Basics that every fashion blogger owns.

My dad has a special name for UGG boots. He calls them “Ugg-ly” boots. “You can’t say UGG without saying ‘ugh’,” He says. “It’s part of the name!” #DadJokes

For the record, he wasn’t just wandering around the mall searching for UGH boots (ugh, now even I’m doing it) – UGG BOOTS, he passed by them while we were Christmas shopping in Macy’s two years ago and felt the need to comment when I told him that I needed a new pair. 

Yep. I’ve been saving that joke for two years, guys. 

Not really. But that memory popped into my head today while I was – once again – Christmas shopping in Macy’s and passed by the shoe section where they’re ALWAYS ON DISPLAY. “Should I get a pair of UGGs?”, I thought to myself. “Do I *need* a pair of UGGs? Am I too old to wear UGGs? WILL I wear them? Are they still trendy?”

Were they ever trendy? I mean, really? Because the only time I can remember it being socially acceptable to wear them was back in college when it was socially acceptable to wear them with leggings and a NorthFace jacket on your way to class. 

And – before you can say anything, I would just like to point out that – OF COURSE I was one of those girls in college who wore UGG boots, leggings, and a NorthFace jacket on her way to class. I mean, really – did you expect anything else? If you held any sort of notion that I wasn’t a 100% basic pumpkin-spice-latte-and-UGG-boots kind of girl in my early twenties…. then, I’m touched. I truly am. But you’re giving me wayyyy too much credit. 

I *wanted* to be basic in college. It was practically a compliment. 

I don’t know why. “Oh. You think I look like everyone else? Well – if everyone else is wearing it, then it must be okay! So, THANK YOU!” 

Sure. Thanks. I’m trying to fit in. Thank you for noticing and acknowledging the fact that I look like everyone else. Mission accomplished. Thank you. 

I’m going off on a tangent here. I should also point out that I started telling a nice story about Christmas shopping, and – whilst Christmas shopping – seeing some expensive boots that I wanted to buy…FOR MYSELF. Apparently I’ve mentally added “meeee!” to the Christmas list of people I have to buy for. 

Oh, stop. Like you guys don’t do it too. 

Maybe you don’t. Congratulations. You’re a better person than I am. 

I mean, I didn’t BUY the UGGs, so it’s not like you’re not THAT much better than I am. But I thought about it. Because they looked sooo comfy. And because they reminded me of a simpler time when I could wear sweatshirts and leggings every day of the week and spend Friday night cozied up under a blanket with my Marketing 101 book and Christmas movies playing in the background. 

Look. I’m not saying I want to go back to to college. As I write this – I’m cozied up under a blanket on the couch with the Chicago Bears game on in the background, so it’s not really THAT different. But still. UGGs, man. Whatever happened to UGGs? 

Whatever happened to UGGs? I don’t know, Jenn – whatever happened to being a college student who doesn’t wear real pants? 

I had the bar set HIGH for myself as a college student when I thought about my post-college style.  “Once I have a real job, I’ll look professional ALL. THE. TIME.” I thought. “I’ll be an adult. I’ll dress like an adult. It’ll be great!”

You guys, I literally thought I was going to dress like Olivia Pope every day of the week. 

Neutrals. Classic pieces. Polished looks. Clean cut. 

It turns out, my style ended up somewhere in the middle. Not quite college-senior-during-finals-week, but not yet Olivia Pope. I’m working it. I’ve come a long way from messy buns and leggings every day of the week, so I think I deserve SOME credit, okay?

It’s easy to get caught up in the trends – but the key to looking polished is working with the basics. A fashion blogger can build an entire outfit around something as simple as a basic black camisole. Invest in the basics and you’ll have a stylish outfit ready for any occasion! 

How to stop buying clothes you never wear.

I’m searching for a new purse, “for winter”. A black chainlink cross-body purse, to be exact. I don’t know what winter has to do with it – but I saw some girl in a movie wearing a grey peacoat with a black chainlink cross-body purse and black high-heel booties with big sunglasses and a long black and white scarf, and I was like “That’s it! THAT’S what I want to look like this winter!” 

