Han Starnes knit cotton pants | no longer available
Elizabeth Suzann X Alabama Chanin Marlena tank (XS) | purchased secondhand
Ozma linen kimono jacket | dyed by me, no longer available
Why do we feel bad when a popular brand or style doesn’t work for us and seems to work for literally everyone else? Why do we hang on to things we don’t love? Why do the way clothes fit on us make us feel bad about ourselves????
Maybe we don’t all feel this way all of the time. Sometimes I do.
Especially when instagram seems to be full of OMG I LOVE THIS (whatever), photos and not the eh…I don’t love this so much on me and here’s why. Honestly, though, who wants to post pictures of the things we don’t love? or don’t think look good on us? Would anyone? I get enough criticism for wearing things I DO LOVE, and that I think DO look good on me! LOL
We know this about instagram, and marketing in general; it’s about aspiration and getting us to want to look like someone else, so then we will FEEL like someone else. And who doesn’t want to “feel better” sometimes? And who wouldn’t want it to be as easy as buying a new piece of clothing?
But I digress. I and a few other writers I know, give absolutely unbiased opinions of the things we wear, whether they were gifted or not. We also may omit writing about things we DON’T like, or posting pictures of them, because…who wants to be negative?
And herein lies the problem. Maybe we should all be a little more negative? Or at least we should not strive to NOT be negative. It is all personal opinion anyway. People will disagree. Honest and unbiased reviews should, and do, include perceived “positive” and “negative” features of an item, at least from the perspective of the wearer.
The hard part, I think, is being honest with ourselves. It’s not easy to look past what is shiny and new and popular and at the reality of the thing on YOUR specific body and how it might fit in YOUR specific wardrobe; it takes time to perfect that skill if you haven’t got it already.
That is why. It is somehow easier for us to blame ourselves and/or our body’s “imperfections” than it is to say, hmmm, this type of trouser/skirt/shirt/etc., doesn’t do anything for me, I think I’ll pass. It is made harder when we are inundated with posts and photos of an item we like on people we admire or respect and THEY look amazing in it. So we think we are not good enough for that particular item. If it works for so many other people and not me, there must be something wrong with me.
A picture is just a picture though. It is a split second in time, and usually not an accurate reflection of reality.
Case in point, I am wearing high-waisted underwear (which I LOVE, unequivocally LOL) with these pants, which are NOT high-waisted. The first photo I took, I could see the red of my underwear peeking out between my pants and tank, so for the next one, I tucked it in. No harm, no foul, right? And why would I post that first photo?
Eh, Just a reminder that we should take what we see and read on the internets and social media with a great big old pile of salt. From me also. Over the last 14 years I’ve aimed above all else to be honest and provide as much information as I can about whatever it is I’m talking about or wearing, but I may have fallen short of that a time or two. I am not perfect 😉
We could probably all do a better job at trusting ourselves, loving ourselves, and embracing each moment of our own realities, not trying to get lost in others’.
I definitely could.
Savanna Wright says
You’re awesome. I love reading your blog- the ups, the downs, all of it. Folks obsession (me included) with positivity seems possibly misguided.
If pants don’t fit you (or me or whomever) well, why is it “negative” to say so? It’s not” I hate the person that made these pants” but I think we are conditioned to feel that it is. They simply don’t fit- all good!
I’m going to try to be better. Attach less emotion to clothes that don’t fit ME like they were intended to fit.
I miss having Danskos in my life and you are my style hero today, so I’m off to get some white clogs!
Grechen Reiter says
thank YOU for getting the conversation started with your comment on yesterday’s post! i had been thinking about that off and on, but never wrote anything down, and you inspired me to finally do it 🙂
and you’re right, it’s not negative to say that something just doesn’t work, but i think we get too bogged down sometimes trying too hard to NOT be “negative” or at least perceived that way, so we go overboard the other direction?
and OMG, how i’ve missed danskos!! i wore them yesterday all day and was weirdly enamored with them, and just so happy with how GOOD they feel wearing. i mean.. SO GOOD. it’s hard to explain LOL
This is good timing because I just posted about the literal nightmare I had undertaking the #glamcapsule 10×10, which I just found terribly restrictive. It’s day 6, and I think I’m done. I could play dress up no problem but actually wearing these items over and over was doing a number on my mental health for whatever reason. I have tended to shy away from negative reviews mostly because I feel like they’re a waste of time photographing and writing copy on, but I do think it’s important to make critical notes on items that aren’t quite perfect, even if I like them overall. I recently refused to review a subscription box that did not meet my expectations, but in retrospect, maybe it would have been better to move forward with it anyway.
Grechen Reiter says
it’s a tough decision to make, whether or not to spend the time to review something that’s not what you expected, or doesn’t hold up, or whatever. and i’m not saying that you have to do them all the time, but if it didn’t meet YOUR expectations, it might not meet someone else’s, and wouldn’t it be better if your review could have saved them the disappointment?
