Thursday, 16 January 2014

As Time Goes By - The Changing Nature of Blogging










I began blogging when I was fourteen, prompted by several friends. The first, Lettice, introduced me to Style Bubble and Sea of Shoes. We’d spend our maths lessons eagerly seeking updates and discussing outfit posts; our useless teacher’s inability to set work leading to thrice-weekly slots of internet surfing rather than graph plotting or algebra. Luckily he moved on, and the following term we returned to our equations. The interest in style blogs remained though. I made my own in June 2009, using photos taken by Flo to kick-start it.

My sapling interest in style was growing. I’d signed to a model agency the previous year, and my stack of second hand Vogues piled ever taller. I began by buying them from charity shops for 20p apiece, selecting the choicest photos to adorn my door and pin-boards before discarding the rest. Then I started reading them. Names of designers became familiar. I switched to getting new copies, an occasional treat supplemented by an Elle Collections or, (having gone beyond Mizz and Shout) Sugar magazine. The presence of all these publications was fitting, the realm of teen ‘cringes’ and ‘true life’ stories facing off adult articles on catwalks, work and artsy things. 

It was a strange time of innocence, excitement and unhappiness. I was miserable at school and struggled socially, but found myself enthralled by the worlds of books, style, vintage clothing, film and photography. I discovered Beyond Retro, watched the Red Shoes and My Fair Lady, read The Bell Jar, listened to Marina and the Diamonds and tried to teach myself the rudiments of fashion illustration and design (usually faltering before I reached the sewing machine).

At home I experimented with my mum’s fifties skirts and vintage jackets, snaffling up items where I could. She used to have two clear plastic boxes hidden in the back of a cupboard, each filled with tissue paper and pieces she’d kept since her teens and twenties. They’re still there now, but hugely depleted. Much of the former contents now rest in my room, most of it stolen away in the first year or so of blogging.
It was the playful freedom that I loved best. With a blog I had reason to put together fantastical outfits to tramp around forests and (occasionally) jump into rivers. It gave me the impetus to buy seventies orange dresses and vintage Jaeger blazers. I could trawl eBay and jumble sales with heightened zeal. My dressing up box grew, and so did my confidence.

Blogging was a much smaller world back then. Of course I was experiencing it at a different age with different aspirations. It was my hobby, done for the love of interesting clothing and newfound connections with like-minded people. The sense of community and creative opportunity was still fresh. There were fewer of us, the fashion industry still in the early stages of picking up on the power of bloggers. But there was Tavi, Jane, Rumi, Susie, Karla – the first wave of success surged.
Blogging has changed in the last four and a half years. Of course. Like any modern medium it’s undergoing a kind of continued metamorphosis, in step with lives rapidly altered by technology. The internet is almost unrecognizable from what it was in my early teens. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse now.

My first LFW was in February 2011. The comparison between that and February 2013 (my last full season) is pretty astonishing. In the former the street style movement was well established but limited. In the latter it was a cacophony of cameras, shutter-clicks, photographers and bright outfits. Somerset House had become a realm of tweeting, live-streaming, instant updates, guest lists on iPads, Vine catwalk clips, instagram snaps. iPhones had replaced Blackberries and the front row was awash with smartphone flashes.

In line with this super-charged, super-speedy approach to fashion, the role of blogging has shifted too. Its increased commerciality (such as advertising)  is something I occasionally benefit from - a fair reward, I feel, for the input of time and hard work. But, for me at least, it’s an added bonus to the main creative focus. It’s still the thought of delicious sixties' mini-dresses and swing coats that drives me. The writing has also become more integral as my aspirations swung from the sketched lines of clothing designs to typed lines of text.

Many of the blogs I used to read have vanished altogether. Lives change and move on. Some remain. Perhaps I’m bothered by a spectre wearing rose-tinted spectacles, but I recall a crisp novelty that has since dwindled. When I started it was less about quantifiable numbers – page-views, Twitter followers, Facebook likes – and more about the thrill of doing something imaginative.

Now, the homegrown democracy that encouraged me, fed by the idea that anyone could start a blog, regardless of age, looks or geographical location, has been replaced with a homogeneity of sorts. Not in all the blogs themselves, of course (see for example Mel, Vix, Desiree and Bella for a fabulous set of women with even more fabulous wardrobes), but in the types of blogs that are celebrated. Where once there were outsiders, now the media direct readers towards a formula already approved by the fashion industry – trend-led, brand-focused, model-proportioned, slickly-photographed individuals.

Some have been given unprecedented opportunity through their blogging, achieving well-deserved recognition in the process. Others are doing it for the fun of the communities and connections they’ve made, or the passion they’ve sustained. I guess I blog because I still get excited about dressing up and running around fields and writing essays. I blog because it’s the most brilliant platform to combine words and images, because it gives me a reason to think up photography projects and unpack ideas. But sometimes I have to remind myself that that is where the true joy lies – not in the number of people who click a post, but in the act of creation. 

