How Far is too Far with c/o “Courtesy Of” ?

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I’d like to open this up to the community and make this more of an open discussion than a post itself.

I’ve been blogging for about 3 years and have noticed a huge increase of brands working with bloggers– fantastic! It’s a beautiful thing and for those of us trying to become professionals it opens a ton of windows of opportunities. Along with working with brands, we also receive our fair share of free gifts. The U.S Federal Trade Commission responded to the amount of free gifts that bloggers receive by saying everything must be disclosed (which by the way, not everyone does but that’s a whole other topic on it’s own). I think disclosing is fair, I see nothing wrong with it and it’s being honest with your readers.

Over here at IFB, we’ve noticed a lot “courtesy of,” “care of,” or “c/o” going on with bloggers.  Sometimes entire outfit posts are made up of only “c/o” items.  Although they do disclose free gifts, we couldn’t help but wonder how you readers feel about this? Does this affect the blogger’s credibility to you? Do you think they would be wearing the stuff if it wasn’t gifted? I receive a fair amount of gifts myself and I try to wear them sparingly along with items I’ve purchased. Also, I ABSOLUTELY do not take everything I’m offered, seriously. If I don’t think I will wear it, I don’t care if it’s free and I won’t take it. If you read my blog, you'd know “Keep it real” is the motto I live by.

My thoughts on this are the following:

I really sort of don’t know how I feel about this. I’m kind of torn. Maybe you guys could help? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with receiving gifts at all, especially when disclosed but I fear losing credibility with readers which mean everything to me.

I guess I’m more for it than against it. I think if it fits the blogger’s personality and style then it’s fine. But when you could tell it’s totally out of wack, and I feel like you’re trying to sell me something too often… I’m gone.

I’d love to hear what everyone thinks on the topic– this might be a sensitive issue for some bloggers but we definitely want to hear your thoughts!  Post your comments below!


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98 Responses

  1. Chelsey

    Personally, I don’t mind ‘courtesy of’ posts as long as they are not posted consecutively and the blogger is genuine. I much prefer posts that don’t have any sponsored or free gifts, not necessarily because the blogger paid for the items, but because I know they are posting from genuinely liking the items. Also, I prefer to see those posts spread out, like maybe one post sprinkled between every three or four regular posts.

    • Nubia Mejia

      I agree about them being spread out, I enjoy that as well. But lately we’ve been noticing them back to back all the time with many people. Some do it gracefully because it suits them but some ehhh… maybe not so much? It’s a sensitive topic.

  2. Liz

    Whether the outfit is made of of c/o entirely or not shouldn’t matter, it’s pretty clear, if you’re reading a blog long enough, if the outfit falls in line with the blog. I’ve definitely seen things on blogs that have nothing to do with the blogs, but I think more so than not I’ve seen bloggers wearing what they would wear anyway

    • Nubia Mejia

      I can agree with that to an extent. I read so many blogs that I’ve seen a lot of people do some very “not in their character” type of things (or at least the character they portray through their blog) I’m very divided on this. I know some bloggers that have done it gracefully and I applaud them for that. I think it’s a question of realizing how you branded yourself and not falling too out of that just because you’re getting merchandise for free. If the change is genuine, than I embrace it 100%. It’s easy to get over excited and get your lines blurred over many things. Tis a business after all.

  3. fb

    I mean if your only doing for the free stuff yeah, but i mean honestly i get tired of reading ‘sponsored posts’ if you are doing it b/c you are ‘selling’ its kind a turn off i mean if you like a product and want to share it with others ok. sometimes its too much i dont want to know but getting gifts is fine, but understand why

  4. WendyB

    I get a big kick out of the c/o stuff because I think a lot of it is so ugly! Ha ha! Good to know what to avoid.

    • Nubia Mejia

      Haha yes! I recently got pitched the ugliest pair of boots.. Not mentioning any names but I WOULD NEVER. Case closed.

  5. Rachel

    I don’t think I’ve done a totally c/o post, but I try not to think about it. I won’t blog about clothes I would not wear, and I just put my outfits together how I feel i want to wear them, regardless of how many c/o items I’m wearing!

  6. simplyfrabulous

    I am totally fine with courtesy of” post, although is cleare that they are and as long as the sponsored post fits de blog and the blogger.

    I think that sponsored post are a way to see that a blog is becoming influential (and the sponsors are noticing it) but I would never post anithing that I don’t like just for money or for a gift. That would be definitely being not honest with my readers.

  7. Ashe

    Girl, I know what you mean. Frankly, I try not to have more than 1-2 items c/o in a post, and I try to keep it real because most of what I wear I DO buy myself. I don’t know if it makes them lose credibility… but more makes me feel like… would they have bought it? Do they really love it? I think there are some bloggers who do, but there are others who used to have such great style… and now they’re such “Fashion bloggers” that their style has changed, everything is c/o and none of it seems sincere…

    • Nubia Mejia

      Yeah I’m on the same exact page as you. Almost everything I wear, I buy. I try not to pass 1 or 2 gifted items. I don’t even know if I think something is wrong with head to toe gifted items… I’m seriously 50/50 on it. If it fits the bloggers personality and I know for a fact it does than I’m ok with it. Often I see too many bloggers change their style over it and it’s sad… Almost like “selling your soul” for a handbag. However, I have often seen other bloggers get tons of c/o items and stay very true to themselves and I respect that.

  8. Sharde

    For me, it’s exciting to see what other bloggers receive from other brands. Right now, I’m not at that stage in blogging and it gives me some hope to get to that point. However, when I see full outfit posts that every item on their body has been gifted, I almost wonder if that’s their own style. Do they have any discretion in what they pick and choose from brands or are they just out to get free stuff, rather than provide excellent content to their readers? Those are the things I think about when I see full on sponsored outfits. Almost like a brand might be using you as a puppet. That’s a little far to say, but I think it could go there, if it hasn’t already.


