Winter on Lake Monona

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With all this beautiful weather we’ve been having, I had to get outside so I took a long glorious walk down by Lake Monona last weekend. I feel so lucky to live right on the isthmus (the best geographic term, right?) and to be so close to both of Madison’s gorgeous lakes. Winter has been a tough time to move to a new city – everyone is in hibernation and there’s not so much going on – but this little thaw we’ve had has gotten me so excited for Spring. After being away from the Midwest for so long I’ve forgotten how much the cities come alive with the weather!

I didn’t expect my walk to turn into a photography expedition or else I would have brought my big camera but I had to share some snaps I took on my phone while I was out. How crazy is that ice?! I’m such a sucker for that sort of thing so these are only a few of the like billion photos I took of it.

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday and soak up the sun while we have it for a moment. 😎

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Are Bloggers Over Fashion Week?

Over the last couple of seasons I’ve started to notice a trend: a lot of of the big bloggers are skipping out on fashion week. Chiara Ferragni isn’t strutting her street style, Kristina Bazan is posting brunch snapchats from LA, Julia Engel is on vacation in the Bahamas. I feel like New York Fashion Week used to be the difference between the big luxury bloggers and the mid-range small fish.

But now it feels like people are sort of over it? Can it be?

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Major bloggers like Chriselle Lim, Aimee Song, and Danielle Bernstein are all still hitting the shows (as well as style-famous editors like Shiona Turini and Elaine Welteroth) but it doesn’t feel like the same fanfare anymore. I feel like the shows used to be a status symbol – look I can get invited to Calvin Klein – and that bloggers attended regardless of if they worked with the brand. But with more and more influencers getting invited to shows and the collections being immediately posted onto social media, a lot of the bigger names seem to be opting out. They seem to be over it.

There’s been an interesting conversation happening around the Grammys (other than #GrammysSoWhite): are we just over big displays of what is “good” and “cool”? I think fashion shows are different because they aren’t attempting to definitively label other’s work, but they are known for leading the way of what will be cool next season and defining trends.

Does this work in the landscape of fashion bloggers and street style photographers? I think fewer and fewer people are looking to brands for inspiration and more are looking to see how their favorite social media star styles the pieces. In this moment of uber personal style how can brands keep up?

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I think two patterns have emerged the last few seasons:

  • Supermodels are making a comeback. Models are back in the public eye as celebrities in their own right – The Hadids, Kendall Jenner, Jasmine Tookes, etc. Designers are putting recognizable faces on the runway again to bring attention to the brand, but I also think to make people feel more connected to the clothes.
  • Brands are moving beyond models. A few designers have hired “friends” of the brand to act as models – J Crew did it this season, Mansur Gavriel has done it in the past. This definitely feels like an attempt to embrace style as an element of personality, that the clothes are enhanced by the individuality of the person wearing them.

With brands trying to address personal style, bloggers ignoring NYFW is really an amazing act of rebellion. For bloggers to say they don’t need the validation of the fashion industry just as that industry is realizing how much they need personal style bloggers shifts the power dynamic, especially after the industry was pretty resistant to the rise of influencers in the first place. Obviously this doesn’t peg to everyone, but it’s interesting that bloggers seem to be less and less involved in the mainstream fashion stuff as their own platforms become more powerful.

So what’s next? Personally, I don’t think blogging is going away any time soon and I think brands are going to have to find ways to better integrate influencer marketing into their strategy. In the meantime, you keep on brunching Kristina.

LOVE + EVOLUTION in Madison

Thursday night, I headed out into the Wisconsin chill to see To The Best of Our Knowledge‘s live radio show called LOVE + EVOLUTION at the Majestic Theater. I was introduced to the glories of radio in college and have discovered so many amazing shows over the years so, of course, I had to support me some local Wisconsin radio! 💕

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The show was structured like many podcasts: several stories, comics, interviews, and lectures on a common theme. The night’s theme was inspired by Valentine’s Day, but with a bit of an intellectual twist: the show explored the connection between love and science.

