In my next writing life, I want to be a fashion blogger.
As the founder of See Jane Write, a Birmingham-based organization for female writers and bloggers, I’m around fashion bloggers often and oh, how I admire my chic and stylish blogging cohorts. One thing they’ve taught me, however, is that you can dress like a fashion blogger even if you’re not one. It all starts with a mindset shift. I had a talk with five of Birmingham’s top style bloggers about the best advice they’d offer aspiring fashionistas, and today, I’m excited to share their responses with you!
Believe that every body is a good body.
“I like to think of fashion as a body armor,” says Jeniese Hosey of the blog The Jenesaisquoi. “A great outfit is the perfect way to prepare before going into the everyday battlefield of life.”
Jeniese has been blogging at The Jenesaisquoi since 2010. Through the years, she’s garnered local and national attention for her sense of style. Last spring, she entered Redbook’s Real Women, Real Style awards, and she was one of the winners.
“We got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be on the cover of Redbook’s September magazine,” Jeniese says. “I never in my wildest dreams thought something like that could happen to me. We were flown to New York for a few days and got the total glam treatment. It was amazing.”
As a plus-size fashion blogger, Jeniese says she urges her readers to be happy with themselves the way they are.
“I aim to encourage my readers to wear what makes them happy and not stick to any antiquated fashion rules,” Jeniese says. “I don’t believe in bad bodies or good bodies. Everyone has a good body. Everyone deserves to have amazing clothes.”
Some of Jeniese’s favorite pieces are her leather skirts, her striped shirt collection and her sequin dress from Eloquii.
Jeniese believes the five wardrobe essentials that every woman needs in her closet are a white button-down shirt, black pants, a structured dress, a striped T-shirt and a pair of great-fitting jeans.
If you need help cultivating a closet you love, Jeniese recommends finding a fashion role model and getting inspiration from magazines and blogs. She also believes it’s important to define your personal style.
“Staying true to your personal style and dressing for the occasion are important keys to looking effortlessly chic,” she says. “Don’t force too many trends on yourself.”
Remember, if you look good, you feel good.
Christina Renteria, of the fashion and beauty blog PinkLux, believes that fashion has the power to help you express yourself without saying a word.
“If you are not a confident speaker, let your fashion choices do the talking,” she says. “Someone will compliment you, which will spark a conversation, and that will boost your confidence instantly.”
Boosting confidence is the focus of her blog.
“When women leave PinkLux, I want them to feel confident enough to wear that bright lipstick or that sexy dress,” she says. “The saying ‘When you look good, you feel good’ is very true. Fashion can help boost your confidence by helping you embrace your shape or size.”
Christina was recently featured in a HuffPost Canada article about the “in-between” size — meaning you’re not supermodel thin, but you’re not plus size, either. Christina says women in the “in-between” size often find shopping for clothes challenging.
Her number one tip for other women at that “in-between” size is to determine your body measurements. “This will help you understand what sizes to get to properly fit your body,” she says. “I am petite, so my legs are short, but my hips and waist don’t really fit into the standard sizing charts. Knowing my measurements helps me determine what to buy in the store or online.”
Christina’s wardrobe essentials include a white button-up blouse, a little black dress, a great pair of jeans, black flats or heels, and a solid color suit.
“The goal is to have pieces that can be mixed and matched to create several outfits,” she says.
Never lose your sense of self.
Rachel Tindall, of the fashion blog To Hell in a Handbag, believes that if you’re a wife and a mother like she is, putting time and effort into your fashion choices is akin to putting your oxygen mask on first in an airplane emergency.
“Think of how much better you will feel and how much more you can help those around you feel and look good if you do those things for yourself,” she says. “When I blog, I try to think of the women who might be like me. Just because you have children and a husband and because society tells you what to do, you should never lose your sense of self.”
A busy mom can look effortlessly chic, even when she’s heading out running errands.
“You most definitely do not have to get dressed up to go to the grocery store, but take five to 10 minutes to put a little thought into your appearance,” she says. “You only have one chance to make a good first impression. You never know who you might run into.”
Rachel recommends throwing on your favorite pair of jeans, a pair of comfortable, yet chic, flats, a silk or cotton T-shirt that makes you feel great and a printed scarf.
