via Vogue US

On the weekend the documentary In Vogue: The Editor's Eye screened on Foxtel. It's a documentary filmed at US Vogue, featuring Anna Wintour and with interviews with her Fashion Editors explaining what exactly it is that they do (something they all found difficult to articulate, funnily enough), and produced as it was Vogue's 120th Birthday last year. Great viewing, and a definite one to catch when it's shown on repeat. It was quite fascinating in that it showed the evolution of how fashion is shown in magazines and media in general from the very beginning in the 1890's, and in showing how fashion spreads are put together today. I'm a long time Vogue reader - I have two sisters and we all loved magazines. Between the three of us, we would purchase all the major overseas titles, as well as our long standing subscriptions to Vogue Australia and Harpers Bazaar (and prior to that Mode, anyone remember that magazine?) from the time that I was about 13.

Vogue Editors via. The one in the pink jeans/ trousers is 99 years old

I'm not someone that has a lot to do with the fashion industry (obviously, other than as a consumer), but as I'm interested in all facets of design it's always of interest to me to see how creative people operate in different industries that all fall under a very broad "artistic" umbrella. Now, a lot of Vogue's fashion shoots feature completely unattainable clothing to us mere mortals, and use models that look nothing like the average woman, but the one thing they have in common is telling a story.

Alice in Wonderland story in US Vogue, via
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There's a "feel" to the photo shoot, or a definite narrative. The clothes and accessories are placed in context. This creative process is orchestrated by the Fashion Editor - thinking of the story, choosing the clothes, casting the models, working with the photographer to achieve some of the truly memorable photographs in fashion.

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Watching the documentary made me start to thing a little more about where fashion has headed since the advent of Style Blogs and Street Style blogs in particular... after all, they weren't around until fairly recently. The ones that I'm thinking of are the blogs of pretty young women who pose day after day in a street somewhere near their home, who have what must be a professional photographer that anonymously photographs them, who have the time to style and then pose for a reasonably time consuming photo shoot, and who never repeat an outfit (and have extremely large wardrobes to start with). Usually there is no text accompanying the images, just a list of what they're wearing/ where to buy it.

This is Blair, who has the very popular blog Atlantic Pacific and who appears to live in New York.

off to work? or drinks? or unemployed? 

Who are these people and where are these outfits actually worn? Does this woman work in a cubicle? Or as a Gallery assistant? Or does she nip inside and change into a standard issue black suit for her real job as an accountant?

A trip to San Francisco... a day of sightseeing perhaps?

There's also an element of make believe in these photos. I've been checking the weather in New York, as Mr AV has gone off there this week again for work, and it's been quite cool, yet photos of bare legged and bare armed outfits are posted - I can almost see the goosebumps. Photos are almost always outside in the streets presumably near her apartment.... is the apartment she lives in awful? Is it empty but full of her fabulous fashion? Who knows. These photos leave a lot of open ended questions...what is lacking is context. Yes, the outfit looks great, and they're inspiring in their own way, but it's treading a strange line between the totally make believe of a magazine photo shoot, and the reality of real life. I want to know more about the person that wears the clothes, and that isn't provided in the background of the photos.

a day when it was 15 degrees C for the maximum. Her bag must contain her coat.

The street photo blogs, such as The Sartorialist, do give some context, or you can draw it yourself from the image. The people that have been photographed didn't dress for a photo shoot as they weren't expecting to be photographed that day - they wear weather and place appropriate clothing. You do get a sense of the life the person wearing the outfit is living, or you can make that narrative up for yourself.

In Paris via

What all this deep though about fashion has produced is a new found respect for what it is that magazines do. I have lamented the overuse of celebrities as models in magazines and in particular as cover girls...  but overall the images are inspirational in telling the mood of fashion, of the motivation behind designers collections. They are art, and for that they are enriching.

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Blogs that show outfits that others might covet and buy or copy the style of are a bit different. What's the motivation behind the blog for a start? To receive sponsorship, for personal validation, due to sheer boredom or otherwise lack of purpose in life, for narcissistic purposes?