    • Nubia Mejia

      I would never want my readers to think I’m being used as a puppet EVER. I do believe it’s incredibly hard to make a complete c/o outfit look genuine.. especially when it’s so frequent BUT a good handful of bloggers I know do it gracefully… Or at least as gracefully as I think it can be done in my opinion.

  9. Suze

    I don’t mind c/o items, but I often get really annoyed when someone is wearing an entirely c/o outfit. You didn’t pay anything for what you’re wearing! It drives me bonkers.
    I feel like there is a fine line between accepting items because they’re your style and you would buy them anyway, and accepting stuff because it’s FREE. I turn stuff down all the time because I wouldn’t wear this or that, or I have no reason to want this item or that.
    I also find myself annoyed with brands that SATURATE blogs with their brand/items (*cough*modcloth*cough*). Yes, they’re marketing their brand and by saturating the market they’re making sure that TONS of people see their items, but doesn’t it hurt the credibility of bloggers when there are 200 girls out there wearing the same (free) items because the brand wants promotions and can get it from you for the price of a pretty skirt?
    Perhaps I’m a bit cynical in all of this and I shouldn’t be, as someone who has accepted free items for reviews and whatnot, but 95% of my wardrobe has been purchased by ME. I also agree with Ashe that I refuse to wear more than one-two c/o items in an outfit I post. If I don’t like other ladies doing it, why would I do it?
    Yes, blogging is a business, and why not accept an item as payment for your time spent blogging? But when you turn from someone that blogs because you like it to someone just accepting free stuff because it’s thrown at you, you’ve lost all your credibility in my mind.

    • Ashe

      Yes! Modcloth was exactly the brand I thought of in this discussion too. That being said, if they want to pimp so much free product, maybe sponsor a few plus-size gals?

      • Suze

        Agreed! They seem to stick to the same general “look” and “feel” of bloggers, which maybe they want to do because it reinforces their brand? Who knows. I’m just glad I don’t work for that company.

  10. kristy

    it’s virtually impossible to accurately judge whether a blogger would wear an item or not if it wasn’t gifted.

    which is why i still judge blogs on their photograph quality and originality. a high quality blogger probably doesn’t have trouble getting items he/she wants to wear. so it never feels fake or forced.

    personally, i love being gifted items and adore working with great brands. my blog quality allows me to be very selective and make special requests. i probably only work with a quarter of the requests that come in because being selective is exactly why so many brands and PR send me requests. if bloggers are choosing not to be selective they are only hurting themselves in the long run.

    • Nubia Mejia

      You’ve made some good points here. I also agree that it’s important to base a blog off it’s photography and originality.

      At the end of the day the bloggers who don’t “Keep it real” aren’t hurting anyone but themselves.

  11. Samar

    I can see how you’re on the fence about this Nubia because I’ve seen the bloggers who go from bloggers to advertisers and readers are savy enough to know the difference. If one starts shilling for companies too much ya lose cred. I’ve seen a few blogs that have been ‘dumbed’ down from interesting and engaging posts to hey check out xyz company and product in every other post. Like you said if people keep and real and stay true to themselves readers/I won’t mind if something is c/o. It’s a great way to find out about a product or company you might not know about otherwise.

  12. 3QC

    I don’t see anything wrong with accepting free items and using them with the appropriate disclosures. But when the majority of a blogger’s items are c/o, it turns the blog into an advertisement.

    I think it also goes against the appeal of fashion blogs in the first place. I enjoy fashion blogs because it’s regular people creating fashion with regular clothes. That inspires me to create compelling outfits out of my own wardrobe. But when I see superbloggers wearing a lot of c/o Mulberry and c/o Rebecca Minkoff and c/o Prada, there’s nothing “regular” about that. They still have great style, but it creates a disconnect between them and the readers.

  13. Emily

    I’m on the fence, like many here. I know that, personally, all of the items I’ve ever been gifted (and it’s not many!) have appeared many times in outfit photos on the blog. Which I think only goes to prove that I do love anything I ever get. To be honest, maybe I should actually buy some new clothes and stop posting the same things!! Haha! I think it puts me off it a blogger has new pieces in every outfit, either c/o or bought, as I wonder 1. how they afford it and 2. why they don’t love the older things in their wardrobe. I love to see a blogger who remixes their most loved pieces and how they do it – that’s real, for me.

  14. Marcia

    Sometimes, I feel like being told to buy something by a hard-sale salesperson when a blogger include too much “courtesy of” items in all of his/her posts. I suppose it’s alright, as long as they actually like it and give an unbiased review.

  15. Alexandra Suhner Isenberg

    I think it is crazy that bloggers have to do this, and not magazines. And yes, I also think it sucks if everything a blogger posts about is gifted. They lose credibility for me.

  16. Courtney

    I don’t mind c/o blogging so long as it’s disclosed and not abused. For example, if a blogger is wearing all c/o, then I have a big eye roll. Additionally, if they say it was “gifted,” I also find that a bit tacky.

    When taking an item from brand, you have to realized that you becoming part of the marketing machine. The brand may like you, but ultimately they want to see you sending hits and sales their way.

    • Shophopper

      I think Courtney raises an important issue. I don’t mind c/o-items in the least, even if the entire outfit consists of them. If they fit your style and you like the product, or you really love the brand and want others to know about it, all the better! Keiko Lynn for instance gets a lot of c/o’s, but I never feel like they overtake her style. She always manages to integrate them into her outfits and make them her own. It made me notice some pretty great brands or webshops or whatever I wouldn’t have otherwise.

