Real Life Versus The Fashion Blog

My husband and I had an argument over these shots. I think it might have been the first time we majorly disagreed on a set of photos.

As a designer I know that to really love a project I need to have control over what I’m doing. My favorite clients are the one’s that allow me a certain amount of creative freedom. If I’m designing something for myself or a loved one you can bet I want creative control. I don’t even like it when my family makes suggestions on what to cook for dinner! Knowing this I try very hard to let my husband do what he wants with the photos for this blog. Often I’ll pick out my favorite shots and maybe I’ll make some suggestions on retouching (yes, I’m vain.) but other than that I try to let Hugo have complete creative freedom. He picks the angles, camera equipment, and setting. I pick out my clothing for the photo shoot. Later, after we’ve chosen our favorites and he’s done whatever post-processing he desires, I put them up on the blog and write about them.

These photos were created much the same way as always, but my husband didn’t like them and didn’t want to use them. We took the shots on a Sunday afternoon spent with the family. Knowing I’d be walking around with the kids I wore sensible flats and comfortable clothing. I liked my outfit, but I rather agreed with my husband. We were focused on our children and the outing not on creating fabulous images for the blog, and that was the problem. The photos we took were OK, but not stellar. They do, however, represent my real life.

I have read too many snarky comments on various websites not to notice that many people think personal style blogs are nothing but smoke and mirrors. They believe fashion bloggers dress up for their photos and then take off their fancy clothes and put on sweatpants, or whatever it is we REALLY wear. I read dozens of personal style blogs, and I’m pretty sure most of us try to represent reality. As I wrote in Personal Style, Real Life and The Blog, I strive to create a balance between fun, fabulous fashion and real life style. Sometimes I do dress up for the blog because I like dressing up. It’s fun. And sometimes I’ll show you reality. Here it is.


  • Leather vest purchased in on vacation in Dublin sometime in the late 1980’s
  • Black t-shirt and denim skirt from the Gap
  • Leopard hobo purse and watch from Target
  • Flats by Sketchers
  • Carved bracelet from Gilt
  • Rubber bangle and large leather cuff found in small boutiques Melrose avenue

What do you think of personal style blogs? Should we represent reality or fantasy on our blogs? Is it OK to do both?

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41 Responses to Real Life Versus The Fashion Blog

  1. SACRAMENTO October 29, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    I always decide the place to soot and how i want things. I also do the editing. My husband just goes along and pretends I am a car or a mountain ( His favourite subject for a photo, LOl)
    when I wear an outfit is because i am going out in it.
    Great post, heather.
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Malaga´s Roman TheatreMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

      I always get the feeling from your blog that you wear the outfits you put together. Your description of your husband’s photography is very funny! My husband really likes photographing scenery too, but I think he likes people the best.

  2. keyse October 29, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    I rather enjoyed the out-and-about outfit. It is difficult to see someone dressing really well but sensibly enough for a busy life. I am a mom and I work 40 hours so dressing sensibly and comfortably is a must.

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      I agree it’s hard to juggle family, work and dressing up. Something’s got to give! I usually dress very casually during the week unless I’m going out somewhere, but sometime I like to get dressed up even to run errands. It sort of depends on my mood.

  3. Shanti October 29, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    I love these photos, so I’m glad you decided to use them! Beautiful outfit. I think a personal blog can be whatever you want to make it, after all, it’s personal! Mine tends to be a combination of real life and more stylized shoots as well. I consider them all to be a reflection of who I am. Thanks for the inspiration Heather!!

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

      I’m glad you like the photos Shanti! Maybe they aren’t so bad after all.

  4. Sistergirl October 29, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Your outfit is sooooo chic. Its simple and cute. Great job!
    Sistergirl recently posted..Stop Celebrating HalloweenMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      Thank you Sistergirl. Glad you like it.

  5. Odyssey Home
    October 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Great topic. The original idea behind personal style blogs was to shoot real life. That’s changed, evidently. Too bad. What can I say, I’m a purist. I prefer when a blogger is being honest by writing a disclaimer such as, “I didn’t actually wear this because (insert reason) but it’s something I intend to wear for (….)” Personally, what I shoot is what I’m wearing on “picture day”, or what I’ve recently worn, unless stated otherwise.