Are we biologically programmed to love? Is love just a means to procreation? If so, how does non-heterosexual sexuality fit in? Is altruism an extension of love? You know, real casual stuff…

But the one question I kept returning to is one that I’ve been grappling with for years: can science really explain the experience of love? I used to get so upset when people would say that “love is just chemicals firing in your brain” and “love is just biological programming to keep the species going”. And obviously those things are very true! But to break it down into a formula or a genetic code makes love feel fake to me – like you could engineer it in a lab or cook it on a bunsen burner.

One biologist answered my question (and I’m paraphrasing): It depends on your definition of explain. Yes, science can offer a subjective explanation of love and how it came to be evolutionarily, but can it explain the experience and sensation of being in love? No. He likened it to humor – you can study humor and what makes something funny, but you can’t explain to someone what it’s like to laugh.

Needless to say, the whole night pulled at my mind and my heartstrings and I really hope they do another show like it soon!

In the meantime, I’m excited to listen to this episode on why it’s good to be alone (lol happy valentine’s day!) and to ask my next date these 36 questions… I’ll be sure to post the podcast when it comes out.❤️

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life…WTF?!

Okay, I know I’m a thousand years late on this BUT this weekend I finally finished rewatching the entire original seven seasons of Gilmore Girls and sunk my teeth into A Year in the Life. And now I have a lot of feelings…

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Let me cut to the chase: I did not like them. I thought Rory was shitty, the drama was strained, and the whole thing seemed like a big “look who we got to come back and be in the reboot!” Especially after watching the original series literally into the new ones it was like a slap in the face – it seemed like everyone was playing at Gilmore Girls instead of being in it.

Everything just seems off. Lorelei and Rory don’t have the same chemistry, Paris is getting upset seeing (not real) Chad Michael Murray at Chilton, Sookie is eating dirt and letting Rachel Ray take over her kitchen? I just don’t buy it! It felt like a totally different world from the original seasons.

Which leads me to this very important fan theory that actually makes me feel WAY better about the whole thing: Year In the Life is the only real Gilmore Girls universe and the first seven seasons are actually the book that miserable 32-year-old Rory wrote to make her life seem way better.

Frankly, I like this theory a lot more than the idea that Amy Sherman-Palladino just wrote a really shitty and inauthentic script to make bucket loads of money ten years after the fact (even though that’s definitely what actually happened).

Anyway, I’m sure everyone is completely over this by now but I had a lot of feelings and needed to share… That is all.

Blog Roundup: Have a Romantic Weekend!

Hope you guys had a wonderful week! I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s already Friday! No Valentine’s plans for me, but I’m actually really looking forward to having a creative weekend: I’m taking a writing workshop, going to the movies, and making a dent in my newest library book.

Here are a few blog-related links and some blogger industry news that’s fascinated me this week. And of course, let me know if there’s anything I missed – I seriously love putting this post together! Enjoy and have a relaxing and joyful weekend!

1. Chiara Ferragni Returns to Harvard

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Chiara Ferragni, the international blogger/street style star/designer/entrepreneur is returning to Harvard with her team to once again lecture in the Luxury Marketing MBA program. From her snaps it sounds like they focused on the ways that new platforms and fan engagement affect luxury commerce and how they transformed The Blonde Salad from a personal fashion blog to a complete fashion empire. She was one of the first really successful bloggers and has her own case study published by Harvard Business School (in case anyone is looking to get me a very unorthodox Valentine’s Day gift 😂).

I would have loved to be in that lecture and seen how they laid out their business plan. I feel like so many bloggers try to hide the fact their blog is also a business and so they don’t share their strategy and policies. This has led to a lot of confusion in the highly-unregulated blogging industry over legality, finances, and transparency, so hopefully the TBS crew can start to open up that can of worms for the benefit of everyone.

2. ‘My Child is Transgender’ on Cup of Jo

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Joanna Goddard’s blog is seriously stepping up! In the last year she has really responded to readers’ call for more diversity and social justice-oriented content. She is doing an great job at writing more inclusive posts amongst her usual style and lifestyle posts. Her voice is so intimate and she lifts up stories that are meaningful and reflect the social justice orientated readership she’s cultivated. Obviously there’s always room to do more, but she’s responding far more than any other blogger I’ve seen and she does it all while remaining authentic to her brand.

