This is farewell (not goodbye)


It’s been 7 years since I started this blog. SEVEN YEARS! Can you believe it? I think back to why I started this blog and what my intentions were back then, how the topics evolved as I continued to grow, and where the blog is today. It was never my intention for this blog to become a style blog, but that’s where my passions at the time took me. It was originally through being such an avid reader of fashion blogs and then mustering up the courage to participate in Kendi’s 30×30 challenge that got me to start documenting my outfits. It was that very moment that opened my world to the wonderful community of style bloggers!

For the first few years, I remember how exciting it was to run around the city with my tripod, DSLR, and a wireless remote, trying to find tucked-away corners of the city to take photos in (it still makes me nervous to take photos on busy sidewalks today!). It was always such a fun challenge to put together new outfits too! Nothing made me more excited back then to shop, style, and then plan content for this blog. Some of my fondest memories are bonding with old roommates, friends, and embarrassingly, sometimes even my coworkers(!), to help snap outfit photos.

With that said, my relationship with this blog has definitely changed and evolved over the years. Around the 2015 time is when the content of this blog started to shift away from being purely about the clothes and started to incorporate more travel and lifestyle too. As my personal style started to steady out and plateau (hello closet full of denim, basic tees, and not much else), I felt like the content of this blog did too. Unlike other style bloggers, I was having a hard time staying inspired both in the clothing and the writing department. Because my mindset towards clothes switched gears from following the latest and greatest trends and more towards building a budget-friendly lifestyle, this started to change the way I looked at the blog as well.

There were many times I struggled with getting a post up. It’s really obvious in the months that I was only able to write once a week, if even that. I went through so many cycles of writer’s block and feeling like I needed to find new ways to keep myself motivated – but also competitive, creative, inspiring, etc – with the growth of other bloggers that eventually I had to take a step back and ask myself, “Why am I still writing this blog if it brings me so much heartache?”

The blogging landscape has changed so much since the early days of The Demure Muse. Back then, being a full time blogger wasn’t even a possibility! Nowadays, there are platforms trying to sell the idea of becoming an influencer overnight by buying fake followers to keep up the facade, brands who try to swindle free creative work, and a constant battle with Instagram on how to push content to the top of a feed, because anyone can be an “influencer” these days. This is not why I started my blog (I never intended to influence… just wanted a space to write and share thoughts) and I just don’t have the desire to “compete” in this way.

With all of that said, I’ve always loved having a blog because of the community that came with it and my little corner of the internet to share things I’ve learned. It’s funny because even though the majority of the content on this blog’s archives is outfit posts, the posts that have resonated the most with people are the resource posts. The most pinned posts on Pinterest to this date are: How to restore a vintage purse, recipe for mac n cheese bites (throwback to 2012!), tips for buying vintage bags online, the good, bad, and ugly of buying IG followers, and a review for rosehip seed oil.

Thinking back to all of the most popular posts, these were my favourite ones to write! Nothing makes me more excited than to share resources and starting a dialog about topics we’re truly passionate about. For that very reason, I’m taking a step back from this blog. After thinking long and hard about transitioning The Demure Muse to be a resource blog, the archived content just feels so disjointed from what I’m truly passionate about learning and writing about moving forward.

Looking back on the last 7 years, I can’t even begin to describe how incredible of a learning experience writing here as been. Thank you for all the support and encouragement. I’ve learned so much about styling, photography, social media, etc etc etc, that I would’ve never had the opportunity to learn otherwise. To everyone who read this blog, emailed, commented, and collaborated, you’ll never know how much it all meant (and still means) to me. This blog has been a complete labour of love, born of out my need for a constant creative outlet.

This is farewell, but not goodbye. I’ll be over here at steady catalog.

Clothing budget recap: August 2017

august 2017 - clothing budget recap

This month was a pricey one! August is actually going to be my last month of sharing my clothing budget recaps (more on this next week) so I guess it’s ok to go out with a bang? haha! This is how I’m going to justify it, anyway. A few things contributed to impulsive buys: Nordstrom’s anniversary sale, Keiko Lynn‘s closet sale, and needing new work pants for the Summer because I couldn’t take the heat in jeans every day anymore.

Purchased new
1. Seychelles Dwelling Bootie – $90 $30 (exact)
These booties were on sale for $90 during the anniversary sale (currently back to regular price at $140) and I ended up using $60 in Nordstrom Notes to get them for $30. I absolutely love the simplicity of the design of these booties. The only piece I overlooked was the fact that they’re suede. Looking at the fabric contents, I had assumed they would be finished leather but they’re not. Currently debating returning these, tbh, because I don’t know if they’ll be good enough to hold up to the rainy Seattle Fall/Winters.