    One reason I don’t care to follow most popular mainstream blogs: Too many bloggers agree to accept free stuff solely for marketing purposes without regard for their actual taste (things that they would never wear in real life). They’ll model things for their blog in the form of a street style shoot and write disingenuous statements such as, “I was drooling over these gold and purple sequin leggings from (wherever) and couldn’t wait to snatch them up and pair with my new zebra print tee from (wherever) for a day of lunch and shopping with friends.” Again – the point of personal style blogs is that, by their very nature, they are intended to be an honest visual diary of “what I wear/wore/would wear/like”. Now it seems the tide has turned to this: “I’ll pretend to wear/like any horrid thing if I’m getting paid to wear it and blog about it.” Of course, I could be mistaken. There are certainly plenty of bloggers who possibly like, say, gold and purple sequin leggings. After all, there’s a lot of bad taste out there! :\

    Your ensemble here – the jewelry, black leather, flats, handbag, dark denim – is really cool. And real.

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      Thank you so much for this in depth reply to my article! I know at first it was all about real life. Most of the first fashion bloggers took photos of themselves in a mirror, but like everything that starts small it’s gotten much more slick as it’s gone along. And then the brands get smart and start sending people things to be shown off and next you know people are wearing things they don’t really like just to make money.

      The big irritation for me is the Celine trapeze bag. I’ve seen that bag, in about a dozen colors, on so many of the “top” blogs. None of the bloggers ever seem to say how they got the bag, or if it’s a gift from the company or not. I know I’d have a hard time saying “no” if they came to me with a free $2,000 bag, but I still think it shows a certain lack of ethics. I’ve had other companies ask me to do sponsored posts but not say that it’s sponsored so that the post “looks organic”. I’ve just said no, but I don’t think everyone does, and that creates suspicion for all of us.

      • Odyssey Home
        November 1, 2012 at 9:53 am #

        Keeping it real is also important to me. I’ve had to turn down offers like that, too. I’ve also had offers to review things I have never even heard of or seen in person! Those, I also decline. (Send me the item to review, and then we can do business.)
        I think a lot of bloggers forget a big reason they gained so many followers in the first place: because they were genuine and real: “This is my style.”
        Thanks again for the great discussion here!

        • Heather Fonseca November 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

          And thank you for getting the discussion going! I always want to know what people are thinking as I want my blog to be relevant but fun. The feedback is great.

    October 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    I remember you touching on this before real life vs. blogging, etc. I like that you are honest about this. I always do love your photos. I think it’s nice that you have the ability to think about photos and concepts with your husband, especially since he’s a photographer. I like real life, I wear everything I have. I also enjoy a few blogs that I read who occasionally have time to do styled photos as well.

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

      I like it when The Glamourai does her styled sets with models, but at first I was really confused about it. Thankfully she’s explained what she’s doing, so now I understand.

  7. Stacey - Total City Girl
    October 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    I think both are good. Even your reality looks nice though! 🙂
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..Tips For Photographing Your HalloweenMy Profile

  8. Sarah
    October 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Wow.. I actually adore these photos! I do prefer reality to be perfectly honest.. I can’t stand posts where the blogger is wearing an entire outfit of “gifted” items, just being worn so that they have been posted on their blog to keep the brand happy. Real outfits = real inspiration.

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Hi Sarah. So far I haven’t accepted many gifts for review, mostly because I only want to wear things I really like. I just don’t have that much space either, so anything added to my closet must be something I love. I don’t really mind if other people put together gifted outfits, just so long as they’re honest about it.

  9. San Diego Foodie
    October 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I guess it’s fine to do both. Who knows? Your fantasy can become a reality. Besides, what harm can it bring? I love using my imagination when blogging as well.

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      Hi and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Often my fantasy outfits are based on real outfits and vice-versa. I only think fantasy fashion shots are harmful if you lead your audience to believe it’s just something you threw on in the morning to go grocery shopping or something. I think people can tell when their being taken, and then they become suspicious of the whole genre in general.

  10. Kiki October 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I think both. It’s important to show your actual style, but also be playful and experiment a little.
    Kiki recently posted..Beauty Boxes-OctoberMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      Hi Kiki. I think a mix is good too.

