Tag: Blogging

I Miss Style Blogs

“Create your own style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.” 
― Anna Wintour

Quick question, those of you kittens interested in fashion, beauty and style: which bloggers and channels have you followed for years, and why? I’ve unfollowed a lot of style blogs over the years–not because I don’t like or want to support them as a medium, but because I’ve gradually found so many of them to be less and less interesting or unique. In fact, in retrospect, I think I have tended to unsubscribe in batches when I just get bored of certain sites. I saw too much repetition, too much similarity of content, and too many overlapping aesthetics. Instagram and other social media have compounded the problem, both in the fashion and beauty spaces and (off the back of a chat with Katarina), I’ve been thinking about this lately in the wake of last month’s Week of Outfits project.

Frankly, I miss the “old” style blogs of about a decade ago. The ones where (mostly) women and girls crafted unique and instantly recognizable fashion senses, sometimes with a lot of money but often without. I never begrudged them the odd PR gift or contract because I trusted them to blend the items they received for free into the style they had taken the time to publicly develop, curate and share.

Of COURSE there are still people out there creating beautiful images and good writing around style and beauty, but I’m surprised by how few writers and videographers I follow now than what I used to. There are plenty of stylish (mostly) women out there who do really good and thoughtful writing about style but the rise of monetization and blogger-directed PR has complicated the kind of writing I see. The beauty space is sort of notorious for this. You can tell exactly when the PR machine has kicked in for a new launch because quite suddenly every single blogger and YouTuber will produce content raving about a product or line at exactly the same time, usually using very similar language. NARS just launched a new mascara and every beauty blogger and their photographer boyfriend seems to have ended up in Ibiza for the press party. I don’t necessarily begrudge them their good fortune either…but I’m not going to watch a dozen vlogs of the same event featuring the same people and rave reviews of a product they couldn’t possibly have road tested.

In some ways this new reality isn’t massively different from the magazine model, but I think that blogs and magazines are different platforms in key ways and that has always informed the kind of coverage they did. For a long time, editors were seen as arbiters not just of good taste and style, but also good judgement and trusted recommendations. PR has obviously affected this too and it is increasingly easy to either see or at least make informed guesses about how PR money is influencing coverage.

I get it, it was always sort of inevitable that a full blown business model would emerge around “influencers,” and as I’ve said I don’t really fault the women who are able to make livings off of it. Good for them! I sure as hell don’t think I could do it! But I still miss that era of internet writing and visual display all the same.

A few writers and YouTubers I still follow these days include…

Audrey a la Mode – writes about and films content on “slow fashion” and thoughtful shopping. Because her style is fairly classic, she is able to really demonstrate the value of second hand shopping and building an intentional wardrobe. A lot of her outfits are straight from Town and Country at any point in the last 50 years, but her content has always struck me as very authentic and genuine.

Where Did You Get That – equally enthusiastic about vintage and ready to wear, her enthusiasm for shopping and style is infectious and, because she makes a point to mix old and new pieces and buy what she loves, she has cultivated her own aesthetic. She loves clothes and it shows.

Sea of Shoes – one of the OG style bloggers who is famously eclectic in her tastes, mixing couture and eBay finds.

The Anna Edit – a British beauty blogger who has since branched out into a lot of style and lifestyle content, but one I’ve followed for a long time. She’s another example of a blogger who has maintained what feels like a very authentic and consistent voice, which I like, and she also writes thoughtfully on mindful consumerism and how she makes certain business choices.

The Frugality – Alex is another British blogger who I’ve met and briefly got some work experience overlap with in my freelance days at Red Magazine. These days she a full time freelance stylist and writer, who blogs about style but also the London home she and her husband are renovating together with a newborn in tow.

I clearly have certain “types” when it comes to the women I follow. I am interested in self-aware and authentic women who like what they like without excuses, and are intelligent and intentional about their lives and respective styles. I am interested in women who have something to show or say, and not just sell.

So again, who do you follow in the “style and beauty” world, and why? What about their content speaks to you? Let’s chat in the comments.

What’s In My Makeup Bag?

“You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning.”
– Diana Vreeland

Inspired by a recent lunch break at the office where all the ladies (and a dude or two) began touching up their lips and faces in some way, which in turn descended into an enthusiastic rifle through and review of our mutual makeup bags and pockets, I thought I’d do an old school post and open mine up again on the blog.

Cosmetics or personal care products are intimate objects and I love posts or videos where writers, editors, or vloggers show what they carry around with them and why. Most of use use something and most of us enjoy learning what other people use. It feels like the camaraderie you get in the ladies room when you realize you are out of or forgot a key item and some fabulous member of the sisterhood graciously offers you what you need from her stash. It’s collective problem solving and sharing. It’s also just kind of fun to get a glimpse into someone’s personal likes. So with that…

This bag is a gift from X who, of course, understands me on a spiritual level. Why wouldn’t a girl want to store her face in a bag festooned with images of the danse macabre?!

Spill it!