      As long as bloggers are conscious of the part they play in marketing stuff, it’s okay by me. There are bloggers out there whose judgement I really trust. There are others who appear to accept anything they get for free. They might have fun doing so, but I won’t keep following them, because I’d rather not get my bloglovin’ clogged with airheads that don’t realise that to marketing companies, they’re just a live billboard.

  17. lisa

    I’ve declined things in the past because they weren’t my style or I didn’t think I would be able to fit them into my editorial calendar. It would be unfair to accept free product from the company for review if I couldn’t write about it.

    Most of my outfit posts consist of pieces I’ve bought myself, but a lot of my beauty reviews are about products I’ve received to sample. That being said, I always try to be honest, thoughtful and thorough in these reviews. If I don’t like something, I’ll say so and explain why. The worst thing that could happen is losing my readers’ trust!

  18. BlitzAndGlam

    Every time that I’ve been gifted apparel, I was able to pick out exactly what I wanted. That’s generally how I approach it. I know my style and what I like better than anyone.

  19. River Sun

    Thanks alot for the topic of this post it opens my eyes on what i was doing without knowing,I new in blogging and I was writing of “COURTESY OF” under some photos to indicate it’s source, i didn’t know that the phrase “COURTESY OF” have a different meaning, so thanks alot for the info, right now i’m going to go back to my blog and delete all the “COURTESY OF”.
    In this situation I feel IFB is my College, Thanks alot again.

  20. Goody @Curvatude

    honestly, i couldn’t possible care any less about it.

    if i like, i like it…who’s money paid for it is of no consequence to me.

  21. Jannine

    I think that the brands that send those products are aware of the fact that those gifts might o might NOT be featured in a post. the same thing happens with editorial work. Magazines get all sorts of items/products/clothing from brands and not because they get the stuff it means they´re guaranteed to be featured. i think that being a blogger means first and foremost that you reflect your personal view/opinion on what you´re passionate about. Gifts shouldn´t alter that. But i think its nice to feature as many things as you can, as long as you like them.

  22. Madeleine Gallay

    Not sure if there is a spoken or unspoken quid-pro-quo to gifts. I’d think it’s much more ordinary for beauty bloggers or book reviewers. Although a nice Balenciaga bag would most definitely be favorably reviewed.

    I like that some bloggers routinely gift them courtesy-of to their readers. It seems incredibly classy with the blogger having the opportunity to review (or not) a product and then onward.

    It’s nice to be gifted, really … and speaks (usually) of your hard work.

    The then president of Campbell’s Soup sent Andy Warhol a couple of cases of tomato soup; a nice story and after the fact of the great paintings.

  23. Daniel Dunt

    This is a great discussion topic. – If I post about an item I recieve free of charge from a designer/brand, I would always state something along the lines of “The wonderful people over at _________ sent me this piece. I mean, how nice are they?” – Something which states it, yet in friendly terms, as I’m pretty sure that using the word “free” isn’t necessary, as it’s right there in front of you. – Daniel 😀

  24. Kb

    When I receive gifted items I tend to choose pieces I would have bought anyway or use it as a way to try something slightly out of my comfort zone. Most of the time the pieces I pick fit seamlessly into my wardrobe that I end up featuring quite a few c/o pieces in a post. I do buy the majority of clothes myself but if I’m offered something it saves me a bit of money which can be spent on life’s numerous outgoings.

  25. melmo

    I think the personality and the authenticity is the most important. If the gifts fit to the style and to the personality, then why not. But don’t change your style or even your blog because of these gifts. Be yourself!!

  26. Sylvia @ 40PlusStyle

    I haven’t done this yet, but I would never want to wear something that I didn’t like. I think you have to stay true to yourself in anything you wear and give your honest opinion. If you do that and you provide a clear disclosure then I think it’s ok.

  27. Kate

    I never mind the c/o on blogs, I mean, if I received an item from a company, I’d love it! I think the problem I always have is when I look up an item I like that a blogger received for free, it’s always very expensive! I find it hard to believe they would be able to afford a lot of these things on their own. I’d really like to see a blogger that shops reasonably. Not spending $200some on a dress.

  28. Ana

    There are some big bloggers that scream “fake!” when you look at their newest posts, especially compared with the earliest ones.

    It’s all product placement (obvious, I might add), product placement, product placement now.

    And they look dressed-by-brand-X now, while in the beginning it was “oh, she took a no-name black sweater and used it in such an imaginative way! I’ll follow her posts”.

    I know people can’t afford all those clothes on their own.
    I know they must make money and that, if they’re full-time bloggers, product placement is one of their main sources of income, but…

    Well, I’m kinda hoping there is a less obvious way to do it.

    I love blogs because they weren’t ads for big brands (even though they might’ve used them, even to excess).

    If that’s gone, that sincerity of an everyday person sharing their everyday stuff, what’s the thing that separates them from all the intrusive ads and recommends them to me/us?

    Not disclosing when something was C/O is just… wrong, for those countries where the law requires you to. And even in those where the law doesn’t do that, it shows respect towards your readers when you’re sincere with them.

  29. Synthetic

    I feel it’s OK to take these free gifts and display them on your blog (as c/o) as long as you feel this is something you would have bought for yourself. I do feel these gifts are sometimes needed, since many bloggers strive to make this a profession and in order to be able to display a different outfit everyday you need to have a lot of pieces. So these gifts definitely help with that.