I don’t know where this comes from. I don’t know why I see a random stranger in a made-for-tv movie and think that I have to change up my entire look for a season. It just happens. It happened with Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill when I suddenly decided I needed a leather jacket. It happened with Serena Van Der Woodsen on Gossip Girl when I decided that my “new style” should be “boho chic New Yorker-y”. It’s even happened with YouTubers. After watching two hours of Carly Cristman videos, I committed to only wearing neutral colors for a year. A WHOLE YEAR. 

My entire wardrobe has been decided by fictional characters and people that I’ve never met in real life. That’s probably normal, right? 

The worst part is that there is a tiny part of me (a TINY, tiny part of – the part that hears a noise in the middle of the night and is convinced there’s a murderer outside) truly believes that this new jacket or scarf or pair of tan suede boots is going to alter my identity. I mean – not totally, it’s not like I think I’m going to become a transformer just because I’m wearing new skinny jeans with fake pockets – but like… a little. 

“These jeans would make me look so skinny!” I think to myself. “I could wear with them with anything! People will see me on the street and think, ‘wow! look at that super skinny girl!…'” I don’t know why my thoughts consider other people looking at me and commenting that I’m skinny. This motivation doesn’t seem to work when I need to go to the gym – but spending $50 on jeans? Totally. “But I need new jeans anyway!,” I think to myself. ” I mean… sure I have jeans at home, that I CAN wear… ‘TECHNICALLY’… but they’re not THESE jeans. I don’t have THESE jeans at home. Therefore, I need new jeans.” 

Spoiler alert: Did NOT need new jeans. 

Shopping for Fall trends!

If I had to define my personal style, I would call it: “Target Women’s Section”. Do you know what I mean? When you see a woman walking down the street and think to yourself, “She totally bought that at Target”.  

Yea, that’s me. I’m the woman. 2/3 of my closet is made up of the women’s section from the store. “Target clothes” are a style. Maybe it’s just because I shop there so often. I can’t walk into that store without looking at the clothes. I mean, they’re RIGHT THERE. In the front of the store. As soon as you walk in. 

Notice how the men’s section is always squeezed into a back corner? Not the women’s section. Oh, no. Let’s put that right next to the entrance, so that all of the women who think they’re only coming in here for groceries and toilet paper will walk by and say, “You know, it doesn’t hurt to LOOK at the clothes…” 

Men don’t get it. I’ve dragged my boyfriend in there when he was looking for a new button-down and said, “At least LOOK at the clothes”, thinking he would surely find SOMETHING. It’s Target. He took a quick lap through the graphic tees and plaid button-downs and said, “Yeeeea I don’t see anything I want, let’s go.” 

Seriously. Like he was in Walmart or something. 

Target’s men’s section is about 1/3 the size of the women’s section and usually blends into the shoe aisle. The women’s section, on the other hand, takes up an entire wall of the store and preys on weak women like myself who believe that a new $19 sweater is going to fix her entire life. 

Having a bad day? Go to Target. Feeling fat? Go to Target, buy some mid-rise jeans. Unmotivated to go to work on Monday? Buy a new pencil skirt, or some new shoes – or both! Hey, why not, it’s Target! For $80, you’ve got yourself a brand new outfit!

It’s a trap. It’s totally a trap. Who knows, maybe it’s a sickness – thinking that a new sweater is going to fix everything. Or that if I buy some new $15 fuzzy sweatpants, even though I have an entire drawer of fuzzy sweatpants at home, I’ll feel better about staying in and cleaning the house that evening. 