These reflections were spurred by the fact that this is my 300th blog post. Over those four and a half years a huge number of clothes, locations and words have skittered across its pages. The images above are a handful of my favourites from beginning to end (it was such fun returning to the archives and remembering various exploits and outfits). It's quite extraordinary to have a visual document of how I've grown and changed in that time period. 

Thanks to each and every lovely reader, commenter and casual passer-by. You're all the best. 


Chloe said...

What an interesting, thought-provoking blog post! I myself started blogging around the same time as you and have been an avid reader of your blog over the years, and it is certainly evident that blogging has evolved. In spite of such changes, I think it's fantastic that you've maintained your passion for creation, especially against the backdrop of tendencies to merely measure success through the number of followers or comments one gains. (I feel slightly guilty of that myself!)

Anyway, congratulations on your 300th post, what a milestone! And such a great way to celebrate that with this post too. Looking forward, as ever, to reading more of your writing.

Closet Fashionista said...

Woo! Happy 300th post!!
Yes, things have changed so much since I first started blogging, but I still do it for the same reasons. It's fun to share what I'm wearing and loving and I use it as a personal journal of sorts. Although I do enjoy some of the perks and free things, that's not what I care about. :)

Anupriya DG said...

I have had this thought every time I go through the visual treat that all your blog posts are (not to mention the fluid words & the easy deliverance of ideas), but somehow, this compilation of your images drives home the point that each of these pictures are so very editorial in beauty & perfection! The outfits, the styling, the compositions, the shots, the beautiful young girl in every frame - I could go on looking at these pictures forever!! <3
Keep doing the lovely work and here's to lots more success ahead, dear Roz! Cheers!!! :)

Camille said...

The manner in which blogging has changed, and how many of my favourite blogs no longer exist has been on my mind a lot lately. I see, from your post and from the most recent post on Empty Emptor, which came out as I was putting together a rambling series of thoughts on the matter, that the excitement in the novelty of what can be blogging material, as well as the enthusiasm behind many blogs are unfortunately dwindling. As this phenomenon becomes increasingly apparent, I hope things will somehow pick up again, and in the meantime, I'm trying to pull my weight if only to comfort myself.
I love reading you because there is nothing mechanical to your posts, and that your passion truly transpires from your photos and text. Happy 300th!

christian said...

Hey Rosalind - thanks much for those thoughtful comments - the subject must be in the air. I wrote a post a bit along the same lines, although not nearly as detailed as yours.

Best wishes - christian

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

Inspiring posts as always. I'm very glad to be getting back into the blogging scene myself and reading what you had to say about blogging in general was very insightful. It has inspired me to stand out and utilize the blogging platform as a place to unveil unique vintage beauty...def sick of all the boring mainstream trend-focused bloggers!

Helen Le Caplain said...

Congratulations on your 300th post! I love the fact that each blog is thoughtfully put together with absolutely stunning looks - here's to the next 300!

Anja said...

What a great article you wrote! Very recognizable.

I love how you combine your love for fashion with good writing, contemplations and depth, and good photography.

What I Loved and recognize particularly is your description of how having a blog gives you motive and context for projects.

Theresa said...

I never comment on your blog, seeing as how it's just that one extra step too much to click out of Feedly into a new tab (oh, the laziness of web surfing!). But I wanted to say that I have been enjoying reading your blog for several years now, and hope to do so for many more.

An American dwelling in Melbourne who lived in England and Wales, and who enjoys the scenery in your photos as much as the outfits

Melanie said...

Three hundred posts. Whew! Amazing even just for the laughs you had during your shoots and the quiet moments writing down your thoughts. I enjoy CC&C for that sense of background that shines in your work. The awards that you have won along the way are so deserved.
Thanks for the mention, too. I love the community I have found blogging, and, like you, cherish my space as a creative outlet. Great visual retrospective! What will the next four years bring I wonder.

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

Wow, 300 posts! Congrats.
It's fascinating how your pictures and blog has changed over time. I think if there had been blogs when I was 14 I would have definitely had a style blog!

I was felt more free in my creativity then. When my blog started as a style blog 3 years ago I felt awkward about it so I changed it. Silly, I know.

I always love seeing your pictures and reading your beautiful words. Keep it up :)

Fashion art and other fancies said...

The evolution of writing and blogging -nothing stands still - not even time - everything chages, grows, develops - it is withing this froth that one rises to greatness - and you have done just that!

Fashionistable said...

Firstly happy 300th post. That is some going and I am so happy to have joined you for the journey. It is amazing the changes four and a half years can bring. I am not going to twist slightly a quote you made here "True joy lies in the art of creation"
So, so true thank you for the timely reminder, I had lost sight of that a little recently. Xxxx

Raffles Bizarre said...

