Holly's Style Archive - Celebrating 6 Years Of Blogging
Hello people! Following our blog relaunch I recently had to reformat every single blog post we have shared on The Twins’ Wardrobe since 2013. Many of them are embarrassing as hell but it’s been so interesting to see how I’ve changed over the years. The time-consuming task inspired me to put together this little post which will ultimately illustrate my style evolution. What better way to celebrate 6 years of blogging? Summer recently published her version of this post, you can read that here!
My main take-away from this is that I have undeniably become so much more comfortable in my body. In our early blog days, the photos reflect my life as a classic awkward teenager. In many of the 2013 outfit posts I am looking directly into the camera, smiling, a little hunched over and completely unsure what to do with myself. I loved dressing up and taking pictures of my clothes but I was constantly battling that self-consciousness, something we all know too well. There was no other purpose to these posts other than sharing nice clothes and talking about what I’d been up to (and I speak for myself here, as I feel Summer has always had a very good sense of self when it comes to clothes and personal style- she has always succeeded in talking about clothes in a way that celebrates them, not promotes them). We put so much effort into it all! When I look back I do feel a bit of embarrassment but mostly pride. It took a lot of courage to put myself out there at a time where I hadn’t yet grown into my own true self. I became more confident with every new shoot and I did learn, albeit slowly, what worked for me and what I wanted to achieve in ‘blogging’ about clothes. I truly only discovered what that was very recently. This may sound incredibly shallow to the ears of some, it is in a way (is doesn’t pass me by that taking photos of oneself so frequently is bordering on narcissism). They are just clothes. However I do believe that our choice in clothes play into our identity, they benefit us in ways we can’t quite understand. Clothes have value and it’s important to recognize that, especially in our fast-fashion-dominated world.
Anyways I hope you enjoy this ~visual journey~ ! Be warned, you will see poor photography, lighting and framing. Young Holly didn’t understand the notion of personal style. You may also see regrettable box hair colour choices.
Back to the beginning of TTW: 18 years old
I think I should give a little bit of insight as to what I was like in my late teens. I was very young for my age. I didn’t live in a big city so I grew up quite slowly. Not that I was ‘immature’, I just wasn’t as independent, confident or as ‘grown up’ as some teenagers are nowadays. At 17 I was more or less playing dress-up and just having fun, still frightfully self-conscious and awkward.
I drew the 3 pictures below from our very early blogs in the summer of 2013. As you can see I had quite a girly, preppy style. I wore lots of dresses and skirts and didn’t shy away from colours or prints. I was also way more into bags and accessories than I am now. This was undoubtedly my H&M era: the clothes were cheap and accessible to students. I had yet to learn about sustainability in fashion and this was reflected in my shopping habits. From what I can remember I was inspired by magazines and the Lookbook platform. I didn’t buy things blindly though, I only ever bought pieces I genuinely liked whether they were trendy or not.
I always made an effort with my make-up in our early posts, there was a lot of eye-liner and lipstick going on! I’d recently discovered brow-pencils too, an art which took me such a very long time to master. As for my hair, it was undergoing a natural transformation from blonde to ‘dirty blonde’. The natural yellow tint on the ends took years to grow out!
University - September 2013
My personal style evolved so much during my time at University. There was quite a big transformation in the first year: for the first time ever I was able to purchase from more expensive shops such as Zara and Mango. I started to move away from bold colours and prints, instead focusing on staple pieces that I could style in different ways.
As you can see in the images above I was still very much into my skirts and dresses. I began sharing more casual looks on the blog, outfits I genuinely wore day-to-day and not just for the sake of a blog post. My personal style was beginning to take form but I was still very much influenced by other people and the current trends.
