I’ve recently discovered a fashion blogging hack… a BIG one. Also, one that is so obvious, I can’t believe it has taken me this long, and this much unnecessary expense to realise. So I’m sharing it with you- largely to shatter the illusion that us fashion bloggers simply must have endless, unrealistic funds. Of course, for many fashion bloggers this may well be the case (and I can do little about the envy I have for such a privileged position). Yet, if this was the case for me, then what right would I have to aim at a target audience of students and young professionals without vast disposable income?
So I’d like to point out, first and foremost, that whilst I am by no means unfortunate in my economic situation (I am lucky enough to have a family that can support me, and a comfortable student loan), I am absolutely not well off enough to keep up the lifestyle my Instagram suggests I do. In an earlier post from this ‘Instagram Illusions’ series (okay yes there are only these two… so far… but I plan on keeping it up), I admitted my sub-zero bank balance as a result of attempting to maintain a flow of new-outfit photos on Instagram. That, as a result, I was having to repost fashion images from my archives… nightmare.
But panic not! I have discovered the secret behind maintaining this illusion of illustriousness. I have been introduced to the necessary trick-of-the-trade, for keeping up a flow of outfit photos that are fresh, in the shop, and ready for my followers to find and buy for themselves. And this life-altering (for me), ground-breaking, top secret blogger’s hack is… (ironic drum roll please) … returns! That’s right- the ability to return clothes from online or in-store shopping serves another purpose. It’s not solely about taking back an item that actually doesn’t suit you once you leave the flattering lights and angles of the shop changing room; or when you realise it was actually the model you fancied, not the garment. Returns offer such greater possibilities.
Now, I’m a super naive, little goodie toeshoes; not one to put a foot out of line or even step close to the line. So the act of buying clothes, wearing them for the event needed but keeping the tag on, and then returning after, was far beyond my comfort zone. But when you’re more indebted than ever, and your hobby involves the upkeep of an appearance of wealth… well, desperate times call for desperate measures. And, really, can a photoshoot actually count as an event anyway? I literally wear the clothes for maybe 10 mins max, before packaging them back up to return- really where’s the harm!?
But actually, I know where the harm is. Not in breaking any rules, or potentially playing the shops that allow you to return things- no, they know this stuff goes on. The damage comes to those of us who follow fashion bloggers that engage in this illusion… and yeah, I’m on both sides of this relationship. For so long I dreamed of the blogger life- of beautiful clothes, exciting holidays, delicious food- and the unbelievable content they created from these opportunities. I figured, that level of success was reserved for those privileged enough to afford it- only if one can invest in this level of luxury, can one hope to begin to be sponsored and receive it free. But, knowing (at least on a more realistic, highstreet kinda level), success can be achieved on a budget (admittedly at a slower pace, but it’s possible all the same), I have so much more faith in my future career as a result. I feel like if the glass ceiling hasn’t completely lifted, it’s at least higher than it seemed before.
And then for those who do not have an interest in pursuing a fashion blog, but maybe just like to find inspiration and influence from those who do. These ‘influencers’ are supposed to be creating a vision of a life that followers can strive for, and as such I feel this vision needs to be within the realm of realistic. I am aware that the lifestyle I present on my Instagram is somewhat impossible for the average student (I mean it would be for me), and that is why I find it so very necessary to expose the illusion on here. It’s a fine balance: I want to offer inspiration; I want people to access my style if they so wish, but I equally hope they can be aware that I am posting my own dream life. If I could afford all the outfits I photograph- of course I would buy them… they’re my style, but alas, I must settle for an image of said style, to share with the world. I don’t believe this flaws my integrity in any way- I am still expressing my true self; just within a means that is possible.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this exposé, and if there are any other aspects of the ‘Instagram Illusion’ you’d like clarifying!