Should Style Blogging Photos Reflect 100% Reality?

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Here's the scenario: you work a rather corporate 9-5 job, in which, your outfit choices can only reach a certain height of creativity and personality. After work, you maniacally rush home to put on a more inspired look, grab your camera, and hit the streets to grab those fleeting moments of sun as twilight approaches. Sound like a familiar situation?

As I've been waxing poetic quite a bit lately regarding personal style blogging, I thought it was about time to further break down the story behind the image and think about projecting the most authentic self via personal style blogging.

Is the manner in which personal style photos are conducted really reflecting personal style, or in reality, is it a highly constructed, heightened, editorial version of it? And anyway, does it really matter?

I feel that each and every one of us has the potential to show so many different aspects of our personality in the way that we dress, which is constantly changing on a daily basis, depending on our mood, the season, and occasion we are dressing for. I once worked with a woman who described dressing for the office culture as “corporate drag,” and that she had a set of pieces that were designated for that environment, but outside of that, on the weekends and in the evenings, her style was radically different.

I think the more important question to ask here is:

Do your readers, and/or fellow bloggers care if you actually wore that particular outfit all day long, or just slipped it on for a quick 20 minute photo shoot outside?

I can't really tell what the majority of the community thinks about this, and what the expectation of the “wear duration” of outfits that appear in personal style posts should be. I can say that despite the look being worn for the past eight hours or not, it is still is a version of you, the blogger, and that version of you, that style that is intrinsically you, is appealing to your readers. It's easy to assign a lifestyle and tell a story that we don't exactly live 100%, but the purpose of blogs in society certainly reaches WAY beyond being personal journals, and can be meant to galvanize the reader into trying a garment, a trend, silhouette, pattern or color mixing, etc.

It may feel strange to pull on a look merely for the purpose of taking a photo of it and presenting a well-orchestrated image but that's essentially what all magazine editorials have been doing forever. I employed a bit of a splashy title for this piece as a conversation starter, as the definitions of what is deemed as “real” or “fake” in this world can certainly be malleable, and subject to interpretation.  The bottom line with bloggers is that there's an assumption in place that we live and breathe the images and content that we share, so the way that a personal style photo is assembled may fall under that conclusion that we are fully what we wear, all of the time.

What do you think? What do you do when taking personal style photos?
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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34 Responses

  1. Nathalie

    I don’t really care whether they wore it for 20 minutes or 20 hours – I just need them to be honest about it. One thing I’ve really learned about style blog posts is that you can smell when someone is being inauthentic. It’s really obvious! I’m totally guilty of this. Luckily, I feel blessed enough to be at a job where I can just wear whatever I want (yoga pants? Sure. Platform boots? Okay.) but I understand when others don’t have that opportunity. You don’t have to tell your readers this is what I wore today, but more of “this is ME, this is MY style” or “I got out of work and now I’m going out with my boyfriend to the pier and this is what I wore” – it’s simple, authentic and you’re not lying to anyone.

    Reply
  2. Brittney @ Quirky Britches

    Great topic! For my own blog, I have a little personal “rule,” and that is if I’m going to post an outfit, I have to at least have run an errand in it. Sometimes I’ve even forced myself out of the house to “justify” my outfit. I do this because my goal on my blog is to represent the average “everygirl,” and present my own personal style that is easily affordable and able to be emulated.

    That being said, when it comes to the blogs I read on a daily basis, I visit a mixture of “real life” style and more editorial style, and I love both. I enjoy pursuing “real life” style to collect inspiration for my own closet, but I also love viewing gorgeous, unaffordable (to me), and (sometimes) over the top outfits from editorial girls because it’s just fun. 🙂

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  3. Lisa

    Wow such a great topic, I am so glad this is brought up because I do feel this sense of confusion from time to time upon viewing some of my favorite bloggers outfit posts. You do make a great point that in some way, shape, or form it does reflect the person and their style. However, I do feel we need to remember that this may not exactly be realistic for each and every one of us. A lot of the time life does not allow us to dress this way or even be able to fund this. I think a persons genuine style should be reflected the most with the occasional dolled up outfit thrown in to make things fun. I am all about authenticity, and I guess it’s up to the blogger about what feels right for them and* their audience. Perhaps if I had the extra $$ this may change, but for now I can only relate to something that I can relate to.. and a $200 outfit is not one of them. GREAT read!

