I have been blogging with academichic for just over one year (my anniversary was on July 25th), and of the chics you all have definitely seen and heard the least from me. So here is a little bit of my story – and I warn you, this is a pretty rambly way of reviewing my Top 10 from the last 6 months and saying goodbye). As I’ve said many times before, I was always impressed and inspired seeing what A. and E. wore to school, and after they told me about the blog I quickly read every previous post and chuckled to myself as I saw outfits that I’d actually seen them wearing and had thought at the time were something I’d like to try. I felt like a weird stalker when I’d mention something that they’d worn ages ago, but since reading blogs myself I’ve come to realize that is what happens – you begin to form attachments to people and feel like you know them (or at least the entire contents of their closets!). I was so excited and SO flattered when E., A., and S. proposed that I join the site last summer, and honestly felt like I was some “super fan” who had won a contest to be the next chic. I secretly congratulated myself on reaching their echelon of style. I felt like I’d arrived. Things like pattern mixing, layering, and working new trends in to my personal style (like my oxfords) are all things I learned from reading this blog myself.
During 2010 my body also went through some serious changes due to health reasons and because of my running. I went from a steady weight of 135lbs and size 6 to 120lbs and size 2. I’m a petite 5’3″ so I was still in a normal range, but the new slim body shape meant that my clothes were literally falling off me. I hinted at this in a Dress Your Best post, but why is it that I still feel bad telling you that I lost weight? We often find it much easier to talk about gaining weight, whether in pregnancy or otherwise, but it’s not as openly spoken of when it’s the other way. I’d feel like a jerk if I said to my friend, “my clothes are ALL too big”, but that was exactly the predicament I was in – and it was just as frustrating as when you gain a few pounds and suddenly things don’t fit you as well. I had always dressed nicely, but I’d never so totally and deliberately overhauled my wardrobe. Necessity coupled with a new interest in style meant that I was ready to shed some old clothes and get some new duds (like my fireworks skirt). I admit that I did purchase a lot of new items for myself – and obviously feel guilty admitting my personal consumption. I always shopped the sale and clearance racks (that’s how I scored my first piece of “mustard” colored clothing in honor of E.), but I certainly SHOPPED. I am fortunate in that I had the money to spend as I pleased, and I have since this binge definitely slowed down my purchasing and turned more and more to thrifted items, clothing swaps, and consignment stores (like my grey dress). For the staples though, especially fitted items – pencil skirts, sheath dresses, a cropped blazer, black dress slacks – I bought new.
Many of you are bloggers yourselves or have asked us questions about blogging. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to! I didn’t start reading any blogs until A. confessed to me about academichic, and even then I didn’t start regularly reading anyone’s blog until last fall. (Aside: That’s another thing people have asked us to discuss. What blogs to do we read? I can tell you that the ones I have bookmarked are What Would A Nerd Wear, The Other Emily, Narrowly Tailored, Already Pretty, Hello, Monkeyface!, and Between Laundry Days. There are many more sites that I’ve read casually and that do a very good job, but those are my regulars and the people I feel weirdly like I know even though I’ve never spoken a word to them.) I thought how easy it would be to take pictures because I’d be dressing up 6-days a week for my new job teaching in a boarding school. Wrong. Turns out taking pictures without anyone seeing you when you live at the place where you work is nearly impossible unless you wake up extremely early. So that’s what I did. I’m not a style blogger who also has an interest in photography, so my pictures have never been top quality. Nor have I ever really bothered doing much with my hair or putting on makeup, and blogging didn’t really change that much – although a little lip gloss, mascara, and powder can do wonders on camera. People have asked if our style will change once we’re not blogging anymore, and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll dress up quite to the degree that I did this year. I love looking good and dressing well, but for those mornings when I’m running late I’m going to spend more time drinking my coffee and less time throwing outfits on the floor of my bedroom. I always felt a little guilty, like I was cheating, on the days when I’d just toss on black pants and a top or a simple dress (like my grey cashmere, plaid shirt dress or black wrap dress) – but those days are what happens in real life and sometimes less is more.
I’m going to be really open with you – after the outcry over my post in which I wrote that girls at my school were “parading their bodies around for all to see” I learned that I really needed to watch what I wrote. I am very conscious in my “real” life not to say offensive things, to talk to others when they do, and to be sensitive to those around me. However, I didn’t think through the ramifications of that phrase and the judgements that it implied, and it was an eye opening experience to hear from so many people – truthfully, I was once-bitten-twice-shy for the rest of my blogging life. I stuck mostly to posting about how my outfits came together, what elements I liked, what didn’t work, and how I felt wearing each look. And I’m not gonna lie, I have a chip on my shoulder about my limited range of contributions and appreciate the complex topics about which S., E., and A. write so eloquently – and here’s where I start to tear up! – You all have been more influential in my life than you can possibly know, and being a part of this project with you has been an honor and a joy. And to YOU all, I thank you for calling me out, challenging me, and teaching in all your different comments as well as praising, commiserating, and making suggestions. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for asking questions. Thank you for posing ideas and informing us of your own style triumphs. Knowing that there are so many bright people on the other end reading this blog has made me a much more thoughtful person, both in real life and online.
I think it’s funny that like E. one of my favorite posts has nothing to do with outfit and everything to do with how I present myself (if that makes any sense). I’m talking about my Dress Your Best post on my legs – and the running outfit I shared with you all. Even with all the hours spent dressing up, I still feel more like ‘myself’, more confident, and more attractive when I’m in my sweaty work-out clothes. While I’ll never be wearing those to class, I have in the process of changing my style and writing this blog discovered a whole lot of clothes that make me feel equally confident, strong, and most of all, happy.
L. (because there was already an S.!)