager and a stupid 20-something, racking up thousands of dollars in debt– on eating out, shoes, books, movies– some of these were my own stupidity, some of these were compensation and the results of rebuilding my life after Hurricane Katrina.  At the end of the month, all I get is that bill saying that I owe this much.

We write about fashion– but we don’t often write or talk about the financial choices behind our sartorial choices.

Lately I’ve found myself recognizing how eliminating that temptation from my life has also had an impact on my ability to write as a fashion blogger.  It’s crossing my mind more and more how we, as fashion bloggers, need to demystify finances and realize that spending and shopping  go hand in hand– how do we do it, afford it, save for it?  Or do we?

Since moving back to New Orleans, my sartorial life has taken a backseat, as I’ve tried to focus on paying down my credit card debts and student loans.  As a result, my shopping has hopped in the backseat too– along with it, window shopping and temptation.

Moving back to New Orleans has taught me a bit about myself, including my habit of spiraling.  Spiraling–the act of doing something once, only to feel the need to keep doing it. It happened this past month– what started as using my credit card to buy Lady Gaga tickets and added up to 2 Tarina Tarantino necklaces, a new purse from Alice & Isa, 2 new tops from B&Lu, and a couple dinners out with friends.  Suddenly a month’s worth of progress on eliminating debt had been eliminated.

The only justification I have is that I bought things I really loved and have loved and wanted a long time.

In many ways, I think the rise of the fashion blogger has led to the rise of other things–increased need for consumption, a competitiveness to buy more and keep up with other bloggers. I remember reading about shopping addictions in magazines when I was younger, but I question if that’s on the rise too, with instant access to dozens of sale emails and posts popping up before our eyes every second.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder, what’s the real cost of being a fashion blogger?

It’s something we keep quiet about publicly, but whisper about in g-chats and emails.   Is that blogger always buying new things? How does she afford it all?  And in an effort to keep up, we have two options: buy it ourselves or seek it out from companies in the form of payments/sponsorships/review products.

Birdiee said to me, “The act of buying is so integral to writing that sometimes I wonder how bloggers keep it up – there are a lot of bloggers who do editorials because they haven’t got the funds to keep up.”

Recently I went shopping with a girl friend in the French Quarter.  We were deliberating jewelry at Ragin’ Daisy, when I realized that I wanted this particular necklace and pair of earrings (totaling $57 before tax).  I also knew that I couldn’t afford them at the moment, so I’d have to pay by credit card.  So I didn’t buy them.

I’ve seen whispers from bloggers who’ve hidden from their debts and bad shopping habits, but never opened up that side with their readers.  The fact is, the need to buy, to remain stylish, to support our style, allow it to grow, change, evolve, has a price. Just how high do we let it get?

Jennine of the Coveted says of her own habits with shopping,

“When I first started blogging, I was well into a very destructive bad shopping habit, and when I started my blog, at first it fueled my already destructive spending. I remember reading somewhere on Style Bytes that she ran out of money, until the next credit card came in the mail, and at the time it seemed like..’oh, that’s how she does it!’ So, like an idiot, I did the same thing. I can’t give numbers, but I was in a lot of debt…but now, I have paid almost 2/3 of it off (after next month, I’ll have one more credit card to go, and I’m out of consumer debt). And I’ve learned my lesson. Bad spending habits aren’t worth it, not even for my blog.”

Michelle at Wicked Whimsy told me how real financial responsibility often holds her back as a blogger– she says,

One of the things that holds me back from doing more outfit posts, embarrassing as it may be, is that I just don’t have the cash to keep up with the constant influx of new clothes, shoes, and accessories that other fashion bloggers seem to have, even if I shopped on a serious budget. I feel like, because of this, most people don’t want to see outfits that are continual reworkings of my closet favorites (although I guess the Uniform Project could be an example to the contrary).

When bloggers are racking up thousands of dollars of debt or waiting for the next credit card bill to arrive, where do we draw a line? Form blogger support groups to keep each other from spending– and dressing– outside of our means?  Or do we destroy an illusion–of carefree living, style as art– by bringing finance in to the fashion mix?

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65 Responses

  1. c.a. Marks

    Great article! Probably the reason I haven’t gotten my own blog started yet. That and the time it takes.
    .-= c.a. Marks´s last blog ..Yes, I know =-.

    Reply
  2. Alexandra | Dresses for Breakfast

    Ashe, very interesting topic here; thank you for posting. I’ve been wondering how so many fashion bloggers are keeping up with the lifestyle they are posting about, and what our role is in feeding a culture that “needs” so very many things. What’s unfortunate is that often people really aren’t hit with the financial repercussions of their choices until later- which is why it is so great that you’ve brought this topic out in the open for discussion!

    I actually started my blogs because I found myself online shopping and browsing, and realized that instead of purchasing things, I could write about them (and pay off my student loans more quickly!). It’s been a really ideal way to give myself a creative outlet, while finding some perspective on spending and the consumer landscape in general.

    Best, Alexandra
    http://dressesforbreakfast.com
    .-= Alexandra | Dresses for Breakfast´s last blog ..Dion Lee via Jak & Jil =-.

    Reply
  3. Alexandra | Dresses for Breakfast

    Ashe, this is a great topic; thank you for posting. I’ve been wondering how so many fashion bloggers are keeping up with the lifestyle they’re showcasing, and what role we have in creating a consumer culture that “needs” so very many things. The unfortunate part is that many do not see the financial repercussions of their choices until much later; in the moment the impulse makes everything seem fine.

    I actually started my blogs because I found myself online shopping and browsing; I realized that I could get the same happy-factor by writing about things instead of buying them (and pay of my student loans more quickly!). It’s been a positive creative outlet for me, while giving me a new perspective on the culture of shopping and my own position within the consumer landscape.

    Best of luck to you!
    – Alexandra
    http://dressesforbreakfast.com
    .-= Alexandra | Dresses for Breakfast´s last blog ..Dion Lee via Jak & Jil =-.

    Reply
  4. Sandra at DebutanteClothing

    Ashe,
    Thank you for such a personal recount of your personal finances. I hope this was also a bit cathartic for you because money woes can be just as painful as romantic ones.