January - July 2014: goodbye high-school style
I was half-way through my first year at University when I began to dress more ‘maturely’. I no longer looked like a high-school student. I believe that my choice in clothes reflects my personal journey and at this moment in time, I was still establishing a new routine and learning to live a (often stressful) University lifestyle. However at this point I was still ‘dressing-up’ slightly, and occasionally I’d buy something I wouldn’t usually wear because I believed I needed to ‘improve’ my style. I always ended up regretting those purchases.
University year 2: A more relaxed approach
September - December 2014
The second half of 2014 was so memorable. I had just passed my first year at University and the confidence boost that gave me was unparalleled. I felt so confident in my abilities and I was proud of the work I was doing. This is what I see when I look at the pictures below. I was relaxed, happy, inspired and just excited to do things. I dressed in a more relaxed, casual fashion and I loved it. I felt bloody great. The impact of succeeding in my studies was benefiting my mindset in so many ways. I stopped being so hard on myself. I had struggled with body-image issues at the beginning of the year and I was pushing myself way too hard at everything. The difference between the pictures above and below is incredible to me. I have to say I’m amazed at how well we maintained a weekly blog schedule with our University work. We worked extra hard that year to be accepted into an International Exchange Program for our 5th semester. I still can’t believe it but yes, WE DID THAT. We must have established a really good balance between work and play in order to stay sane. I remember that there was a lot of binge-watching going on at that time.
It was time to welcome black jeans in to my wardrobe! As much as I loved wearing skirts and dresses I had to accept the fact that I would not survive long days at Uni without some basic black jeans. I think I had about 3 different pairs and although I was still a little self-conscious about my body they provided a sense of comfort. They also made dressing much easier as I didn’t need to think so hard about what to wear. Pretty much everything I owned paired well with the jeans so I wore them all the time. I hardly wore dresses or skirts at this time, whether that’s because I couldn’t be bothered to shave (keep in mind this was when I often had to shower in the sink because our shower in the old flat wasn’t working!) or was moving away from more feminine pieces I don’t remember.
January - June 2015: feminine
We were gifted a new camera for Christmas in 2014 and boy were we excited! Our blog photos improved so much in 2015. Every outfit post followed the same structure. We knew our angles and what framing we needed: wide full body shot, head to above the knees, portrait, landscape, and the odd detail. We knew what worked. Moreover we improved upon our time-management skills, most shoots were done within 20 minutes leaving us plenty of time to keep up with other things going on in our lives.
I had treated myself to several a-line skirts that year: I loved the fit of them (even though they were very short) and they suited the French climate particularly well. I embraced my more feminine side again, I almost always wore the skirts that S/S season - trousers or jeans were nowhere to be seen!
September - December 2015: a new chapter in Canada
As I mentioned earlier on, Summer and I were both accepted into a University International Exchange Program in 2015. We had confirmation in June of that year that we would both (!!!) be spending our 5th semester at the Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario Canada together- which was crazy. We arrived late August to settle in to our new flat-share. This was a life-changing experience for us and although it took some adjustment, we both did extremely well over there. We were getting A+’s and incredible feedback from our teachers, something that had never happened before (we discovered then that French Universities mark and operate very differently). Needless to say it gave us both a huge confidence boost: we were meeting new people, exploring new places and trying out so many new things. We became so much more independent. I absolutely loved discovering Toronto, and visiting New York was a dream! It’s the best thing I have ever done and I’m so very grateful for the experience- even though I worked my butt off for it. Without that I don’t think I’d have been brave enough to do all the things that followed next. This experience definitely impacted my personal style: I felt more confident than ever and took the exchange as an opportunity to try out new things which, looking back, didn’t always work out. I think the main issue here is the styling as I still have many of the pieces in my current wardrobe. I’m pretty sure almost everything I owned was from Zara at that time, and I have to admit that the quality was good back then. Those pieces have lasted really well.
I feel the need to point out that I had gotten high-lights about 7 months before Canada and to sort out the root situation, I dyed my hair with a box dye. It was the beginning of the bad hair colour era!