And the slippers. Don’t even get me started on the slippers. These fuzzy-wuzzy, cozy shoes meant to be worn in the house – even though I don’t wear shoes in the house and have said multiple times that slippers make my feet “too hot” (they don’t sweat, my toes just need to breathe, ya know?)… but put me in front of the robe and sweatpants and pajama aisle on a cold, Fall day and suddenly… “Those slippers are SO cute! I want those. Oh, they’re only $13? AND they have little fuzzy balls on the toes?! Adorable! I should buy those.” 

I have three pairs of slippers. That I never wear. But I just haaaaad to buy. Because they had little fuzzy balls on the toes. If that’s not a good enough reason to spend $13, then I don’t know what is. 

I mean, maybe to buy food. But, you know. 

Spanx. They aren’t just for Moms.

I wouldn’t say that I have “anxiety” about wearing Spanx (and honestly, no one SHOULD have anxiety about wearing a brand of sucky-in-y underwear – because that’s essentially all they are) but I HAVE noticed that when I’m wearing a tight dress, along with – what is essentially a modern day girdle – I feel, a little…. well, anxious. Stiff. Uncomfortable. There’s a tightness in my chest…/abdomen. 

I mean, most of that is the sucky-in-y part of the underwear that I paid $50 to literally wedge myself into so that I could look good in a dress for a few hours, but you know what I mean. I worry. The Spanx alter blood circulation to my brain (probably, I don’t know.  You’d think they’ve got to be cutting off some circulation around my torso. Otherwise, are they even doing their job?) My inner fat girl that needed the Spanx in the first place starts sending paranoid, worried signals to my brain. 

“What if people can tell?” I think. “Can people tell that I’m wearing a girdle?” 

I honestly do not know how anyone would ever be able to “tell”, unless they came over and lifted up my dress and said, “Hey I see you’re wearing some funny underwear under there.” And if someone ever does that to you, I can PROMISE you that the the highlight of that story will not be “I was wearing Spanx”, it will be “A stranger lifted up my dress. It was weird.”

Sometimes I worry that if I give someone a hug, they’ll be able to tell. Like they’ll feel it under my clothes and be like, “HEY WHAT’S THAT?” or worse – “Wow! Your core is ROCK SOLID! Have you been doing Pilates? Let’s see that six-pack!” 

Again. That would require me to lift up my dress. And the highlight of that story would be, “Someone asked me to lift up my dress in order to show them my super rock-hard abs. It was weird.” 

But what if they can FEEL it, I think. What if someone has their arms around me and feels the top of the Spanx? Or that little rod-stick thing that goes down the sides of some of them like a legit corset? I mean, I’m wearing this super tight dress. Surely they can FEEL that stuff.

In all of my years of hugging people – all of the people, including ones who are wearing tight clothes – I have never once embraced someone long enough to literally FEEL THEM UP. I have never tried to rub my hands along someone’s side while hugging them, unless I was, like, DATING that person. Because otherwise it’s super inappropriate – and the highlight of THAT story would be, “Someone tried to feel me up while they were hugging me. It was super inappropriate.” — not, “Someone tried to feel me up while they were hugging me and THEY COULD TELL I WAS WEARING A GIRDLE. IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING.” 

The “What’s in my bag” post.

My first bag came from Aeropostale. And I didn’t call it a “bag”, I called it a purse. Because I was ten, and believed everything my mom told me – bags are used to carry groceries, purses are used to carry all of your little trinkets and treasures that you can’t leave home without.

I mean, she didn’t put it EXACTLY like that. My mom wouldn’t call her used Kleenex and traveling pill case a “treasure” per say, but you know what I mean. It’s a purse. She kept her wallet and her tissues and her breath mints and her receipts and her tiny, little traveling pharmacy of Advil and allergy pills in a “purse”. 

So – my first PURSE came from Aeropostale. It was – hands down – the smallest purse I’ve ever owned. It may have actually been the smallest purse, ever. To exist. This would have been around the year 2001 when “the small purse trend” was in… I think? I don’t know, I was ten. Maybe it was just “in” for ten year olds, because ten years old didn’t have a bunch of stuff to lug around in 2001. All I needed was a place to keep my twelve dollars in cash and… like, that’s it. What else do you need when you’re ten? A pager?