I also loved this post featuring children’s books with characters of color and her response to the November election.

3. LIKEtoKNOW.it the App?!

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Okay so this is less of commentary and more of mystery because I legit can’t find anything about this upcoming app! For those who don’t know, LIKEtoKNOW.it is a monetization tool for bloggers where followers can like an image on Instagram and then an email of shopable links is sent to that follower for them to peruse and buy their favorite items.

LIKEtoKNOW.it and RewardStyle, which are run by the Venz Box titans, have completely altered the fashion blogging landscape by giving bloggers a way to monetize their looks and get commission from recommending products. They’re like my heroes so I’m always really excited when they literally do anything – but why can’t I find any info on this app?!

I’m interested to see what the app is because so many brands and bloggers are steering away from the app thing. They’re cumbersome on the backend and require a reader to open an entirely different activity to access content, putting up another barrier to user interaction – especially when content on Instagram would show up without even trying (although that new algorithm is still getting under people’s skin).

But then you have apps like Mary Orton’s Trove, which is another shopping-centric app where you can shop directly from blog posts. So maybe apps are becoming the personal shoppers of the future? It’s obviously too early to tell, but I definitely signed up for first access to the LIKEtoKNOW.it app – I’ll be sharing once I’m in!

Operation Boozeless: Week One

So after my sort of distraught post from last week, I thought I would follow up on how my first full week without alcohol went. To be honest, not that much was different – I have in fact gone a full seven days without drinking before so it wasn’t too crazy. But I did notice that my thought process has changed a bit as I prep for a longer stint on the wagon.

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1. Pay more attention. I went out to brunch with a newer friend on Saturday and even though we have a lot in common and I really like her, we’re still getting in the groove of being friends. We’ve also spent most of our time going out together so a lot of our conversations have been wine-fueled. I love a good boozy bonding moment as much as anyone, but I had this moment at sober brunch where I thought “This conversation would be way easier if I had a drink.” What? This is really the state of my social skills? I’m better than that and my friend deserves better than that!

So I perked up, took a breathe, and listened better. And you know what? We ended up having a really good time, talked way after we’d signed the check, and made plans for another weekend. Boom! Definitely realized that I lean on alcohol sometimes because I’m just plain lazyyyyyyyy.

2. Change doesn’t happen all at once. In preparation for my boozeless month I started reading a bunch of articles on the benefits of cutting alcohol. More energy! Clearer skin! Better sleep! The list goes on, so I was psyched to become the pure, zen, Gwyneth Paltrow version of myself. Color me surprised when after 7 days I pretty much feel the same! Because duh, I’m not going to change overnight and no one is going to erect a monument in my honor for not drinking one weekend of the month.

I am still hoping that by the end of the month I feel a difference in my body (because that’s the entire medical reason for this experiment), but I need to have some patience with myself and realize that cutting  wine will not make me a super hero. Although fingers crossed I’ll feel like one by March.

3. I’m not that different after all. So on a typical Friday night when I don’t have any plans I’ll usually crack a bottle of chardonnay and then ultimately end up crying over the Gilmore Girls reboot. I guess I always blamed this on wine, but low and behold I do the same thing completely sober… This is actually sort of a relief – that I am still pretty open to expressing my emotions even if that means weeping over Lauren Graham’s face lifts.

So all in all I would say this has been an enlightening week. It’s funny what happens when you just change your mind set and how taking away a crutch like drinking makes you realize how much you don’t need it.

But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for week 2.

Snowy Days in Madison

Although I woke up to a wet morning today, Madison has sprinkled some gorgeous snow on the city on and off over the last few weeks. After living in Ireland where it maybe snows once a winter it was really fun to see everything coated in the white stuff. These photos are from the first snow back in December, but I wanted to share as a reminder that winter is still magical (and not terrible because there’s no sun and it’s freezing and everyone’s in hibernation)!