    October 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    I actually think these photos are awesome! The clouds, the grass and that theatre in the first one? Cool as hell.

    I personally rarely wear an outfit for the blog that I didn’t actually wear in ‘real life’ because most of the time I’m only able to get outfit photos are when I’m with other people (and therefore at a social event of some sort).
    THE-LOUDMOUTH recently posted..Life + Lunch :: LatelyMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      I know that your outfit shots are all real because you always talk about where you were when you took them. It’s one of the reasons I love reading your blog!

  12. nicole October 30, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    I think that your blog is really authentic. There is an element of the ‘real’ in all of your photos and that’s why they are so good. I don’t know much about fashion blogs but I wouldn’t mind betting that your blog is particularly successful because of the authenticity of your outfits and the insightful conversations that you encourage. It’s beside the point but the layout of your blog is outstanding- it is so easy to navigate and it provides such a wealth of advice. I’ve already been able to put together outfits with things I already own by just getting ideas from your blog. Thank you.

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      Oh Nicole that makes me feel so good! I’m so glad you find the site easy to navigate and inspirational. I pick up ideas from other blogs all the time too.

  13. Rawkul
    October 30, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Both, because life is a combo of fantasy and reality. 🙂
    Rawkul recently posted..An Unusual Vintage Mix (Paisley & Animal)My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      I kind of agree Rawkul. I think its fun to do fantasy, but important to represent reality too. I think we just need to be honest with our readers about what we’re doing.

  14. Laura October 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Leather vest totally rocks! It looks good on you! The skirt is lovely too!

  15. Sylvia
    October 31, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    I think there is nothing wrong with either your outfit nor your photos. The leather top is very fashionable and why not wear it with flats? I hesitated to put some of my summer beach outfits on the blog like my very casual slouchy shorts worn with flats. Turns out: this was one of my most popular outfit posts and got links from several blogs. Your readers want to see it all and you may just be surprised how popular some of your regular, casual outfits can become.
    Sylvia recently posted..How to wear colour in abundance: Style lessons from CatherineMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      Thanks for the encouragement Sylvia. I think I’m going to share more casual looks in the future. People do seem to really like it, and although I do wear most of what I share on the blog most days I’m in jeans or something casual for work.

  16. Arash Mazinani
    November 4, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    I like the posts that reflect the lifestyle the author has. I mean if you were having a day out with the kids would you really be wearing 6 inch Louboutins, nope they’d get wrecked.

    So I completely see what you’re saying about some of the high profile blogs. Personally the same background and different clothes gets boring after a while as well. So it’s nice to see a bit more about the person behind the lens and posts like these allow us to do that.
    Arash Mazinani recently posted..The Art of Facial Hair & MovemberMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca November 4, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Thanks Arash. I like reading about blogger’s real life as well. There’s one blog I follow where the author is taking ballet classes and every so often she writes about the difficulties of picking up dance as an adult. It has nothing to do with fashion but il love the posts!

  17. Cat
    December 11, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    I LOVE the honesty! Great post!

  18. Fashion for Giants
    January 7, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    I think it depends. If you call yourself a ‘personal style blogger’ then I think your outfit posts should accurately depict your personal style. At the very least, if you’re just playing dress up, then say as much in the post.
    Fashion for Giants recently posted..Black and White and Blush All OverMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca January 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Hi and thanks for stopping by and commenting! I try to say if I’m playing dress up, because sometimes I am, though most of the time my husband just takes photos of what I’m wearing that day.

  19. Tracey
    January 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Until recently I would say I read blogs for real life style inspiration and magazines for crazy stylized ideas. I think some style magazines are moving further and further into high end fashion in crazy never-in-real-life shoots. Likely because you can get more day-to-day ideas on blogs. Now there seems to be more bloggers doing more stylized photos. But as the magazines move further out of reality, I think these bloggers might just be filling the gap.

    I fit into the outfits from real life category. Sometimes for when I dresss up for something special. Sometimes for working at home.

    • Heather Fonseca January 25, 2013 at 11:54 am #

      My outfits are mostly real life too, but if I’m doing something fantasy I make a point of mentioning it in the post. Like you I like looking at magazines for the fun and crazy, and blogs for real-life inspiration.


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