Why I Don’t Want to be a “Fashion Blogger”

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I used to be a “fashion blogger”. I used to beg my boyfriend to take me downtown to look for cool walls to shoot “outfit of the day” photos in front of. And I admit- these outfits were usually inspired by other fashion bloggers and completely lacking in originality… not only that but they were outfits I wouldn’t be wearing for more than the twenty minutes we’d spend getting the perfect shot. I’m not telling you this in order to “pull the curtain away” and expose the truth of fashion blogging (because let’s be honest- most of you already knew this); I’m telling you this because it never dawned on me that what I was doing might be wrong. That was until I saw this photo…

There she was- Miroslava Duma (center) posing smugly between two other fashionistas at New York Fashion week. I had written an article about this queen of style just a year and a half earlier- praising her talents and calling her amazing. At Duma’s feet sits a homeless man- his clothing torn and stained- his arms bruised and battered. It’s a shocking image epitomizing the gap between those who have everything and those who have nothing. It’s heartbreaking- and suddenly the narcissism and unethical realities of fashion blogging are too glaringly obvious to ignore.

 When I started my blog it was out of a desire to express my love of fashion and creativity. It had nothing to do with a desire to showcase my closet or an endless hoard of “ootd” selfies. In fact the first 100+ posts on my blog didn’t show any photos of myself. It wasn’t until I started getting deeper into the fashion blogging world that I discovered all that was expected in order to be “successful”. To be honest, anyone can be a fashion blogger; there’s a very simple algorithm. Choose an all white background and bold black text, insert basic cutesie blog name ex. “Cashmere & Lattes”, purchase Forever 21 / H&M knock-offs of whatever Aimee Song is wearing, and finally find someone to take professional looking photos of you (*one of these photos should include you sipping a latte and/or looking longingly down at the ground for an unknown reason). Do all of this correctly and in a years time you’ll be almost famous (on Instagram anyway) and have an onslaught of brands offering you free stuff in return for social media praises. Sounds great? I actually think it sounds a little self-serving and dishonest.

Most of the time these brands want to control exactly what you say about their products. How much creativity is involved in taking freebies from big name brands and companies that want you to do their free advertising? Would you actually have purchased that item? Would you have actually worn it? All of the fashion blogging clones out there aren’t proving anything besides the fact that they can buy things and push a brand’s agenda; while simultaneously pushing impressionable girls to feel that they have to join the endless trend buying cycle (and go broke in the process).

In essence- fashion blogging is flawed; most systems are because they’re made up of people and people are flawed. But with all the people who are suffering in this world- how does one justify the glorification of parading around in outfits one can’t afford? I don’t want to condemn or discredit all of the hard working bloggers that are truly passionate about fashion. The ones who actually aim to inspire others on a deeper level than “buy this” and “like my selfie”. I simply hope that the authentic, unique, and truly stylish bloggers will work to reclaim their platform before it’s completely exhausted of its’ creativity… I hope that everyone will be more honest and insightful in their content… and most of all, I hope that Miroslava Duma handed that homeless man some money, and a coat shortly after that photo was snapped… I’d like to believe she did.

15 Signs You’re a Basic B!@#$

Do you own a diverse collection of Bath & Body Works’ scented candles?… Is your favorite coffee house Starbucks?… Do you have a piece of artwork in your home that reads: “Live. Laugh. Love.”?

If you answered yes to these questions- then you’re at risk of being a basic b!@#$ What is a basic bitch you might ask? It can be difficult to pin point because unlike the “Bad Bitch” or the “Boss Bitch” this bitch has an indistinguishable blandness. It’s someone without a sense of self- they are main-stream and unaware. In other words they like what they believe they’re supposed to like. If you’re still not sure where you fall on the basic-ness scale, I’ve comprised a list that should help:

1. Your favorite thing about fall is the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) at Starbucks

2. Your apartment is full of words- picture frames that say “Friends”, pillows that say “Love”

3. You live in yoga pants- and you love them even more when paired with Ugg boots

4. You’re a huge Katy Perry fan- but let’s face it, you’re a fan of anyone on popular radio

5. Your celebrity crush is Channing Tatum

6. Your favorite movie is The Notebook

7. You regularly get your nails done- and insist on a full set with hot pink tips

8. Your drink of choice is a Skinny Girl cocktail

9. Your hashtags are, well… basic. #summer

10. You regularly post “inspirational” Marilyn Monroe quotes to your twitter feed

11. Exercise means Zumba and hot yoga

12. You own something that says “Keep Calm and ___”

13. Your favorite shows are Friends and Sex in the City

14. Lauren Conrad is your girl- and you never miss the Hills reruns

15. You love to bake. Cupcakes anyone?

If you reached the bottom of this list only to discover you’re in fact basic, don’t worry, you’re in the company of many. But let’s be honest- in order to go round the world needs some basic bitches.

