Saturday, February 12, 2011

FashionBinge Goes FABB + Words To Live By By Joan Rivers (AKA: Zen And The Art Of Fashion Blogger)

The faces of FashionBinge! Catherine (Mary-Kate) and Tamar (Tamron)
This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending Lucky Magazine's first-ever Fashion and Beauty Blog Conference. It was basically summer camp without the Birkenstocks. With Joan Rivers (more on that tk). I was honestly a little hesitant when I first RSVPed "yes." Why? The landscape of fashion blogging has changed so much in the five years I've been doing Fashionbinge. I was (pointlessly, as it turns out) a little curious as to whether it'd be a bunch of chicks vying to out-dress each other and namedrop designers and stuff. That's actually not really been my experience with fashion and beauty bloggers -- the ones I know are generally great writers and intelligent, media-savvy girls whom I now consider friends first, beyond just blogging. But I started fashion blogging back in 2006, when the market was less crowded, and the "'Net" (who even still calls it that??) was literally smaller as was the metaphorical net you could cast and not reel in nearly as many fashion bloggers and blogs as you can today. 

Five years ago, when FashionBinge was born, there weren't really fashion bloggers as models, fashion bloggers in front rows at fashion week, fashion bloggers as household names. Fashion bloggers on billboards in Times Square. Fashion bloggers in the Times. And FashionBinge still carries that scrappy, hey-we're-just-a-fun-little-blog-on-Blogger aesthetic and mantra. That's important to me. We (Catherine and I; we started FashionBinge together, and these days I post regularly and handle the nuts and bolts, while Catherine still chimes in on occasion) are not trying to be anything we're not. I just like to post some fun boots or a necklace I either bought, would very much love to buy, or would never in a month of Sundays buy. I'm not expecting an email from Garance Dore begging to photograph me, or Marc Jacobs to name a bag after me. Supermodels don't show up to my birthday party. 

I can the number of fashion shows I've been to on two hands and the number of times I've been to "the tents" probably on one. I've never been flown to cover shows in Europe where I've landed, gone right into fittings, and then taken a private car somewhere where I boarded a boat to watch models wear couture on a gondola. I do sometimes receive access to cool things or receive cool things, and I'm always appreciative of those things. I'm proud of the things I've worked very hard for, and I'm appreciative of any opportunities that come my way. Because really, no one deserves any special privileges simply because they have a blog. (Or because they're a really good athlete or went to a fancy university or know someone famous.) It's important to work hard for things, be appreciative for anything extra you've been given, and while you should have high expectations for yourself, you shouldn't expect that things you haven't worked for will simply be handed to you. (Celebrity gifting suites being an exception.) Maybe that's the immigrant's daughter in me speaking, but I really believe in those things.
Anyway, I'm not a fashion encyclopedia nor an expert. I probably know more about blogging, writing, and social media better than I can reference, say, the difference between Chanel's and YSL's 1999 resort collections or wax poetic on the merits of Mulberry boots versus Burberry boots or tell you whether a Balenciaga bag is better than a Birkin (as I will probably never own either).

I just know what looks good on me (and when to admit that something doesn't), how to shop for it, how to get the look for less, and how to navigate mainstream stores and select things in a way that doesn't scream HI I GOT THIS AT THAT STORE IN THE MALL WHERE EVERYONE SHOPS. And I know how to mine the Internet for hidden gems. Especially when there's a sale involved. I'm a great style curator. I hope that if and when you visit FashionBinge, you experience a little "Ooh, look at this fun thing you dug up" sensation. That's one of the things I love most about blogs. 

So, when it comes to fashion, the essence of FashionBinge is that it's not how much you spend, it's what you spent it on and how you wore it. And did you feel great in it? Yes? Awesome. As Santino Rice sagely said on the second season of "Project Runway," "Lighten up! It's just fashion!"

That's all a roundabout, reflective way of explaining why I was really happy that the FABB Conference was a celebration of fashion and beauty bloggers of all types, stripes and, well... hype. There were gorgeous glamazon-y newcomers with legs longer than my entire body and modeling deals. Girls with superstar style sense. Girls whose fashion blogs demonstrate their hilarious, irreverent take on fashion. Budget bloggers. Accidental cewebrities. Super shoppers. Discount doyennes. Hustlers and reticent bloggers. And the best thing was that there was a feeling of democracy, support, and a recognition of the fact that, at the heart of this diverse group of bloggers, there's one thing everyone has in common: basically, everyone who blogs does it because they love it. Fashion (and beauty) blogging is a crowded, busy, well-accessorized market, but there's room for all.

Anyway, I just wanted to really share that takeaway: everyone at FABB was extremely friendly, super supportive, and felt like the offline extension of what the whole online experience should be: a celebration of community, passion, and personality.

But more importantly... HERE'S WHAT I WORE! Har.

1.) Lazerade Manilow Top: This blouse is covered in a really cute star print, and it fits perfectly, (so curvy girls, take note.) It's from Urban Outfitters and has gone on sale since I purchased it a week ago. If I'm not feeling lazy, I'll go back to the store and have them credit me the difference. Ladies, NEVER be afraid to post-sale shop! It works! Saved myself $112 at Diane Von Furstenberg after I found the exact same dress I'd just purchased from their boutique on sale at Nordstrom. You work hard for your money, so never leave it on the table.
2.) Uniqlo jeans! Comfy and stretchy, but desperately in need of a belt.

