Let’s Get Real About Fashion Blogging for a Sec


Go to any fashion blogger conference or panel discussion, and the word “authentic” will be spoken so many times that you might have to leave the building for a good scream if you hear it ONE MORE TIME (just me?). We all know that authenticity is important for any brand, especially a personal style blog. “Selling out” can turn off readers and take the joy out of blogging.

But authenticity in blog form has its limits.

Firstly, many fashion bloggers are young and still figuring out their style, learning what they believe in, and establishing their own unique voice. Repeating the phrase “Be authentic” is not necessarily helpful because you might not know what that means yet. In one of my first posts featuring a gifted item, I wore a pair of jeans that I didn't love on me, to be honest (hence the weird laying down photos) but I thought they were good jeans overall and I loved the sustainability aspect. Today, three years of blogging later, I would decline to do the post and offer to send the jeans back instead of forcing the issue. But that doesn't mean I wasn't being authentic, it means I had some things to learn.

Maybe you've said (or thought) something like this at some point in time: “She would never wear that IRL, it's only for the freebie…”

Maybe you've said (or thought) something like this at some point in time: “She would never wear that IRL, it's only for the freebie,” or: “She totally did not wear that to work,” or: “You did not eat that.” OK I admit I enjoy that last one. But let's remember what outfit posts are for: inspiration. Does it really matter if you were out of your pajamas specifically long enough for your boyfriend to shoot your outfit photos? Not if you actually dig that outfit. Your readers will, hopefully, still get ideas for that upcoming cocktail party or work event.

I understand the sentiment behind You Did Not Eat That: let's not front like we can eat donuts and ice cream for every meal and miraculously stay rail-thin. But let's also admit that as fashion bloggers we're dealing in a bit of fantasy and aspiration. Even on my own blog, where I sometimes practice radical honesty, there's room for the dream of spending any amount of time caring for a 2-year-old while wearing five-inch booties.

Your blog doesn't have to be a documentary. The trick is to find that sweet spot…

Your blog doesn't have to be a documentary. The trick is to find that sweet spot where you're keeping it real, but still challenging yourself and inspiring your readers—and perhaps figuring out what it actually means to be authentic.


[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]


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19 Responses

  1. Onianwah

    I really like this post. I am kinda new to fashion blogging especially since I started getting enquiries about my vintage clothes and accessories so I really needed this to kind of guide me along because sometimes I wear corporate, sometimes vintage, sometimes native and sometimes a mix of all. Guess, those who love my style will love it because it is MY style.

    Lagos, Nigeria

  2. TlvBirdie

    I find having inner balance in blogging is the crucial part,
    it’s the only way you can enjoy the process no matter how big the numbers are!
    A proper doze of humor, staying true to yourself, writing the texts of how you sound in real life – these are steps of a hard work on the way to a really authentic (excuse me all) blog! (check mine for instance)


  3. Brittany Ann

    For authenticity I need intimacy – it’s when the content reads like a blurb in a catalogue that I’m left cold, regardless of how pretty the images. Usually that means the blogger is afraid to branch from safe opinions that might lower their chance at collabs (and so makes you suspicious of mere lip-service when they do endorse items). Even worse, it means they’re seasoned bloggers bored of their own content.

    Gifting/advertising is more complicated. I’m not put off by “c/o” unless it’s forced and at really nasty odds with the rest of the blogger’s style. It’s like when bad acting jars you out of the a movie world. If they can take a gifted item and weave it seamlessly into their overall vision, more power to them. I’ve been given gifts from family/friends that I wouldn’t have picked out myself and had them become favorites.

    One piece of blogging advice I hate is “make your writing simple.” If you’re explaining CSS on your blog then sure, use layman’s terms. As a style blogger, I’m more interested in engaging with like-minded people with my authentic rambling than attracting the most visitors with a pared down version. There’s enough bland writing on the internet, I don’t need to add to the pile.


    • Kristen Philipkoski

      I totally agree re: keeping your writing fresh and interesting. Down with bland writing.

  4. Anna

    I know what you mean. A couple of time I’ve shot an outfit that I never got around to wear in real life as whole.but it was composed by clothes I wore everyday,just not together!!

  5. Natalie

    Awesome post. And I completely agree with you. I’m still semi-new to blogging (7 months and counting), and went into it knowing I wouldn’t have things figured out right away. But isn’t that the fun part? 🙂 Blogs change and evolve, and so will your style. And like you said, as long as you dig what you’re wearing, who cares if you prefer to live in your pajamas.

    Also, had to laugh at the donuts and ice cream comment…although I’ll have to add macaroons. It seems like every blogger eats those for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Natalie (CincinNatalie)

  6. Raivyn dK

    Yes, authenticity takes time- you have to mature and ‘come into your own’. You have to know what you’re about and not be afraid to show that to the world.. It’s not something that everyone can do, but all the best bloggers have mastered it.

    I’m ‘alternative’- half my head is shaved, I’m covered in tattoos, and I sometimes wear some pretty elaborate outfits. Busting fashion ‘rules’ and stereotypes is something I take pride in… I’m kind of glad I started my style blog late- it gave me plenty of time to figure myself out. 😉


  7. Jaqueline

    I wish i could become a fashion blogger but for me; becoming a fashion or travel blogs are the hardest target to approach. One reason naming them the hardest task is: i’m camera shy and taking #1 spot in the fashion or travel blogging industry without presenting yourself on camera isn’t possible.

  8. Frank

    Though I don’t blog myself, I love the concept of fashion blogging, and love to help growing fashion bloggers succeed in this very crowded environment.

    I understand that there is a struggle between authenticity and relevancy, but I think authenticity is far more important – and relevancy will come with authenticity.

    After all, you’re a blogger first – and fashion is just along for the ride.

    Read my insights about authenticity here: http://about.tisket.com/blog/2014/10/27/its-not-about-what-youre-wearing

    • Kristen Philipkoski

      Hi Frank, I agree with you, authenticity is important, but it’s an overused word that sometimes lacks meaning for new bloggers. And there is almost always some amount of artifice in fashion blogging, so finding that balance can help a blogger find his/her stride. Your Girl Meets Glam example might even be an example of what I was trying to get across—I’m guessing she put on that dress because she was on the hook for a collab with Chicwish, not because she happened to be wearing it that day and snapped a few candid shots. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. It’s authentic and gets the job done.

  9. Melody Sours

    I love how you openly shared an old post that shows growth.

    I’ve raved about items in the past that I wouldn’t be so excited about now. This is undoubtedly because of lifestyle, goal and even size changes. As a blogger and subscriber to others, I think it’s quite fun for readers to spectate as favorites find their personal style voices.

    xo, Melody

  10. Anastasia

    I think the blog should look and feel authentic. Which doesn’t mean that YOU should be 100% authentic, because obviously we strive to show some interesting part of the life on the blog and to avoid all the boring stuff. Otherwise who would read it? Who can get inspired by reading about how boring you spend the day?….