Is the Makeup Industry Being Taken Down by One Woman?

The $55 billion dollar beauty industry should be afraid, very afraid.

Harvard business student Grace Choi has created an at-home 3D makeup printer- capable of printing out eyeshadows, creams, lipsticks, etc. How is this possible? Grace developed her product based off of one thought: “The makeup industry…charges a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. Color.

The 3D makeup printer called Mink, works just like a regular printer; Only this one prints makeup- and has the ability to copy exact pigments used by the big name beauty brands. Imagine being able to print your own YSL Midnight Blue eyeshadow at home and without the cost! As Grace puts it,

“The make-up industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of b——-“.

Click here to watch Grace and her 3D printer in action!

Also- visit Seneca & Spruce to find more articles written by me like this one! :)

Stop Getting Fooled by Fast Fashion

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Fast Fashion- noun; a term used to describe cheap and affordable clothes which are the result of catwalk designs moving into stores in the fastest possible way in order to respond to the latest trends.

The fashion industry has had an overhaul in the last 15 years. Distinct buying seasons and a focus on quality have been replaced by a constant flow of “quick response” trends; clothing that is manufactured quickly and cheaply allowing mainstream consumers to buy the latest fashions at a low price. Is this shift however costing you more than the $15 you spent on your Forever 21 sweater?

H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are the retailers best known for their quick response fashion but they are also known for their poor quality. With a focus on bulk manufacturing and a fast turn around, quality assurance falls to the wayside. In other words, that $10 top you buy for Saturday night will have fallen apart by Sunday morning- sound familiar?

What was once a stable three month process from the design conception to store distribution can now be done in an alarming two weeks. But who is leading this fashion industry revolution? An article published by Pacific Standard Magazine titled “The Secret World of Fast Fashion” takes a deeper look at this phenomenon. Their findings:

“The nerve center of fast fashion in America is a sprawling, 30 square-block neighborhood in downtown LA… today pretty much everyone who works there is either Korean or Mexican- little husband and wife teams working alongside their children.”

The article goes on to describe the history of these immigrants; how their entrepreneurial attitude, decades of garment making experience, combined with setting up shop in LA during the 1990′s- created the perfect conditions for a fashion industry re-haul.

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Positives? There’s an accessibility to current trends for the average consumer that didn’t exist before. Finally you can purchase those shoes your favorite style blogger was wearing in Paris- or at least their much less expensive counterparts. Negatives? Unethical working conditions, depletion of natural resources, a negative environmental impact, increased pressure on the fashion industry, etc… and to make matters worse, the poor quality products which are designed to last only a few wears may end up in Goodwill- but much more often, in a landfill.

But with so many people buying in, how do we back out? It’s important to realize that there’s a strong disconnect between garment and consumer. It’s like many other big industries in America- they often go unquestioned because the average consumer wants to believe they have our best interests at heart. But discovering your skinny jeans were mass manufactured in a warehouse endlessly pumping out poorly made clothes makes them feel a little less special- don’t you think? It’s time to end the tireless trend cycle and start caring about where our garments come from- because once you do and you discover the passion and stories behind beautiful, well designed, ethical clothes- you’ll realize why you loved fashion in the first place. Try opting for local boutiques, one of a kind shops and e-commerce sites that offer higher quality products- buy less, but buy better.

You can find more articles like this one written by me at www.senecaandspruce.com

5 Insanely Fashionable Women You Need to Be Following on Instagram

If you’re anything like me then you’re a little obsessed with Instagram! Let’s face it, photo stalking your favorite fashionistas has never been easier (or more fun!) Here’s my list of inspiring ladies that you should be following on Insta right now! Warning: jealousy may occur!

1.) Nicole Warne @garypeppergirl

This girls’ got talent- model, creative stylist, world traveler, fashion blogger- the list goes on! If you like vivid colors, whimsy, and to-die-for fashion then this is the girl for you!