I do personally find it very interesting to see what others are wearing/ have in their wardrobes, and why. I like reading unbiased and unvarnished reviews of clothing and brands that are without the sponsorship silence that comes with a magazine or a style blog that has no text. What we wear also says a lot about the life we lead and our aspirations. But that's a little different to a text less blog with the same person in different fantasy (?) outfits. For some they're inspiring, for me it's not enough.

So my conclusion is that I like my fashion to be cerebral... either something to think about with beautiful or challenging images, or if it's a blog that isn't street style, that there be written content that places the fashion in the context of the life the person lives. What's your view?


Apologies to Blair from Atlantic Pacific for using solely her as my example style blog

34 comments:

  1. So many BIG questions....must admit to also wondering about what's going on behind the scenes at Atlantic Pacific and to where exactly she wears those amazing outfits...she always looks impeccable....maybe that feathery skirt went to the work Christmas drinks where she had too many drinks and snogged the boss?! Let's hear the behind the scenes stories as I'm sure that she incites great fun! Love those Alice in Wonderland shots...curious and gorgeous. Rx

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    1. Love those Alice ones too - the fashion designers were appearing in the photos as characters, such as the mad hatter etc. Yes, would love some back story on Blair, but she is deliberately wiped clean - not a spec of information on her on the blog. At all! xx

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    2. Yes, agree. Such an interesting post - you've raised questions I've often thought about too. Love Romy's fantasies about what Blair does outside the photo frame. You could make a whole scenario, even a script for her.
      By chance happened to see "In Vogue: the Editor's Eye" and found it fascinating. US Vogue really is wonderful and a world in itself, so different from Oz Vogue. I loved the Grade Coddington shoots, especially the Alice ones (they were hers I think?) there were also some brilliant ones in "The September Issue". Such originality and beauty. It seems it's not really so much about the clothes - it's about creating a work of art.
      It was interesting in this doco that Anna W gets to speak more and confide to the camera while in "The September Issue" we were seeing the world of US Vogue through Grace's eyes and opinions.
      I guess those of us who follow blogs mostly are a bit nosy and enjoy glimpses of other lives. We can't do that with Blair because from what we see, she's not much more than an attractive clotheshorse with great fashion sense. Maybe that's the reason we can't relate to her. Best wishes, Pamela

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    3. She's in fashion so I don't hav a problem with her elaborate costumes.
      I prefer to see people in real every day clothes as that what I wear.

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    4. Pamela - I loved The September Issue too, and agree with you about Anna chatting more in In Voge by comparison. Grace Coddington's shoots are absolutely stunning, I think she must have been the biggest influencer in the way fashion is communicated over the past 20-30 years than any other. Agree with you about blogs too... I've always been nosy, and love seeing how others live their lives all over the world.

      Tabitha- Ahhh, well that explains where the outfits are going each day. But you can't get any back story behind the Mona Lisa like smile, so it's been hard to tell. Clearly others find her very inspiring with the hundreds of comments each day and 22,000 followers.

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  2. Interesting post, Heidi, and a subject that I'm intrigued by too. That documentary sounds worth watching.
    I think you've hit the nail on the head with the observation that some fashion blogs lack any context at all, and for that reason, don't really interest me. I'm a magazine junkie, too, and have been reading Vogue for a long time.
    The art and beauty behind a lot of shoots is just breathtaking, and does require a huge amount of work and energy.
    Friends who work in the industry put so much of themselves into their work, so I have great respect for editors and art directors (and some photographers!)
    The relevance of fashion and style blogs for me is that I can see a real person wearing things and reviewing them in a context that I can relate to. Fashion mags are for inspiration and beautiful images.
    Fashion blogs like Pink Peonies and Atlantic Pacific hold no interest for me, beyond my curiousity as to what these people do and where they live. I'm so nosy that all I really want to do is peer into people's lives, wardrobes and houses!!

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    1. Agree Ruth. I've always loved those "what's in their bag" features in magazines (although they never seem to feature scrunched up tissues or supermarket dockets), it's what is behind the perfect facade (of a designer bag). I just end up not feeling any sense of connection with a blog without background. xx

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  3. The Alice photos are amazing.