2. Paperbag high waisted pants – $18 (exact)
Been loving high waisted pants – mainly for their ability to hide food babies – and fell in love with this style when I saw a friend style a similar pair in khaki last month. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect for $18 on Amazon for these pants, but they really surprised me! The fabric is a bit on the thinner and stretchy side, which makes them perfect for the Summer.

3. Cropped culottes – $18 (exact)
Another cute pair of pants from Amazon ftw! I really love these and wear them more often than I care to admit (although somehow avoided taking photos of them styled all month). The only design miss on these pants are the lack of pockets! Otherwise, I love wearing these with a cropped tee or tucked in blouses for work.

Thrifted
These two dresses (or tunics? Not quite sure what to make of their lengths yet) were purchased from Keiko Lynn’s IG closet sale earlier this month. Keiko was one of the first bloggers I ever followed more than 10 years ago, so it’s always exciting whenever she opens up her closet for people to shop!

I picked up the Free People Tell Tale lace tunic (which was just rereleased as the Secret Origins Pieced Tunic, or in a sleeveless version) and the Free People Lou Lou babydoll dress (exact). Both of these dresses, after shipping, hit me at a $100 price tag, which is still waaaaaay less had I bought them at retail price.

August total: $166

Definitely did not mean to spend on anything beyond pants for work this month, but here we are. Impulsive purchases galore! Somehow still managed to come under budget (thanks to hoarding Nordstrom Notes).

Real talk: Verified authentic followers on Instagram

If you’re on Instagram and following a lot of style bloggers, you may have seen a slew of IG stories last week of folks posting about their “Verified authentic followings”. The topic of authentic followers is such a fascinating one from multiple perspectives. As a blogger with a smaller – but very loyal and engaged (thank you!!) – following, I’m always fascinated by accounts that can grow 10K+ followers in short periods of time. I know there are a lot of ways to grow a following (I wrote about buying Instagram followers earlier this year), but it’s sometimes hard to tell whether or not the followers are real. I’m going to be digging into this realness in today’s post!

instastory-fohrcard-thedemuremuse

Before we dive in on the “verified following” cards (above) that all the bloggers were posting in their stories last week, let’s bring some context to this story. These IG story “cards” that everyone posted were created by a company named Fohr Card. Fohr is a platform that connects brands to creative storytellers (aka bloggers) for collaborations by aggregating all of the blogger’s stats across platforms (IG, Pinterest, Twitter, etc), stack ranking them against other bloggers in their categories, and giving access to this list to brands to determine who to select for a campaign.

To be clear, I have never received a sponsorship deal through Fohr, so I don’t have first hand experience on how campaign matching works. However, I do have an account on the Fohr platform because I like their simplified dashboard for showing stats. Fohr is also one of the first companies to try to break down a blogger’s following by engagement level, which, as a stats and data geek, I am really drawn to!

Earlier this year, Fohr released a tool that claimed to analyze a blogger’s Instagram following. If you have a Fohr account, you can connect your IG account to see your own stats. It took about 2 weeks to “analyze the following”, but this is the graph I got:

Fohr_IG_analyzer

Super fascinating, eh? It was really interesting for me to see that I’m below average on bots and lurker accounts (woo!) and skewed much higher on the active followers (yippee!). What I’m stumped on is how this information was calculated and if all of my followers were analyzed to produce this info. Or was only a subset of my followers analyzed and then extrapolated? Is this the same data set that was used to decide which bloggers did (or did not) receive those “Authentic following” cards posted on IG stories?

Naturally, when something like this is flooding the blogosphere, bloggers talk about it. In the particular community that I’m connected in, we were starting to see a mixed opinion on whether or not to post these Fohr “Verified followers” cards. Some people thought it was cool because a lot of larger bloggers were posting them. Others said they felt like the bloggers who they saw posting the card were ones that had been accused of buying followers previously– like this card was a way to justify their aggressive follower growth.

Because you know I like data and like to backup my arguments… this post is about to get real juicy with a real example use case of someone who posted and what their “authentic following” really looks like!

(more…)

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Seattle Art Museum

One thing I was really excited to come home to see after being in India for a couple of weeks was Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. Some of the pieces showcased in this exhibit were conceptualized starting in the 1960s and continued to evolve to the present day! Advanced tickets for the exhibit were sold out almost immediately after the dates for showcase at SAM were announced (June 30 – Sept 10, 2017), and only tickets to be purchased on the day-of are available. Here are some sneak peaks of what you’ll see being exhibited and some tips for your visit!