    I was in really bad debt in college so I learned very early on what destruction credit card debt can cause. I did find myself shopping more later in my blogging years, but luckily I can afford to now. Maybe not luck – I sold a piece of real estate at the top of the California housing market. I instantly became debt free. It felt really, really good.

    I promise, once one gets out of debt, you don’t ever want to go back.

    Sandra

    Reply
    • Ashe Mischief

      Thanks, Sandra!
      To be honest, I never really expected the worst to happen with my debt– which was really the aftermath of Katrina. The need to emotionally compensate for losses, as well as rebuild a life. Pre-Katrina, I had SO little debt… it seemed astronomical, but was like, $500. If only i had stayed at that point.

      Reply
  5. liz

    great article- As an anonymous blogger, I think I have it a little easier. I do write about stuff I have, but since I don’t do single outfit posts, I can get quite a few different posts out of one outfit ( a post about a bag, a post about jewelry, a post about shoes). Also, I’m pretty lazy sometimes so I don’t do alot of these posts anyway.

    But, I do have a shopping addiction. While I’m not in debt, I haven’t been able to save either and it’s absurd the amount of money I spend on stuff, taxis, dinners, etc. It’s hard to control yourself when you’re reading and writing about beautiful things everyday, especially when you see certain “cough” bloggers that seem to have a closet the size of Mariah Careys..

    Sometimes the best thing a person can do is put the credit card away for a month. There’s so much temptation with it around.
    .-= liz´s last blog ..Acrobats of God =-.

    Reply
  6. Tiffani

    GREAT article!!!

    Over the past couple of years I myself have been trying to find the balance between being a fashion lover in NYC and being financially chic. Personally, I don’t care how great you look there is nothing chic about debt and the heavy cloud it hangs over your head. I have learned to where to cut back on things, therefore so I can spend more on clothes and things I love. I recently got rid of cable which was $60 a month, over $600 a year. I felt reality TV was making me dumb plus wasting time, however when I do need a fix I just go to Hulu.com for FREE!

    I am really avid about reading personal finance and even started Financial Chic Fridays on my blog (although I have been slacking the past two weeks). There are tons of personal finance bloggers out there that share the stories on how they were in debt and got out. I think fashionista should be more open to talk about their spending habits.

    P.S. I would love to see your re-worked outfits on your blog, we’re all trying to re-work whats in our closets so it would be inspiring for others. Don’t try to ‘keep up with the Jonses’ as they say – do what’s best for you!

    Reply
  7. Adele joanna

    I loved reading this. A side to blogging as you said people seem to ignore! Unfortunately I currently have a serious problem where it has ended in me seeing a councillor as it developed from my anxiety which I got worse as I went through university. With me it is only online shopping as I look forward to recieving it in the post also. I thought if I re-opened my fashion blog it would give me something other to do online rather than searching through online shops but as you said its just made me more eager to be as fashionable as those who seem to have endless amounts of money. I have never took a credit card out, I know its a bad idea but my student loan is just dissappearing in Vivienne Westwood at the moment. My wages are now paid into my parents account just so that I have some kind of savings once I leave university. Quite embarrasing I know. :
    .-= Adele joanna´s last blog ..Henry Holland =-.

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  8. Eli

    hmm…this makes me ponder about the beginnings of my blog where I wanted to show everything I thrifted, hence the name of my blog. But it quickly turned into a personal style blog. I had so much because I was buying on the cheap. And wanted to show you could have style without spending a lot of money. But the story has two sides. I feel like sometimes my brain would want to buy even more because I was spending less per item, and really in total I was spending just as much. And then when the blogging started to boom so many bloggers were going out and buying similar expensive things. I called them blogger bandwagons. I can specifically recall everyone going crazy over 1) Sam Edelman Balenciaga boots, 2) Acne Atacoma wedges 3) Ashish for Topshop wedges. And that is just a few of the trends I’ve seen. And when it started, I thought to myself “I need to go get these shoes” etc…knowing that I was only doing it because someone else did. Gosh am I glad I didnt get any of these. Yes there is a pressure it seems to keep up with the blogging “Joneses” but what is the point of being in debt?

    Reply
  9. Beth

    I absolutely have a problem with shopping. Luckily for me, I only go to stores with fairly inexpensive clothing– Target, Forever 21, H&M. It truly is difficult to see bloggers who can afford not only a great deal of clothes, but really expensive designer clothes and shoes and purses.

    I realize, of course, that labels are not everything. But regardless of where an item is from, it stills costs money. If I’ve been been loose with my credit card one week, I completely avoid places where I’m tempted for the next two weeks.

    Online shopping helps me browse without feeling the pressure of buying anything.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Pink Ruffle Skirt =-.

    Reply
  10. lisa

    Thank you for writing such a brave, articulate, and thought-provoking post, ashemischief. The relationship between fashion and finances is one I’ve pondered often myself. Many fashion bloggers seem to be able to afford a constant influx of designer goodies because they’re lucky enough to be wealthy, they’re spending more than they should and possibly getting into bad debt, or they’re young with good jobs and they still live at home. (I fall into the latter category.) Also, it’s interesting to see that as fashion bloggers stick around for longer and a lot of blogs reach the 1/2/3 year mark, more and more bloggers seem to be taking on self-imposed shopping bans to save up for big expenses or to rein in their spending in general.

    While I’ve been pretty upfront about not sacrificing a stable financial future for shoes in a previous post on my blog, I have mixed feelings about whether sharing about one’s finances has a place in fashion blogging. Based on past experience, I’ve seen how some discussions can quickly slide into judgemental statements (“I would never spend that much on a handbag” or “I have real expenses to pay unlike these kids depending on mommy and daddy all the time”) and bitterness. Not all discussions and bloggers and commenters will react this way, obviously, but some may.

