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! 

My Blogging Goals | November 2017

There are two kinds of bloggers out there: the kind who have goals and a media kit – and the other kind, the kind who have to Google “what is a media kit?” when someone reaches out to them for a sponsored post and — well, actually, first they have to head on over to the blogging forum and ask, “Hey guys, how do I handle a sponsored post? So-and-so is reaching out to me and I don’t know what to do”, and someone says, “send them your media kit”. 

I still don’t really understand what a media kit is. But that’s okay, because it sounds a little more “professional” than what I am currently set up for. 

Around the middle of October, I was playing around with this new blogger site that I found called Canva (game changer, by the way) that allows you to make graphics and banners and all of the professional-looking-images that you see the professional-looking-bloggers have. 

I got really excited. I felt like I’d stumbled into “the big secret” that all of the professional bloggers already know. I found a fancy graphic site that is going to CHANGE EVERYTHING. 

“I’m going to be SO PROFESSIONAL,” I told my boyfriend. “My blog is going to BLOW. UP.” 

Yea. Those are the words that I used. “BLOW. UP”. Like I’m a 1940’s detective working on the “How to be a professional blogger” mystery. We’re about to blow this case WIIIIDE OPEN. 

“Okay,” he said. Because – really – what else are you supposed to say that? 

But I had big ideas. BIG ideas. “I’m going to plan out my posts for the month,” I told him. What a concept, right?  Actually planning out your blog posts. I bet no one has ever thought of that before. “And pictures!” I said. “I need to take more pictures! Will you help me take more pictures?!”

UGGGGHHHH. I bet that’s what he was thinking – “Sure. Let’s spend a Saturday afternoon  taking pictures of you in front of different buildings pretending to ‘look away’ while you yell at me that you ‘feel fat’. That sounds swell.” 

He didn’t say that, of course. Because he loves me and supports all of my weird hobbies.

So he agreed – and by agreed, I mean he said, “Uh.. suuure. We can do that. I guess.” which totally counts as agreeing, and we got down to business.

And by “got down to business” – I mean, I threw a giant pile of clothes into a laundry basket and said, “OKAY! LET’S GO! GET YOUR CAMERA!” and he was like, “Where are we going?” And I was like, “I DON’T KNOW. WHEREVER THERE ARE CUTE BRICK WALLS?”

That’s me, as a location scout – “wherever there are cute brick walls.”

10 things you don’t need in your closet.

My parents sent me a stun gun as part of a care package in college.

I figured I should open with that, so that when I say, “I found my stun gun in a shoe box in the back of my closet over the weekend” – ya’ll don’t think I’m the kind of girl who A) knows where to buy a stun gun, and B) keeps it in a shoe box in the back of her closet. Nestled next to a scarf and a pair of high heels. Because that’s where it was. Who knows why. Who packed THAT box when I was moving?

Me. I packed it. I packed all of my boxes. And when I ran across that stun gun, I was probably like, “Well, I don’t have a box marked ‘Weapons’ …. sooo let’s just put it in this shoe box. That should be fine.”

That makes about as much sense as me having a stun gun in the first place.

My parents sent it to me when I was a freshman in college as a… present? Warning? I don’t even know. (They aren’t crazy. They just, care. A lot.) I opened it in the lobby of our dorm building, assuming this was going to be… I don’t know, something normal. Like, a Tupperware container full of brownies. Or a sweatshirt. Or extra pens. Like I said, my parents aren’t crazy. They’d sent me presents before. But this was the first time they’d decided to send me a stun gun.

I didn’t even know what to do with it. I was afraid to touch it. I mean, it was in a box. And I don’t think it had batteries in it. But still. The box said, “high voltage”. Is that really something I should be carrying around in my purse? This little weapon of electricity? What if I shock someone on accident? What if I shock myself? Can I die from this?

“If you hold it up to someone for longer than seven seconds, it can stop their heart.” That’s what my mom said. After I called her to confirm that she did, in fact, mean to send me a stun gun. Part of me thought that this might have been an accident. A weird and unlikely accident, but still. My mother is the kind of mother who collects Tupperware and sent me boxes of mini-muffins in college. I didn’t know murder weapons were on her radar. Let alone that she knew where to buy one.

“Your dad bought it on eBay.” She said. Apparently you can buy them on eBay.

“What am I supposed to do with it?” I asked her. Maybe she thought if this college thing didn’t work out, I could be a gangster. Or a thug. Or someone who works the midnight shift at McDonalds.

“Carry it,” she said. “In your purse. Especially when you’re walking across campus at night.” Ohhh that’s what this was about. I had a night class that forced me to walk home in the evenings two nights a week. After the sun went down. Moms aren’t big fans of their daughters walking alone at night.

I didn’t carry it. I thought it was scary. I imagined scenarios where I would somehow electroshock myself on accident and fall to the ground twitching. I mean, it couldn’t DO anything unless someone pushed the button. BUT STILL. If anyone’s stun gun could accidentally shock them, from inside their purse, without pushing any buttons, I didn’t want it to be mine. BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW.

I didn’t see the stun gun again until last Christmas. (It lived out my college experience on a dark shelf in the back of my closet. Despite my mother asking – really casually, by the way – “Have you used your stun gun yet?”… like I’d forget to tell her if I tased someone on my way to class.)  It showed up in a bag – another one that my mother sent back with me to Chicago – shortly after Christmas. I guess she thought I could scare off a thug with a neck tattoo if I ever found myself in a rough neighborhood? I don’t know.