It’s not like I had keys to worry about, because I was always with an adult who had to carry around the keys. I didn’t need a cell phone, because I was ten and it was 2001. I am now part of the generation that sees a ten year old with an iPhone 8 and says, “Well back in MY day, we didn’t have cell phones when we were ten” – as if we grew up Little House on the Prairie style and were all forced to churn our own butter and read by candlelight. We might as well have grown up on the Oregon Trail (which most of us did, as a computer game).

I don’t know why I remember this purse. Maybe because I carried it around for so long. In hindsight, it looked like a children’s purse (which is fine, because I was a child – even though I thought I was a lady. A little ten year old lady). It was tan colored with an embroidered butterfly in the center and a skinny brown strap that was – PROBABLY? – supposed to go over your shoulder? I mean, I don’t know. This tiny, little “purse” went over my shoulder and was so small it basically just hung out right there under my armpit. So it was basically a wristlet that wasn’t a wristlet. It was an armpit-let.

But up until that moment, I had always thought to myself, “Why would anyone carry a PURSE? That’s so dumb. Then you have to CARRY IT AROUND. Why don’t women just carry their money in their pockets like men do? What is so hard about that?” 

Because then we don’t have any place to keep our trinkets and our treasures and our used Kleenex, Little Jenn. That’s why.

Fashion bloggers always do a post about “What’s in my bag” – and it is usually called “What’s in my bag”. Like we’re expecting them to say they’ve been carrying around a sword in there.

I don’t know what the fascination is with these posts, but I fall for it every time. When my favorite beauty blogger does a “What’s in my bag” post, I read it. And I mean, I read it with the expectation that they’re going to say something other than “my phone”, “my keys”, maybe some some headache medicine? I instantly assume – before even reading it – that there will be SOMETHING in there that is going to change my life. Something that’s going to make me say, “That’s such a good idea! Why didn’t I think of that?!”

How to dress yourself skinny.

I like to call this pose – that thing you do when someone says “look natural” and you totally DO NOT LOOK NATURAL. Fashion bloggers use all of these tips and tricks when they’re trying to model. Like “stand on the balls of your feet” and “stand with one foot in front of the other” and “know your angles”

What are my angles? I knew I should have practiced this in the mirror before we left the house.

Eventually my boyfriend, who is also my extremely patient photographer, was like “What are you doing? Just stand still so I can take your picture.”

Look, I get it. You’re supposed to look natural. I mean, they don’t say that in any of the fashion blog-y photo tips, but it makes sense to look natural as opposed to someone who looks stiff and uncomfortable. So I strive to “look natural” –  but not like TOO natural, because my ACTUAL natural state is  “slouched over with an occasional case of Resting Bitch Face”, so… you know. It’s really all about trying to look skinny. Right?

This concept was lost on me as a teenager. I didn’t know know how to look skinny in pictures. I was just doing what all of my friends were doing and wondering why I – being 5’9″ and 155 pounds – didn’t look like my friends who were 5’3″ and small enough to say things like “Ugh. They didn’t have a size zero, and the size two was too big!” 

I’ve never been “fat” fat, but I’ve also never been thin enough to complain about swimming in a size two. When you’re sixteen and buying clothes that are literally three times larger than that of all of your friends – it can make you feel “fat” fat. In my mind, my friends looked like normal teenage girls, and I looked like the momma duck. I had these hips that made me “curvy”, and a stomach that was – I don’t know, enough to make me uncomfortable wearing a bikini.

So I tried to fit in. I mean – I didn’t try TOO hard, because it wasn’t like I started doing sit-ups or trying to cut out pizza, which would have been the healthy way – but I learned that if I stopped trying to wear “belly shirts” (yea, remember when those were a thing?) and low-rise jeans, I could LOOK thinner. MAGIC. Optical illusions. Laziness.

How to make ANY outfit look good.