    Personally, I never put anything on a credit card unless I know I already have the money to pay it off. When I splurge on a new handbag or pair of shoes, I don’t just see the dollar amount on the price tag, but the opportunity cost of what I’m doing. Is this purchase equal to a meal out with my boyfriend? Could this money have earned me interest in a savings account? Or gone toward a vacation? Then I cut back in other areas accordingly. I don’t feel pressured to “keep up” with other fashion bloggers because I have a lot of goals outside of fashion too. Fashion is just one part of who I am, not my entire being.
    .-= lisa´s last blog ..Today’s Outfit: Dress Over Jeans & Other Broken Style Rules =-.

    Reply
    • lucinda

      lisa – a thoughtful response to a very important topic. I have a similar attitude to you, I cut back in other areas to afford fashion purchases but generally try to make fashion not my only priority. I also play around with making my own accessories.

      Reply
  11. MarchMusings

    I was glad to see this post on IFB this morning. I started doing a weekly outfit post and I wondered how long I’ll be able to keep it up. Having to run a house, service a mortgage and still find money to shop takes planning and I often wonder how bloggers do daily outfit posts. Like Lisa mentioned above, they must stay at home or have bigger pockets than most of us.

    One option is vintage/thrift shopping, but I’m amongst those shoppers who can’t find gems at thrift/ op shops and I always come away empty-handed.

    My solution is to only buy things on credit that I can pay off within the interest-free period. I don’t see the sense in paying interest on a pair of shoes or a jacket. If I have to pay interest, then it’s on bigger items like a dishwasher / fridge for the house. Of course it’s a struggle to keep within this narrow road but that’s what life’s about isn’t it?

    I realise I’m not the ideal customer that Visa/Mastercard looks for but if it means a more secure future for me than I’m not worried about that. At the end of the day I’d like to be fashionable but on my terms.
    .-= MarchMusings´s last blog ..This is me # 5 – Black or white =-.

    Reply
  12. Grit and Glamour

    Excellent post!

    I have often wondered how some very famous bloggers (particularly one who’s living amidst a sea of footwear) afford all the high-end swag. I make a decent living, but even I’m having to reign in my shopaholic ways. Frankly, I’m tired of paying off cards, then charging them up, then paying them off…it’s a vicious cycle. And it’s really ridiculous because I now no longer have room for all the things I have. Yet I constantly want more. It’s partially because I love clothes and accessories, and partially because I’m just bored.

    I’ve found that if I stay busy doing other things on my typical shopping day—Saturday—I don’t spend money I don’t have and honestly, I don’t even miss it. Going to my favorite stores when I know there are major sales is an absolute trigger for me. But even if it’s on sale, if it’s on credit and will be for months to come, that is no longer a sale, is it?

    I’m working on hemming it all in, and I finally think I’m getting to the point where I’m going to stop the cycle once and for all. I’m going to start by initiating some small, achievable challenges—no shopping for one week, no visiting the mall, for example—then work up. The less I’m in the mall, the less I spend. It’s that simple.
    .-= Grit and Glamour´s last blog ..(White) Hot Spots =-.

    Reply
  13. Maria at BachmansSparrow

    Great article Ashe – very thought provoking. I personally am all about affordable style. I assume the average American doesn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on their wardrobes, so why not cater my blog to this? Reworking outfits, DIY projects, buying with a budget, and finding thrifted and on-sale treasures is very inspirational to a reader. I guess I have always been brought up to live within my means (something I think us Americans have a hard time with), and my blog won’t change that one bit. I wonder what came first for many of us who are shopping fiends, the blog or the spending?

    – Maria
    .-= Maria at BachmansSparrow´s last blog ..DIY recycled paper trees: make it last! =-.

    Reply
  14. Madeline V

    Great post! I did go through a stage at university of constantly wanting new things, even if it was just a lipgloss. I then realised that I was shopping out of anxiety and didn’t “need” anything. The last thing I purchased was a jacket and before that I haven’t bought anything other than necessities for over 10 months. I rearranged my priorities and tried to focus on my business/career.

    I find like Lisa said that fashion is just one part of me, but not the most important. Also looking at the opportunity cost of a purchase is very helpful. It probably does help that my blog is not fashion per say but more of a personal blog so I don’t feel the constant need to keep up.
    .-= Madeline V´s last blog ..Chanel Cruise 2011 collection =-.

    Reply
  15. Hexotica

    Excellent article. I love fashion blogs and I love saving money, so I’d love to see more fashion bloggers cover how to dress well on the cheap–unfortunately, so few do, and I find myself despising the rampant consumerism they are indirectly advocating. I think the best outfits are a creative mixture of new and old, DIY and thrift!
    .-= Hexotica´s last blog ..Weekly Outfit and More Parties =-.

    Reply
  16. F (For All The F's)

    girl, i love you. seriously.

    i would like to know – why do bloggers think that they have to buy all that stuff? that is indeed a mystery. to me.

    i don’t have the money to do it. i am a regular girl, i come from a regular family, with my income level balenciaga shoes will be only a dream ’till the day i die 🙂

    what exactly qualifies as being a fashion blogger?

    i’m drawing sketches of clothes and doing fashion illustration. now i have to wonder if i can count myself as a fashion blogger, considering the fact that i don’t buy stuff, don’t post outfit photos and, to be honest, don’t ever really care about most of the posted outfit photos 🙂
    .-= F (For All The F’s)´s last blog ..: The Thing About Lux =-.

    Reply
  17. Jenna (D_Fashionistas)

    Thank you for this post! My New Year’s Resolution was to pay of my credit card debit by December 31, 2010. I’ve already paid off one of my credit cards, and I’m on target to pay off number two by the end of May. Although I am a Fashion Blogger, my most serious expenditures come from a need to Travel and see the world. Instead of constantly putting trips on my credit cards, I’ve created a savings dedicated as my Travel fund. Perhaps as fashion bloggers, we could start seperate savings accounts specifically for items you would like to incorporate on your blog.

    Another reason I feel I’ve added up so much debt via online purchases is my PayPal account (which I refuse to use anymore) because it was so easy with one click you can purchase without even entering your credit card number!

    Your post showed me that I’m not the only fashion blogger out there in debt and more than a little embarassed. Thanks for the support!

    Daily Fashionistas
    .-= Jenna (D_Fashionistas)´s last blog ..
    Find the Perfect Blush for Your Skin Type =-.

