Quality Matters More When You’re Not a Size 2

This is a self-evident truth if you happen to not be a size 2 (or 4, or 6), but it’s been a while since I’ve been in that boat, and I had forgotten.

Now, before a bunch of you guys jump on me, I know that quality and fit are difficult to find (and precious) for everyone who shops off-the-rack. Pant legs and hemlines are either too long, or not long enough. Sizes are wonky. Everything is cheaply made in third world countries. This is true, and it is a pain, whether you’re a size XXS or XXL.

It just matters more if you’re on the larger end of the spectrum.

When it comes to fashion, skinny is still the ideal. Skinny can wear anything and everything; even on the worst day, it might look ridiculous or sloppy, but skinny will still look skinny – even if wearing the proverbial potato sack. You can conceal a lot of design and manufacturing flaws if you’re putting the clothes on someone who is a size 2. I know because I used to be a size 2 … and I rarely didn’t buy something because it looked terrible on me. It might have looked goofy, or even too big – but, hey, that’s sometimes a trend in itself.

I’m not a size 2 anymore. A few weeks ago,  I went to the J. Crew Factory store (because they had a big sale, and I haven’t gone in ages, and don’t judge me, ok?), and tried on some skirts. In fact, the skirts I tried were skirts I used to own a couple of years (and sizes) ago – and loved. They used to look quite nice, considering the price point. I sized up to my current size, and … I hated the fit. The skirt rode up and wrinkled on me while I was standing in the changing room. I tried one size bigger, and then the size after that too. And those looked bad too, for other reasons. More importantly, I looked bad, wearing the skirt. I didn’t just look like I was wearing a poorly made garment; I looked to be in worse shape than I am. And I guess that’s where my body acceptance runs out, because I’d really rather not. (Which is a discussion for another day.)

So, if you care about conventional style rules – which are all about not looking bigger than you are, but ideally skinnier if possible – then quality is not just a “nice to have”; it’s a “must have”. The right fit, the right fabric, the right proportions: they make all the difference between a potato sack and a cute pencil skirt.

I Don’t Photoshop For the Blog

But maybe I should; all the cool kids are doing it.

Fran wrote an awesome post about the reasons why more and more fashion bloggers are succumbing to drastic Photoshopping. Skinny sells, yes? There are very few fashion bloggers who don’t blog for money (or aspire to). This is understandable, because who doesn’t want a hobby that pays for itself? The downside is that, sooner or later, everyone encounters ethical dilemmas, whether it’s shilling a sponsored product the blogger wouldn’t buy with her own money, or posting heavily edited photos to attract followers and sponsors. Of course, for some people, these are not really dilemmas at all and, for the most part, they are rewarded for their, ahem, pragmatism. Some of us may chuckle at parody Instagram accounts like We Photoshopped What, but the majority of the fashion blog-reading public is unaware of the behind-the-scenes manipulation … and left in admiring awe. So, Photochop is the new normal.

I’m too lazy, and not sufficiently invested in this whole blogging game, to bother with it. For the most part. Because here’s the thing: I’m still as vain as the next peacocking blogger. As much as I want to be honest with you guys, I have no desire to (intentionally) put unflattering photos of myself on the internet. Who would? Nobody, that’s who, and if someone tells you otherwise, they’re lying. So I’ll edit away blemishes, and slap on eleventy million Insta filters, because it only feels a little bit wrong. I try to be upfront about that as much as possible, because it’s important that you know that no one wakes up with perfect, pore-less looking skin, especially anyone over the age of 12. (And no cream, or powder, or foundation is ever gonna beat the magic of Instagram filters. Trust.)

There are also pictures that you will never get to see on the blog. For example, can you guess which one of these two made the cut?

instagram photoshopping
you don’t need 3 guesses on this one

This begs the question: is what I’m doing any different than what the Photoshop queens are doing? Lying by omission is not the same as being honest. But is it closer to it than this?

instagram photoshop
lazy man’s version of the skinnifying app

I don’t know. We could probably have an interesting debate about it. But I’ll leave you with this pearl of wisdom: never, ever assume that what you see on a blog is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

14 Comments on Style Confessions, vol. 6

  1. First, for the size part: I read somewhere some centuries ago that manufacturers just take the size 2 (or 0) form and scale it up to the bigger sizes – which is quite wrong, because going up in size the body doesn’t keep the same proportions.
    Second, I read Franish’ post and like her (or yours) purpose to not photoshop. I like to see real people wearing clothes: if I wanted skinny models only I ‘d stick to my magazines!

    • Re clothing manufacturing – that would make sense. And, don’t get me wrong, I understand why it happens (the fashion industry is a business, with an eye perpetually on the bottom line) but damn, it still sucks.