EXACTLY! An honest review is the only thing that helps someone decide what’s actually going to work for them. We’re spending our real money, sometimes waiting weeks or months for an item, and then being super bummed when it seemingly works for everyone else and not us.
Savanna Wright says
I totally get it! My feet actually fit better into Sanitas, but mine arrive Monday and I CAN’T WAIT!!!
I think this conversation is worth having and I’m so grateful that you wrote about it. We all need to be good at putting our own joy before any perceived “idea” of what we should find joyful.
Why it’s so hard is a total mystery to me, but I’m game to STOP IT.
This is a great post, Grechen. I have written critical reviews for beauty products before, because it makes me really angry when I see a brand promoting their products as actual medical cures for things like autoimmune diseases when there is no scientific proof AT ALL.
To me, Instagram is basically one big commercial, and everyone is selling something on there. I try to remind myself of that when I start to feel down or compare my life to someone else’s. Also, I will admit that I was swayed by the hype over Pyne & Smith dresses. I ordered one during their recent sale, and when it arrived, I was just like, “Why!?!” They are basically oversized toddler dresses in pretty linen fabric, and I don’t want to look like the cliche of a dowdy housewife even if I technically am one, LOL. I am also turned off by Ace & Jig’s current marketing photos with all of the women dressed as sister wives in matching hats, standing in the desert. One woman even forgot to put on her shirt. I don’t know any woman who dresses like that to go about her daily activities and work, and I don’t find it aspirational. Seriously!
It’s okay to point out that the emperor has no clothes, and I think skepticism is good. It shows you are paying attention.
Oh yes. Amen for honesty, K. I just feel annoyed posting reviews that skew more negative than positive because they’re inherently not enjoyable to write and I don’t look good in them. When I review products, sponsored or otherwise, I try to share accurate information and talk about my specific body type and then update the post later if something changes. But those are normally things I keep, not things I return. Part of the issue for bloggers, I think, is that *we* really could find something perfect that doesn’t suit a lot of our readership so some of it boils down to understanding who our readers are and encouraging conversation. Grechen, obvi, does a great job at that.
Erin S says
I wonder if we sometimes convince ourselves that we like pieces more than we do because small companies often have longer waits and more difficult returns. As we all know, time and money are literal and emotional investments, so garments from small companies can be a double whammy when they don’t work out how you hoped. I understand the reasoning behind charging shipping both ways and restocking fees, but it does feel like a punch to the gut when one of these pieces is a disappointment and needs to be returned. I recently experienced this when a Lauren Winter wraparound dress that I considered for a WHILE, emailed with customer service about fit, found any instagram pic that I could to study … It was really beautiful but did not work for me AT ALL.
On another note, do you think that “influencers” are sometimes scared of their own influence? I’ve heard the excuse for not “going negative” that bloggers/podcasters/YouTubers don’t want their followers to completely avoid a brand just because it didn’t work for one person. I don’t really buy this reasoning because I think that reviews can be presented in a fair and nuanced manner even if they sway negative.
We’re not supposed to leave negative reviews if somethign doesn’t work for us or we don’t like it? Uh-oh …
I actually like reading HONEST reviews. Positive…tell me why in detail. Negative…tell me why in detail.
As long as the review isn’t snarky…it’s all good!!
I fully embrace yay and nay reviews that are accompanied with info on the poster as it helps me decide whether the item will work for me. There are times that negative reviews have helped me determine an item will work for me. For example, one piece bathing suits. When ordering online I look for a suit in a size 12. Since I’m short, there is the risk that the torso will be too long as I’m short and this is a larger size as far as bathing suits go so those reviews that say “this suit was too short for me in the torso!” helps me, a 5’1″er immensely. I say (internally) “perfect!” and add to my cart.
One of the reasons I started to check your site each time I was debating on buying something is to see how it fit on you as you are just a few inches taller than me. Your detailed pro and cons on an items have also been very helpful. Our body types are very different (especially now you skinny girl!) but I still could get a better visual image knowing your height and reading your thorough reviews.
I love the kimono jacket since you’ve dyed it, it looks very pretty!
Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 says
I love this. I don’t blog for gifts or ads (I don’t receive either and haven’t asked for either) link for reference/convenience (with the exception of the arguably unethical/unsustainable referral link to a clothing subscription company, which boxes I receive because sometimes convenience still wins).
I have found so many blogs because I actively pursue reviews of items and want to see how things look/work IRL. One of the reasons I follow your blog, several years after the introduction of Everlane’s Modern Loafer (it took me no fewer than FOUR pairs to get the sizing right. I probably ended up paying closer to $200 in total for the pair in purchase and resale, and still worry they make my feet look clownishly-large). So (SO) many blogs have increasingly felt like ads/revenue sources at the exclusion of authenticity and pleasure for the reader. Your blog feels authentic, and I’ve found others I now read regularly through your posts and comments section. So, thanks.