    The style blogger has gorgeous clothes, is absolutely stunning and puts her outfits together beautifully. I think that it is hard to connect in any way with those photos though - I agree with Romy that a little bit of back story as to where those outfits went and what they did would be fabulous!

    Lots of her photos are in the West Village so she hangs out in pretty funky surroundings...

    xx
    Ironic really when there seems more connection with a glossy mag than a personal blog. Or maybe it is just me feeling a long way from anywhere urban at present. Would love a feathered skirt though. The whole district would think I have finally gone mad.

    Very interestng and thoughtful post Heidi!

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    1. Yes true! I've bemoaned the lack of connection to fashion magazines lately (due to the use of very young looking girls on the whole), but watching the documentary made me think a bit more about the whole thing and I do still prefer them as inspiration.

      Think you should get the feathered skirt. It would certainly get tongues wagging if you wore it down to town at the local pub on a Saturday night. You might encourage others to lift their standards too!! xx

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  4. Oh Heidi - great insightful thought provoking post!!

    I have that documentary waiting for me so now I can't wait to see it.

    I wish I had seen it so I could compare to another documentary about Bill Cunningham - the original NY street style reporter for the NY times. Have you seen it?
    I think it is a must. Rather related to your topic...

    It is frustrating because like most things there is the initial facade and the workings behind that one isn't aware of.

    I actually follow the Sartorialist even though I can't bear Scott. But all those "street" shots aren't...They are staged - kind of like those wedding photos you see where people are running around with cotton candy and balloons and you think - wow I don't even have time to cook for a dinner party and yet you had time for that on your wedding day? But then the bride tells you that the all get dressed up again after the honeymoon and recreated the wedding photos. Some of us are older so can take this all with a pinch of salt but if I was a teenager I would be contaminated with the false veneer of the fashion blogging world.

    I admit I love fashion posts on what people from all sorts of countries and jobs and socioeconomic groups wear - that is what made me visit these random bedrooms in Brazil and Naples of teenagers modeling a bag etc but it usually is in context of their whole life.

    But if I see another anorexic Olivia Palermo wannabe taking pictures of an outfit that she bought only to return the next day to Neiman Marcus, I feel like writing a letter to the editor. If I want picture only no context of fashion then I would rather see it on Gisele on a photo shoot in Sardinia styled by Grace Coddington shot by Mario Testino.

    Sorry to go on so long and having a mini rant but you bring up such a valid issue! x

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    1. I did see the Bill Cunningham one - loved it! I thought the Sartorialist was posed, but the people were just random... except for outside fashion week in NY, London, Paris etc where there are now people hanging around waiting to be photographed in their getup.

      You need to write that blog post - I think others loose the perspective about what is normal. All these young girls living at home into their 30's and blowing thousands and thousands of dollars on designer stuff because they think designer is normal due to blogs and magazines. xx

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    2. Scott is super OCD. To be fair apparently about a fifth or sixth is natural but only during fashion weeks where everyone gags for his attention. ( I know people who get dressed to see if Scott might snap them as a laugh. They haven't featured yet.) but he just shoots on the street to make it seem that it is spontaneous.

      Yes I might do a post but don't know how to be humorous about it! Busy day in London today for us...

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  5. Great post Heidi .. I remember Natalia Vodianova as Alice with Stephen Jones as well, dont know who the second man is though .. the work that must have gone into the spread is enormous. I still want to know why some fashion spreads feature black and white photos amongst the coloured ones..does anyone know ?

    I agree I prefer to see models on covers and in fashion spreads..Im a bit of a model groupie , especially some of the 1950s women ..

    I dont follow those fashion blogs you mention though I have dipped in and out of them at times,I feel very divorced from those pretty young women though Coulda Woulda Shouda's point about seeing girls' clothes in the context of their whole life is very valid and Im intrigued at the teenagers in Brazil and Naples ...I would like to see their bedrooms..

    That white one shouldered dress..wow !!!!!