Regardless, I was inspired to write this post about “10 things you don’t need in your closet”. (There is no good transition here. I don’t want to be cheesy and say something like, “Realizing how much space my stun gun was taking up in my closet made me think about how much other space I could free up!”…. what space? It was in a shoe box, it was fine. But I already had the idea for this post, and the stun gun thing seemed like a funny anecdote.)

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.” 

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.

Fall fashion trends (that you probably already have in your closet!)

I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said, “Do not fall in love with a man who doesn’t make you feel like the most awesome, incredible, baddest bitch on the block.”… those of course weren’t his exact words, but the sentiment was the same. You know what else can make you feel that way? A leather jacket. 

Seriously. I can be wearing sweatpants, and still feel like a stylish badass biker babe if I’ve got a leather jacket on. (I have never been on a bike – and by “bike”, I  of course mean motorcycle – so I don’t know what that really feels like, but this is the only way I can know how to describe it.) It’s like magic. While sweatpants in public say, “I can’t get my life together”, a leather jacket says, “This is OBVIOUSLY a style choice. And if you don’t get it, then you’re not as cool as I am.” 

I mean, don’t go out there wearing a leather jacket and sweatpants, you’ll look ridiculous. I’m just saying. If you want to feel like a badass, buy a leather jacket. I have five. Because I feel the frequent urge to badass it up in my everyday life. 

The problem is that I can’t wear ANY of them while it’s still 85 degrees outside. I’ve considered it – because, in my mind September = Fall, and Fall = Leather jacket time – but I’d rather not sweat off all my make-up and die of heatstroke. It sounds like a terrible way to go. 

But it’s almost OCTOBER. I mean, come on. While everyone else is hanging on to these last few *surprise* weeks of summer, I can’t wait to bundle up in scarves and the three new pairs of boots that I just bought. (Pro tip: if you really want to feel like a badass, put on a pair of boots with a leather jacket. Something about it makes me feel like I could really kick some bad guy booty. I mean, it would probably actually be harder – since I wouldn’t be able to run as fast in the boots, and the jacket would give me less range of motion – but you know what I mean.) 

This is when I get excited for Fall. It’s not the Pumpkin Spice whatever’s, or the football games every weekend, or the bonfires, or Halloween – it’s the clothes. Honestly. When I see the mannequins in Macy’s wearing scarves and plaid shirts and fuzzy sweaters and cardigans, it makes me feel relieved. My wardrobe options are about to triple. Everything’s going to be okay. My fashion identity is really coming together.

Department stores and fashion designers will try to trick you into believing they’re designing these hot new things. You have to keep up with the trends. You have to buy the sweaters with the holes cut out of the shoulders (I have yet to purchase one of these). You have to buy the sweaters with only ONE shoulder. (No thanks, I have yet to find some place where I could actually wear this.) You have to buy the hot new color for FALL. (The hot new color is purple. It’s the same every year. I read this once in a magazine years ago – “PURPLE is THE color for Fall this year!”and legitimately believed that I needed to buy a bunch of purple things. Ya know, so that people would think I was “in”. It took me a few years to realize this is the same every year. They probably use the same article every year. Purple is just a Fall color.) 

The majority of Fall fashion is the same every year. The basics don’t change much. And heavy duty clothes like sweaters and jeans usually hold up longer than those light-weight t-shirts you bought at the beginning of summer. So when you’re putting together your Fall outfits in a few weeks, remember the basics and you shouldn’t need to run out and go shopping.

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 purge your closet when you think you need everything in it.

Ugh. “Purge”. It’s one of those words like “moist” or… “moist”. It’s not the way it sounds, it’s just – you know, what it is. Purging stuff. I feel like I’m writing about my closet throwing up remnants of old college t-shirts and Target Mossimo tags. 

I’ve always thought the idea of “cleaning out my closet” sounded like a terrible idea. Like this monumental chore. Because it basically felt like opening up the door to my own personal landfill of Victoria’s Secret shopping bags (that I, for some reason, struggle to throw away) and shoes. So many shoes. WHY do I have so many shoes? I have two feet. I do not need twenty pairs of shoes. 

But, you know, some day, “I might wear them” – or so I tell myself.

I have clothes in there too. Some clothes. Not all of my clothes. A lot of them used to end up in piles on the floor. Because they wouldn’t fit in my closet. And the floor seemed like as good a place as any to keep them – you know, because I could see them. No sense opening up the pesky old closet and reminding myself what a mess it is in there. 

And then I moved in with my boyfriend. Who is not like the boys you met in college with McDonalds bags stashed under their beds and dirty clothes spilling out of the hamper (thank God) – he’s, like, an adult. He’s sanitary. And while I know he loves me, I figured it wouldn’t take long before he would get frustrated with me using my side of the closet as a landfill for VS bags and the bedroom floor to layout my clothes. All of my clothes. You know, so I can see them. Because you can’t do THAT when they’re in the closet. Too many other clothes in the way. Some shirt you love might be squeezed between two shirts you hate – and then you’ll miss it. And then you’ll be sad. 

Plus we have two closets, and he was nice enough to give me the larger one. So, like, I should PROBABLY take advantage of this kind gesture and actually, like, USE the closet space… ya know? 

But I knew what this meant: the big, scary task of getting rid of stuff. Most stuff, actually. (Okay, like a third.) Which is hard for someone like me, because every time I sort through clothes that I tell myself I need to donate, I think to myself, “But I might wear this! I just forgot I had it!” (It’s been in my closet for over a year with the tags still on it, but sure, I might wear it. I just need to remember that it exists.) So – without further ado (is it “ado” or “adieu”, I thought it was the second one, but Google said it’s spelled like AD-O) here are the steps that I’ve created to FINALLY get rid of stuff in your closet that you LITERALLY DON’T NEED AT ALL but, for some reason, think that you do.