Fantasy Versus Reality in Fashion Blogging

digital fashion


During a phone call with Geri Hirsch of because I'm addicted last week, she said something that piqued my interest, “Right now I think that personal style bloggers have an advantage in selling ads, but I also think they have a shorter shelf life.” Since then, I've been pondering the idea of the personal blogger in general, what makes it so appealing as a career and as a reader, and have come up with some “food for thought” points:

Earlier this month, Fast Company published an article in regard to why Milennials don't have the urge to buy material objects as much as past generations. Instead, they argue that this generation is focused on acquiring “ideas” rather than goods, and it might have a lot to do with the influx of fashion bloggers that now exist.

The “Reality”

Readers of fashion blogs are taking a peek into the “real” life of someone — and then there is some kind of catharsis, some kind of release that happens — much akin to the “reality” TV phenomenon.

But what is represented on the screen isn't who that person actually is. It's a portrayal of the blogger in bits and pieces which have been chosen by the blogger as the “best” version to show off of their life.

An example might include a recent post by Sparkling Footsteps in which she points out her day-to-day is actually spent in scrubs at the hospital in which she works. Another example might be how the Man Repeller, a blogger who portrays “man repelling” techniques through fashion, was recently married at an age younger than most.

What you see on the screen is actually a brand, albeit a self made brand from personal experiences, but still a persona.

Escapism and the Fantasy 

So if we start thinking about the personal fashion blog as a persona, we are ultimately now thinking of it as a fantasy rather than the reality that it portrays itself to be.

A part of the reason why these sites become so appealing and gain such wide readerships (but aren't actually influencing the way people style themselves) goes back to even the most traditional fashion magazines — the element of escapism. Flipping through the glossy pages is not all that different than scrolling through a blog feed full of photos of outfits. Even the most “real” blogs that don't sport a bevy of Celine bags have an element of escapism; whether the blogger is uploading a photo of her breakfast or her nails, there is a feeling of “I want that experience” urging you to “like” the photo.

Furthermore, the act of reblogging on Tumblr or re-pinning on Pinterest lets you store what appeals to you in your personal space.

And with most of us having a daily “go to” list of bloggers, a connection is developed with them virtually — it's almost like they are your exotic, more fashionable friend.

As a result of a needy tendency to want to inhale this “fantasy living,” the fashion blogs that are able to create a cohesive and attractive persona gain more traffic.


The reality versus the fantasy subject is not so black and white, but what are your thoughts on the fantasy of personal fashion blogging? Or do you believe it is more reality based? Please feel free to elaborate on any of these points in the comments.

[Image credit: Shutterstock]

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31 Responses

  1. Nadya

    I think this is a debatable topic indeed. Selling out for traffic and likes, or staying true and gaining narrow readership? I actually prefer something between both. It’ll be nice if those “fantasy blogs” would just post one problem they had in their life that’s common for us to have. Work problems, smoking addiction, or even financial. It’ll make the readers think they are actually interacting with a real human. I remembered Garance Dore once blogged about her quitting smoking. Maybe this is why she stays around for a long time.
    But again, just my opinion 🙂

  2. purplebananasandfudgeballs

    I agree with this most of the points in this post. Being humans, bloggers seem to post what they want others to see about them, using their blogs to paint themselves in as pleasing a picture as possible. These portions that bloggers choose to allow the readers to see about themselves is their reality(i.e. nail tutorial, etc), but what the readers don’t see is the effort put behind that, say, tutorial, or the diy fails before the blogger finally was successful. I guess, in that way, the reader is buying into that fantasy of ‘oh, I want that nail look, it looks so great, I’m going to do it.’ I agree that the lines between reality and fantasy are not so bold, or easily seen when it comes to fashion bloggers and their audiences.

  3. Sarah

    I am SO excited about this article! It’s actually a topic very near and dear to me, and it’s why I titled my own style blog “Sarah’s Real Life.” I agree that we will always love escapism; there’s something oddly rewarding in looking at photos of things you’ll never have and people you’ll never meet. But at the same time, part of the reason lots of people like style blogs is because they want inspiration from them. And it’s pretty hard to apply what you see in those escapist blogs to your real life. I personally like a mix of the two – I follow pro bloggers with enviable lives, and I follow other blogs like my own that show great style that is also approachable and doable.

    Sarah’s Real Life

  4. Susan

    Wow, there are some interesting observations in this piece,especially the thesis that the current generation is less materialistic. Can that be quantified somehow? The fantasy vs reality contrast is interesting also. Much to ponder about that. As I’m not an avid fashion blogger follower, I would probably not be the target audience you are speaking of, but the idea of peering into someone’s life or closet or head is interesting. Yet, I realize these blogs are fantasies and projections of the idealized self. I like to look for new trends and acquire ideas and looks that I can carry off. Like many blog watchers, I am also a visual person which then causes me to be materialistic because I have to have that look too.