Keep your hair simple — a ponytail or side braid will do the trick, she says.
“And mascara and lipstick will always make you feel pulled together,” Rachel adds.
Keep it simple …
Bertha Hidalgo’s Chic in Academia is not your typical outfit-of-the-day blog. Instead, she shares stories.
“It’s about sharing what aspects about fashion and beauty I enjoy and how they enrich my life as an academic, a mother, a wife, a woman,” she says. By day, Bertha is a PhD-level genetic epidemiologist, a demanding career in academia that she balances with blogging, being a wife and taking care of her two young sons.
“Wearing all those hats comes with guilt about not being good at any one thing,” she says. “A fierce pair of heels or a fabulous outfit can help give me the boost I need to start the day. Often the compliments you will get through the day will also better your mood.”
Wearing all those hats also means Bertha has to find the balance between being trendy and chic, yet professional and classy. She believes every woman needs a little black dress, a pearl necklace, a nice bag and a structured blazer. Great shoes are also essential. “Shoes can make or break an outfit,” she says. “You need a good-looking pair that are also comfortable to walk in.”
When people come to Bertha for fashion advice, her number one tip is to keep it simple.
“There is nothing classier than a monochromatic look,” she says. “It is easy and you don’t have to give it much thought. An all-black, all-white, all-any-color look is simple to put together and will make you look put together.”
Bertha also believes in dressing for the day ahead.
“There are outfits that I wear to the office that are only seen by the admin team in the suite and perhaps a few colleagues,” she explains. “I may take some risks if I know I’m going to have a day like that. They already know me and know that I am a sartorialist. There are other days, however, when I might sit in a meeting with the dean of the school or the president of the university, in which case I try to wear outfits that are a little less ‘out there.’ First impressions are first impressions, after all.”
… but it’s OK to be a little extra sometimes.
Chances are Alexis Barton’s face is familiar. Perhaps you’ve seen her talking about style on “Talk of Alabama.” Maybe you’ve seen her hosting a local fashion show or serving as the emcee at a community event. Or perhaps you saw her in Glamour magazine in January when she was featured as one of the winners of Estee Lauder’s Best Angle contest.
Alexis is a journalist and a woman about town, and yet she still finds time to blog at Same Chic Different Day. Alexis has built a wardrobe that is fashionable and functional, and she knows how to work an over-the-top piece, too.
“For TV, I wear things that fit well and make me feel chic and confident,” Alexis says. “Anything too tight, too big or that exposes too much skin will look even more exaggerated on camera. And just imagine it in HD!”
She also avoids sparkly or noisy accessories, and she avoids large patterns, sticking to solid, bright colors instead. If you need to work the room at a social outing or networking event, Alexis says it’s all about wearing comfortable shoes and a well-fitting garment.
“Don’t wear anything that you have to readjust frequently and please be sure to wear appropriate undergarments,” she says. “Generally, I’m in heels so I use gel insoles to spare my feet, and I break in new shoes ahead of time.”
Alexis knows when to keep things simple, but also believes that sometimes over-the-top works, too. She believes in red lipstick and thinks every woman should own a pair of shoes that is “totally impractical but makes her feel like Beyonce.” Some of her favorite fashion pieces are her Movado watch, her mother’s string of pearls and a pair of four-inch, snakeskin stilettos her grandmother wore in the 1970s.
“I also love my cape blazer, bright red leopard pumps from J.Crew and a vintage crimson sequined sheath I found on Etsy,” she says. “And I love the fringed gown I’m wearing in this photo. It’s one-of-a-kind, over-the-top and fun.”
And if “over-the-top” is your thing, Alexis believes you should embrace that. “If you’re about that life and wearing four-inch stilettos is really what you do every day — and you walk in them naturally — by all means, go for it,” Alexis says. “Once you really embrace your own personal style, it becomes as natural as breathing, and other people notice that. I think you’ve nailed it when you reach a point where you feel comfortable in your own skin and style without being concerned about how other people will respond to what you’re wearing.”
Thank you to Jeniese Hosey of The Jenesaisquoi, Christina Renteria of PinkLux, Rachel Tindall of To Hell in a Handbag, Bertha Hidalgo of Chic in Academia and Alexis Barton of Same Chic Different Day for sharing their fashion wisdom!
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