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    1. I thought the mad hatter might be Phillip Treacy? I love the elegance of the 1950's model shots too.... as you can tell by my avatar (although really, I do look uncannily alike in real life. You believe me, right?)!.
      Loved that dress too - and loved the context with the leaf texture it was placed in... so stunning xx

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  6. This is one of my favourite posts.

    I remember the Alice shoot too.

    I thought Atlantic P worked for Tory Burch and gets gifted lot sof free clothes. The clothes aren't sequential- I always imagine she does a big shoot of the w/e and then uploads them daily.

    I rememebr Mode! And Follow Me! I've bought every copy of USA Vogue since the late 90s. You had to order it in from a newsagency then. Imagine!

    I am counting the seconds til the doco screens on Wed 24th and thank you so much for telling me about it!

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    1. My pleasure - you'll love it.

      How do you know this stuff about AP? There's absolutely no info on her on the blog... except under "sponsorship" she writes something slightly sinister about how "we" gather information on blog readers that is only used with the sponsors. So guess much of what she's linking to is free/ paid for.

      Mode was great - remember how big it was... they gradually shrunk it from the newspaper size it was down to normal size. And I do remember Follow Me! Wish I'd kept a few of them, but I threw them all out... We also used to buy US Seventeen magazine and Glamour back when we were teens. xx

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    2. I remember all of those . the US mags fascinated me way back in the 1970s...everyone so clean ahd wholesome looking

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  7. This is a really great post, I loved reading your thoughts, especially from the perspective of caring and knowing about design and art.

    That Alice in Wonderland shoot is one of my all-time favourites. It captures that element of fantasy and surrealness that I associate with fashion.

    I find myself pretty uninspired by most "what I wore" blogs. On the other hand, I love the blogs that discuss personal style, and put some thought behind the discussions. Atlantic Pacific leaves me cold. I appreciate the occasional outfit, but I mostly find her outfits to be fairly unrealistic mish mashes of really expensive clothing. Harsh, but I just don't "get it."

    While I've found the odd photo that inspired me on the Sartorialist, I also tire of his style. He is really fixated on a handful of types. Also, if you read interviews with him, it's hard to want to give him any page views. Not a nice man, I believe. And the whole debacle when he made a big deal of posting a woman who actually had thighs really turned me off as well.

    I feel really conflicted about the proliferation of street style photos on the internet. While I think that some regionality in dressing has been maintained (partially thanks to weather and regional variations in "typical" bodies, especially in Europe), I think that internet style has made street style a lot more homogenous. And sometimes people just look like they're trying to get a photo taken of them. This is a hilarious send up of that phenomenon (the comments are funny too): http://www.girlofacertainage.com/2013/02/15/how-to-get-photographed-during-fashion-week-fw-13-edition/

    I also think style blogs have really increased brand awareness, and perhaps decreased the willingness of people to just wear whatever - instead there are certain brands or looks that become totally ubiquitous.

    Having lived in some diverse and stylish cities, particularly NYC, I don't think that what we see on the blogs really captures the true creativity in dressing that goes on there. Some people are just so incredible at expressing themselves with their clothing, and it is a wonder to see. I agree with others above that Bill Cunningham is really the best at capturing true street style.

    At the moment I live in a rather dull place, style-wise, and I really miss being inspired by people on the street. This has really made me realize how much the internet cannot substitute for good old-fashioned people watching.

    Okay, I have many thoughts on this! Enough for the moment :)

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    1. I really enjoyed reading your comments Abby, particularly as you've lived somewhere that is the centre of a lot of street style inspiration for photographers and blogs. I was slightly shocked at how many street style blogs have popped up in the past few years, I did a google search to try to broaden my reference points for the post, and there were so many I just gave up and used the obvious. Pretty much every major city in the world now has multiple blogs on this subject, and I agree with you, the internet has created a homogeny that you wouldn't have seen in the past. Just thinking about Australia, I can remember how long it would take for certain looks to filter through to us - 6-12 months. And some things never really made it here and vice versa... now it's almost instant thanks to the net. Big cities do have more space for creative dressing - living in a small city it can be daunting to stand out from the crowd. I remember going to a 40th birthday party when I first arrived back in Adelaide and it was like all the girls had got together and decided to wear floaty floral silk kaftan type things (and it was cold). It's sort of like everyone decides on a look for the season and beats it to death en masse. Brand awareness is incredible now. Tory Burch is not sold in Australia in any shops, yet pretty much everyone knows the branding and her logo. xx