    Lisa

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  4. Roxanne D'souza

    I agree with this. I was a full time stylist who used to do a bunch of other things as well. On a regular day to work, I wore denims or leggings with tunics or long tees with flats. However on my blog, I’m the complete opposite. I wear my skirts and dresses and high heels. However I make sure that my readers know this. My going out clothes are always way different from what I wear to work (that is on a daily basis). But I make sure, the outfit I photograph, is similar or the same as what I would wear to an event. As for the heels, yes almost every girl I know carries her flats with her and switches between shoes always! Also here in India, the streets are not that prefect, so walking around in high heels is very tricky and I certainly wouldn’t advice anyone to do it!

    http://www.head2heels.co

    Reply
  5. Zuma

    Excellent topic!!! I think that fashion magazines already go for artistic expressions of fashion. But we blog about real things that we live through. So the fashion posts should be no different. We can never be liked by and associated with every kind of woman. But there are many women in the world who live and like things similar to me or you. These women should get the real picture from us. I would not really want to follow a blog that pretends to live particular lifestyle or wear particular clothes. So answer I think of is – yes, bloggers should be truthful. And if I don’t wear something to work, then I won’t post it as a work outfit.

    Reply
  6. Elise

    I’m not at all a fashion blogger, and I only really follow a few fashion blogs. That being said, I’ve never taken the photographs in style posts to be images of what the blogger wore all day: that’s a ridiculously high standard to have of a blogger in my opinion; it’s like assuming they have no job or no chores to do all day. I personally think that you want to showcase your best and favourite outfits in style posts, and those honestly don’t need to be day-long outfits.

    That being said, it’d be nice to *sometimes* feature “real” outfits, but I don’t think it needs to be or even should be the norm.

    Reply
  7. CynthiaCM

    What’s reality? Some of us work in very traditional offices where we need to wear suits. Others work in casual places where jeans are allowed, or maybe somewhere in between. Or, perhaps you work from home or out of Starbucks/some cafe. “Real” is different to different people.

    Reply
  8. Olivia

    I completely agree. If you have an office job, it’s highly unlikely that your day to day clothes are blog-ready. Sometimes that just means swapping shoes or a bit of mussing up, but a lot of times it’s putting on a riskier top or bottom. I think as long as they’re your clothes, it shouldn’t matter. The weekend “you” is just as valid as the office uniform “you.”

    Reply
  9. Brieanna

    I love this post. I’ve always looked at some fashion blogs and wondered if they just put that outfit on for the post, because really in day to day life can you actually wear that? I’m a university student and I post pictures of my actual outfits I wear day to day. I have the time to be able to take outfit photos before I run off to uni. I wonder if this will change when I get a full time job though. I suppose no matter what people post on their blogs it’s a part of them and should it really be a problem that they actually didn’t wear it to their 9-5 job.

    Reply
  10. Monika Faulkner

    I wear a uniform (scrubs, to be exact) to work every day…so my blog tagline is “what I wear when I’m NOT at work!” You can bet that the looks I feature are genuinely the looks I wear on my days off; if, on a rare occasion, my hubby doesn’t manage to snap some pictures when we are out-and-about, I’ll faithfully re-create the outfit for a photo-shoot in the next day or two.

    http://www.StyleIsMyPudding.com

    Reply
  11. Chelsey

    This is a great topic. My outfits are all things that I wear, they just aren’t always shot the same day if they are work outfits. I work a full time 9-6 job, and right after work I go to the gym. By that time, it’s too late in the day to capture a well-lit photo. Morning shoots are an option I’m still working on nailing, but while that’s still in beta mode I normally photograph my weekend outfits. On the occasion I feel my work outfit is “blog-worthy” but I can’t squeeze in a shoot, I’ll actually recreate the look on a weekend morning. Nothing is added or subtracted, the styling is all the same, it’s just a matter of recreating it on a different date that best works with my schedule so that I can include it in a blog post. I often see these lavish outfits that are pretty clearly not worn for longer than the purposes of a shoot. While I don’t see anything wrong with that, I do prefer to read blogs that show daily style. At the end of the day, as long as it’s honest, wear it for 8 hours or wear it for five minutes…just let the reader know if it was a look you styled versus a look you actually wore out.