The utilitarian bits! I carry a tiny sewing kit and safety pins on my person most of the time, you’d be amazed at how often a safety pin will get you out of a jam. My current kit is from Muji and contains everything I need to manage a hem, button, or minor rip at least temporarily. In terms of practical cosmetics, I schlep around a travel sized dry shampoo for days when my hair just needs some help, mints, blotting papers, a sample sized vial of fragrance, some moisturizer and lip balm. The Glossier balm is basically fancy Vaseline, but it’s one of the few coconut flavored/scented products that I like so I’m using it up before sourcing recommendations from my Girl Squad. My perfume vial is also Glossier which I also really like especially for its price point–I have much nicer scents but I won’t risk them in the warzone that is my work bag. I’ve spared you the feminine hygiene products, but obviously. I don’t know why I require two hand mirrors except for the fact that one has Anne Boleyn on it and that’s good enough to make it a necessity for me.

If you’ve ever glanced at my Instagram, I frequently post confessions about how many lipsticks I have on my person at any given moment at the weekend when I’m clearing out my bag and getting set up for the coming work week. I was not at all surprised to find five lipsticks plus a gloss when I upended my bag: a red, a plum, and two nudes (one pinkish and one more orange-y). Look, you never know when you need to switch up your look during a day or evening, ok?!

My other bits and pieces are much more streamlined with just a concealer, blush, and mascara. I love sample size mascaras, they are so handy to slip into a travel or work bag. I only own two concealers and am lucky enough that on really rushed mornings I can make due without foundation in a pinch. The cream blush is Victoria Beckham for Estee Lauder and was heinously expensive, but has turned out to be a brilliant purchase give how much I use it. If Posh does another edition of cosmetics, and I assume she will, I hope she brings this back because I am definitely going to use mine up and will want to replace it when it’s gone. Two of those lipsticks I’m trying to use up by the end of the year and I’m reasonably confident that I’ll do so.

What are the products or items you carry around with you day to day–products, totems, treasures, or lipstick?

Ugh. Stand By.

PSA post for all and sundry. Photobucket, my previous 3rd party image hosting platform has (very suddenly and without any warning to me) apparently decided to pull this service and charge several hundred dollars to reinstate and use it moving forward. I’m not going to be doing this, and will have to find another place to store my photos.

Unfortunately I have several years worth of blog content and images connected to this platform and switching it all over to a new host and correcting now broken links is going to take me a lot of time. And an awful lot of swearing.

In the meantime, if things look a little wonky around here for the foreseeable future, that’s what’s up.

Quick Check In

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
― Henry David Thoreau

In my 101/1001 list I have a number of goals that seem to fall into themes, and picking an overarching theme (“Money”) to write about publicly and focus on personally for a month has been a great way to jump start my creative energy towards some personal development. I’m on track to tick off a lot of these individual goals in January. Plus, it’s been fun! I’ve enjoyed putting together a series of posts on a single topic over a month tremendously. I’m thinking of trying to do this or similar projects often throughout year.

And so, SDS Nation, lend me your thoughts in the comments and let me know what you’ve liked about this project, didn’t like, or want to see more of moving forward on this and other topics. Health, style, more adventures in finance, what would you like to read and talk about here?

Highlight Reel

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
– Benjamin Franklin

I am on record as being one of the many who believes that 2016 was rough and occasionally worthy of the moniker “dumpster fire.” But looking back, there were some amazing personal highs that I wanted to revisit in looking forward to 2017. It’s going to be a big year, but it also is going to have some big shoes to fill. What were some of your highlights of 2016? Let’s have a victory-sharing and mutual pat-on-the-back session to get the new year rolling!

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Reckon I earned a few of these this year.

We went to New York City to see X.

We also went to Spain for the first time.

We also spent several long weekends with unbelievably charming friends and hosts.

Jeff got me tickets to Beyonce’s Formation World Tour.

I turned 30.

I wrote some of my most personal posts in nearly a decade of blogging. I actually didn’t write nearly as much as I should have or wanted to this year for a variety of reasons, but I’m already making headway on rectifying that moving forward.

Sending Up the Online/Freelancer/Blogger Batsignal

“If you need help bark like a dog.”
“That’s stupid. If I need help I’ll shout help.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

Friends, readers, country-minions, lend me your thoughts!

One of my big goals this year is to upgrade this blog into a site. A simple one perhaps, but a site nonetheless. It’s served me well for nigh on seven years now (clutches self a bit to realize that) and it’s overdue some maintenance and love. I’ve been studying up on this for months now, probably closer to a year, but I still feel out of my depth and recently I realized that I’ve neglected a potentially killer source of expertise on this: you guys!

So tell me, have you made the leap from a .wordpress or .blogspot to a full on .com domain or known someone who has? How did you make decisions about hosting and other concerns? Was design an issue for you, and if so how did you solve them? Did you hire a brilliant friend or professional to help you transition or did you do it yourself? Any good founts of knowledge I should know about?

Direct me, kittens.

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2013 In Review

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

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The lesson of this year has been: just go for it. You’ll be amazed at what happens. (via)

I’ve been taking the holidays off of writing and even some time off work, but I’m looking forward to diving straight back into work next year – AKA tomorrow. I’ve got some great adventure tales coming your way! In the meantime I’m goofing off with Jeff during his vacation days, reveling in the unseasonably bright and clear weather, and eating the massive amounts of leftovers from our Christmas cooking.