  2. Hello Adina! I’m new to your blog, but I enjoy it so much. I like the fact that you are a warm, down to earth person, who happens to be a shopping Ninja. I feel like I’m hanging out with my daughter, who happens to be my best friend. I hate shopping with the heat of ten thousand suns, and she is the only one I can enjoy it with. This how I feel when reading your blog. Lol!
    You appear to be very realistic, even if you say you’re doing a little “touch-up”. You’re clothing taste are pretty timeless, and some quite ageless. I’m 57 years old, and I would wear some of your creations ( if I didn’t work in a factory).
    But, I ramble…I just wanted to drop you a line and say how much I enjoy this slice of fashion life you present. And can’t wait to read some of the books you have shared.
    Thanks again,
    Jeri Vasquez Webb
    (In frozen Chicago land)

    • Jeri, thank you so much for your sweet comment. It truly makes my day to hear from readers, and to know that someone out there enjoys what I write. Blogging is a solitary activity, but the sense of community that can develop from it is why it’s so worth it.

  3. When I was in high school and college, I was a size 16. When I lost weight and got down to a size 4, everything did fit amazingly well. No matter where it was from. No matter what it was. It might have been a bit of my new found confidence, but I suspect it was mostly because clothes look better on skinny girls. Now that I’m at a comfortable size 8 (sometimes 10), I’m having the same struggles and frustrations I had way back when.


    • Gaining weight has made shopping easier in one way: it’s infinitely easier to make “buy/don’t buy” decisions, because so many things that look cute on the hanger, don’t look quite so cute once I put them on. Silver lining, hah.

  4. I first started reading fashion and personal style blogs around 2007-2008 and I am still astounded at how different things are now. (There were very few sponsorships in those days and there were fewer people blogging and making money from it) Also, while I am sure people were selective about picking the most flattering photos and even used a bit of photoshop back then, a lot of people seemed to use point and shoot cameras and I followed and loved a lot of personal style blogs that were primarily mirror selfies of the blogger’s daily outfits. In general, I have always preferred reading and following blogs that are, for lack of a better word, more “real,” both in terms of the outfits being something the blogger clearly wears to work or school and also in terms of being able to get a sense of the person behind the blog from their writing.

    I have been following your blog for a week or two and I really enjoy it and your outfits! I like colorful prints so a lot of your outfit posts are right up my alley!

    • It’s funny, because I started this blog in 2010, and felt that I was alone in the “wilderness”. LOL! But having since discovered a bazillion blogs, I really wish I had been reading in those early days (2007 on) because the posts/blogs back then seemed so much more genuine and relatable. I still miss Academichic, for example.

      Anyway, I’m happy to hear that you’re enjoying the blog, and I hope you’ll stick around 🙂

  5. Hold up, we have a J.Crew Factory store? Where have I been?

    I am so glad neither you nor Fran photoshop yourself for your blogs. I feel like the world needs a healthy dose of photoshop free reality these days. Distorting reality isn’t helping anyone, and the effects hit all of us, from size 2 to 22. How are you supposed to live up to standards when the standards aren’t even real? Thank you for keeping it real 🙂

  6. The whole point of blogs, for me, is to read a different perspective than the usual fashion magazines. With blogs, I can pick bloggers who look like me/same size as me, live in the same city as me and are making their fashion choices from the same clothing pool I am, instead of New York/California based fashion magazines with unrealistic options for women who actually work (never mind size wise or budget!) So, if I want a dose of fantasy, I read fashion magazines. However, I am increasingly finding that the magazines just don’t hold up when it comes to blogs with respect to content and what is actually useful for me. If one is going to photoshop their blog, well, I might as well read a magazine.

    So thank you, Adina, for your excellent blog and for giving me a slice of real life that I can appreciate.

    • Thanks so much Laura! I started this blog because I wanted an alternative to fashion mags – something for the “average” woman in an “average” town. I still get excited when I meet other women on the same wavelength.

  7. I’ve never been a skinny adult (or teenager for that matter), so I have no idea what it’s like to be close to sample size skinny. I’ve been in the double digits as long as I can remember, and maybe that is to my benefit because I have always known the struggle of finding clothes that both fit and look good and don’t make me look pregnant and just fat. It’s hard, blogging at “average” sizing because you want to put your best foot forward, but I always zone in on things I don’t like about myself…but you know, I get so many comments saying they appreciate those things about me! So weird. So while neither you nor I will ever be SUPER FASHUN BLAHGERS, I will always look to you for showing me how the coolest normal girl dresses herself 🙂

    • I love you. Seriously. Yours was the first f-blog I read that made me feel like I had finally found my people. I think there are lots of “us” out there, but maybe some have given up on finding relatable blogs; I had, before stumbling on to your blog. So even if you’re not one of the big names (yet), your blog is very special to many of us.