    Reply
  18. |Tex| Fashion Butter

    I love this article. I JUST (as in last month) paid off the last of the credit card debt I have been carrying around in some shape or form for the last 13 years. I’ll tell ya, it feels so GOOD to see all those zero balances.

    And as a newish personal style blogger, I have no plans to run them up again. Instead, I find myself rethinking what I already own … and sometimes that means hacking some of these things up with a pair of scissors when I am bored … ha ha ha.
    .-= |Tex| Fashion Butter´s last blog ..Keeping it simple: jeans, a tee … and chain mail =-.

    Reply
  19. Pintucks

    Great article here–something I have wondered about as well.

    There is another option to financial recovery, and that is to sell off your stuff.

    Although keeping up an inventory of great stock can become addictive as well.
    (“oh, that would be great to add to my shop”)
    and pretty soon you are buying just for that.

    Aren’t we just little magpies?
    .-= Pintucks´s last blog ..What’s Your Favorite Vintage? asks the New York Times =-.

    Reply
  20. meg, reckless daughter

    This was really interesting, thank you. I often wonder about other bloggers out there and their spending/buying habits. I’d been buying too much over the past year and I’ve really been trying to not do that anymore. I have so much already! Doubling up the hangers in my closet, it’s out of hand. Besides, I think a sign of a good style/fashion blogger is the ability to rework pieces over and over but still keep them fresh. There are several bloggers out there that do this really well (the clothes horse springs to mind) and I think it makes bloggers more human/real when you see that they don’t have an item from EVERY designer collection that season, etc.
    .-= meg, reckless daughter´s last blog ..BritWeek 2010 Designer of the Year & Fashion Show (part 2) =-.

    Reply
  21. Tammy Trujillo

    Wonderful insights about the cost of blogging. I often wondered how some bloggers had new outfits posted each week, and I know that I would not be able to keep up. I just started paying attention to my own personal blog, but I use it to post about meaningful things to me, and use articles and publish my own opinion about them.

    I think its great to re-work your closet. Afterall, the majority of shoppers dont have unlimited or sky-high budgets, so I think it makes sense. Thanks for sharing!

    @ttrujillo

    Reply
  22. Steff

    This may be the best thing I’ve read online since becoming a blogger (or earlier). I never had credit card debt UNTIL I became a fashion blogger (and it’s only been one year at that), and I’m still confused as to how I got here. It’s definitely manageable if I stop all extra spending for the rest of the year, and I really have no excuse not to do this (especially as I’ve already got my Lady Gaga tickets!). My thing is not the need to appear fashionable to my readers or to get the latest of a certain label, as I don’t actually do outfit posts. My blog features indie designers, so I feel compelled to support said designers by buying their designs which I completely fall in love with. I guess once the credit card is paid off, I’ll have to budget in order to both support these designers AND myself. I do feel like I’ve got a well rounded wardrobe anyway, apart from the intangible perfect pair of jeans. I’ve learned to put my credit card away for that pursuit anyway.
    .-= Steff´s last blog ..Ewa Cylwik =-.

    Reply
  23. diya

    wow, I definitely didn’t expect this article to pop up on IFB… it’s so personal but yet definitely something that needs to be discussed. I’ve also wondered myself how so many bloggers that are still students or are struggling artists have the money to go out and buy so many designer items. I usually stay to thrift, f21/wetseal/etc (scour through tons of trendy stuff to find one piece that doesn’t say “i love my bf”), and the once-a-season massive clearance sales for my clothes/shoes. I might have a couple designer items but they were all ridiculously marked down (over 80% off) and they are still once-every-6-months kind of treats for myself. I definitely do wear some of my favorite items over and over again in different ways on my blog though.

    I’ve always saved around $1000 (might not be much but I’m in college right now) as non-fashion/fun/road trip money. That’s for if I suddenly needed a new graphing calculator or textbook or for emergency medical expenses… you know, stuff I actually NEED as an engineering student. I do this despite knowing my already-working-and-is-successful bf would probably be able to bail me out of a bad (or good, I guess) shopping spree because I want to force myself to learn how to save money and live out of my own work pay and etc. Sure, life’s too short to be stingy on money but definitely long enough to at least save some rainy day money heh?
    .-= diya´s last blog ..simplicity =-.

    Reply
  24. diya

    oh, and I never ever eat out during the week. For me, eating out is purely for when the bf wants to go to some BBQ place or something… I don’t mind cooking. Also, I take the sketchy buses (which is free with UT student ID) instead of taxi’s despite the bf always being worried about my safety.

    it wasn’t always like this though… my freshman year of college I definitely was in the red zone (not much, but still) for a few months before I realized that’s probably not a good idea if I ever need to take out a loan for starting my own business or something.
    .-= diya´s last blog ..simplicity =-.

    Reply
  25. gina

    Interesting article. My experience has been quite the opposite. Since I started blogging, I’ve been spending significantly less money on clothes. Part of it is that I like the excitment of buying new things. I’ve found the same excitement in putting together outfits that are new to my blog audience and photographing them. In looking at other fashion blogs, I’ve gotten so many ideas on how to wear and combine my clothes in different ways, that I am getting so much more wear out of the items in my closet while at the same time having a much wider variety of looks day-to-day. “Remixing” is the common term for that. Finally, I’ve seen so many very stylish women wear clothes that come from thrift stores for crazy low prices. That has really inspired me to go thrifting more, and keep hunting despite my former belief that I didn’t have the right body for thrifting i.e. that that stuff my size wasn’t readily available in thrift stores. I was very wrong. Thrifted clothes are available to suit a wide variety of body types. It’s a matter of looking and looking until you find stores that have a great combination of selection, clothes that fit and low low prices.

    Reply
  26. julia

    Ashe, great great job with this post; I wonder the same thing myself, and it is soooo diificult to be a part of fashion, yet not heartily participate in the fashion cycle! It’s such a tough balance- I wish there was an easy solution or answer!
    .-= julia´s last blog ..Web Snob Links of the Week =-.

