What do you think about outfit posts? Do you like them? The pressure to create a blog-worthy outfit on Instagram and stay relevant is real. One of the most common questions I get is, “Who takes photos of your outfits? Do you have someone who follows you around and takes pictures?” The answers are a photographer and no.
I originally started my blog as a collection of musings about fashion and my career. Most of my posts were collages of looks I would put together until a close friend asked, “why don’t you post the outfits you actually wear on a daily basis?” This was 2013 and a lot of bloggers were already doing that but I never really considered turning the camera on myself. Well, shortly after I realized that she was right. What better way was there to showcase my personal style and offer some outfit inspiration to readers? Today I’m breaking down behind the scenes of what it takes to create an outfit post on Street Style Philosophy.
The outfits I post on Instagram and my blog are not typically the clothes i’m wearing that day unless it’s a selfie or mirror shot. I don’t often have the time or ability to photograph the outfits I’m wearing on a daily basis. I work in a corporate office setting, which is a mix of cubicles and an open workspace environment. There are times that I would love to photograph my daily work outfits. However, in order to produce beautiful photos that do well on social media (and that you love!), pretty backgrounds are a necessity. I could probably find a clean background at work that would flow with my mostly neutral outfits but then I would have to ask a friend or co-worker, which I honestly don’t want to do.
I work in oncology at a pharmaceutical company in a conservative environment so I don’t feel right about interrupting someone’s important work to take an outfit photo of me. It also takes many photos (like a lot) to get a really great one that doesn’t have one of the following discrepancies-closing my eyes, my shirt getting untucked, hair fly-aways, awkward poses, or not noticing a garbage can in the background. Overall, it’s not something i’m willing to ask of most people out of respect and consideration of their time.
The other point I consider with outfit posts is that expectations are high in the blogging world. There are so many incredible bloggers with gorgeous outfit-of-the day looks. Honestly, it’s hard to compete with. If I’m going to post something on my blog or Instagram, I want it to be high-quality content. If I’m working from home and wearing yoga pants and a hoodie, I typically don’t think it’s good enough to post. Even when I go into the office, I’m usually wearing variations of my daily uniform-black denim, a tank top and a boyfriend blazer. How many jean/boyfriend blazers do I really want to show you? For me, this is exactly what I want to wear at the moment-chic, comfortable and easy. However, I want my readers to have the most varied and fun content so I try not to post repetitive daily looks.
The way I solve for these obstacles is by using content stacking. I meet with a professional photographer on a regular basis and shoot multiple looks so I can have outfits ready to post over the next few weeks. I shoot my clothes and what I would normally wear but the difference is that I shoot all the outfits together. I’ll plan the looks in advance of the shoot date and basically change in the car between outfits. Usually, I’ll try to include something I wore during the week, something I’m planning on wearing for an upcoming date night, and something casual. I also have limited time for the shoot because I need to get back to daily life with the family so I’ll try to get in as many outfits as I can. It can all feel very rushed. There’s also a cost associated with outfit photos so I need to be strategic and budget how much I’m willing to pay for photography. I treat my blog like a small business so basically what that means is a lot of planning and spreadsheets.
There is pressure as a blogger to shoot items that are on-trend and in stock. As a reader, if you like something I’m wearing, you can click on my link and purchase it. I’ve gotten feedback in the past that many of the items I post are out of stock, which is an obstacle. By the time I plan my outfit, meet with a photographer, get the photos back, and actually sit down and right a blog post, the chance of the items I’m wearing being sold out is high. And if I don’t have time to shoot my outfits, I’m stressed that I don’t have enough quality content. Or sometimes I’m not feeling particularly inspired myself and would rather just wear jeans and a t-shirt. I’m not making excuses or complaining because I genuinely love that I’m able to do this as a side-hustle. But I do think it’s important to be transparent and tell the whole story. So, what is a blogger to do?
One thing I’ve been trying to mix in is personal stories and behind the scenes of living in the city, building a career, being in love, and raising two sweet babies. It’s a more diversified approach so the blog isn’t solely focused on personal style. Knowing myself and my general approach to life, I create unrealistic expectations and put unbearable pressure on myself causing stress and an eventual meltdown where I end up asking myself, “what am I really doing here?” Having variable content on the blog helps me avoid putting all the focus on one element. I can, therefore, present a more complete picture. It also creates more room for written content. Writing, for me, isn’t just a fun hobby. It’s what I need to feel whole. Mixing my style with editorial content provides a balance that I hope is more fun to read and more relatable. Based on feedback and polls I’ve done on Instagram, that seems to be the case!
Outfit details: Top: Lush via Nordstrom I Pants: Topshop via Nordstrom I Heels: BCBG, sold out (similar here) I Bag: Madewell I Sunglasses: Celine
Hopefully that sheds some light into what goes on in the making of an outfit post. What would you like to see on the blog? What’s working and what’s missing? Your feedback will inform my content strategy so it is welcome and greatly appreciated! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would rather not post in the comments. Thank you for reading! Tanya