Gabby: Know what I just remembered? The Style Network. I was thinking about HOW DID I START TO KNOW WHAT FASHION WAS, and I was like, whoa, I used to watch the Style Network all the time when we first got cable. The Look For Less was this show where they’d go to T.J. Maxx or Target and try to recreate runway looks for under $100. It was hosted by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, back when people knew her as the shoe designer girl from Survivor and not the conservative woman from The View. People forget! I knew all that without consulting Wikipedia once.
Hazel: Whoa! Yes! I don’t think I watched the Style Network much, although Project Runway was a huge fashion gateway for me. There’s something about watching people talk about clothes that is more satisfying than reading blogs.
Hazel: I wish there were more TV shows about fashion.
Gabby: I feel like Project Runway made me realize that fashion designers are so much more interesting than celebs wearing designer clothes. Not like they need to be pitted against each other, but it was much more interesting to hear someone talk about their influences and how they’re making something, instead of just looking cool.
Hazel: It’s like, let’s go to THE SOURCE of all these clothes.
Gabby: WHICH IS A GOOD WAY TO LOOK AT LIFE. BEING IMPRESSED BY PEOPLE WHO MAKE STUFF.
Hazel: Did you read fashion blogs before you started yours?
Gabby: Yes. My blog was like never real, it was so random, but I made friends!!! I told you this, that I found out about fashion blogs via the Teen Vogue message boards. That’s how I found out about Tavi’s blog and Fashion Pirate, Arabelle’s blog. I probably found out about your blog there?!
It was all about a rejection of normal clothes, or not a rejection, but an experimentation.
Hazel: Fashion blogging was so good then. It’s so hard to explain to people who weren’t in it, or close to it, before style blogging was a career. I lived for people like Tavi [Gevinson] and Arabelle [Sicardi] who loved Comme des Garçons and would wrap blankets around their bodies like dresses. Or Elizabeth Spiridakis and Laia Garcia, who were closer to the industry and still came to fashion blogging to express themselves.
Gabby: It was so creative and weird.
Hazel: So weird! It was all about a rejection of normal clothes, or not a rejection, but an experimentation.
Gabby: People would DIY stuff a lot, but not for the sake of making a tutorial or getting people to visit their blogs. Everyone was like a unique, different muppet or something.
Hazel: Yes! Now it’s so heavily branded, which is cool if you can make it a job, but it lacks that organic quality—girls in their bedrooms, bored, with bad webcams. I loved the imperfection of it, the fact that maybe the outfits weren’t entirely wearable, but still very fun. And there was a level of total obsession and fangirlism, for designers and each other, that made the community feel strong, but not like a guarded club.
Gabby: And everything was thrifted! It was really the peak of thrifting, I feel like.
Hazel: I dressed weirder too, when I read those blogs.
Gabby: Me too! I was so much more experimental in high school.
Hazel: Yeah, teens who read this, don’t be afraid to dress weird.
Gabby: I wore two different pairs of tights, like one color on each leg. I saw that on a blog.
Hazel: I glued toys to my sweaters and wore veils.
Gabby: I wore this American Apparel striped shirt dress as a skirt, which it was not meant to be. It was awkward because I kept having to adjust it all day. My clothes were not flattering and were very fussy and demanding most of the time...which honestly sounds so cool. What am I doing now?
I found out about so many designers via Target capsule collections, to be honest.
Hazel: Sometimes I think about the way I layered something that was vaguely inspired by a show or collection I was obsessed with, and I remember how WRONG I got it. That’s fun to me.
Gabby: That’s so fun and better even? Do you remember any collections that you were really obsessed with? I feel like you were more into real fashion than me.
Hazel: I used to come home from school and highlight what shows to look up on Style.com. I loved the Marc Jacobs collection with the Legos. The color story was all primary—I think that was super blog-popular.
Gabby: I found out about so many designers via Target capsule collections, to be honest. And yes, the Legos! Everyone was like hot-gluing Legos to shit.
Hazel: Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring 2007 couture collection is my favorite, the Madonna one. I liked the theatrical collections, the couture collections that looked like nothing I would ever see in a store. I loved Viktor & Rolf and McQueen and Galliano. I remember having to prove fashion’s validity to my friends, like "No, this is art!" and it would always be a matter of showing them McQueen or Viktor & Rolf. The weird stuff always seems to convince people of how necessary and cool fashion can be.