  5. Maya

    This is really interesting! I think personal style blogs are a lot about fantasy – but I think social media sites like Twitter are helping the fantasy to become more like a real person who engages with their fans and friends.

    That’s why I like blogs that don’t only do personal style – my blog is about colorful fashion and rarely posts my personal style. I think in this way, blogs are more like reference points and fashion perspectives rather than fantasy.

  6. Kathy

    i think it’s all fantasy!, and now its just way too much of that personal style blogs….
    that’s why i rather write about Fashion collections, we should speak out more about what the designers are working on!


  7. Michaella

    This is a great article! I’m a freshman in high school, so I spend almost everyday at school. I usually photograph/write my posts on the weekends, then publish them during the week. A lot of the outfits I style and blog about are outfits that I put together just to blog about. If I just posted the outfits I wore to school, my blog would be full of casual ensembles put together at 6am before I get on the school bus. I think my blog is a way that I can escape from the uniform of jeans and tee shirts. If I went to school in some of the outfits I style for my blog, I’d be way too overdressed! So I’d say that for me, my blog is about fantasy and escaping.

  8. Maria Losch

    Great topic and I never thought about blogs in this way until now. Some blogs I peruse are more inspirational/fantasy based and others are informative/factual. It’s good to have a mix and that’s why I bring both into my blog. I think about the everyday woman that can apply what I post on my blog because I’m that woman (and most of my friends are too).
    xo, M

  9. Ana Carneiro

    I’ve been reading all comments and I’m really amused with the different opinions at the moment!
    To me, blogging is a way to make the connection between the fantasy and my real life. As a result, I think it shows the real me. Since I’ve started my blog, I wear heels a bit more often and usually apply a little make-up, just the essentials, but I wear it all day long, not just for the photos. As a result I think people identify themselves because it’s a casual style that they can easily relate to and give their opinions about!

    My Own Project

    • toujour purr

      Defenetly agree with you. Althought I start thinking that there is always a risk to cross a border and become too fantasy or too realistic – you should fight the urge to become too-perfect and to feel how much reality you should add in your post. In that case blog will be attractive and yet – real, full of life. That’s really hard to achieve, that balance.

    • Kristian

      Love what you said about connecting your real life and fantasy. I think it also helps that with so many inspirational/fantasy blogs out there (whether one’s own blog is such a blog or not) it reminds me at least to live intentionally and to try such things as can sometimes be seen on those types of blogs.

  10. Pearl Westwood

    This is why I still post slightly crappy outfit photos taken in my back garden and slightly boring outfits Ive worn to work, I’d love them all to look like beautiful on location editorials but that’s just not my real life, sometimes my bag doesnt match or my hair is a mess. I think that is important for blogs or else they just emulate the glossy magazine fantasy world, I like the rawness or blogs. I used beat myself up about how I could never look as perfect as the girls in magazines and on TV, how they walked around all day in 6″ heels, never had a bad hair day etc but that isn’t the real world it is all staged. Something we see more of thanks to the internet, we see celebs during down time walking the dog and stuff in jeans and flats just like us. On the other side sometimes I will wear a wig or heels I could never walk in, it is fun to play dress up. That is the great things about blogs, we are free to express ourselves as we choose.

  11. Long Live Classy

    While I do love “real-life” blogs, there’s just something about blogs that offer some escapism that catch my eye the most. I feel the same way with ads in magazines. Sometimes I just wanna cut them out and post them on my wall to look at! It just offers an escape from our everyday lives, and even as a motivator to work to get that kind of “glamorous” life.

    I know it’s not great to be materialistic, but I feel like that’s how the world works these days.

  12. moiminnie

    I liked this post but at the same time I felt sorry for all the bloggers. Everyone starts doing this as a hobby and then they get caught up in this whirl of stats, comments, hypes, likes, ads etc that they forget why they even started writing the blog – out of pure wish to showcase their style and get inspired. And that’s the real deal. People should forget stats and incomes from blogs and start writing and posting about things that they really enjoy, respect and stand behind, whether it’s fashion, photography, inspirational thoughts or something else. Then no one would have those kind of very sad thoughts when they feel like they sold out and realize their blog has become just like any other blog out there. If everyone could just be themselves, blogosphere would be much more diverse and really inspiring place.

  13. moiminnie

    I liked this post but at the same time I felt sorry for all the bloggers. Everyone starts doing this as a hobby and then they get caught up in this whirl of stats, comments, hypes, likes, ads etc that they forget why they even started writing the blog – out of pure wish to showcase their style and get inspired. And that’s the real deal. People should forget stats and incomes from blogs and start writing and posting about things that they really enjoy, respect and stand behind, whether it’s fashion, photography, inspirational thoughts or something else. Then no one would have those kind of very sad thoughts when they feel like they sold out and realize their blog has become just like any other blog out there. If everyone could just be themselves, blogosphere would be much more diverse and really inspiring place.