    Reply
  12. Rei Fujita

    This is a really great point and I was always thinking if its bad to post outfits that you actually didnt wear that day, but for me Im still a highschooler so I take all my outfit shots during breaks, like summer spring and winter break where there’s no dress code and I can dress how I want to. So yeah when I post something its not always when I wore it or might be an outfit I wore just for the shoot, but that doesnt change the fact that its my own outfit that I put together and would most definitely where out on the weekends and such, so i feel like I am not being dishonest about it but I’m not sure how others would view it when they visit my blog.

    Reply
  13. Shelby

    I think if it is a personal style blog then the outfit posted should reflect reality.
    How is it fair for someone to try to display to their viewers that they have a personal style that they never ever actually wear?
    Cute work outfit of the day posts would be a great topic.
    There are some exceptions – especially if the outfits are inspirations for events or holidays…
    But really, as someone who works all day as well, I don’t really want to see outfits that I will never wear. I’m speaking 100% as a reader here.
    Maybe save them for the weekend?

    Shelby
    http://www.beautylaced.com

    Reply
  14. Simona

    There is fantasy and there is fake. I don’t mind the occasional fantasy shoot, but I think is that when you get older you have less interest in that aspect. And I have Vogue for that. I enjoy seeing bloggers going through their own style evolutions. I like reality.

    Reply
  15. Laura O.

    It’s like you are reading my mind! As for myself I adopt both behaviors . It depends on what I am wearing, or let me be more clear what shoes I am wearing. I love heels. Literally but when it comes to walking into them, it’s just hell. So when I know I am going to adopt a sleek and elegant look ( that requires heels) I kind of “cheat”. When I am going for casual (which is often) it totally reflects my personal style. But the questions you are raising came to my mind. Am I being the real me when I shoot looks or a fantasized version of would I should be in my mind? Kind of both and I am ok with that. But to be clear, whatever outfit I post is always something I can wear or one another could wear as well.

    Reply
  16. Sarah Kate

    Personally, I am grateful I work a job that allows me to be myself in terms of dress. So the outfit photos I take are all quite literally in the moment and fully functional. I try to keep everything as impromptu as possible so there is a story to my photos rather than just me against a blank wall. I think as long as it’s in your closet, it’s game. Even if you are putting on clothes for a ten minute shoot what matters is the fact that you still styled yourself. And in the meantime you’re also brainstorming in action outfits you may wear in the future. I think it’s less about wether you’ve worn something all day or not and more about how you style. In the end you’re still the one doing all the creating. It’s not like one way you decide to take a photo is more effort than the other. Your final conclusion should always be: I love this and I feel fabulous.

    Reply
  17. Maliha Rao

    The Only reason I haven’t started OOTD or OOTW is because I keep juggling work and blog. But reading this kinda makes sense. The idea is to record the outfit…not how long you wore it. Sharing the Look and Styling is more important and that is as real as it gets. Nothing fake about it 🙂

    Reply
  18. Nora Gouma

    Amazing topic….I always prefer to visit blog posts which are close to real life…I don’t like to pass my time on outfits which I can’t wear in my normal routine and I think dress matters but not that much as there are other things which are equally important like shoes, makeup, hairstyle etc etc.

    http://www.noragouma.com

    Reply
  19. Paige

    This is a great article. I’ve always wondered if some of these (bigger) bloggers actually just wears these outfits for photos. Some of the outfits look a little unrealistic for daily life. I don’t think of it as fake, I think of it as styling for an editorial photo shoot. If we all blogged about what we really wear all day, then it would be kind of boring.

    Reply
  20. Johara

    Great post! It’s all a matter of personal choice. Some take photos to show how they would style a certain piece even though they may only wear it for the shoot and others chronicle what they actually wear out. I think as long as the author is genuine in their approach then it’s ok. I think readers are pretty good at telling when when a blogger is ‘posing’ and when it’s authentic. Personally, I only take photos of what I actually wear out, but that’s the foundation of my blog.

    Reply
  21. Naza Chukwumam

    I am a college student and my style is not exactly what is allowed on campus…Denims are not allowed … so i usually take pictures of what i wear to class although it is not what i would like to wear, but i try to have fun mixing and matching outfit every morning… 🙂

    Reply
  22. Amy J. Frost

    I actually have a job where I can, for the most part, dress the way I would in “real life” other than blue jeans which are a no no. I’ve often thought that it would be cheating if I just put an outfit on to shoot pics. I’ve even felt a little guilt for taking pictures in shoes that I didn’t actually wear out! You know what though? Who cares? If it is a true reflection of my personal style it doesn’t matter! 20 minutes, 2 hours, whatever!