  30. Jessie

    Good topic!!! It totally depends. If your blog is a personal style, then the blog should show YOUR STYLE. Some could be gifted, but if every single post is sponsored, then it takes away authenticity. I get clothing sponsors for tv segments I do, but I have control over it. I only work with brands I believe in and that stick to my “skinny-budget message. ” I did watch an interview w/ Man Repeller and she said she is paid for every post. I’m happy for her success, but how do I value her journalistic opinion. But blogging is an opinion. My opinion: great to make it a business, but only go with what you believe in. That’s what holds readers.

  31. kavery

    I have noticed a lot more posts with ‘c/o’ in the credits than before but as one commenter said if the blogger incorporates it into her style her credibility sort of stays intact. However sometimes I do wonder if a blogger would have purchased the item if she got hadn’t got it as a freebie.

  32. MJ

    I personally don’t mind it if it fits in the bloggers style and the blogger discloses it. With the beauty component of my site I get free samples all the time. With fashion, I’m slowly getting gifted things or things on loan. I think it’s important to choose things that you would wear and buy and then make sure your readers are aware that it was given to you.

    I’m actually working on a post where I was given cloths on loan and I’m being really careful to select the ones I like, flatter me, and style them with what I already have in my closet. I will also state very clearly that these clothes were on loan (so I don’t get to keep them anyway). For me the blog is a stepping stone to my business and in the end I have to make sure that’s aligned with the brand I’m trying to create.

  33. Lollie Shopping

    One, I don’t like to wear more than one c/o item in a single post (although I use the phrase “provided by” because I’m nostalgic) since I think a brand should have the full focus and not get lost in a list of other c/o brands. Two, I thought my readers would get turned off by my posts which featured gifts, but it turns out that those posts get RT’d on Twitter more than my posts where I feature my own closet fashion. So, I finally figured out that my readers don’t mind a little brand plugging, which is a sigh of relief for me.

  34. Indiana

    I think we all agree that courtesy items should be disclosed and they should fit the blogger’s personal style. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to look at a blogger’s earliest posts to see if her style is consistant with the present. That doesn’t give much room for one’s own style and shopping evolution (for instance: when I started my blog, I was thinner and wasn’t yet a mom and didn’t mind wearing clothing manufactured in China. I also buy investment items now that I’m older and see the importance of garments that will last).

    I get that it’s annoying to see entire outfits c/o different brands, but from a working blogger’s point of view, it is often the case that gifted clothes are part of a blogger’s compensation package for working with that specific brand. Instead of seeing it as free clothes, often it’s more like credit for clothes was given in exchange for ad space or for online promotional work. Some people get paid in dollars, whereas others get paid in clothes.

    I do think that bloggers should not accept anything that she cannot afford herself. I also think that we should not accept specific items (we should be given credit to pick out something that suits our own personal style).

    For instance, I can’t afford fresh off the runway Prada (not that they’ve approached me!) or diamond jewelry, so I do turn down these high end offers (regretfully, some times!) and I do turn down offers for specific c/o items, especially if I know that my blogging peers are showcasing the same items. Since we often have a lot of readership overlap, it’s important to me that my content stands out.

  35. Melissa @Bubby and Bean

    I think it’s perfectly fine to accept the occasional item from brands IF the items are things the blogger truly has an interest in wearing. I accept items from time to time but I never write a post solely comprised of c/o items. It’s hard for me to take a blogger’s opinion seriously when every post everyday is made up of clothing they were gifted. I think what you said about making certain gifted pieces are mixed with items you actually purchased is absolutely “keeping it real.” 🙂

  36. A Girl, A Style

    I’m not opposed to accepting free gifts in principle. As no one pays me to write my primary blog, a few gifts here and there are a nice little perk.

    But like you, I absolutely do not take everything I’m offered (and politely decline more than I accept actually). My simple philosophy is this: if I wouldn’t be willing to pay for it, I won’t accept it for free either (I always ask myself this question when being offered something). This way, I maintain my style and integrity and am writing only about things which naturally fit my ‘voice’, rather than raving about something which is frankly, utterly random.

    Briony xx

  37. Fashion-isha

    I only take items that I really like and feel are consistent with my blog otherwise I’m doing myself and my blog a disservice. So much of why people like a blog is because of the vibe or personality of it, not only the fashion. We must remain true to ourselves!

  38. Célèste

    I think disclosure is great. As far as a whole outfit being care of, I feel like that’s only okay if the blogger actually selected all the pieces from a huge variety of options. After all, we’re reading their blog to see THEIR style, not just them wearing stuff a sponsor picked out and dressed them up in.

  39. Tyesha

    I don’t mind it really as long as the blogger is genuine and it’s something they actually would normally wear. I do believe that many bloggers go a little overboard with c/o items, and lose their primary focus. I think they just get so caught up in the moment that they don’t realize it.

    The key thing is to stay true to your readers because they are the actual reason you blog.

    What I do dislike is seeing the same companies/brands that continue to work with only the same bloggers. It’s okay to build a relationship, but why not get a new voice and face from different bloggers. There is so much versatility it would be great to see it change up some.


  40. Amber

    Honestly, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m completely disgusted by it. I’m over it. I’ve been blogging for 3 years as well, and some of the blogs that I read/follow started the same time I did. I see entire outfits with c/o in front. Sunglasses, dresses, tops, bags, shoes, scarves, hats, CAMERAS even. And you know what’s worse? A lot of these bloggers turn around and SELL what given to them as gifts.

    I feel like with some of these bloggers there is nothing original left about them. Some of these fashion bloggers don’t even post commentary in their posts anymore. Just some nice, professional-looking editorial type photos, and a “thanks for reading” at the bottom. Thanks for reading what? Nothing was posted for me to read..!

    I’m honestly genuinely happy for bloggers who have made it big – but if you follow some of them on Twitter, you will find that many of them find themselves entitled. They believe that they deserve all of what they get. Just this week blogger Bryan Boy tweeted that “he needs to stop making himself accessible to those he doesn’t need to be accessible to” What does that even mean?!


