While I was home for Easter two weekends ago, I stopped at Stewart's to snap some photos in this dress from Emily and Fin (btw, isn't it so cute? I'm definitely planning to live in it this summer). I grew up in southern New Jersey, and had driven past Stewart's once or twice while in high school, but this was my first time actually stopping by. I thought it was just a stand where you walked up to order, but it is actually an old school drive in, where the waiter comes up to your car and attaches a tray to your window to serve you food.
My sister helped me take these photos, and while we were there, we received a lot of questions from our waiter about what we were taking photos for, as well as confused looks from those eating in their cars. When I first started getting into Instagram and blogging and taking photos of my outfits, I would be embarrassed if people would stop and look at me. But luckily I have become more confident and better at not letting other people's looks affect me. This is partly due to the fact that social media and the blogosphere has blown up in the last couple years. Especially in NYC, people don't think twice about people taking photos. Everyone is so desensitized to seeing people being photographed, so those passing by are less inclined to stare. And like anything else, practice makes perfect (well so to speak, because I'm nowhere near perfect). I am no expert, but I wanted to share some tips for taking your best photos possible, especially if you are on the shy side like me, whether you're a blogger or just want some Instagram worthy photos.
Find a Quiet(er) Location:
This can be extremely tricky in NYC, but if possible, find a quiet place to shoot. Not only will you be more confident if there are less people around, but it will allow you to be more focused. Having to constantly stop to let people pass by on a busy street can be distracting and take you out of the moment.
Work With a Photographer You Are Comfortable With:
I've had lots of people take photos for me and the person behind the camera honestly makes a difference how the pictures turn out. When you're not entirely comfortable with the photographer, it can show in your face or body language, which doesn't make for the best photos.
Fake It Til Ya Make It:
If you're still uncomfortable, just remind yourself that the sooner you get a good photo, the sooner you can stop. Again, you don't want the fact that you are feeling shy or embarrassed to show in your photos, so put on a confident face, even if you have to fake it.
Whether you are a blogger or not, I hope these tips help you to be more confident while taking photos. I wanted to start blogging years ago, but I was too embarrassed to take photos in public and was worried I would come across as narcissistic. But style is a way for me to be creative and express myself, and eventually I decided not to hold myself back just because of what other people think. You should never stop yourself from doing something you are passionate about because of the opinions of others.
Dress: c/o Emily and Fin
Bag: Mint Market, Necklace: Principessa Venice; Sneakers: H&M
Location: Stewart's (Burlington, NJ)
As you may or may not know, blogging is just a hobby for me, and I work full time as a fashion designer. It sounds glamorous, but the type of designing I do is definitely on the practical side, as I design children's wear clothing for both department stores and boutiques. When people hear "fashion designer" they often think I spend my days sketching by hand or working behind the scenes of a runway show. However, in reality, Excel and Illustrator are my best friends, and unfortunately I spend the majority of my day sedentary, staring at a computer screen. All of this screen use definitely takes a toll on my eyes, which is why I was so excited when I heard about Felix Gray.
Felix Gray is an eyewear company that makes non-prescription lenses to specifically protect your eyes from the harmful "blue light" that is emitted from phone and computer screens. This type of light causes headaches, blurry vision and difficulty sleeping, which affects 1/3rd of Americans, who like me, spend at least 8 hours a day in front of a screen. Their frames are super affordable ($95) plus free shipping and returns.
In addition to wearing these Felix Gray glasses, I've also made more of an effort to limit my screen time all together. While I don't have control over this at the office, I try to keep my phone use to a minimum outside of work. One of my New Years resolutions was to spend an hour reading before bed every night, to help me fall asleep easier. I'm always on the lookout for new interesting books, so I thought I would list a few of my favorites in case anyone else is looking for a new read.
The Girls (by Emma Cline)
Set in the late 1960's, it is a fictional story based on the The Manson family.
Once Upon A Secret (by Mimi Alford)
A biography written by a woman who interned in the White House during the Kennedy administration and had an affair with the president.
Valley of the Dolls (by Jacqueline Susann)
An iconic novel, that follows 3 girls in the Broadway and Hollywood scene in the 1950s and 60s.
What are some of your favorite books? I'm going to Hong Kong in 2 weeks and I will need plenty of entertainment for the 16 hour flight, so I am in need of book suggestions!
Glasses: c/o Felix Gray (https://shopfelixgray.com)
Top: Christian Siriano; Skirt: Urban Outfitters; Shoes: H&M
Confession: although I've had a love and appreciation for 1950's and 60's fashion since high school, I must admit to the fact that I didn't actually start buying vintage pieces until recently. I've always liked admiring vintage from afar, but I am a germaphobe, and I sometimes used to get grossed out by sorting through or trying on used clothing. Vintage clothing, especially in NYC, can also get expensive, so it can sometimes be hard to justify spending large amounts of money on a used item. However, for various reasons, I slowly started exploring more vintage and thrift stores and became more comfortable with buying second hand. Below is a list of my top five places to find affordable vintage pieces in NYC:
309 Bedford Avenue
Located in Brooklyn, but very easy to get to from Manhattan (it's the first stop in Brooklyn on the L train). They sell clothing, shoes and accessories for both men and women. I love this store because they always have a $5 rack, which is where I scored this plaid skirt I am wearing in this photo.