InfinityMirrors_SAM
SAM_YayoiKusama_InfinityMirrors
This probably goes without saying, but Kusama’s work is incredible to see in person! There are 6 Infinity Rooms that you can immerse yourself in. Aside from the 360 mirror-surrounded repetition rooms and kaleidoscope boxes, The Obliteration Room is interactive one where you have the opportunity to participate in the making of the art by adding dot stickers to the walls, floor, and furniture!

SAM_YayoiKusama_InfinityMirrors_Seattle

I won’t ruin all the fun surprises for you (there are a lot of original artwork pieces also on display between the Infinity Rooms), so here are some tips for planning your visit to the SAM for the Infinity Mirrors Exhibit:

Arrive early for tickets!

Since the advanced tickets are all sold out, only a limited number of day-of tickets are available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis. The SAM opens at 10am everyday (except for Tuesday, as it’s closed), so plan to brave the ticket lines early. Each person can only purchase a maximum of 4 tickets.

Try to avoid bringing a backpack

If you can avoid it, leave your backpack (or large bag) at home. Most small crossbody purses will be ok to bring in, but anything larger will have to be checked into bag check. I was lucky enough to be able to take my backpack into the museum under the condition that I carried it on my front (or in my arms) the whole time. This is more a safety precaution for the art than anything else, so to avoid waiting in more lines, I’d recommend leaving the bag at home if you can!

Get shutter happy!

You’re allotted 30 seconds per Infinity Room. I was definitely not prepared for how quickly 30 seconds flies by! If you’re planning to take photos while in the rooms, have your camera on and ready to go shutter happy before you enter. Lighting may be a bit tricky to adjust for, as lighting is different in every room, but if you really want to get the shot, you can always queue up again to experience the room.
*Note: There is one room – the Pumpkin room – where photography is prohibited and you’ll be followed in by a security guard. This is the newest – and coolest, imo – addition to the Infinity Rooms.

Have fun!! This is such an incredible exhibit and I am so grateful that Seattle is one of the cities to get to experience it.

Disclosure: A HUGE thank you to the Seattle Art Museum team who made this visit possible. We were lucky enough to see all of the Infinity Rooms and exhibits as press – while still adhering to the same guidelines that ticket holders do – to share with you our experience as well as the tips for how to best prepare for your visit.

Clothing budget recap: July 2017

clothing budget recap: July 2017
The month of July has been a really incredible one! Thanks to being out of the country for majority of it, shopping was kept quite light. I had originally intended to see if I could avoid adding to my closet altogether this month. As luck would have it, the bottom of my everyday backpack (the one in this post), purchased in the Summer of 2015, was starting to wear a hole. This started my hunt for a new backpack!

Purchased new
1. RAINS minimalist waterproof backpack: $100 (exact)
It took me a while to chase this backpack down. After passing a handful of people on the street during my commute to/from work carrying this backpack, I knew it was the one for me. The outer shell is vinyl, making it perfect for the rainy Seattle days. The design is so sleek and holds the contents in really compactly, which will be awesome for riding the bus on busy days (my previous backpack bulged as soon as any item was placed in it). There’s a laptop compartment and one zippered pocket on the backside by the straps, which is the perfect size and location for my wallet, keys, etc.

Thrifted
1. ASOS ruffle sleeve top – $6 (similar)
I can’t say the ruffle neckline tops have been a bit hit in my personal books this season, but I’ve been really loving the silhouettes of the ruffle sleeves. Right before heading to India, I found the top in this post and added it to my luggage just a couple days before heading out on the trip. This top ended up being perfect for the hot days while still being work appropriate.

2. J.Crew airspun baseball sweater tee – $4 (similar)
This half linen, half cotton sweater was again purchased for the India trip. I really wanted to find work appropriate tops with sleeves that would be breathable for the hot and humid days. This sweater tee was perfect for just that!

3. LA Cotton wrap sweater – $2.50
The sweater pictured isn’t exactly the same style as the one I purchased, but close! Instead of the wrap bottom, there’s a banded hem. While I won’t be able to wear this sweater any time soon, I’m excited to have another mohair sweater in my closet for the cooler Fall/Winter days to come. Off-season thrifting brings out a ton of gems!

I was really hoping to avoid shopping in July, but here we are… On the bright side, I’ve still managed to stay under my $200 budget! Check out previous clothing budget recap posts here.

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