Gabby: I feel like fashion bloggers were always writing about FASHION IS AN ART FORM, and in the last five or so years that’s slightly more accepted, which is kinda funny because fashion blogging itself has become so much more commercialized and less about self-expression.
Hazel: I also think fashion blogging made it so much more accessible. Did you read a lot of fashion magazines?
Gabby: I read Teen Vogue and subscribed to it. I’d read Vogue and Elle and Nylon when I was sitting around Barnes & Noble, and Nylon Japan when I could get my hands on it. Now that I think about it, I feel like hanging out a lot at Barnes & Noble was influential to me. I’d go there on a Friday night with my parents! I’d just grab all these books to look at from the fashion section and sip on a Frappuccino. I was so alive.
Hazel: Yeah, I read a lot of Dazed & Confused and Lula. Nylon was golden. Japanese and Korean mags also always had better styling.
Gabby: Reading Teen Vogue was stressful, I remember, because I mostly read it from seventh to ninth grade. It was an awkward time for me because I wasn’t old enough to have a job, so I didn’t have a lot of money for clothes, and when my parents bought me stuff, it had to be pretty practical. It’s not like, "Oh, poor me!" because I definitely had clothes and went thrifting, but I remember reading Teen Vogue and feeling hopeless that I couldn’t afford a $200 statement necklace that some child of a rock star was wearing.
I don’t really idolize supermodels like I used to because they’re so close to my age.
I haven’t read it in a while, but something that used to drive me nuts was when they’d have a girl say something like, "I’ve been shopping in my mom’s closet a lot this season instead of spending money!" Then she’s wearing a vintage Chanel blazer because her mom is, like, Demi Moore. I should disclose here that two years ago, my dorm room was featured on Teen Vogue’s website and I wore a dress I got on sale from Asos in the photo shoot. So, #startedfromthebottom.
Hazel: I was part of this LiveJournal community called Foto Decadent where people posted scans from magazines around the world. I loved it so much. It ended in 2012, I think. I learned about a lot of weirder, cooler fashion magazines, and also photographers’ and models’ names, through those communities. I think I was part of a Jessica Stam fangirl community, back when she was a redhead. Go back to red, Stam!
Gabby: Oooh, I loved her! I don’t really idolize supermodels like I used to because they’re so close to my age, so I’d feel like a weirdo. Although I do Google image search "Cara Delevingne makeup" once a week.
Hazel: Crazy editorials in general were a major gateway, like from Ellen von Unwerth and Tim Walker. I was obsessed with creating a whole story around clothes. This is still alive and well, but at the time it was new to me, that clothing could be more than aggressively labeled designer handbags and Gap sweaters or something.
Gabby: Yes! Reading old-school style blogs made me realize fashion isn’t just affording a luxury item. I used to think about how being a costume designer for a TV show would be so cool. I still think it’d be so cool, because I’m really fascinated by what people choose to wear and what it says about them, just like I love seeing what people choose to eat. I feel like early fashion blogging was so about that expression!
I just remembered one time when I was 14 or 15 and visiting my sister when she went to college at NYU. I went to an H&M in Soho and I saw SUSIE BUBBLE from afar, or at least I am pretty certain it was Susie Bubble. This was before I realized BLOGGERS ARE PEOPLE, and not just people you see online. No one really had Twitter, and Instagram wasn’t a thing, so you weren’t aware of the mundane aspects of style bloggers’ lives. To me, they were these beautiful mythical creatures. I remember I was wearing skinny jeans and red Chucks and just thinking, "Oh my god, I am not fashion."
Hazel: Haha, "I am not fashion."
Gabby: That was a perfectly acceptable outfit for a 14-year-old in 2008.
Hazel: True Life: I Read Fashion Blogs. I do think when I was a teenager, fashion was still a foreign land for the general public, and when I told people I wanted to go into it, I always felt a little bit ashamed. People didn’t get it. What’s cool now is that there are so many little things, especially in mainstream media, that have made fashion more visible, like The Hills or Project Runway. The Devil Wears Prada was an insane experience for me. I know EVERY LOOK in that goddamn movie. How old was I even?
Gabby: SO YOUNG.
Hazel: 2006! I was not even 13!
Gabby: We were probably the first generation of regular girls to grow up with the knowledge that the fashion industry itself is not as glamorous as you’d imagine, but that’s okay because fashion seems more fun now. We grew up at this pivotal point when the walls surrounding fashion came down.