2.) Solange Knowles @saintrecords

Solange may be known best as the sister to Queen B miss Beyonce, but this ultra chic woman has a voice of her own! Heavily influenced by 70′s funk- her Instagram is a montage of bright colors, bold prints, and a laid-back indie vibe. I love a woman that isn’t afraid to be herself!

3.) Leandra Medine @manrepeller

The quirky humorous and insanely fashionable Leandra of Man Repeller is a must! She says it best: “A humorous website for some serious fashion.” I love a girl who can laugh at herself and look amazing in the process!

4.) Aimee Song @songofstyle

As any aspiring fashion blogger would tell you- Aimee Song is simply the best. A genuine girl with a full heart- her Instagram is full of delicious food porn, travel photos, and plenty of fashion perfection! I absolutely love her!

5.) Amber Fillerup @amberfillerup

Fashion blogger, wife, and soon to be mom- Amber is the creator of the Barefoot Blonde. Besides the fact that Amber has the most gorgeous hairstyles I’ve ever seen- she’s a lady of sophistication and class living a picture perfect life; and for that I’m pretty envious!

Who are your Instagram favorites that didn’t make the list?! I’d love to hear!

Dressing for the Desert

What does one wear in the desert… A Free People Dress and some lattice heels obviously! We shot these photos in Joshua Tree- a beautiful and mystical place outside of the Palm Springs area where thousands go to rock climb, camp, and take photos :) Could you imagine a more perfect setting for this boho inspired look?!

Dress- Free People, www.shopbop.com $85

Heels- Diba, www.dsw.com $50

Necklaces- NastyGal, www.nastygal.com $30

My Lucky FABB Weekend Getaway

It’s been a crazy and fantastic week! I attended Lucky Magazine’s fashion conference “Lucky FABB” in Beverly Hills last week. As most of you know I’m from Seattle, but my mom recently moved down to Palm Springs. Her and I decided to drive (cause we’re obviously crazy) from Seattle to my Aunts’ in LA and then end the trip at her place in Palm Springs.

As you can see- the car was packed with clothes, food, etc. What?! It’s a 22 hour drive! 

We saw so many rainbows during our drive down! 

And made it to LA just fine. 

We relaxed and ate an abundance of yummy food at my Aunt’s lovely home.

Until it was time for the fashion conference- held at the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel. Here’s my little name-badge and the yummiest chocolate mouse ever! 

That’s me! :) 

The hotel was full of random art.

I was really excited to hear from this guest speaker! Here’s Lucky magazine’s editor Eva Chen talking to Nasty Gal’s creator and #girlboss, Sophia Amoruso. One of my favorite things Sophia talked about was her vegan anti-capitalism 18 year old self that lived in Olympia, WA- wore only combat boots, chained herself to a tractor, and even shop-lifted (thinking of herself as a modern day Robin Hood). 

“Don’t act like you’ve arrived at the party- when you just got the invite.” -Sophia Amoruso

We then had a break for a “branding experience”- a.k.a. a bunch of awesome freebies! And lunch! Among the giveaways were some MissMe jeans and lovely SuSu bags.

This lunch was so delicious!

The next speaker was the beautiful violet-haired Nicole Richie of House of Harlow 1960. She spoke of her garden, that time she took a razor to her unibrow as a child, and the importance of supporting other women! 

January Jones and Cassandra Grey were at the first “breakout session” I attended. Both of them were soft-spoken and so sweet! They talked about Cassandra’s new beauty business Violet Grey. You can find out more about Violet Grey from the post I did here!

Yes. That is the stunning supermodel Karolina Kurkova sitting with Eva Chen and Aimee Song of Song of Style

And the final speaker was the very beautiful and quirky Coco Rocha! I DIE!

I’m so grateful to have attended the event- and learned a LOT from the lovely lady I had lunch with! ;)

Also- I got the best news ever when I found out from Lucky that I’m the winner of a gorgeous Loeffler Randall bag! Yay!

Then it was off to Palm Springs!

I love my mom’s little house in the desert!

We HAD to go to Joshua Tree- for obvious reasons…

…Photoshoots!

But the rest of the trip was spent eating…

Laying by the pool…

Eating some more…

Drinking by the pool…

Exploring the ritzy part of town- apparently Leonardo Dicaprio just bought a place two blocks up! 

And of course- blogging! 

It was the perfect trip. I wish I could have stayed longer! 

Stay tuned- lots more photos from my trip to come!

P.S. Follow my Instagram @laotto