  41. Georgia Rose

    I feel slightly differently to most commenters on this issue, perhaps mainly because I’ve only been offered a handful of free things through my blog, and have turned them all down.

    I feel like the reason I started my blog is because I looked at big-name blogs and thought ‘hey, I could do that!’. As a media studies student I’ve always seen blogging as a bottom-up way of influencing things, creating trends and fashion via the masses and disseminating it up to the big guy. I feel like accepting a ton of product sponsorships (especially from places like Modcloth and Romwe) goes against this- it just reinforces the top-down influence model, where they tell us what to wear and we wear it. It removes the aspect of ‘citizen journalism’ from blogging and just makes the creative industry into more pawns for corporations to tell everyone what is normal and what is ‘cool’. I am aware that not everyone started their blogs for the same reasons I did, and have the same motivations behind their blogging, but these are my personal views towards excessive product placement in fashion blogs.

  42. Anon

    I am fine with c/o. I myself get offered a lot of freebies. I only accept ones that I think I would buy myself anyway if i had the money. I have also been known to send things back if I dont wear them or if i feel they dont fit in with my personal style (although this makes brands a bit angry)

  43. Amber

    I receive quite a few c/o items, but the relationships I have with sponsors are all ones whereby I get to choose the items I receive, meaning that I only ever get freebies that are things I genuinely love. I honestly can’t imagine what the point would be of accepting something I didn’t like just because it was free, and then having to wear an outfit that didn’t suit me, or that I secretly hated. Seriously, what would be the point? It’s not like you’re getting something that’s of any use to you, so it genuinely wouldn’t occur to me to accept it, and to be honest, I just (possibly naively) assumed most people would be the same, so c/o stuff has never really bothered me.

    Basically, if I’m wearing something c/o, it’s something I loved, and chose myself: my rule is that if I wouldn’t buy it, I won’t accept it as a freebie – I just don’t see the point of having a closet overflowing with clothes I hate! If everyone did that then I don’t see an issue with it, to be honest: if other bloggers would turn down an offer of something they really, really loved, then all I can say is that they’re better women than I am 🙂

  44. good girl gone blog

    The only thing I don’t like is when bloggers wear c/o pieces that really…aren’t them. It’s tough though- if you get a product sent to you that you don’t like, do you just send it back or do you wear it in an outfit post (because you said you would) and then sell it/swap it/throw it away?

  45. Kat Skull

    I think the best way to use the c/o items that a blogger receives is to also have a giveaway post. This way the blogger can model the items and a lucky reader can receive the item or at least a special discount from the brand.

    If there’s some way to involve the readers into what the blogger is receiving, then it benefits all.

  46. Bec

    As much as I don’t want it too when the whole outfit is “c/o” is absolutely taints my view of it and the blogger. However, when there’s one or two items that are “c/o” it makes you think that they accepted something in their style and this is how they’re incorporating it into their own wardrobe. I know this isn’t always the case but I can’t seem to help it. All c/o’s make me wary. In the end though, I’m looking at how much I like the outfit, is it inspiring, the photography, etc.

  47. CurvyCdn

    I do feature c/o items, but only if I really, genuinely like the item, and would pay for it (if I had the money). I don’t endorse anything I don’t fully support. When I am putting together an outfit for a post, I don’t really consider at the source of each item, tbh, I just put things together that I like, and that I feel like wearing that day. If that means everything is c/o, then so be it. But the next post might include mostly items I’ve gotten from a thrift store. I dunno. I don’t really think about where everything’s from until I am writing the post. It’s sort of an after-thought. I just wear what I want…lol.

  48. erica

    “I think if it fits the blogger’s personality and style then it’s fine.”

    I totally agree with this. Consistency is pretty important when it comes to fashion bloggers–all of us are just trying to get our voices heard. It’s when the blog is overly saturated with c/o products and endorsements that it starts to feel insincere.

    If everyone wanted to read pitches and advertisements, we’d just look at magazines.

  49. Guy Hipwell

    As an online editor since 2006 I always read lots of blogs, but lately I have severely cut back. In London at least there is actually a bit of a backlash against blogs. At September LFW, bloggers were told to bring print outs of their google analytics to be able to even gain access to the exhibition.

    For me some of the key bloggers have sold out and letting this effect the quality and impartiality of their sites. Some are just blatantly attending events and featuring items they never would in the past. Also the last 2 years or so as the PRs have wised up to blogs we all get emailed the same releases resulting in lots of blogs with very similar posts.

    Fashion156.com has kept to our niche – new emerging designers- and over 95% of gifts, pitches, events, parties, etc do not make our pages. For me unless I love it – no way can we feature it. Very short-sighted when looked at in short term, but I believe (as we are in it for the long haul) this is the only way to remain credible.

  50. Rebecca

    I definitely understand the appeal of getting “courtesy of” items. Who isn’t flattered to receive a freebie because a company likes their blog?

    I don’t fault the bloggers for accepting items from sponsors, but too many “c/o” items means that I may personally lose interest in a blog. I have stopped following a couple of blogs because of the quantity of “c/o” items. The outfits aren’t relatable, and the blogs seem to turn into ads for Modcloth or other sponsors.

  51. kate @ undeniable style

    Actually just tweeted about this the other day. Bloggers selling out does upset me, and I feel like sponsorships and c/o items are part of the sell out if they are involved in the majority of a blogger’s posts.

    Part of the reason I started reading blogs was to hear unique voices, see what people were wearing and what they were generally interested in. Blogs that have turned into one giant advertisement have lost me as a subscriber.