There were two things that I wanted to be as a high school freshman: a Varsity cheerleader, and the lead in the school play. As a quiet, mousy, afraid-to-even-raise-her-hand-in-class kind of kid, these seemed like totally normal things to want. I was too shy to ask a question during English class, but getting up in front of everyone during a basketball game and jumping around in a short skirt? That sounds GREAT! Sign me up. There was a guy I liked on the basketball team.

I mean, of course there were OTHER reasons I wanted to be a cheerleader – because it’s a SPORT. And a healthy extracurricular. And a great opportunity to build life-long friendships with my other cheer… mates? Cheermates? Is that a word? Cheer friends?

Whatever. It was mostly about the guy. And everyone knows cheerleaders are hot.

So I dragged my friend to try-outs with me – you know, because I was too afraid to go alone – and together we learned all of the basic chants, stunts, cheers, I think there was a dance involved? The only thing I can remember is thinking how they made everything look so much easier in “Bring It On”. I couldn’t even do a cartwheel, let alone the front handspring-stepout, roundoff back handspring-stepout I had planned to blow everyone away. You know, if I practiced enough. How hard could it be? It’s just, jumping around. On your hands.

I did the splits for my “stunt” portion during try-outs. That was one of the things – you had to do a “stunt”: a cartwheel, a roundoff, a handspring, you could even do a forward roll if you weren’t coordinated enough to do anything else. Which I wasn’t. But I chose to do the splits, because I decided that a forward roll might be too dangerous for someone inexperienced like myself.

Also I thought the splits would be more impressive. Which they would have been – had I actually done them, instead of whatever I did. Because what I did was slide down about halfway to the ground, until my knees started to bend and my legs made this triangle shape with the floor, and I was like “Ta-da!”

Hah. Hah. Hah. Oh, right, did I mention I’ve never been able to do the splits?

I was shocked (I know!) when I didn’t make the team. The squad? I don’t know, whatever. My dreams of becoming a Varsity cheerleader that year were squandered, and the only thing I had left – the ONLY other thing I wanted – was becoming the lead in the school play. Because, for some reason, I thought this would make me cool. “She’s the LEAD in the school play”, they’d say. “She’s going to be a star!” Like lead in the high school play is the first step to Broadway.

There was also a boy. In the drama club. And I liked him too, and wanted to impress him with my amazing acting skills, because I thought that I had amazing acting skills. Kind of like how I thought I could do the splits for my cheer try-out. I had amazing, and slightly unjustified, confidence as a fourteen year old.

Of course there were OTHER reasons I wanted to be in the school play. Because it builds a healthy level of charisma and increases skill in public speaking, and… it looks good on college applications? Probably? I don’t know. Whatever, we both know it was mainly about the guy.

How to take photos like a fashion blogger.

One of my biggest worries is that my boyfriend will one day see my Google Search history. It’s not that I have a bunch of dirty Google secrets – I’m not hiding things from him, but I fear the day when I’ll have to explain to him why I’m looking up weird stuff on the Internet like, “What kind of salads do the Kardashians eat?” or “How to get more followers on Instagram”. You know. Personal things. Things between me and Google.

This almost happened last week when I was showing him a picture of a nature preserve where I thought we should go hiking. “Oh!” He said, “I should show you” (some forest preserve that had mountains and stuff) “Hang on, let me Google it”, he said, still holding my phone.

Panic set in. “I’ll do it!” I said, yanking the phone out of his hand. Like – straight up, grabbed it. Ninja style. Like he said he was about to scroll through my photo album and see all of my selfies and screenshots of inspirational quotes (this is my second biggest worry, by the way).

“Geeez.” He seemed a little confused. I have no idea why, especially since I was being TOTALLY NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL. “What don’t you want me to see?” He asked.

“Nothing!” I realized by this point – you know, after the fact – that I was being super weird.Like, DEFINITELY-hiding-something weird. Great. He probably thinks I’ve been looking up porn. “I’m just excited to see the place you’re talking about! What was it called?” 