Haha okay it’s true – I’m so ready for spring, but I know soon enough I’m gonna be wishing it was chilly and cozy again. So here’s a little taste…

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I am Loving Princess Margaret’s IRL Style

After watching The Crown (in one weekend cause it’s so good people), I was a big fan of Princess Margaret or at least her fictional portrayal… I got to googling and discovered how I much I love her IRL style too! She’s glamorous, whimsical, and unexpected. She wears diamonds and fur like nobodies business one night and pastel prints with statement earrings the next. The photo of her wearing a plaid bonnet and smoking a cigarette is basically my life goal.

Here are a few photos to inspire your Monday:

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A Blog Roundup for the Weekend!

For those who don’t know, I’m a big blog junkie. I love reading blogs, talking about social media, and following my favorite brands wherever the internet takes them. So I’ve decided to round up my favorite things from the blogosphere every week and talk a little bit about them. Anything from editorial photos to influencer business to great articles, I’ll be sharing what caught my eye in the gloriously oversaturated world of digital media.

The Borrower from The Londoner

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Okay, so this is technically from last week, but I really love some of the photos in this post. Great interior shots, cute touch with the FT, and she nicely pulls together the “unisex” selling point of the perfume in a genuine way. I’ve always really admired Rosie for being more adventurous than a lot of other bloggers (unexpected locations, trying new things, showing a little more skin) and I feel like this post is really authentic to her voice: luxurious and sexy, but still a little girl next door. Also, her imagery has been really improving (some of the photos in her ski posts were so editorial!) so I’m really excited to see her keep moving in that direction.

Also, so excited to see her upcoming Austria posts – her instagram photos are insane!

Steps to Snowball by Lakeshore Lady

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Love this outfit post from Chicago’s own Lauren Nolan – it’s classic with a touch of the cut-out trend and seriously gorgeous!

I’m curious about all the Chicago bloggers going to the same event, the Junior Council’s Snowball. I mean, I’m always glad when influencers use their platform to promote something good, just curious as to what brings them all to that particular charity. Would have been nice to hear a little bit about why it’s close to their heart and a call to action, but I feel like so many bloggers are reticent to get even minutely political…

A Week of Outfits: Brooke Williams on Cup of Jo

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I’ve really liked this series since it launched. Personal style is so fun and visible right now and I feel like Joanna knows so many interesting and stylish women (like how?!). I love Brooke’s quirky style and appreciate that Cup of Jo is featuring diverse women in many ways: women of color, tall women, older women, plus-sized women, etc. Joanna always seems responsive to her readers and with everything going on politically, I think she’s stepped up and takes her platform seriously.

Also, I love how Brooke says the first outfit picture above makes her feel like a “flirty intellectual” 😂 Like this is actually my life goal.

That’s all for this week and if you have any posts that you love, send them my way. I’m always on the prowl for new bloggers that I love! Have a great weekend!

Sobering Thoughts

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So I just found out that I have to stop drinking for a month. I’ve been having stomach issues and my doctor’s put me on a medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol, so it’s 4 long weeks on the wagon for me.

And you know what? I’m scared.

I’m scared because I’m realizing how much of my life revolves around drinking. I’m disappointed in myself for becoming someone who can’t meet new people without a drink in her hand. I’m afraid that I won’t be social and that people won’t hang out with me because I’m not drinking.

I haven’t been sober for this long since I was 18.

When I lived in Ireland, everything revolved around drinking. I went on job interviews at pubs, I drank with professors at lunch, we always met our friends out for pints. But I drank alone, too, because things were hard and it made life seem less stressful and more exciting.

But I think I’m the most scared that I won’t be able to do it. That I won’t even be able to make it a month. That drinking is too hard wired into me to let it go, even for the sake of my own health.

And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Not the only one who asks herself on Sunday morning if maybe it was too much. Gives herself pep talks on the way home from the liquor store to justify a bottle of wine I will drink alone. Judges people at parties who say you don’t have to drink to have fun.

Well, I guess I’m about to find out.