I had to take a moment before putting a title to this post because naming it something more severe might give off the wrong impression, and I didn’t want to make light of something that some people do struggle with.
In short, having a fashion blog contributed to my bad shopping habits… and honestly, created a problem for me.
Before I get into it, I will say that I am the one that swiped the credit card, I made the purchases and no one else forced me to buy things. However, I do feel that the need to maintain my blog and the fashion community and the pressures of being present on social media did have an influence on my spending.
How It Began
In 2008, I was working at Barneys New York as a copywriter. Surrounded by beautiful things from world renowned designers, my love for fashion really evolved. I could never afford the things I would write copy about, but I loved looking at them… and admired women who could shop without guilt and wear anything they wanted with their never-ending budgets.
My sense of style had always been budget thrifty. I did not consider myself to be a girl who loved labels – a Kate Spade New York and Marc Jacobs bag were the only 2 designer things I owned. I was a mall shopper at that point. Stores like Forever 21, the Gap, Urban Outfitters, Macys, Express, Zara and some others were my go-tos. They still are. My style was all about wearing items that looked expensive, but weren’t.
Having a fashion blog meant I needed to create content with accompanying photos. You guessed it – OOTD or outfit of the day posts. This called for reinventing the wheel, coming up with new looks. I posted updates 3 days a week. Keeping up with my blog made me feel like I had to keep things fresh, and I couldn’t recycle the outfits I already wore on House Of Jeffers because with fashion blogging, it’s all about what’s new, what’s current -not what’s on repeat in your closet on a monthly basis. Besides, people don’t want to see you wearing the same outfits over and over again.
So I would go shopping, and the trips to the mall, and the hours of online shopping I did resulted in packages and bags of clothes of various sorts. As a blogger who was really a nobody, I learned through research and attending fashion blogger events that it’s all about what you are wearing now, and what you had on last month was old news. Recycle that outfit? NEVER. Oh, and you will get judged by other bloggers by what you wear. Not ALL, but some do turn their nose up at that. I’m not sorry to say it because it’s the truth in some instances.
During this time, I felt like I wasn’t measuring up to other girls who had nicer clothes (I’ll admit it), bigger budgets that I could not relate to, and the opportunities they seemed to be getting from brands and sponsorships.
I felt like I needed to keep up with the Joneses if I stood a chance of ever getting to their level of success.
2010 – 2014: Shopping All Day, Every Day
As my blog continued throughout the years, I just kept shopping without care.
Standing in front of my closet, I would look at my clothes and felt like what I had wasn’t good enough. I had had other jobs since leaving Barneys, and I was still writing, but my income was not on a dispensable level. Moving to a new place meant my rent went up… all things that are normal for working adults. And we weren’t travelers… did what normal couples – dinner/drinks. Nothing crazy.
My style was still budget friendly, but I started to experiment with my look, and wanted to break away from my own standard of fashion. Sure, fast fashion is great when you want that fix, but the clothes don’t last long. In an attempt to feel like I was investing in my closet, I would buy things that cost a little more money but gave me longevity in terms of wear.
And, I was spending my money on clothes since I had nothing else really going on – no children, no mortgage. And I do love fashion – let’s not let that acknowledgement go unnoticed. Being a “stylish” person is something I pride myself on. I love clothes… but I also have a conscience that took a while to catch up with me.
Root of All Shopping: Instagram
Eventually, Instagram came along, and changed the entire blogging game. Even if you weren’t reading the blogs you followed, you could still see what your favorite style blogger was wearing. Plus, it was a great way to follow trends.
And the photography. And the way an outfit was styled in relation to the location. All of this became the standard. It upped the ante. It made you take notice of your place in blogging… and I took inventory fast.
In a feverous attempt to make my blog bigger, better, and to upgrade my game when it comes to my style, I opened my wallet yet again on clothes, a couple of designer handbags, nicer shoes. This is where online shopping became a normal thing for me. Packages arrived at the house constantly.
Now, you may ask, “Didn’t you budget?” Sort of. I never ever did anything like go on a shopping spree and drop hundreds on clothing at a clip. But I would buy a top here, shoes there… and throughout the month, it would add up. I never really did the math to be honest, but my motto was as long as I am paying my bills (which I was), I could treat myself.
“Treat myself.” That’s what you call it when you can’t stop shopping. Treating yourself. All. The. Time.
And throughout all of this, I’m scrolling through Instagram. Following other bloggers, and seeing their outfits, my own insecurity in my style started to grow. And the fact that I hadn’t really moved up the blogging ladder in 4 years kind of made me feel like I needed to keep up with the Joneses… again. Twitter was full of conversation, too, with bloggers sharing sales, talking about their latest OOTDs, and of course, showing off their latest addition to their wardrobe. Me, I still have shoes that are almost 10 years old, and I don’t own a Chanel bag (the bag of my dreams). So yeah, who’s interested in what I’m wearing?
I can’t say that a professional has told me I have a shopping problem, because I never sought help, but I think I probably did have a problem. Being a fashion blogger comes with pressure to get your style game in check. Afterall, some people are judging you by what you wear. And that comes with the territory. But it doesn’t make me feel any better about the money I spent. At the end of the day, I have a photo of me in a really cute outfit and yes, a cute dress I can wear. Meanwhile, I’m on the brink of buying my first home… and the day you have to hand over a deposit on a house, you will get a reality check, and not one that you can cash if you know what I mean.
The reality check came in the form of the pit of guilt you hear others talk about. When I realized I had spent money on clothes, and bags, and shoes, and jewelry, and makeup so I can have nice blog and Instagram photos, when I should have been saving for more adult things like mortages, a car… I had tremendous guilt and remorse. Don’t get me wrong, I love photography, love meeting other bloggers through Instagram, love the art and creativity that goes into creating content, and love having nice clothes. But I love money in my wallet just a little more. And my children deserve to be spoiled more than I do.
The Epiphany Moment
Yup. I done messed up a bit. But, I have taken a huge step back and realized that it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on your clothes, it how you feel wearing that $12 skirt that matters. Fashion blogging isn’t what it used to be. Lots has changed in terms of the standard of what it means to be a blogger. I keep up with it the best I can, and if anything, having a blog has taught me that I don’t need to be like everyone else. So many times, we has bloggers put our best face forward, often not speaking about the not so sunny moments of life. Transparency. We need it. Readers deserve it. I am taking a big step towards it after the lesson I learned. I’m happy to say I am now proud to put money in my wallet versus wearing it. I won’t say I’m not shopping anymore, but I have curbed it to the point that I’m happy to look in my closet and see beauty and possibilities for the next OOTD.