3.) Chie Mihara Catame Bow Heels:

($361.33, Chie Mihara,, courtesy of the designer)
I've had these Chie Mihara bow heels for years, and they're far chicer in person. They go with absolutely everything and fance-up an outfit in as much time as it takes to zip them up. 

Okay. Here are four things I took away from the Lucky FABB Conference:

1.) Joan Rivers is a bad ass. Joan Rivers was the keynote speaker, and at first you might be like, well, what does Joan Rivers know about fashion blogging? A lot, actually. She's been in the business of fashion for years (she's an HSN mogul, and she's been a red carpet correspondent for years. And if you're not watching her show, "Fashion Police," on E!, then you're doing yourself a great, grave disservice). She's the queen of power dressing, and she's one of the last great stalwarts of a bygone generation that believed in dressing up and looking your best. But moreover, she's a true feminist pioneer. She's a business woman. (If you haven't seen her documentary, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," rent it immediately. You'll truly get the scope of her business acumen.) She beat down doors that were slammed shut in her face (and, as a rule, in the faces of women back when she started out in the early '60s). She's obviously brutally honest and hilarious (and is as quick to point the finger and laugh at herself as she is at others, which is one of the most important rules of being funny, and, lest you pigeonhole her as a bully, she was quick to point out that, when it comes to fashion, she only makes fun of people (like celebrities) in the public eye and can hit back, and not everyday people. Her message to an entire room of women trying to either become bigger names in the blogosphere, take what they're passionate about to the next level (or, like myself, sustain their side project while balancing a job, relationship, and life), was absolutely inspiring (and relevant to anyone pursuing a dream of any ilk or size): go through any door, seize any opportunity, don't say no to anything, write the truth... and let gay men dress you. And finally, probably the most meaningful thing she said (believe me, this woman is as powerfully sage as she is riotously razor-tongued): "don't let anything negative touch you." Words to live by. As it turns out, Joan Rivers loves needlepoint, as do I. And I'd totally needlepoint that onto a pillow. 

2.) Susie Bubble is rad. Right, and the sun also rises in the east and sets in the west. You knew that. But I saw her speak on the "The Ones To Follow" panel about staying true to your voice while leveraging your blog as a promotional platform and business opportunity, and it was obvious that her ego is inversely proportional to her fame. Between Susie and Tavi (and Sea of Shoes, etc), there's really no bigger fashion blogger out there. But Susie, who seems both intelligent and humble (rare, winning combination!) emphasized that she only engages in projects and partnerships that she believes in and are organic to her and her sensibilities. That's obvious via her site, but it was good to hear that in a room full of bloggers who are often offered (and sometimes accept) partnerships or opportunities for the exposure and not because they believe in or simply love a brand or product. Her opinion on fashion bloggers basically parallels mine: "We just need to settle down... and accept they (fashion blogs) exist as another medium." Very Zen, very relatable. More fashion bloggers should aspire to like her: not simply famous but a blogger who works with integrity and perspective.
3.) Karla Sugar is rad. On that same panel, beauty blogger Karla Sugar, who's extremely articulate shared this important rule of thumb that, once again, applies not just to blogging but pretty much to anything you do, anywhere you go:  "Start small. And as you get bigger, be nice to everyone. You never know who'll be huge tomorrow." Golden rule right there.

4.) Publishing platforms and tools and apps are overwhelming! Oh my! Seriously, back when FashionBinge started, there was Blogger, Moveable Type, uh... Geocities maybe, and good old-fashioned hard coding. Social networking was Friendster and using a fucking phone. Now there's social shopping (that used to be going shopping on Broadway in Soho with your friend), Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, SquareSpace, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram, other buzzwords your mom will be asking you about in a few weeks, and the 745 tools and platforms that will inevitably come to fruition by the time I'm done writing this (extremely long) post. Does your website need to be a totally multi-platform experience? Maybe. Depends on much time, understanding, (and money) you have. FashionBinge will probably remain a Blogger blog. I like clean, easy, and quiet. But you should definitely be aware of what these platforms do and how they work so you can decide if you want to go from more of a blog to more of a blog-brand.

... Um... okay. PHEW. I said a mouthful. I guess the point (yes, I have one), is that it was great to experience both a reinvigorating celebration of fashion and beauty blogging and what it's become and where it's going, but at the same time to have a kind of reality check for me: FashionBinge started small and got bigger (we just crossed the 1 million pageview threshold, which is pretty exciting). Will it get bigger? Eh!? Who knows. Will FashionBinge be front-and-center at Marc Jacobs at Fall Fashion Week? Uh no. Will we be profiled in the Times? I highly highly doubt that. I just know that I love to write about what I know: finding fun shoes on the Internet!! Lipsticks I love! Cat t-shirts!... And that I truly appreciate every single person who comes here daily or lands here by accident, leaves an encouraging comment... And learns where to find an awesome cat sweater.


Simone said...

Wow i like your blog..
You’re welcome to visit mine to

D I N A B E L L A said...

Well.. your blog is great! We hope you do get to sit front-and-center at a Marc Jacobs fall fashion show!

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