As I was completing the listing and linking to all of the credits of a personal style post recently, I came to the realization that everything in the photo was a gift, from my sunglasses on my nose all the way down to my shoes. There wasn't a single item that I was wearing (well, maybe my underwear) that I had actually purchased, and it felt kind of strange to acknowledge that I was now chronicling this publicly. It wasn't intentional, as I just paired together the garments that I had in my possession that went together best, but I think I could do this exercise over and over again and I may end up with a similar result.
The more time one spends as a fashion blogger, the more common something like this may become, as being gifted items at events, or just randomly getting unexpected items in the mail can add up over time, and hopefully the majority are things that you want to wear.
I've noticed and also been told by fellow bloggers that not everything is marked c/o, courtesy of, gifted, etc, in their posts, and while some consider disclosing that items personally selected yet paid for with a courtesy gift card or store credit a must, others do not feel this is necessary. Or, sometimes if an item has been worn and credited previously on the site, not everyone adds in the “courtesy of” each time it is mentioned/worn/featured. There is certainly a line between what legally has to be declared and what is a personal choice; I tend to err on the side of feeling the obligation to credit every teeny tiny thing, be it a gift from a brand, or even a gift from my mom, as the more transparent, in my book, the better (p.s. — see Cora's extensive IFB Guide to Product Reviews and Gifting).
All in all, gifting is a common occurrence in the blogging community, and I think that it's important to maintain authenticity and a detectible sense of individual style when gifting heavily prevails. When the readers see “courtesy of”down the line of practically every item a blogger is wearing, what does that lead them to believe? Do they think it's cool that the blogger somewhat mysteriously receives all of these awesome free things, or does the blogger start to feel like a generic poster child for brands A, B, and C that gift them freebies all of the time?
I know that some bloggers may wish they had the “everything credited was free” concern, especially if you are starting out with your blog and it may be hard to imagine getting to a point when you are inundated with gifted items, but try to think of it from the reader's perspective. Is it aspirational to find that so many things have been given gratis, or does it squash the creativity, making everything start to feel more and more contrived?
For myself personally, I would consider evaluating this in terms of the context, i.e. if the item(s) seem to still be a fit for that particular blog and blogger's style, even if the brand(s) may come as somewhat of a surprise