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Finance & the Fashion Blogger: Ignore-ance

by Ashley on April 27, 2010

shopping, shopping quotes, shopping cheaper than psychiatrist

Please be sure to check out my follow up posts to this one: Finance & the Fashion Blogger: Blogging & Buying (for my reactions on this post) & Finance & the Fashion Blogger: Haul Videos to check out more thoughts and reactions to this post and its lovely, thought provoking comments!

I write this from a personal place, one that has been a big part of my life for nearly a decade and more thoughtfully impacts my daily life now.  I’d been a stupid teenager and a stupid 20-something, racking up thousands of dollars in debt– on eating out, shoes, books, movies– some of these were my own stupidity, some of these were compensation and the results of rebuilding my life after Hurricane Katrina.  At the end of the month, all I get is that bill saying that I owe this much.

We write about fashion– but we don’t often write or talk about the financial choices behind our sartorial choices.

Lately I’ve found myself recognizing how eliminating that temptation from my life has also had an impact on my ability to write as a fashion blogger.  It’s crossing my mind more and more how we, as fashion bloggers, need to demystify finances and realize that spending and shopping  go hand in hand– how do we do it, afford it, save for it?  Or do we?

Since moving back to New Orleans, my sartorial life has taken a backseat, as I’ve tried to focus on paying down my credit card debts and student loans.  As a result, my shopping has hopped in the backseat too– along with it, window shopping and temptation.

Moving back to New Orleans has taught me a bit about myself, including my habit of spiraling.  Spiraling–the act of doing something once, only to feel the need to keep doing it. It happened this past month– what started as using my credit card to buy Lady Gaga tickets and added up to 2 Tarina Tarantino necklaces, a new purse from Alice & Isa, 2 new tops from B&Lu, and a couple dinners out with friends.  Suddenly a month’s worth of progress on eliminating debt had been eliminated.

The only justification I have is that I bought things I really loved and have loved and wanted a long time.

In many ways, I think the rise of the fashion blogger has led to the rise of other things–increased need for consumption, a competitiveness to buy more and keep up with other bloggers. I remember reading about shopping addictions in magazines when I was younger, but I question if that’s on the rise too, with instant access to dozens of sale emails and posts popping up before our eyes every second.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder, what’s the real cost of being a fashion blogger?

credit cards, stack of credit card, pile credit cardsIt’s something we keep quiet about publicly, but whisper about in g-chats and emails.   Is that blogger always buying new things? How does she afford it all?  And in an effort to keep up, we have two options: buy it ourselves or seek it out from companies in the form of payments/sponsorships/review products.

Birdiee said to me, “The act of buying is so integral to writing that sometimes I wonder how bloggers keep it up – there are a lot of bloggers who do editorials because they haven’t got the funds to keep up.”

Recently I went shopping with a girl friend in the French Quarter.  We were deliberating jewelry at Ragin’ Daisy, when I realized that I wanted this particular necklace and pair of earrings (totaling $57 before tax).  I also knew that I couldn’t afford them at the moment, so I’d have to pay by credit card.  So I didn’t buy them.

I’ve seen whispers from bloggers who’ve hidden from their debts and bad shopping habits, but never opened up that side with their readers.  The fact is, the need to buy, to remain stylish, to support our style, allow it to grow, change, evolve, has a price. Just how high do we let it get?

Jennine of the Coveted says of her own habits with shopping,

“When I first started blogging, I was well into a very destructive bad shopping habit, and when I started my blog, at first it fueled my already destructive spending. I remember reading somewhere on Style Bytes that she ran out of money, until the next credit card came in the mail, and at the time it seemed like..’oh, that’s how she does it!’ So, like an idiot, I did the same thing. I can’t give numbers, but I was in a lot of debt…but now, I have paid almost 2/3 of it off (after next month, I’ll have one more credit card to go, and I’m out of consumer debt). And I’ve learned my lesson. Bad spending habits aren’t worth it, not even for my blog.”

Michelle at Wicked Whimsy told me how real financial responsibility often holds her back as a blogger– she says,

One of the things that holds me back from doing more outfit posts, embarrassing as it may be, is that I just don’t have the cash to keep up with the constant influx of new clothes, shoes, and accessories that other fashion bloggers seem to have, even if I shopped on a serious budget. I feel like, because of this, most people don’t want to see outfits that are continual reworkings of my closet favorites (although I guess the Uniform Project could be an example to the contrary).

When bloggers are racking up thousands of dollars of debt or waiting for the next credit card bill to arrive, where do we draw a line? Form blogger support groups to keep each other from spending– and dressing– outside of our means?  Or do we destroy an illusion–of carefree living, style as art– by bringing finance in to the fashion mix?

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