Fantastic, fantastic post, such a pleasure to read. It's encouraging and inspiring to find people that still blog for the love and creativity of it all.

Congrats on your 300th post!!

Raffles Bizarre Blog

Ivana Split said...

This is so beautifully written! I just loved that part about unpacking ideas and the joy of creation. I certainly feel that way myself sometimes and it is a good thing to feel. To tell you the truth, I'm not certain why I have started my blog and besides the fact that I'm enjoying it I cannot give any other reasons for continuing blogging. I shy away from social networks yet I'm immensely attracted to the world of blogging. Here is where I find a lot of my inspiration, not just in terms of fashion but in terms of all kind of arty stuff. It has made me pay more attention to the people in the streets, more attention not just to the clothes they're wearing but to why and how they're wearing them.

You have made a good summary of what has been happening in the world of blogging (blogosfera is the word we use in Croatian)The interesting thing is, as you have noticed, just the mere fact we're not sure what will happen next. Are the changes for good or for the bad? Many blogs are becoming more and more commercial and maybe that is how it is meant to be. Maybe they're filling a place that is (was?) missing in the industry. Fashion is after all an industry. Some blogs (and of these I feel certain) will remain to be very personal, and for that I'm grateful for because really those kind of blogs I enjoy the most.

Izzy DM said...

Congratulations on your 300th post! Not much time to comment now as I'm in the process of moving, but it was fabulous to see 14-year-old you. How adorable! I only have a handful of pics from my teen years. The changing essays must be fun to have too.

I know what you mean about being pushed into certain categories. I'm STILL getting advertising offers for which is more of a typical blog and one I haven't uploaded to in over a year and less interest in my new blog which is more political and writing-focused. Ah, well. It's still a new site. We'll see how it goes.

Emalina said...

This post could also be called: 'from girlhood to young womanhood', what a beautiful transition you have made through your teens dear Roz!
I love seeing your transition through the blog photos. The 300th post is a great feat, many congratulations, and here's to the next 300!

Jean at said...

Brilliantly said. Period. No more explanation necessary. Let's continue having fun, digging in the costume box, making friends, and being creative.

Really, when we're old (and I am getting there) it does come back to just that. Connection and creativity. The possibilities are endless, and the joy is transcendent. I would like to think that all the changes in technology don't alter this truth, rather they just make it easier to express it.

Cloud of Secrets said...

I've been pointed to a lot of style blogs over the years, but yours is one of the few that really spoke to me. (I think it was Bella Q whose recommendation I saw first.)

You were much younger than me, and for the first few seconds of browsing I didn't know if we had much in common. Usually I focus on thirty- or forty-something women, women who are finding beauty in life and maintaining manageable style even as they keep up with childrearing and busy households.

But there was such honesty and thoughtful pleasure in the style and beauty you presented. Your photos were gorgeous and inspiring, yet unretouched. Your outfits were build from dress up boxes and vintage racks; they weren't slick layerings of costly advertiser gifts or new loot from shopping sprees. You were wandering through your own very real landscape. Your writing was pensive, graceful, kind, and human.

And it's still all true. Your particular style blog is a precious and rare thing amid the onslaught. Please keep up the work, and I know it's work even though it looks like romping glamorous fun.

zara may said...

I love your blog

The Foolish Aesthete said...

That was such a delightful photographic journey accompanied by reflections. Congratulations on your 300th blog post! And to have kept the creative quality in yours that entire time is a blogging feat.

By the way, thank you for your kind note regarding my friend's sudden passing. And I've always meant to thank you for being there with me since the beginning of my own blogging journey. Though it's utterly strange why it would be, the community of people who are inspired and driven by literature, dance, the visual arts, and history -- all knit together by a passion for beautiful clothing -- is really quite small. I was just telling a friend how sad it is that the modern world compartmentalizes everything into non-intersecting universes. Thank goodness, there are people like you who blur those distinctions.

I never knew you at 14 and your youthful photo is just darling! xx Jenny

Willow said...

What a beautiful array of photos and clothes to celebrate your 300th post! It's so lovely to see how you've grown through the photos in the post, especially seeing how young you are in that first shot!
I also loved reading your story, your escape from the misery of school with creativity, your introduction to blogging, the excitement of your first LFW, etc.

Happy 300th post and I look forward to all the other posts to come.

Coffeevines said...

Very pretty. Just a little confused where the coffee was. But yeah, very great photos and you should go pro modeling, if you're not already.


What a wonderful read Roz. Yes, things have surely changed even since I started blogging. Unfortunately, several of the blogs that were the first blogs that I found have stopped blogging. But, it was a pleasure to find your blog, and I feel as if I've watched your growth by reading your blog. :) Enjoy your weekend.

Abigail said...

Such wonderful photos. I love your hair as mine is super straight. Happy 300th post :)

Jean at said...

An amazing retrospective!! Beautiful, then and now. XXOO

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