No, Fashion Writers Don’t Have to Dress Well to Be Credible

Look. When you post anything on the Internet, you open yourself up to ridicule, nastiness, people who can’t spell “definitely” correctly to save their lives and automated trolls who’d just love to tell you how Uncle Fred made $57 billion last year working 30 minutes a week. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Most writers who deal in matters of the Web know not to engage unless they’re receiving death threats or marriage proposals, but Disqus is right there and uninitiated skins are thin. (That’s why you don’t use your Clarisonic more than three times a week, kiddos.)

xoJane blogger and fashion writer Jihan Forbes recently wrote about this social contract of sorts, which left us a) relieved she ultimately didn’t let those way-more-polite-than-they-could’ve-been comments get to her and b) feeling rather talkative.

See, the Big Question here isn’t “should readers assume I dress well?” It’s “why do they claim to take me less seriously when they find out I don’t meet their expectations?”

Personal style bloggers put a smiling face on fashion, but for every Leandra, Garance or Jane, you have a Cathy or Hilary who dresses more quietly than she speaks. The pen is mightier than the Swarovski-crystal dress, right? In her Reddit AMA, Robin Givhan even said she thinks “it’s unbecoming of a journalist” to act as a “fashion plate.”

The truth is, a knack for mixing prints or layering can justify buying a domain name, but criticism, Forbes’ speciality, has nothing to do with OOTDs or meeting the public’s need for AdR-level pageantry — it’s about expressing a unique perspective backed by knowledge.

Any windbag with a WiFi connection can rag on Rooney or pooh-pooh Paltrow, but it takes a different level of thought to coherently explain why you hate that celebrity in that dress or why Saint Laurent sucked so much.

Maybe this is the best way to think about it — before those photographs, the only criteria on which someone could evaluate Forbes was her work, which she could have completed wearing pajamas, Lily McMenamy’s look from Marc Jacobs Fall 2013 or nothing at all.


Related Links:
Required Reading: The Best Fashion Writing of 2013
That Was Way Harsh: The Four Most Crushing, Cutting Reviews of 2013
Tracy Reese And Timo Weiland Weigh In On The Hedi v. Cathy Drama

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