2013 was a big year. First and foremost, we made it to London after years of work and planning finally paid off, Jeff started his job in the City, and I’m working for myself as a writer – the dream literally since I was a child. Frankly I have no idea what 2014 will hold, I’m not sure how the past couple of years can possibly be topped…but if I know the sneaky universe, they will. In spectacular style. So, here’s 2013 in review.

Early this year, we were thrown a massive wrench when we were told Jeff’s start date was not going to be in April…but in September. We rallied, but it did shake up the first quarter!

Even though I was really looking forward to moving onto the next thing, the last few months of my unintentional first career in law enforcement support afforded me a few opportunities to speak bluntly about some issues that need better and less sensationalized coverage than they often get.

Our annual Oscar Gown Review brought out the usual minion debate – which I adore! Not sure how it’s going to work this year, but it’s going to happen.

I got a chance to participate in a storytelling event!

I dove into freelancing, and got a chance to look back as I looked forward.

We packed up and moved out of the flat we lived in since we got married on the first leg of our long awaited move to London.

I went to Virginia to mind the house while my mother did a course in ancient Greek, and spent summer with my family in the East Coast Countryside. I got to introduce the minions to my clan a bit more, and did we frolic!

I contributed to a story for the New York Times, and got my first major byline in the Grey Lady herself!

Finally – FINALLY – we moved to London. After a year of waiting and so many hiccups, we were finally here. We wasted no time in enjoying the city together before Jeff started his job.

We celebrated our 4th anniversary.

We kept exploring the city and I loved introducing some of the best finds to you guys.

And finally, settled down a bit, both working and finally in London, we enjoyed our first proper holiday season on our own.

It’s been a whirlwind, crazy up and down, roller coaster of a year. Thanks, kittens, for sticking around through it. 2014 beckons, tell me what you’ve accomplished this past year, and what 2014 will hold for you!

I Was Not Born Under An Icing Planet (or, New Buddies)

“My mother used to say that there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet. She’s now in a maximum security twilight home in Australia.”
― Dame Edna Everage (aka, the formidable Barry Humphries)

Something that I only really became aware of in the last year or so as we were gearing up for our move (finally!) to London, was the expat blogging community, and the local friends they’d made via it, based in London itself. I started reading a few, mostly to find travel tips for some of the places and countries we wanted to visit, but I really enjoyed a handful of them and kept reading. I liked Aspiring Kennedy especially, and many of her friends, so when the writer behind it (Lauren) announced that she was organizing a meetup for people who wrote blogs, read them, or just who just happened to stumble upon her post that day, I signed up immediately.*

It was held at the Biscuiteer’s Notting Hill boutique. They specialize in seriously stylish iced biscuits (cookies to Yanks), and the whole troupe of us got to ice our own while drinks were passed and chats could develop.

My first foray turned out...largely as I would expect.
My first foray turned out…largely as I would expect.
Take two was much improved.
Take two was much improved.
The others' offerings were superior to an almost hilarious degree.
The other offerings were superior to an almost hilarious degree.

I’m sure I came off as the most ridiculous person there, I was just so eager to socialize with actual, breathing people that some awkwardness must have been the result. Lately my work pace has been such that there are days I never leave the flat. Productive, yes. Inclined to make me hyperactive, definitely. The only cure is human contact and I’ve been getting but little of it. The result was something like puppy-ish over-exuberance. Calm it down, C.!

It’s usually in meeting people that my life experience is thrown into sharp relief. Among other cultural issues, I can’t answer the basic question, “Where are you from?” satisfactorily. It’s always fun to talk about adventures growing up, but I often feel like a bit of an odd duck after introductions. Luckily these lovely girls didn’t seem to mind and we were soon swapping stories like pros. Some of them are in London for their own work, their partners’ work, as students, as permanent expats, or just passing through. We were quite a diverse bunch.

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Regardless of my undoubted exuberance, I had a really great time and met some impressive ladies to introduce you to:

Ruth from the Planned Adventure (a fellow freelancer, we had much to commiserate on)
Amber from Nouveau (whose style, taste, and dog I covet)
LilyBelle from Honey on the Ground (the blog name apparently came from a sermon her grandfather once preached, which I think is fantastic)
Alexandra (who doesn’t blog anymore but who does work for Diane von Furstenburg, which is exceptionally neat!)
Teri from The Lovely Drawer (a girl with a wonderful eye!)
Katie from The Schwinds (a fabulous girl who is packing as much Europe into a year as possible and with whom I shared a Tube ride home and a lovely long chat)

And more who I didn’t get names or cards from but really hope to meet up with again. I think it was really lovely of Lauren to foster a little community building, goodness knows lots of people (expats or not) could do with it sometimes. All in all, a delightful evening and much needed.

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* I’m unsure if I fit the qualifications of being “A Blogger” (caps, please note), most of the bloggers I know have exquisite platforms and expertise while the goal of my writing is largely just to tell stories and share adventures. Regardless, I wanted to meet some of these fabulous people and was really glad I did.