2017 has been in full swing for the last week, yet here I am dilly dallying on getting the first post of the year published. Why? I struggled (and continue to struggle) with putting my thoughts into words. Taking a break from blogging over the winter break gave me a chance to reflect on how crazy 2016 really was. Last year, I found myself struggling to balance between spending my free time blogging vs keeping up a social life vs personal time for myself. While it may be obvious for some to draw boundaries and let creative outlets (i.e. this blog) fall to the back burner, I started to feel the pressures of not wanting to get left behind
in the blogging world.
(April 2016: Adventures in the city)
As a blogger who started before blogging was even seen as a plausible career, I’ve seen and felt the pressures of constantly staying on trend, making frequent posts, all whilst staying active on social media. While the balancing act of maintaining a regularly updated blog was doable between my full time jobs in the past, 2016 proved to be much harder. I was on and off the road for work almost every 2-3 weeks. When on the road, I would be at my job for 12+ hour days, falling asleep immediately after walking in the door to my hotel room. All I wanted to do when I was home was cuddle my cat, catch up with friends, spend time with my significant other, and fold warm laundry fresh out of the dryer. There would be full weekends that I would completely avoid checking my inbox or social media because I wanted to be unplugged and enjoy being present for those around me. It’s the little things that help to keep me sane and grounded.
The little time that I had set aside to blog is when I felt the pressure most. I will always be grateful for all of the sponsors and brands who choose to work with me. With bloggers on the rise, I know there are endless options of influencers to choose from and I am ecstatic when my aesthetic and voice matches that of a brand’s.
When I look back on these posts, I feel two things. One, I feel like 80% of last year’s posts were billboards for partners because at least one piece of most of the outfits were c/o. Two, in what spare time I had, I wouldn’t prioritize my blog unless I had an obligation to (i.e. had a post with c/o items that had a deadline) which is what lead to the previous point. While 2016 was the best year for collaborations, I also wish I didn’t feel the obligation to blog because of said partnerships. That pressure of keeping up with collaborations because I saw other bloggers working with them, having the latest and greatest, etc, played a big role.
(March 2016: Kickin’ it with the cool kids)
Specifically to fashion, 2016 was a transformational year for me. Not because I was the trendiest or because I provided inspirational outfits… it’s actually the total opposite of that. One thing that I didn’t talk about on the blog at all was how I cut fast fashion in 2016. I stopped shopping at places like H&M, Forever 21, etc, because I didn’t want to (or have time to) stay up to date on the latest and greatest fashion trends. After a 2-year long process of minimizing and rebuilding my wardrobe, I had found my own groove for style and learned how to be creative without owning hundreds of pieces to mix and match between.
Instead of supporting fast fashion, I opted to thrift majority of my new closet additions (I’d say about 70% of “new” pieces were thrifted) and made investments in pricier pieces that I knew I would wear more often. I was also lucky enough to work with brands that encompassed the same values of slow fashion, or quality clothing at realistic prices, which helped to keep my clothing budget in check.
Although I added a handful of new pieces as I rebuilt my wardrobe, none of them were real showstoppers. Majority of the pieces were either elevated basics or “plain staples” (like black ankle booties) that wouldn’t turn any heads on the blog or in the real world. There were often times that I would question, “Will people keep reading this blog if I keep sharing the same pieces in my closest over and over again?” “Maybe I should buy a lace-up hoodie because that’s what everyone else seems to be wearing… even though I have no idea where I would ever wear this to in real life.”
To my surprise, even with slowing down on the pace of purchasing and the avenue I chose to buy “new” clothing from, I somehow continued to grow my readership and trust with you all. It was great to have honest conversations in the comments or on Instagram about closet woes (like this post about finding a jacket in the back of my closet that I forgot about for 2 years… it’s since been re-homed to a good friend who’s worn it more times in the last 2 months that I have in the last 2 years) and being accepting of the fact that not all bloggers’ lives and closets are perfect.
Even though I may not be the most fashion-forward style blogger, I hope to bring a new perspective in 2017. I’m excited to be more transparent about the thrift finds and budgeting that I’ve set for myself in the clothing category this year. Part of having a budget for clothes is to force myself to continue to be a conscious consumer… the other part is the fact that I’m also now cognizant of finances required to have a wedding. ;)
I also strive to be a more authentic blogger, sharing the good and the bad for purchases that I make. As a blogger, it’s easy to share praises for brands or products that I personally vouch for, but there are equal amounts of products that I buy on my own and try and don’t have such a “sunshine and rainbows” experience with, but have been historically too nervous to post a negative review about in fear of losing potential collaboration opportunities over.
Phew! If you’ve made it this far– thank you for sticking it out! This is the longest blog post I’ve written to date, but also the most transparent and vulnerable I’ve ever felt before hitting the “Publish” button. Thank you for always reading and supporting this creative passion project of mine. I can’t thank you enough for following along on the journey and am excited to keep styling and posting work that I am genuinely-from-the-bottom-of-my-heart-excited and proud to share!