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    2. This reminds me a little of the movie "The Eye of the Storm" when the Judy Davis character, divorced from her French husband, and living in Paris for years returns to Australia. Her old Australian friends have a party for her. It was so interesting to see the huge difference between the way she dressed and their way. Before the party she'd spent time nervously sorting out what she'd wear: a severe black cocktail dress with long sleeves (probably wool or cashmere), that had seen better days, she had to pin a diamond brooch over a big hole, she was all in black. When she stepped out on to the Sydney terrace into the sunshine and the dazzling colours and patterns, including light floral silks and glitz, she looked like a creature from another world. Wonderful how clothes can be used, in this case to show her alienation from her old home and friends, and I guess also the huge contrast between Sydney and Paris. Not quite on your topic, but your description of the 40th b'day party reminded me of the movie, and caused me to think again about the impacts of different styles and colours and how clothing is sometimes so cleverly used in movies to convey key information about a character and their environment, and reveal inner psychology and emotion. Hitch was particularly good at this. Best wishes, Pamela

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    3. I love the use of fashion in movies. There are some movies that are fairly awful, but the styling (set decoration and costumes) are so good that I've rewatched them again and again.
      Funny Pamela, the party I went to was a little like that - it was at night, and was cold, but I was wearing a black long sleeved cocktail dress. A couple of the guys at the party told me it was nice to see someone dressed up and looking sophisticated.... but I did feel like I stood out a little! xx

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    4. So interesting, Pamela.

      I have noticed through reading blogs that the Australians really use so much more colour in their dress than the Europeans and North Americans. It's really refreshing. And I like the regional aspect of it - there is so much more sun there and I think that influences the drive to wear more colour. I know that as soon as the sun comes out here, I abandon my blacks, greys, and dark blues.

      Heidi, I'm laughing at beating a look to death en masse. It's the same here (Switzerland).

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  8. Loved the post from girls of a certain age - so funny. Thanks Abby.

    I also liked the end of the post where there was the photo and comment about "trying too hard". I think that's the point. I would like to think that most people get up, get dressed in a way that makes them feel fabulous, and then get out there and live their lives. The problem is I think the getting dressed bit becomes some peoples lives.

    Not much scope for creative dressing in a country town - I am going down fighting though and am refusing to succumb to the RM Williams boots, jeans, navy jumper and checked shirt brigade....!

    Such a thoughtful post Heidi. Well done!



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    1. It took a long time to put my scrambled thoughts together on this one - kept going off on different tangents!

      Do you wear your collars up or down though T? If you wear your collar down, you're definitely a rebel in your town.. same if you don't wear pink lipstick or accessorise the above outfit with a string of pearls for best...!

      xx

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  9. I enjoyed your post which was certainly food for thought! I've always been interested in style, fashion and clothes in general and I like to see beautiful, creative images in magazines - they are so often like works of art but I'm also keen to see and read about more wearable interpretations. I especially like to people-watch in cities such as London and Paris and admire the range of outfits from the unusual to the classic. Always good to get inspiration from real people.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. I must say that I don't read the high fashion mags thinking that I'm going to be able to either buy things they feature or do a direct copy from the look they've put together... but I think these things filter through, the mags are just the extreme version of the look of fashion for the season. One of the best parts about travel is the people watching - I could sit in a cafe for hours somewhere busy just watching the world go by. xx

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  10. Love this piece Heidi! And I think about things like that a lot. I am basically a housewife in a place where you always need a cardigan. So. No dresses or bare legs (except Summer afternoons) or sleeveless stuff. BTW AP lives here in San fran. Love that pic of the editors - sooo relaxed and natural and not too "done"

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    1. Loved that pic of the editors as well - it was interesting to see what they were wearing in the office... all very wearable and easily elegant, they weren't as 'done' as Anna for example. The 99 year old was especially fabulous. xx