  14. Oteea Land

    I also have a mix of both reality based, and fantasy blogs I read on a daily bases. Fantasy is good, even great and sometimes can work in our favor, but I often feel it’s just too much of that, as it could easily get a little bit discouraging – I personally could never relate to those glamorous lives. Not when I have to think about rent every month, not when I don’t own any designer piece in my wardrobe, not when I live in a country where most people struggle just to pay their taxes.

    So, I guess I could easily say that if I’d have to choose today, I’d choose reality blogs. I do love to take a pick into a girl’s life, but to actually enjoy it, that girl would have to be someone that I could relate to, someone that I would love to have as a friend (if the world would be a perfect place). And instead of finding out what bag she bought, sometimes I would love to know the kind of books she reads, and how her pet looks like and those little everyday stories that bring people together 🙂

    The best part – there’s at least a blog for everyone to enjoy, so many to choose from, so many wonderful people out there – it’s just a joy to be part of it all ♥

  15. Morganvsmorgan

    I love aspirational blogs, and they just make me want to push my lifestyle further to being what I want it to be. Personally I want to keep improving my photos, and I’m happy for my photos to have an idealistic, fantasy vibe – but I like to bring it back down to earth with my writing style.

  16. Kristian

    Everywhere I read, blogging advice on this is the same- you don’t blog about everything. Choose your topics. And most personal style blogs are about….personal style. Sure, I like to hear about their lives, but respect that any privacy boundaries a blogger wants to set. They have no responsibility to me to bear all, and really, I am (or should be, if that is what the blog is about) there for the style.

    Plus, many personal style blogs I read are pretty upfront that their mission is not to chronicle their everyday life, but to be positive and inspiring. They might post occasionally about a problem/work frustration/broken relationship. And knowing they face problems with dignity is inspiring, so its on message. You know what I don’t care to hear about? How a customer was rude at work, or dinner was burnt, or traffic was bad. There is enough of that (or hearing about such things) in real life. I don’t want to waste my time reading that; I want substance and content. And that is what most fashion blogs provide. Its not Fanstasy vs. reality. Its bloggers having a clear vision of what they are writing about and their mission/goal in writing it.

  17. Ayesha

    I love the idea of “real” bloggers but honestly I love the fantasy blogs the most. I want something to aspire to, a lifestyle to buy into… I think it’s awfully romantic. I think everyday blogs are a bit predictable, boring and remind me of my everyday life. I do love topics like this and all the comments they generate.

  18. Kathleen Lisson

    The statement that the majority of people who read a fashion blog do not let it influence their own style is very interesting. Why are companies investing in fashion bloggers if they are not influencing actual paying customers?

  19. Emily Ulrich

    I definitely believe the appeal of blogging is the fantastic portrayal of an ideal, that a person can hope to achieve in reality.

    I think it can be related entirely to myths and fantasies and folklore – people want to believe the in the tangibility of the divine. (Not necessarily in the religious divinity, but the otherworldly perfection.)

  20. Jessie of

    Anything in the media only shows certain angles, period. I’ve worked in radio and people assume you have money and you get to hang out with celebs and party every night. Truth is radio (for a lot) doesn’t pay great, the celebs are only with you for a quick interview and you’re both in “work” mode, and “partying” is a2-hour gig you get paid for before you go home and get to bed for another long day.

    There’s no way to get a full understanding of someone you don’t personally know. Even reality TV only shows specific views, typically the dramatic moments verses the mundane daily tasks.

    I think your blog should be a reflection of you (makes it way easier to keep up w/), but it’s impossible to get a full view of anyone. We all wear sweat pants and have messy hair when we wake up. We are all human.

    • toujour purr

      Great discussion. What I was thinking is a need to balance fashion blog with a other sides of life – fashion blogs (and even other blogs) often seems to me too visual and material-centered. So… I was thinking – what about showing some other interests, thoughts, inspirations there. There are not only food, travel, clothes (music and films – not so often) in the world, isn’t it? There are a some live-changing moments, books, not-movie-fashion-music-people, ballet, opera. I like blogs with assotiations from other eras, paintings, photos – it makes posts much more interesting.
      That’s my plan of changing)

  21. Miss Mellalina

    I think what’s important (like with most things) is trying to find a balance. On the one hand, no I’m not interested at looking at some blogger’s “I just woke up, my hair’s a mess, this is the REAL me” pics. I want to be inspired by their incredible style…… the pics they toiled over. At the same time though, I’m not looking for a cheesy commercial look that says “And now this me fake-laughing”…… it’s just too unreal.