    None of this is to say that I don’t use c/o items in my own posts, I do…I just fold them into the mix and keep them in the minority.

  52. Stacy

    I haven’t been offered many c/o items, but I think I agree with you on this one – while it’s nice to have a mutual relationship between a blogger recieving clothes and in return promoting the brand, when a blogger only wears c/o stuff it detracts from their individuality and style, which is the main thing I love about bloggers!


  53. Eboni Ife'

    I don’t mind it in most cases… I agree with most of the other ladies…as long as it’s not excessive, it makes me feel kinda proud to see my fellow bloggers establishing relationships with brands who value their influence.

    As a blogger….When I see a “popular blogger” wearing a trendy & expensive outfit that is entirely free, my thought is…well, of course you can wear the newest and hottest stuff all the time…you’re not paying for it! Obviously, we could all be showcasing the latest and greatest clothes on our blogs if we didn’t have to buy them. This is not to say that these bloggers haven’t earned all their freebies and all their success. THEY MOST CERTAINLY HAVE! However, I do think it is a cycle. The excessive amounts of free stuff only perpetuates the perception that these few are the bloggers to watch. Meanwhile there are a plethora of “smaller” blogs out there with great content, but they are not receiving the same amount of attention from brands…and therefore they may not be attracting as many new readers… because they just can’t afford to keep up with “what’s hot” in the market.

    Perhaps this is not a reflection of the blogging community, but of the fashion industry as whole. It is very hard not to get left behind, and free stuff obviously makes it a lot easier to stay on top of it. I recently read a post about a girl who said she feels pressure to shop constantly just to keep things new and fresh. That is kind of alarming!

  54. Jaime @ la vie...J'aime

    i’ve received some items that i have blogged about but i always mix with items that are my own. I too wouldn’t take just anything for free, if it’s not my style. I have declined free things, giveaways, etc. that don’t mesh with my blog.

  55. Yasmeen @ Castle Fashion

    I’ve never taken it as a negative or seen it as damaging to credibility. I guess I often just assume that every blogger would only take something if she really liked it. Why would you accept a piece of clothing that you seriously knew you wouldn’t wear? I don’t know…Just seems like a given to me…

    Although, what is even more interesting is how dodgy brands are with their contact information. It’s hard for bloggers to make the approaches and ask to collaborate. More often than not, I see brands as the ones approaching the bloggers. A good question would be, “Is there an imbalance in these ‘collaborations’ by default?”

    I’d love to see this addressed on IFB 🙂


  56. Yanira

    I do not mind them but what does bother me (and I have stopped following a blogger for this reason) is when I start following your blog it is because I can relate and I really like. Then everything you post now has at least one c/o and it is a brand you would have never bought yourself and your style is even changing bc of it. So you buy everything from a discount chain, it looks great but now everything is c/o “major designer”? That I guess is my only issue. I get my share from Old Navy as their Latina spokesperson & fashion expert but I only wear what I like and half of my ON stuff I paid for. It is about being honest with yourself bc readers know.

  57. Hallie

    I completely agree – as long as it fits with the bloggers’ aesthetic and doesn’t seem like an irrelevant attempt to sell something, I’m fine with (and also feature) c/o posts. I do think it’s obnoxious if a blogger is wearing ONLY gifted items, mix it up a bit!

  58. Omega

    If you let the lure of “free” compromise your personal style, then you’re an idiot, plain and simple.

    My readers keep coming back because they like my style, i’d never compromise that just to get free things.

    Im plus sized so that makes it difficult for some brands to gift me things, im only interested in blogging clothes available in plus sizes, I only wear red, black and grey.. And my style is clearly defined, with big nods to fashion history. If something doesn’t fit in with all that, it will never see the light of day on my blog 🙂

    If it does, well, that’s a fantastic opportunity for the brand to get their things in front of people who will go wild for it. Quality over quantity! 🙂

  59. Keely

    I have a small style blog, but read many different size style blogs. I’m all for “c/o” items because it’s a great way to see real women wearing real clothes. However, I do get tired of the disclosures in every single post. I get it, if I click, you get money. you don’t have to tell me every time. And if you’re always wearing c/o items it’s like you don’t shop for yourself anymore. But, I realize the style blog is a business for some people, so c/o, is very important to their success, as it pays the bills. As long as the items are true to your style and price range I think it’s great.

    I have been offered a handful of c/o items and thought if I didn’t take each offer, I’d never get another one. I soon realized I needed to pick and choose and stay true to myself. So, while I only have a few c/o items, they are really great pieces that I wear and use often.

  60. S.

    My blog isn’t a personal style blog so I think I can speak about this as more of a spectator.

    I have completely given up looking at “What I wore” style blogs. It used to be that there were some real unique voices and styles, but not anymore. Part of the problem is that it seems like the same 3 or 4 online shops are sponsoring all the blogs so all the girls dress the same! I miss the days where the bloggers actually did a bit of DIY and hunted for cool stuff at the Goodwill. Consecutive posts of head-to-toe C/O items just seem like advertisments.

    • Suze

      S- There are still blogs out there that have daily outfits (or semi-daily) that are DIY and thrifted, along with other brands. I follow quite a few, and while accept c/o items, others don’t! I bet there are still others out that that you’d love, they’re just drowning in the sea of “SO MANY BLOGS!” 🙂

  61. Brooke

    You know what, I don’t care as long as you’re not trying to sell it to me. Don’t tell me it’s the most amazing skirt/jacket/bag/pair of shoes you’ve ever owned when your last post was about the most amazing skirt/jacket/bag/pair of shoes you’ve ever owned!
    If it becomes too much like advertising I zone out.

    And that’s my 2 cents!