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  11. BB from MelbourneApril 19, 2013 at 1:44 AM

    Hi Heidi. I’m a first time commentator. What a thought provoking post; I love it. I buy a small number of fashion magazines but mostly I read/view blogs and Pinterest boards - over forty fashion ones on a regular basis and they all provide me with inspiration in some form or another. I’m going to stand up for Atlantic Pacific here. Blair provokes me to think about colour/shape/pattern combinations etc. that I wouldn't normally consider. I love some of her outfits and am pleased she shares her fashion ideas with us. I have no greater expectation of her than that. If she doesn't want to divulge who she is outside of fashion, I'm ok with that. With some of the blogs I read, the authors reveal a lot about who they are and frankly, I wish they would just let the clothes do the talking instead.

    One blog that would be right up your alley is You Look Fab. Angie is a stylist for the real woman and includes photos of herself and how she lives. She’s incredibly articulate and her posts are informative and cover a vast expanse of fashion topics. She has real clients and she shares their fashion considerations and choices. It’s well worth searching through her archive of posts too.

    The other place I get inspiration is from Pinterest boards and blogs that are really a scrapbook of fashion ideas. Often they have no commentary. When you come across ones that totally mirror your own taste, it's quite spooky because the owner of the particular board is even more anonymous.

    It's interesting that we have access to all of these fashion ideas from across the globe in real time and yet dress standards continue to deteroriate at an alarming rate. To be honest, I'm continually underwhelmed by what I see people wearing around me - on the street, at work, in restaurants. If I saw Miss Atlantic Pacific in real life wearing one of her outfits, I'd shake her hand for at least being interesting.

    I'm glad I've found your blog, Heidi. You're a great writer.
    Best, BB from Melbourne.

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    1. Hi BB thanks for commenting - I love a bit of dissent, and you've written a really interesting comment! I find AP's outfits interesting... but they just don't hold my attention for long. I also pin a lot of outfits for inspiration on pinterest, and they are very much static images, but I think the difference between that and a blog is that pinterest is essentially you curating a variety of style sources/ different bloggers outfits/ things for sale in online shops etc whereas a blog is one persons personal style, so you either relate to it, or you don't.

      I do think that AP puts together very interesting outfits though, and is one of the better style bloggers out there.

      And totally agree with you about the declining standards of dress. I'm constantly disappointed to go places where people don't make an effort. If you're at a restaurant where a meal is expensive and the fitout has cost the restaurant hundreds of thousands of dollars, wearing jeans no matter how expensive they may be is just boring. Similarly, wearing jeans to the Ballet etc just shows laziness and a lack of effort. I don't buy it when people say it's now more egalitarian and anyone should be able to turn up wearing whatever because they might not be able to afford other clothes... if you can pay $90 for a ticket, you likely own more than one pair of jeans in your wardrobe.... personal pet hate. Might write a blog post on this actually.... you've got me all fired up about it now!
      Thanks again for your comment, hope to hear from you again! xx

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  12. I've awarded you the Liebster Award for your blog! Won't be offended if you don't want to do it :) Details are on my blog: http://inthenightsky.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/the-liebster-award.html

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    1. Thanks N! Will pop over to your blog to check it out. x

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  13. Fantastic post. I have always been intrigued by AP, partly because I adore that American East Coast preppy look but I completely agree with everyone that it would be lovely to know a little more about where the outfit was headed. I so love Romy's description of Blair snogging the boss! Although, I do remember reading that her photographer is often her boyfriend and if not him her flat mate. I can't remember where I read this though.

    I would love to read a post about declining dress standards. I am often horrified by some of the outfits that I see at events with the dress code Black Tie. If you are invited to a wedding and the Bride has requested that everyone dress in Black Tie you simply do not wear smart casual. As for the Opera... gosh, feel itchy just thinking about it! x

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    1. I've been wondering how some people do actually seem to know something about AP, so there must have been something written about her at some point.

      I have a story about a Black Tie wedding, which I'll save for the post, but yes, it is absolutely horrifyingly rude when people ignore a dress code to wear what they feel like. xx

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