Cure Thrift Shop
111 E 12th Street (between 3rd and 4th Ave)
Manhattan (East Village)
Clothing wise, this store mostly consists of second hand items, but it is possible to score vintage and higher end designer items here. They also have lots of vintage jewelry and home items. The prices are reasonable, and they always offer 50% off all clothing, which makes the prices even better. Even more of a reason to check this place out, it is completely non-profit and all proceeds go to diabetes research.
East Village Vintage Collective
545 E 12th Street (between Ave A and B)
Manhattan (East Village)
This shop is super well curated, and the prices are extremely affordable. It seems small upon entering, but there are two floors to explore, so make sure you check out both levels! They have everything, including clothing for men, women and children, as well as records, pins, home goods, you name it. I got this dress here for around $25-30 (fun fact, it was originally much longer, but I hemmed it to be mini length)
Saturday location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Sunday location: Dumbo, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Flea is an outdoor market with nearly a hundred vendors that runs from April to October, so it's a great place to peruse through vintage pieces when the weather is nice. They have everything from apparel, to furniture, to antiques and collectibles. They also have a handful of local artist and food vendors as well. The market is located at different locations on Saturday and Sunday, so make sure you go to the correct spot!
(they have various stores around Manhattan, check out www.housingworks.org for exact locations)
Similar to Cure, Housing Works is a mix of both vintage and thrift. Each location is different, so some offer more vintage, and others offer more second hand. Their prices are very affordable, I scored this vintage animal print coat for $35, which was one of the best purchases I've ever made. You'll also be supporting a good cause by shopping at Housing Works, as the proceeds help to fight against homelessness and AIDS in NYC.
I hope this list is helpful, but feel free to comment or DM me with any other questions about thrift and vintage shopping in NYC!
April marks the one year anniversary of my blog. While I am certainly no expert and still have a long way to go, I wanted to share a few things that I've learned in the past year for any other bloggers out there.
Invest in a Camera:
In the beginning I couldn't (and still can't) afford to pay a photographer. At first, I worked with friends and acquaintances who owned professional cameras and graciously helped take photos of me. However, it was often hard to coordinate schedules or take and edit the pictures in a timely manner, especially because I work a 9-5 full time job. So I decided to get my own camera. It's just a simple point and shoot Cannon, under $500, and easily fits in my purse, but it takes sharper images than my phone. You don't need a crazy fancy camera to take good blog photos, but I definitely recommend investing in some type of camera because it has been a huge stress relief not having to rely on others to create content for my blog and Instagram. Which brings me to my next point...
Create Your Own Content:
I like to keep my Instagram feed as close to real time and organic as possible. I'm personally not a fan of going out and shooting a bunch of outfits at once, stockpiling the photos, and then sporadically posting them later. I want every photo I post to be purposefully and I try to avoid sharing old photos just for the sake of posting. However, I used to just meander around New York City, hoping I would stumble upon something insta-worthy, and that also fit into my feed. While this isn't impossible living in a huge metropolis like NYC, I honestly used to get stressed out and felt pressured if I couldn't find something good to post.
I've finally accepted the fact that there's no shame in sometimes planning ahead and creating your own content. In fact, that is the only way to be truly original and stand out from the sea of bloggers. Anyone can take a photo of the Empire State Building or a cool mural in Soho, but it's the truly unique photos you create yourself that will set you apart from the crowd. Planning ahead also allows me to be more present and live in the moment when I am out, instead of just focusing on finding something to take a photo of. In my opinion the best Instagram feeds are a healthy combination of both planned and spontaneous posts.
Find Your Own Voice (literally):
Opening up and making myself vulnerable through writing is something I've always struggled with. Because of this, I used to play it safe when it came to the writing aspect of blogging. Everything from my Instagram bio and captions, to my blog posts, were super cliche because I didn't want to put myself out there too much. For example, my first few blog posts were very short and strictly about what I was wearing in the photos, which really doesn't need an explanation. I never gave any thought to my Instagram captions and would just type the first thing that popped into my head, which was usually something super generic and cliche, like "happy friday" or "weekend vibes". My Instagram bio read "fashion and style blogger" which is extremely unspecific in today's saturated industry.
In the beginning of the year, I analyzed my Instagram to see what was working and what wasn't, as well as refined my personal brand a bit. After doing so, I finally feel like I have a voice as a blogger and an overall stronger point of view. I am definitely putting myself out there more, which can be scary, but taking risks is the only way you will ever achieve success. I still have a lot of growing to do, but I have definitely learned a lot about blogging in the last year.
I hope these realizations were insightful to any fellow bloggers. What are some things you've learned about blogging?
(Notebook C/O Graphique de France)