January - July 2016: the end of Uni
Back to France for the last semester of University! It was nice to be surrounded by familiar people and things again but it took me a few months to get back into the swing of things. Canada had set the bar pretty high in terms of the quality of Education, and my French University was not living up to my new expectations. I had come to realize what kind of opportunities were out there waiting for me and I felt like I had outgrown my little University town. However I had gained a new sense of independence and self-confidence! We continued to share our regular outfit posts and we even decided to expand our blog: we began to share more and more film/tv reviews and did a whole section about our experience studying abroad, which ultimately lead to some exciting collaborations. My personal style at this time was pretty feminine with lots of skirts and high-waisted pieces.
September - December 2016: a big new chapter
In September 2016 Summer and I left our home in France and moved in with family in the UK. We were still riding the Canada high and we didn’t want to waste any time after graduating from University. It was an exciting new chapter but I think we underestimated how challenging the first few months would be. It was our first time living in the UK since we left when we were children and to be honest it was a bit of a culture-shock (other young bilingual immigrants will understand). Not only was I trying to figure out my post-uni career path, I was also trying to keep up with the bloggosphere which had grown exponentially in 2016. I dealt with it all pretty well all things considered, but boy the blog content that season was bad. I put quantity over quality and was trying way too hard - and it shows. This is the first time I lost inspiration to blog and I will admit, when I was reformatting the posts I actually deleted several of them. There was nothing special about them. No message or purpose, just pictures posted for the sake of it. I’m glad I moved on from that time relatively quickly! I didn’t realize just how badly I was trying to fit in. I felt like I needed to earn my place in an online community that was expanding by the day.
I felt like the worst dressed person in London when I first arrived, looking back it looks like I had one hell of an identity crisis. Again I think the styling is the main issue here, not the clothes. There seems to be a pattern here. It’s just the same as it was in Canada: I was trying new things or trying too hard because I felt like I needed to. I was on a new adventure and I thought my old ~style~ wasn’t cutting it. An underlying self-confidence issue perhaps.
As soon as my new routine had been established I began writing and sharing things I truly cared about, and everything fell into place. I stopped looking for acceptance in an over-saturated online community and focused on what I wanted to achieve. That is when my personal style developed and I felt more like ‘me’ (see below!).
2017: life in London
By January 2017 I had settled into my new routine in London. Summer and I pushed ourselves to shoot content in the streets whenever we went out. Although quite ‘dressed up’ I have to say I love the way I presented myself at this time. Things were going well in my personal life and I had figured out my plans for the rest of the year, that stability is reflected in the quality of those posts. Oh, and we had been gifted a new camera lens for Christmas! It changed everything. Our pictures had never looked better and we felt more inspired to work and improve. We consistently posted outfit posts at this time and ensured the text didn’t revolve solely around clothes.
September 2017: the beginning of my conscious consumer journey
Towards the end of 2017 I began reading up about the damaging effects of the fast-fashion industry:
“The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Fast fashion has dominated and reshaped the fashion industry since the 1990s and been a major driver of the industry’s enormous greenhouse gas emissions and devastating environmental impact.” - ekoenergy.org
I could no longer be part of something that contributed to environmental disaster. Many (not all) fashion bloggers earn a living by influencing people to buy fast-fashion pieces. I didn’t want people to buy things I wore, I just wanted to share them. However in a social-media dominated society blogging soon became very commercialised. This research put a lot of things into perspective for me. Shopping had been so normalized in my youth and for many it is a hobby (yikes). I wasn’t one for buying new pieces every single week or throwing good pieces in the bin, but I was one for buying from fast-fashion stores because they were cheap and accessible. I decided then that I would change my shopping habits and transform the way I blogged about clothes. I wanted to change the way we look at them. The question was how to go about it. How do we celebrate personal style without supporting fast-fashion? The answer is to be creative, resourceful, and to Buy Less and Buy Well. And to not shut-up about sustainability. My personal style changed completely and for the better, because it reflected my values.