    Reply
  27. Sarah Chavez

    Wow. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to read this post. I am constantly questioning my “worth”, for lack of a better word, as a fashion blogger because I can’t showcase the latest collection via a temporary loan or a shiny new purchase of the most recent big name fashion collections…
    I am always reworking and DIY’ing, though, and that helps. I do talk about finance a bit on my blog as well.
    I feel like reality has to encroach sometimes and I’ve never been completely on board with the idea of creating a persona which isn’t really me, so I let my readers know where I’m at. Also, one of my best friends has had basically the same exact experience, down to paying off her debts, etc. She’s also from NoLa and has since moved back. She just bought a house!!!! So cheers to you for going home, and I appreciate this a ton.
    .-= Sarah Chavez´s last blog ..Oh, Karl. =-.

    Reply
  28. Erin

    Yet another awesome IFB post! One of the biggest things that I notice is European bloggers living very lavish lifestyles (All designer clothing, always new stuff, parties, food, trips abroad) while their countries fall further and further into debt. Just look at all of the popular bloggers out of Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and other EU countries. Many EU countries are in bankruptcy because of overspending. This is a more worldly example of what overspending can do to a person and a whole country. Just don’t do it! That is unless you are 16 and have access to mommy and daddy’s credit card.

    Reply
  29. natalia

    This really, really hit the nail on the head for me. I discovered the world of style blogging at about the beginning of this year and started my own three or so months ago. That development, coupled with some weight loss, REALLY kicked the shopping monster into overdrive. Sure, I needed new clothes that fit, but it was tough to draw a dividing line between what I REALLY needed and what I thought I “needed” to plug stylistic holes in my wardrobe. I’d read other people’s posts and go “Oh man, those shoes are gorgeous!” or “I don’t own a skirt that looks like that! I need a x-waisted, x-length x-shaped skirt now!”. I’m sort of realizing now that no matter how much I acquire, I’m still going to see vacancies in my closet that are going to need filling and more stuff I’ll want to throw down cash for.

    I’ve had some annoying credit card debt that’s been following me around recently, and I feel like I keep making these lump payments on it only to be in the exact same place a month or two later. I’ve tried “spending diet” sort of stretches, and that works to an extent, but then when a little extra dough comes in, I feel justified in blowing it on a bunch of stuff because I’ve ‘been so good lately’. I’ve come to realize I’m really spinning my wheels.

    New budgeting plan is this: I’m taking down everything I spend in my Google calendar, with the aim of not going over $200 a week (outside rent and transit pass). You want to buy that new bag, or go out for lunch? Okay, but it’s coming out of the $200 – and don’t forget, you’ve got your Internet and phone bill coming up next week. Also, if I put anything on my credit card, I need to transfer that amount from my bank account right away – really keep tabs on individual expenditures, as opposed to seeing my Mastercard as this big morass of debt that I keep having to beat back with lump payments. Here’s hopin’ that works.
    .-= natalia´s last blog ..the clothing show, spring ’10 =-.

    Reply
  30. Janine

    My favorite posts (to read and write) are about thrift shopping, so this issue sort of misses me. In fact, fashion blogging makes me strive for quality over quantity more than anything else.
    .-= Janine´s last blog ..Sunday Link Love =-.

    Reply
  31. Kayla

    Thanks for such a great article! I’ve been struggling lately with possibly closing my blog thinking that it will keep me from spending so much. The honest truth is that being passionate about fashion, and enjoying blogging is not what causes me or anyone else to spend, it’s the decissions that we make. Blogging is not a great excuse, but for lots of us any excuse is a good enough reason to spend!

    Reply
  32. Lindsay

    Thank you so much for writing this. I feel like I have a bit of a shopping addiction, and while I’ve jokingly pleaded for an intervention via my blog, seeing this post made me realize that maybe I actually do need help.

    I work for a popular indie clothing website and make a decent salary, so coupled with my great employee discount, I go overboard almost every single paycheck getting the newest this and the coolest that. But as a fashion blogger, that isn’t enough. I have to have enough new vintage, picks from other sites, stuff like that. I’ve spent my last two paychecks in three days!

    It does beg the question though – where does a girl like me find support? I think it would be great to have a community that supports girls that have similar issues. Luckily I don’t believe in credit so I don’t have debt, but my bills are getting paid later and later, and I’m finding myself selling things I’ve never even worn at a very tiny fraction of what I paid to keep up. Why do I even have so many items I’ve never worn? Blah! Help!

    Reply
  33. SoCalFashionista

    WOW what a great article! This is something that I have thought about and personally stuggled with myself. Glad to know I’m not alone!

    Reply
  34. Alicia

    I’m up for both solutions. Bloggers should form support groups (I inadvertently have with a good blogger friend of mine) and also bring a bit of finance to the forefront. It doesn’t have to be a “look at my bank balance/credit card bill” sort of situation, but it’s nice to toss little reminders into the mix.

    Again, great article, Ashe.

    Reply
  35. wanderlusting

    Well done!

    I’ve often brought this up on my blog – most recently (which you may have read, Ashe) I talked about how frustrating it is to NOT be able to spend like I used to, because I am now unemployed. It’s good though – I’ve been thrifting a lot and learning the art of just saying NO (hard with an impulsive personality).

    I have tons of credit card debt due to clothes and traveling over the last 6 years (the traveling parts I don’t regret though!) and I could have easily dealt with it when I had a job, but no, I felt the urge to try and compete with all other fashion bloggers (didn’t help that I have ALWAYS had a minor shopping addiction).

    It’s stupid… and a competition I’ll never win.

    A) I have an insecure and competitive personality which means I’ll never be satisfied

    B) My blog is four years old… and only for one year and a half has it been about fashion

    C) I am not skinny

    D) I am broke

    There is no way I can compete and you know what? That’s fine. Too bad it took me this long to realize it. I don’t care enough to make it my life and to make people envious with what I wear. Yes I get jealous – a lot. It doesn’t seem fair. But like you pointed out, a lot of people DON”T have mortgages to pay, they live at home, they have good jobs and they rack up the credit cards. Or they have rich parents who spoil them (I was spoiled once) or they have a sugar daddy. One blogger recently admitted at her last job she would spend 50% of her paycheck on clothes. Her honesty was nice and that tidbit made me reallize, “oh that’s how she does it!”

