Is it Weird to Credit EVERYTHING You are Wearing in an Outfit Post?


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

What say you? How do you feel when you see practically everything listed as c/o in an outfit post?

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15 Responses

  1. Alysa

    I just find it a little weird when brand new bloggers are putting c/o beside EVERYTHING. It seems a little implausible that brand new bloggers would be getting all of the things courtesy of all these brands …

    • julia

      That’s an excellent point Alysa; kind of like “fake it til you make it…” I wonder if some people just do it to lend themselves a stamp of authority, as I’ve heard of bloggers doing that…

  2. Roxanne D'souza

    Hmm a bit tricky. So if I’m doing an outfit-post partnership with a brand, I mention the brand name in the write up with a few details, about the concept and everything, so that a reader will know that we have collaborated for this particular post.
    Then when I credit pieces of clothing and accessories, I do not use the ‘c/o’ tag, because most times, I’ve worked hard to earn that ‘freebie or gift voucher’ that entitled me to that bag or pair of shoes, and by work I of course mean with the shoot and concepts for it and everything else.
    I think the c/o tag should be used very sparingly. Like randomly, if you wake up one morning, and suddenly there’s a surprise package at your doorstep from a brand, that’s a c/o tag right there.
    As for gifted items, I mention that as well, whether it was gifted by someone from my family or from a brand. For example, I won a tiny contest at a blogger’s meet and my prize was a clutch bag, and when I use that in a post, I intend to credit ‘gift by ‘brand name”

    • kim

      If something was gifted to you, whether is part of a collaboration or not, you need to put “c/o” next to the credit. You were given the product in exchange for a post, or as compensation for a post and that is a gift, not just product you didn’t ask for. Yes you did “earn” the product but it was still given to you and you have to disclose that. You can’t assume that people will read the entire post to see that it’s a collaboration. They may just skim to the credits.

  3. Kylie

    I credit things the first time. If I am including something over and over again I don’t need to keep mentioning its gifted. It has been paid for by featuring it in the first post and after that is personal choice.

  4. Jeannie

    I agree with Kylie, as a personal style blogger i get some items from time to time and i credit them the first time and then after it is personal choice

  5. jackie

    I agree with the previous comments…I think it’s important to credit an item the first time you blog about it and then after its personal choice. I think we should be open and honest… after all we are sharing outfits, so why not share where they came from.


  6. Delaney

    I think putting c/o is the right thing to do if is something that was gifted. However you need to be honest and not just put c/o in order to look as though your getting more stuff than you actually are.

  7. Quaintrelle Georgiana

    This is an interesting ethical issue. In my country a lot of “successfull” bloggers (cca 2 000 fans via Google) was collaborating with one particular clothing chain, they were wearing head to toes this brand, but almost never mentioned that it was given to them.

    It was very funny though to read on one of these blogs in an outfit post that she really bought this one thing. (It was written as if it was something unusual for her to actually buy something from that brand).

  8. Munachi

    I’m a new blogger and I don’t specialize in “personal style” so I don’t have this problem but as a reader I get kind of uneasy. Crediting an item only the first time or two it’s worn isn’t a problem to me, but when most of the outfits featured on a blog consist of <75% gifted items I don't feel as confident in the bloggers style/opinion as I would otherwise. Of course everyone likes receiving gifts and "free" product is a big perk of being a blogger, but I feel like purchasing an item gives a different meaning and establishes a different relationship between the blogger and the product/brand. But my opinion might also be based on the fact that I focus on small businesses and start-ups so I view purchases as a way of support. When I buy a product it's my way of saying I like your brand and I want to promote and support it. Gifting is great, but purchasing holds heavy weight for me.


  9. Sarah's Real Life

    I disclose every time I wear a gifted item, even if I picked it out myself (which I almost always do). There are federal regulations requiring disclosure, and I think when you start making up your own rules you’re walking along a potentially unethical line. As a blog reader, I am a little turned off by too many gifted items in one outfit. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever “unfollowed” someone for that reason. If you’re worried you’ll alienate readers by wearing too many gifted items at once, my advice would be just to not wear outfits like that, or don’t post them on your blog.

    ~Sarah of Sarah’s Real Life

  10. Anastasia

    Honestly, I don’t think you MUST put c\o to any item that was gifted to you. On the contrary, I would put it if I wanted to underline the fact that this item was gifted to me. Anyway I would tell about it to my readers in the text, so why fill the line of description with lots of “c\o”? I have LOTS of gifted items by the brands, but not because I am such a cool and successful blogger (not yet), almost everything was gifted to me while I was working a fashion editor in a glossy mag for several years and the brands sent lots of stuff to the office + all the nice gifts you receive at press days (which is a part of work for any editor, not a joyful event). So as a result I have literally hips of gifts, some of them are very memorable, as the ones gifted to you personally by the designer or from press-trips. For me it’s something I can be proud of and a good reason to share with my readers the stories related to items of this kind.
    Good article and it’s interesting to meet so different opines in comments!


  11. Sephie Rojas

    Personally as a reader, I find it weird that a lot of personal style bloggers would do the whole “c/o (brand)” on 90% of the things they wear in their coordinated ootd’s but would show that the ONLY thing they bought with their own money is a very expensive item (usually a bag or shoes). I don’t have anything against high class brands, but I don’t think it looks good whenever bloggers show that everything BUT the expensive item is gifted. I mean, I think it’s a little confusing. Are their personal styles more about styling affordable things or more high class things?