  62. snowblackblog

    I have been offered gifts in the past, some of which I turned down because it was something I would not wear or on one occasion, the denim company expected bloggers to send the item back after “reviewing” it. That I found an insult. I also hate it when you get sent an item and the PR team go FBI on you, emailing every 2 hours about when you are going to blog about it, blah blah. It’s like really?! Can I open the package first? The worst experience was meeting with a PR brand during Fashion Week, who then asked bloggers to review some makeup, only to send me makeup that didn’t match my skin tone (yep this after being “fans” of my blog and meeting me in person), and when I went online to see if I could ask for a suitable color, lo and behold this very well known brand does not even stock foundation past, um Eva Longoria’s skin tone. SMH

  63. Any Second Now

    I don’t mind it. I’m very loyal to the blogs I frequent, and those who do receive some kind of gifted product or do an endorsement or sponsored post seem to do so with brands or products that are in line with their blog style and content.

    I’ve been blogging for nearly 2 years now, and it’s only recently that I’ve been contacted by brands that actually suit my style. Earlier on for some reason, I was getting contacted by sport fishing & outdoor furniture sites (maybe due to my tags). No matter how enticing the “free” product or the sponsorship, it didn’t fall in line with my blog. But now that I’ve been around for a little while, I’ve had the pleasure of being contacted by brands that I actually love and that I’ve worn or fit my style, prior to getting the free product.

    Ultimately, it’s up to the discretion of the blogger. If all they are after is the free product or getting as many sponsors as possible, then they are in control of what they accept, regardless of their audience. I just know what suits me and I want as much control over my content as possible. I hope my followers understand that I would never compromise my content and style just to get something for free.


  64. Alba

    One of the primary reason I’ve stopped following style blogs and started reading real blogs who have something to say about fashion is the sponsored outfits. At a point they have turned into sellers in a multi-brand shop. I love collaborations with comoanies in the sense that one actually the blogger does something like designing a piece, or styling the current collection, plus the opportunity to have a look at the offices of the companies and how they work etc. Give me an experience and not just a piece of cloth taht will be forgotten the next minute I press NEXT on my google reader

  65. Chelsea

    I don’t have a problem with “c/o” items in general, but if a style blogger wears only what she or he has been given by a brand, I see it as this: they’re whoring out their blog’s integrity for free swag. In the end, it’s a personal choice; however, I do not care for blogs written by fashion robots, and I don’t read blogs that seem to only exist for the freebies.

  66. Justyna

    I don’t have a problem with it per se, but I too find the issue fascination. Case in point: Fashion Toast. Go ahead and peruse her archives (when she first started), everything was relatively normal (Zara, F21, Target), high end designers no where in sight. (She used to wait with bated breath for Nine West sandals) and that’s cool! More success, more money, all of a sudden everything is Alexander wang this, phillip lim that. is it wrong? no…. would she wear it without her sponsorships? as history would tell.. probably not…

    I think we need to take c/o’s with a grain of salt… they’re great but chances are the blogger really wouldn’t wear them if they weren’t freebies (and I include myself in the mix – not that i don’t like my sponsors, but i have limited funds to spend on clothes and probably wouldn’t have the variety i do without sponsorships) right?

  67. Fashion Citizen

    I think it’s awesome that brands are discovering the power of bloggers but I agree with your point of if it’s not something your readers can relate to or you can use, then it goes back. I appreciate gifts from brands that send them to me but I don’t rely on them nor do I expect them.

  68. Ana

    I don’t mind if the c/o is truly a reflection of that person’s style. I personally feel that it is great to receive c/o as it shows that style bloggers are making a big impact out in the world, companies are realizing the power of a blogger. But I also believe that everything needs to be done in moderation, too much of anything is never a good thing.

    Bloggers just need to be smart about what they do accept and do not, so that they do not overwhelm their readers.

  69. Lindsey M Jones

    I haven’t received any c/o things before. I have a makeup blog so if I were to receive a product I would test it out for at least a week on myself before I posted anything about it. People come to me because I give them my honest and thorough opinion. And I try to stay as credible as possible! And that’s what my readers want.

  70. Hersom - Limited Edition

    I’ve noticed the same thing in Danish blogs – more and more often the outfits are totally c/o – and it actually pisses me off!

    Now I know bloggers recieve gifts and I’m okay with that. But I think it’s getting overhand here in DNK, especially when a blogger works at a certain brand store and shows off a new c/o from that very same brand almost every day.

    If that isn’t hidden commercial, I don’t know what is.

    Usually I stop reading a blog if the c/o gets to much. If the blogger finds a subtle way to show off the gifts, like you suggest I’m staying around.

  71. michelle

    most of the time mixing them up with your own pair of shoes, and other outfit items look totally chic.
    but if it’s way too much like everything put together is gifted free
    then you know that the bloggers and the brand together are trying to sell only
    we as readers know how to figure out if it’s a good buy or not because we have “personal” favorites and style. it doesn’t matter how much c/o are out there really. people will follow their hearts anyways nobody is forced in this blogosphere

  72. La Perle

    I think featuring c/o items is only a natural progression of some bloggers also being their own small business; however, in a small business, you need to constantly be evaluating what is right for your business, your marketing, staying true to your message and personality. I think a great way to work it is if you already own pieces by that brand, and then are gifted pieces you love – wear it and love it! But when it comes to the point where you are wearing all c/o’d items, it no longer is about showing your style and message, it is about getting free stuff – and that doesn’t connect well with your readers. I try and remember that part of the blogging sphere is about community, and how we are all impacting and inspiring one another.

  73. De'on Mallory

    I think that free gifts are great. I wish companies were coming to me with product to promote. But at the same time, I’d like those gifts to be things that I would actually want or can rock. I wouldn’t want to become more of a marketer than a blogger.