    I love that you brought this up in a more public forum, but I do have to agree with Lisa with trying to keep money struggles on the down-low. I received more than my fair share of bitter, hateful comments after I admitted my problems with money – you’d think being honest would be a good thing, but not in my case! Lesson learned there too.

    Reply
  36. Denise @ Swelle

    This is the first time I’ve seen this issue addressed, but it’s certainly something I’ve wondered about. I’ve already got a bit of a spending habit because I like to buy special pieces – it’s quality over quantity – but blogging hasn’t actually worsened it, mainly because I don’t do outfit posts. In fact, I rarely mention what I bought (unless it helps support a fellow blogger who has made it) because I’m not comfortable with others knowing how much I spent on something or how much I spend in general. And god forbid my husband read those posts!

    I think this is a great step toward opening a dialogue about what is surely causing a lot of bloggers serious personal troubles. I hate the idea that any of us would feel pressured to have new things to show and tell on a constant basis.

    Thanks, Ashe.
    .-= Denise @ Swelle´s last blog ..Cupcake Monday! The French Pastries Edition =-.

    Reply
  37. Ella Mode

    Even though it shouldn’t seem like a new concept to open one’s eyes, these great posts have almost derailed my blogging.

    I can’t afford fashion blogging!

    Ah. I think I’ll blog about design and style. That’s it.
    .-= Ella Mode´s last blog ..To Quit Buying, Must I Quit (Fashion) Blogging? I fear so… =-.

    Reply
  38. Ella Mode

    I want to add, actually, I get so embarrassed about new $260 Louboutins (sale) or a whole bunch of new stuff in one week, that I may hesitate a lot to blog about them.

    Still putting it off. I know people want to at least see those new CLs. They’ll come.
    .-= Ella Mode´s last blog ..To Quit Buying, Must I Quit (Fashion) Blogging? I fear so… =-.

    Reply
  39. Emily @ www.PrettyandPoor.com

    I love this post because it dives into the theme off which I based my blog, Pretty and Poor. Really, when you think about it, this desire to “keep up with the Jonses” goes on all the time, everywhere. But as fashion bloggers, we’re constantly bombarded with stylish peers, the latest trends, and hot new looks! Just today I posted two pairs of shoes to my blog, both worth over $600. The average girl can’t really afford those. Does she aspire to have them? Yes. Might she splurge on something like that someday? Probably.
    If anything, documenting my perils in fashion and reading more fashion blogs has ONLY opened my eyes to the unnecessary choices I make. It’s actually helped me curtail my shopping and buy things I only REALLY love– things that define my own, personal style.
    I really believe there’s an entire population of girls out there who work hard and make a decent living, but blow most of that living on shoes, clothes, purses, accessories, entertainment and high-priced martinis. It’s a Pretty lifestyle…but in essence, they’re Poor.
    The “spending” issue can’t be ignored, which is why on Pretty and Poor the two are linked. There’s always a price to pay!

    Great post! Thanks!

    Reply
  40. Anna Jane

    Thank you so, so much for this article. I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s faced the not-so-good repercussions of starting a fashion blog!

    I’ve actually just managed to take control of my spending habit before it got the better of me. Even though I’m still partial to the odd pair of shoes, I’m nothing like what I was before.

    I think as bloggers, we all need to realise that while outfit posts can be helpful in achieving a decent readership, readership means nothing when you’re swimming in your own debt. Also, regurgitating outfits and outfit pieces is NEVER a crime!
    .-= Anna Jane´s last blog ..True Fact: The Czechs love a bit o’ Mango =-.

    Reply
  41. Pearl Westwood

    I started my blog as an outlet for my love of fashion and I do admit I have some crazy shopping habits. That said it is like any other hobbie, my brother equals what I spend on clothes on guitars, others go riding, have cars, everyone needs an outlet or distraction for the monotony of every day woes.
    It is a shame if you feel you can’t do outfit posts without new clothes, I mean thats not real is it? I doubt very much anyone wears an entirely differnt outfit each day, surely the fun is in the reworking of pieces and accessories!
    I think the way life is today, is pretty much based on debt, I have a PhD but boy have I paid (or actually Mastercard and Visa paid) for me to get it. It is just how society is and always has been. Some have lots of money others don’t, why worry about it? Just shop smart and stay withing your budget, but most of all have fun, being stylish has nothing to do with how many new shoes you can buy, it is all about the way things are worn whether they cost £1,000 or £1.
    That also brings up the fact that most bloggers are quite young, I am 28 and I have said to younger readers that you cant expect to have Chanel shoes aged 14, you have to go out there and work for it! I certainly didn’t own any designer clothes in my teens, it was all about being creative with what we had, mostly nail varnish and carboot finds.
    But it does raise a good question that as blogging is ‘real’ as opposed to magazines, do we have more of a responsibility to our readers?
    Very interesting post x
    .-= Pearl Westwood´s last blog ..Why Chanel Costume Jewellery Costs So Much. =-.

    Reply
  42. Asteria

    this is truly a great post. i purchased my first item online around the same time i’ve started my blog, but I kept my outfit blogposts to a minimum and kept true to the real purpose of why I created the blog; to share with people my jewellery creations 🙂
    .-= Asteria´s last blog ..hello yellow! =-.

    Reply
  43. Cherri Fountain - Photography / Art / Style

    This is an extremely interesting thread to read and seeing the responses of other fashion bloggers out there, it is an issue not usually bought to surface but is comforting in knowing that we don’t all have disposable incomes for purely fashion purposes.
    I can empathise with those who believe that their spending habits aren’t necessarily healthy and as we’re all in competition with one another I know there is some level of envy towards the bloggers that can afford to update their wardrobes with designer pieces weekly or have label endorsements.
    Personally I don’t think that our financial background needs to hinder our blogging material. There may only be a small part of your readership that can afford to constantly buy designer wares but it’s your personal angle and coverage that draws a reader to your blog.
    I for one would love to be able to go out and purchase the latest designer looks and threads but as an art student it simply isn’t feasible for me or my finances, or should I say lack of? But I have found ways to move around it without affecting my blog. Some of the strategies I’ve employed have actually strengthened my style muscle in that its forced me to be more creative.