    Reply
  23. Piia

    I feel a bit odd and like cheating when I wear something just for the pictures, but lately I’ve started to overcome it. It’s a pretty dress and I don’t actually have a party in sight? Well, I’ll wear it anyway. I also wrote a bit about it in my post here: http://bowtiediary.blogspot.com/2014/04/flowers-for-no-reason.html.
    As a blog reader I don’t really care that much if a person actually wore it. If something looks cool on them and they didn’t actually wear it, it’s their loss. They should 🙂

    Reply
  24. Alice Smith

    I am really happy this topic has come up! As a student and also working full time on a placement year, you are restraint from wearing the things you want to on a 9 – 5 bases. Weekends for me are my best bet to wear outfits in which reflect my style best. I personally don’t mind if other bloggers have put an outfit on specifically for their blog as the outfit they wear is still reflecting their personal style and if they were going to wear it at some point anyway I see no harm in it!

    Reply
  25. Anastasia

    Well, I think that there are no firm rules to obey. In our blogs we set the rules, we don’t only reflect our lives in blogs but also create the whole personal university. I fully understand those, who can’t wear the same outfit during work time and the shooting because they have dress code and e.t Who matter if still your own style? The reader is more interested in something inspiring and interesting, not just in raw reality…
    Now I don’t have this problem anymore, as I work for my own company and can wear whatever I want. So what I wear for shootings is basically the same I wear every day. The only difference, OK, I don’t wear the heels all the time and can put them just to grab the pic and later to leave in the car for instance. I hope my readers can forgive this little cheating)))))

    xx

    Anastasia

    http://fashionpeekaboo.com

    Reply
  26. Maya

    It’s so easy to just put on whatever comes to mind in the morning but then regret your outfit later (as it’s not that inspiring as I could’ve done with more time). So I feel like the more editorial-like personal style posts are showing what my true style is and it always pushes me to do something more daring, out of the box. Often I wear a similar outfit to what I’ve shown for work later on 🙂 So it all influences each other

    Reply
  27. Deborah A

    Great post as usual! I’ve come across some blogs where the outfits featured left a question in my mind whether the blogger really wore that to the office or not. But then again, I realized we all don’t have the same office-wear restrictions. The outfits I post on my blog labeled “Work Style” are outfits that I wear to work in real life 🙂
    http://www.chiclyyours.com

    Reply
  28. Souda

    This is such a great topic. I ask myself this question a lot and I think it all comes down to authenticity and personal style. My own personal style stems from stylish yet functional. I work a 9-5 office job during the week and I dress pretty conservatively and borderline plain Monday-Friday. You will never see these looks on my blog. However on the weekends I get to dress like my true self. It is on the weekends that I choose to take outfit photos. Also my outfits will change depending on what I’m doing that weekend. There’s been the odd times where I felt like changing things up a bit and playing a little dress up. But in the end it is always my style. I think that is what is most important, just staying true to one’s style and preferences.

    Reply
  29. Khadijat

    I honestly could not care less as long as they styled the outfit themselves. When I read a fashion blog, I am not looking for an everyday look, or a practical look. I am looking for the aesthetic skill that puts a really eye-catching ensemble together. For that reason, I hardly bat an eyelash when it comes to some top style bloggers, because at the end of the day, I’m sully aware that I’m looking at a sweater and some pants with some shoes. If the blogger can create something that becomes a visual adventure, I don’t care if they did throw it on for a quick half hour shoot. The talent is still there.

    Reply
  30. Sephie Rojas

    One thing that really irks me is how a lot of style bloggers these days just post photos wearing the same piece of clothing from a brand and would style it like every other blogger out there, then calling it like it was their own. It’s annoying how most “popular”/”top” style bloggers out here are considered to be the “best” in the country when they all start dressing the same. Most of the time they style they choose to promote isn’t even wearable by the general public. I mean, there are a lot more people in cyberspace who may not have the same number of hits and followers as the “best” do, but totally have a more creative way of styling a piece of clothing.

    Reply
  31. Jennifer Ashley

    Love this article. I never wear an outfit more than once, so lately I have been noticing I have been dressing WAY less stylishly on days when I know I won’t have a photoshoot. I don’t want to waste an outfit that I can’t share on my blog, so I end up throwing on jeans and a tee-shirt. Am I the only one to ever do this?

    Reply