“I was going to look it up.”

“I know! I just…” *Cricket* *Cricket* “What was it called?”

The thing is, my boyfriend is the kind of boyfriend who would probably let me use Google on his phone. He wouldn’t yank said phone out of my hand. Because he’s not looking up weird things like “What really happened with Corinne and DeMario on Bachelor in Paradise?” and “Is Corinne coming back?”

But, really. What happened?

We bypassed the awkward moment – he knows me well enough by now to know that I was probably just looking up dumb stuff about the Kardashians and not ‘how to smother your boyfriend in his sleep’ – and gave me the name of the forest preserve to search. As soon as I typed the letter ‘H’ – sure enough, another embarrassing Google search came up: “How to take photos like a fashion blogger”. 

It could have been worse. It could have been that time I asked Google “How to vote for America’s Got Talent” (asking for a friend). 

But, like, seriously. Taking pictures of my outfit? How do I stand? Where do I stand? Where should I look? Should I look away? What should I do with my hands? How can I make myself look thinner? These are important questions. You have to figure this stuff out if you want your picture to look like a #FashionBlogger picture, and not like something that belongs on your Myspace page from 2007.

Here are the tips that I found for “fashion blogger photography”  so that you don’t have to add another embarrassing search to your Google history. I’ve been Googling tips like these ever since I started this blog over a year ago, because I was looking for a way to stop feeling ridiculous every time I asked someone to take a picture of my #OOTD. “Do people really DO that?”, I thought. “Like, they ask their boyfriends or their friends or whomever to take a picture of them while they’re posing like a model? No one thinks that’s weird?” 

I live in Chicago. People do that all the time. No one thinks it’s weird. Promise.

How to be a fashion blogger.

I don’t know how to ask someone to take a picture of me “for my blog” without sounding like a… like a total… what’s the mom-approved-PG word for douchebag? Because that’s what I sound like. A pretentious douchebag. It’s hard for me to take myself seriously when I’m saying, “Hey will you take a bloggy picture of me in front of this fountain?”… which is usually followed by, “What should I be doing? Should I, like, look off into the distance? Or, look over my shoulder? Should I smile? Is that weird? Smiling is weird, right?”

Sure. Smiling in a picture? Totes weird. Only serial killers and ax murderers do that.

Rarely is this magical moment complete without me asking, “Is it cute? Will you take another one? What should I do with my hands?” 

I never know what to do with my hands. And I alwaaaays ask if it’s cute. Like the person behind the camera is ever going to tell me:  “I don’t know, Jenn. You’re twenty-seven years old and still pretending to be a model. Is THAT cute?”

It’s not cute. In fact, the whole thing usually feels so awkward that I fidget for about five seconds in front of whatever fountain/brick wall/lake front/rooftop view I’m standing in front of and then ask, “Did you get it? Is it cute?” 

Like I’m Beyonce or something. IS IT CUTE? Sure. Like my personal paparazzi fan club was just begging to take a candid picture of me. “UGH. DID YOU GET IT? ARE WE DONE HERE?” 

Boyfriend jeans: NOT your boyfriend’s jeans.

I used to think that if I wore “boyfriend” jeans, people might think that I actually had a boyfriend. Isn’t that why they call them boyfriend jeans? Because maybe your boyfriend left them at your house and – instead of putting on your OWN jeans that morning (you know, the ones designed for your female body type that actually fit) – you were like, “Oh, maybe I’ll just wear my BOYFRIEND jeans”. Because that makes sense. Why wear your own clothes when you can wear your boyfriend’s clothes that were wadded up in a ball on your bedroom floor? At least that was how I’d always imagined it. Like Boyfriend spent the night, and we woke up together and maybe I left the house before he did – you know, for bagels or something – and I just slipped on his jeans because they looked soo comfy. And because I wanted the world to know that I had a boyfriend, and that maybe he was still at my place, and that maybe he wasn’t wearing pants.