    Remixing your wardrobe – To me this is extremely beneficial not so much for my blog at the moment, but for my own personal style. If you have a spare Sunday afternoon and a digital camera take out everything in your wardrobe/chest of drawers/floordrobe and photograph every single possible combination of outfits. This opened my eyes to the myriad of possible outfits I already own and that I can rework into what is hot right now. Readers appreciate your ability to remix clothes because unless you’re extremely wealthy, you can’t possibly have a new outfit for every day of the year. But a new look for every day of the year? That’s up to you and your imagination.

    Op shopping/Thrifting aka Vintage – I believe that op shopping should be a part of everyone’s shopping habit. I’ll agree that the word “vintage” has become a bit of a buzz word in the fashion world and usually when people think of op shopping they think of floral 1950’s tea frocks. Some of the best and most amazing pieces in my wardrobe I found at my local op shop and usually for less then $10. Heck my prized possession Chanel backpack came from an op shop! Unfortunately for us and fortunately for some there are boutiques and Ebay stores that have taken advantage of vintage fashion. Yes, they’ve done the hard yards in searching for these items but they also come at a very increased price – majority of the time the profit margin is something like 1000% plus! We all dream of an enviable wardrobe and op shopping can really increase the value of it because you can own a unique piece like noone else! Op shopping is a trend here to stay, it’s economical and eco-friendly too.

    The Internet – We’re all fashion bloggers because one, we love fashion and two, the internet is a great platform to showcase your thoughts, reviews and fashionable efforts. Another thing that may have inspired you to start blogging is that it’s free (for most of us anyway) and it can continue to be so. Personal outfit posts, they’re free. Reviewing a lookbook, that’s free. Posting up your current obsessions, that’s also free. Designer outfit posts can also be free. So you can’t afford to buy designer labels and feature them on your website but you can still show your personal designer style through websites such as Polyvore and Looklet.

    Otherwise it just comes down to a great blogging strategy. Think of your blog as a business and conduct a business plan on it. Upping the ante and having a great strategy might even bring in those label endorsements and who doesn’t want designer pieces without spending a cent? I think your financial situation doesn’t have to affect your blog and there are plenty of resources to inspire readership right here on IFB.

    After all it’s not like we can buy our readers, is it?

    Reply
  44. Angie

    I was just thinking about this issue this weekend and it’s interesting to see people discussing it. I wanted to start a fashion blog a while back but was discouraged by being broke–definitely too broke to buy a new pair of designer shoes every week, but honestly, too broke even to buy a large variety of thrift-store clothing. I ended up making a fashion blog consisting entirely of illustrations I draw myself, which is… cheaper in some ways but time-consuming. Still, that isn’t really an option for most people?

    I’m glad you opened up the conversation though. I’d assumed everyone else was just carefree and wealthy.
    .-= Angie´s last blog ..5.18.2010: Aurélie =-.

    Reply
  45. Eva

    This post is amazing and so close to heart. Fashion blogging can be a big pool of temptation. I am saving up for a trip to my brother’s convocation end of this year so this post is absolutely timely for me. 🙂 and I am an economics major, I probably should know better that to shop that much. 🙁

    Anyhow, I try to do more remix (like The Clothes Horse does) and pretend shopping (like liebemarlene).
    .-= Eva´s last blog ..Big coat day and a glimpse of sunlight =-.

    Reply
  46. Wendy E. Williams

    Ashe,
    This is my first visit to Independent Fashion Bloggers and although I do not yet have the confidence to submit my blog for consideration, I found your article on finances to be thought-provoking.
    I must admit, however, that I have the opposite problem. I do not shop. Almost never. I cut up my credit cards back in 2002, was filing chapter 13 bankruptcy (payment plan) and at the completion of that, I chose to never use credit again. You can go off the deep end with such incredible ease when you have plastic and when you do not, you have to THINK before spending on anything. I have lived at financial survival level all my adult life and for the period of time I had credit cards, while I did not go into major lifestyle overdrive, I definitely mis-used borrowing. It is actually a healthy chastening to not use credit. My parent’s generation (I am a Boomer, at age 57) did not use debt for anything at all except their house. As I dug out from my bankruptcy payments and chose to not re-up the nightmare of Visa/MC and live on cash and debit for the rest of my life, I stopped shopping. No more Macy’s runs, no more buying when I am stressed.
    I have long considered the core of fashion. Separated from the high of shopping, what is the meaning of clothing? Why do garments mean so much to us, especially us girls? Why do we need new things all the time? As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I look first to God’s presence to fill the void in my heart. While I love new things, at this time I seldom get them, so I thrift, I look for cast-offs, I look for the things wasted by others. Of course the whole class thing comes into play. However, I live for eternity, not for this temporary moment, so I do not seriously care that I am on a lower economic scale. I can still enjoy fabric and garments just the same, if only in consideration, not addiction.
    I appreciate this site and the insights! Serious blessings to you and all the talented contributors and commenters on this! Thank you !
    Wendy Williams in San Francisco

    Reply
  47. Adam SenK

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    Reply
  48. CharmedValerie

    Wow, this is a really great post, lots of good thought cookies 😉

    I think it is what you make it honestly. I am insanely resourceful, creative, practice discretion, and go high-end store solely for inspiration (for the most part). When I was in my early twenties, living alone, and supporting myself, I would sometimes sacrifice groceries for shopping but I just consider that prioritizing.

    My goal as a blogger/vlogger now is to teach the art of styling oneself and show that it can be as affordable as you need it be. I am also very real and very transparent. Heck, I started shopping at Ross because we bought our first home and didn’t have as much disposable income. Then my blog ended up being a resume for my current job *pinches self* and I only spend a small percentage of that income on clothing. In that way, my blog is monetized I guess.