At this time I was saving up for backpacking trip around New Zealand so I had no choice but to stop spending money on new clothes I didn’t need. I even sold or donated many of the pieces I owned to pay fund the trip. When I had to, I invested in good quality pieces for my new capsule wardrobe. When I was travelling I had a very limited amount of space in my backpack so I had to chose my clothes very carefully. In the pictures above I’m wearing some of the pieces I had owned for a while and had bought with me, but most of the trip was spent in sportswear (you don’t want to wearing a nice bra when you’re carrying 20+ kilos on your back).
Jan-August 2018: vintage pieces, #LovedClothesLast
2018 is when I really got into blogging about sustainability in fashion. In the January we even had a collaboration with the amazing vintage brand called Rokit London (see our collab post here!). The electric blue blouse (gifted) and 80’s shoulder-pad blouse (my own purchase) pictured above are both from there and I love them so much. Those pieces made me realize that I could still enjoy wearing clothes and blogging about them without feeling guilty. I didn’t have to ‘sacrifice’ my love for clothes. I just needed to make smarter choices. I had felt good about the way I dressed before 2018 but I felt even better knowing that I was helping spread the sustainability message. I loved my personal style even more because I knew it included unique secondhand pieces that no-one else had.
From then on whenever I needed something but couldn’t find an eco-friendly alternative I made sure I only bought a good quality piece from a shop when I absolutely had to, and not because I wanted to. For example the linen blazer pictured several times above is from Zara. After I had sold most of my wardrobe for the backpacking trip I needed to build it up again because I literally had nothing to wear in the summer (and by nothing I mean I was borrowing my mum and sisters’ clothes), and a pale sensitive vampire such as myself can’t go out in 35 degree heat uncovered. However I do believe that the main goal is to Buy Less and Buy Well. I’ll be taking extremely good care of this jacket and will be wearing it for years to come. So even though I do feel guilty about it being a fast-fashion piece at least I know that it wasn’t bought on a whim.
Autumn/Winter 2018: focusing on creativity over style content
2018 was overall a very strange year. I was living a slow life and I didn’t go out much so my personal style didn’t really evolve at all. I was all about good quality and vintage pieces. As for blog posts, I put creativity and quality over quantity, so although I was sharing fewer outfit related posts I was very happy with the type of work I was putting out there. I wanted to shift the focus of the articles to my writing. I no longer felt the desire to talk about clothes like I used to and writing about life felt like the right step forward (Romance is a personal favourite!).
I’m totally stealing Summer’s title for this part. This year I haven’t had the opportunity to dress nicely very often (it’s either gym clothes or laid-back work-wear for a physically demanding job) but when I do I know exactly what kind of look I’m going for. My personal style now is pretty refined: neither masculine or feminine, defined by fitted good quality pieces and neutral colours. I don’t put too much thought into it all anymore, I just go with my gut. Strangely enough I’ve been wearing a lot of black recently!
My first purchase this year was the above winter coat from Reiss via La Vestiaire Collective, a retail website that sells pre-owned luxury fashion pieces. That discovery pretty much changed the game for me, suddenly I was able to access high quality pieces at a great price (if the odds are in my favour). I have to admit it’s rekindled my love for secondhand shopping! I’ve never felt as confident or ‘myself’ as I do right now. I’m proud to be a conscious consumer who literally wears her values on her sleeves. Unfortunately I’ve only managed to shoot a total of two outfit posts this year so far which is terrible. I’m currently in an in-between-stage of my life so although I’m busy things are very unstable and last-minute, making any kind of creative planning difficult.
This post took me quite a while to put together but I’m really happy with it. It’s been a fascinating couple of weeks, exploring how my personal life experiences have impacted my personal style. It’s always good to look back, not to linger, but to reflect on out of curiousity. As I said in the beginning, the most noticeable change for me is my body language and self-confidence. May that personal growth continue!