  74. Mads

    I don’t have a style blog so feel I have some freeness of speech. I am SO over blogs with identikit girls wearing the same c/o clothes!

    Too many style blogs have girls in cut off denims/blazers/’kooky’ shoes and accessories. As has been said, the same brands have done their homework and c/o the same types of blogs so it’s all getting a bit boring. My initial attraction to style blogs was that it was different to a magazine. If I want to see brand sponsored fashion, I’ll buy Vogue thanks!

    I’m not against c/o at all but I think it only works if you are true to your aesthetic and don’t get lured in by the freeness.

  75. Tashina

    I think that it’s both good and bad. Sometimes it accurately represents a bloggers style, and that’s fine. A lot of the time though it just feels like a walking advertisement. As a blogger, it’s great to have access to these items. But I think it’s really important to mix and match them with items/products you already own. Otherwise, it could send the wrong message to those who aren’t regular readers of your blog.

  76. LaLa Natalia

    I have no problem with c/o — on the contrary, I think it is great that bloggers and fashion/beauty brands have an increasingly reciprocate relationship. I appreciate that people disclose “c/o” items and I have never seen a blogger I follow give up their sense of style/identity to feature a “c/o” item. Why would you wear something you dislike, even if it is free?? This shouldn’t be an issue given that the foundation of a blog is to showcase your personal interests/tastes/style/creativity.


    I don’t think readers would mind as long as you stay true to yourself and you don’t change your style, cause then you will be giving a whole different idea…but I thin c/o it’s ok…I mean I’ve never stopped following anyone because of this. 🙂

  78. Maria Alyssa

    I’m just a. fashion blogger for around 6months only. So far I don’t receive gifts like clothes, shoes, bags, etc. from clothing brands straight to my house BUT I did received A LOT of gift cards/ gift certificate which, now that I think about it, it’s also free stuff though the difference is I’m the one who’s going to choose the clothes, shoes, bags, etc. so I think my conscience is clear when I say to my readers that I really like what I’m wearing.
    Bottom line: receiving “gifts” from brands are fine as long as you tell your readers your honest opinion about it.

  79. Eunice

    I definitely think there’s nothing wrong with accepting gifts from companies, and especially companies that you love. But, I’m sure there are situations where even from that company you swear by, you could get a piece that isn’t quite your style or to your liking. I think as long as the blogger is honest about their opinion of it, pointing out the pro’s that pertain to them, and maybe even more pro’s that someone of a different style would have, then it’s a simple and honest way to showcase the product. If the blogger sees no pro’s at all, it’s not a product to talk about. I still believe though, that a true to self blogger should not promote everything and anything they receive. It’s definitely about being true to yourself as well as pleasing your readers (showing them something that even if you don’t love, they may love!)

  80. Cynthia

    I am very honest with a lot of the products I get (to be truthful I get more free invites to parties featuring products than actual products to review. And even then, it’s more for my other site, DelectablyChic!. I can be very critical of anything I write, and sometimes, stories get dropped. I think bloggers need to be honest with their “freebies” and not always give it a positive spin just because they got it for free.

  81. Elizabeth

    I read a lot of fashion blogs, and have even considered creating one myself because I love the idea of sharing personal creativity through clothes.

    Unfortunately, I’ve become extremely disenchanted with the whole “courtesy item” exposure on some of my favorite blogs. If I see something I like on a blog, and click through to it, I am astonished at the price of most of the clothes (only to realize that they were a “c/o” item). These blogs have started to inspire me less because the clothes represented start to become further and further out of an average person’s finanical means.

    Some have been saying they will only accept “c/o” items if it is something they would buy, but would they realistically buy $300-$400 dollar dresses on their own volition? Can people honestly afford to buy all of their clothes from expensive retailers such as Modcloth or ridiculously expensive dresses from smaller luxury designers? This has started a loss of the same passion I had for fashion and creatively dressing myself.

    I know that at the point of receiving numerous courtesy items, the blog is essentially considered a business and that makes sense. What I’m mostly frustrated with is that these women’s style’s are being shaped primarily by things given to them and not things chosen/realistically obtained within their lifestyle. That is where courtesy items are frustrating me.

    You would think that fashion bloggers would be particularily senstive to this issue because of the increasing disparity in wealth currently, but I’m not certain they care at this point.

  82. Ahka

    I don’t like it if the whole outfit is made up on c/o… kind of makes the blogger look like they were dressed by a company rather that their own style.

  83. TheFashionistachic

    I am sorry I can’t say I agree. If a company is offering an item wouldn’t they target bloggers who audience falls with in their target market. If this is the case, what is wrong with the blogger sharing the product or service. I love to see different pieces. I decide myself if I like or dislike.

  84. robin

    When I view someone’s post about an object or item I want to see impartiality. It’s hard (not impossible) to be impartial when you are gushing over a giftie from a new found friend who treated you to champagne and a fashion session. Could they be sincerely blown away, yes, but I think the reader can develop a sense of who is sincere over time of reading a blog. I think sometimes we might underrate someone’s ability to discern but I also think over time people develop a sense of judgement that guides them as to who they think is sincere. Do I think gifts should be disclosed, yes. Do I think it’s wrong to sincerely praise something absolutely not.

  85. Apple

    I totally agree. I sued to follow one blogger from the Philippines because I adore the way she dresses up. But lately its becoming to predictable and boring. All her outfits are “gifted” to her. So the real reason now for all her outfit posts are because of that.
    Now I am a blogger too. The dilemma here is, if a supplier sends something I dont like wearing or posting on my blog, how do I refuse without hurting their feelings?