    I also strive for a ‘signature style’ and you WILL see me wearing the same pieces of clothing over and over and over again. I get loads of pleasure out of being a “clothing enthusiast”, I do not need to own the clothes to get the enjoyment from them. I go to Saks for the same reason I go to the art museum, to be inspired. I also enjoy my limits because that creates a challenge and I LOVE challenges 😉

    So fashion bloggers, just do you. Do what you do best and make it work. Remember that we all have circumstances and nobody expects perfection or for you have the same budget as Vogue.

    lots and lots of love
    ~Valerie
    .-= CharmedValerie´s last blog ..Impeccable style in 3 easy steps =-.

    Reply
  49. carla

    Just read this article right now, and you make great valid points! I know so many of my friends that are fashion bloggers, feeling the pressure to buy things because it would make great style posts. And some of my friends use the fact that they have a fashion blog to justify their purchases. Even though i’ve never been in consumer debt, I too, catch myself doing that sometimes! Luckily i’ve been pretty good at my spending habits lately, but I guess I have no choice since i’m paying for university myself haha.

    Reply
  50. Brigitte

    I keep wondering how fashion bloggers keep buying things, and travel EVERYWHERE as though it were no big deal. So I googled a string of words and found myself at your article. For some reason, it still hasn’t demystified how the just out of college fashionistas are going from city to city traveling, and always buying more. I have a job, but I’m also still in college… and I want what I see everyone else wearing. But … I know I can’t afford it – so how can they?

    Thanks for this article.

    Reply
  51. Sophie

    It’s so much easier to spend than to make for us bloggers out here. There are a few things I’ve learned and try to live by (although I slip up from time to time) when deciding to shop. Moderation is the key really in that some of us get caught up in the “oh, I got this on sale so even though I spent $250 I could’ve spent $500 so it’s ok.

    1. Never buy anything full price. Typically I only whip out the plastic when I can save 50% or more and I do research to make sure it’s actually 50% off the original price. Price compare at Shopstyle and find out who’s got the best price, not always perfect but a great tool.

    2. Don’t sacrifice a monthly savings account in order to shop. Seriously, I’ve done this in the past and regretted it.

    3. Along the same lines as what Charmed Valerie said, in that I really love window shopping and finding a luxe look for less.

    4. Read lots of reviews before buying, especially for cosmetics! Makeupalley.com is great site.
    5. Take advantage of free shipping and free returns for online shopping because those costs can add up quickly.
    .-= Sophie´s last blog ..Jeffrey Campbell Fall-Winter 2010 Lookbook =-.

    Reply
  52. xitlalika

    I understand completely… I’m happy to announce that I had only 1 yr in my 20something decade where I became materialistic and wanted it all and so on and so on… Ive always been down to earth and believe fashion is a form of expression… one, where u can mix and match making it look good with your own confidence and it all depends how you carry it on… But with that single year… I made a snowball effect… which I may say its still taking me time and money to pay off…
    I’m glad I made this mistake at my 20 something when I’m still young to start clean and fresh… I now understand… shopping is not a sport and its not a sin… wearing brands is nice but not mandatory… having it all doesn’t bring happiness just provides pretty things to look at, etc etc…

    Thanks for your article… No one ever writes about living outside your budget… 8)

    Reply
  53. Nadia S.

    One good day, I took a look on my clothes-spitting closet and realised that, even when I bought many pretty things that i liked at the moment, I still had so many cravings on the latest-objet-dé-désir!

    And then, I asked myself: am I meant to be only a consumer? All I have learnt, loved, worked, and suffered ends up piling up in a corner of my room-and, of course, on my credit card account?

    I think that fashion blogging is some kind of a tool to change a little bit fashion biz-because now it’s not only about having the latest, but to have the creativity to make things work with vintage or even DIY stuff. An advice for the shopaholics? sign up to Poupeegirl and shop for your avatar doll: it’s free and funny, and works for the shopping craving!

    Reply
  54. Catherine

    I actually almost gave up on fashion blogging because of this problem. The thing is though, I do write about the financial side of fashion. I was in love with some $15 Anna Sui nail polish and I told the readers that I just couldn’t afford to buy all of the colors. Then I came up with a DIY project so I didn’t have to buy $90 worth of nail polish. Another post I did was about my frustration with fashion blogging. It seems that alot of people feel the financial pressures of blogging. Some bloggers pt the price of what they bought on their blog so it feels like they are actually paying attention to what they are buying. There are others who are just in all designer clothing. I tend to gravitate towards the thriftier bloggers because they isert more personality into their outfits. If everything is off the runway then of curse it’s going to be chic. However if you have constraints, like a budget, your own sense of style can be displayed better.

    Reply
  55. Natalie

    Fashion bloggers going into extreme debt is a very scary proposition, because I think as part of the fashion community it would be easy for us to unwittingly reinforce the problem.

    Although I have wondered how some bloggers are able to afford all their new clothes, I have to admit the first thing I think when I see a post featuring a beautiful pair of Ann Demeulemeesters isn’t, “wow, aren’t you supposed to be a struggling art student?”, it’s “Ooh, love your shoes!”

    Like Carla said, it’s easy to use your fashion blog to justify clothing purchases. (I know I can be guilty of this.) It’s probably even harder to stay in control when you get streams of comments telling you how cute your new purchases are.

    Reply
  56. Stef

    Great post! I’ve never really thought of blogging from this angle.
    As a 15 year old with no allowance, I depend on the money I get from my Birthday and Christmas. So I go to Primark (a very cheap shop) and second hand shops to get me through. When shopping, the last thing I think about is ‘oh I should buy something because I haven’t done an outfit post in a while’. I think ‘How often will I wear this? Do I have anything similiar? Do I need it?’ There’s nothing wrong with using some pieces over again in outfit posts, even if it’s a statement piece like a dress. Also, do bloggers really need to own 3 variations on basically the same bag just because it’s Alexander Wang and -insert fashion blogger here- has one?

    Reply
  57. Tarah Zdunic

    This was a very well written post with some serious information. Just starting my blog I always kept thinking “well maybe if I had the it shoes of this season…” but realistically I am a student on a budget. I work hard for every dollar I spend, thats why thrift stores are my best friend!

    Reply