Little Boxes, Made of Ticky Tacky…

Friday, June 4, 2010

Since I started writing this blog back in 2008 I’ve changed a lot.

Writing the blog has been liberating in a way I never imagined it would be. My style has changed and I feel I finally have the confidence to wear what I want. I feel like me.

When I was 11 my favourite book was Growing Up at War. For my 18th birthday party I had an afternoon tea party. There were cucumber sandwiches, tea, and The Andrews Sisters on the radio, and all my friends thought I was crazy. I’ve always had a fascination with the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Always admired a more lady like, grown up style and by my late teens my favourite outfit was a pencil skirt, polo neck and double breasted pea coat worn with red lipstick.

Through blogging I have discovered a whole world of people out there who want to dress that way too. I discovered it’s ok to wear Victory Rolls in your hair (and I found out how to do them), ok to wear a girdle and stockings, even though it’s 2010. I felt liberated, and the way I dress and the things I post have reflected that.

But there has been a downside. Recently I’ve actually felt an increasing pressure to squash myself into a box. As the blog gets more readers I feel like I should categorise myself. Am I a fashion blogger? A style blogger? A vintage blogger? What era?

Why can’t I be all these things?

This blog has always just really been about things I like. I’ll pick up on a current fashion trend and interpret it in my own way. One day I’ll fancy looking like a 50s pin up, the next a 40s land girl, maybe next week I’ll fancy being a 70s rock chick.

Mary at Deluxeville Vintage recently posted photos of herself in “non vintage” attire. Urging others to do the same. I was fascinated by these posts, but also worried. I’ve posted outfit posts of myself in knee high boots, jeans and t shirts and a belt made from a motor cycle chain. All decidedly “non vintage” , but decidedly me.

Is it really so important to find a “niche” for my blog? Should I only write about one aspect of my life in the hope of making myself easier to categorise for advertisers and readers?

There’s more to me than a fascination with the early 20th century.

I love fashion. Not in a slavish, trend led kind of way, but I think of it as an art form. Seasonal trends fascinate me, and every now and again one will appeal to me and I want to wear it. I feel passionately about helping people dress in a way that makes THEM feel good and I feel strongly about waste and ethics in fashion.

I also love, amongst other things, slasher movies, trashy tv, 90s Indie Music, real ale, stand up comedy, circuses, burlesque, very high heels and photography. I’m sometimes fascinated by the surreal, the dark and the macabre, but I like flowers on the table and tea from china cups. I consider myself a feminist, whatever you think that means. An independent woman, but I can be shy and I’m terrible at putting myself forward for things as I never feel good enough and sometimes this holds me back. I’m a perfectionist and I can be scarily competitive.

I think it’s amazing that Women can be what ever they want to be. Wearing pearls and gloves doesn’t mean I can’t drink pints, any more than wearing jeans and a T shirt means you can’t have a glass of wine.

I don’t WANT to squish myself into a little box. I want to write about the things I love, and have my blog be a place for people who love those things too, even if they only love 2 out of 5 things I write about, I’d love them to come back to the other 3 and say “eugh, no”.

I want this to be a place for other women who don’t want to be boxed in.

But what do YOU think?

Do you prefer “niche” blogs?

Do you ever feel that people are trying to categorise you?

Do you categorise yourself?

Photos by My Mum, Łukasz  Strachanowski (the front page) and yewenyi
26 Responses
  • pixie
    June 4, 2010

    I have noticed this ‘box’ type behaviour you speak of. I’ve been blogging since 2008 and there has recently been a real wave of fashion/makeup blogs. Mine started as just a way of getting my thoughts down and has progressed into a mash of what I like and how I feel depending on what I’ve done that day.

    Yours in one of the freshest, well written and generally all round lovely blogs I read. I guess it depends on what you want out of your blog, but don’t change you. 🙂

    • Retro Chick
      June 4, 2010

      Thank you! That means a lot! Really!

      I’m happier with with my style now than I have been in the past.

      There does seen to be a huge drive toward “niche” blogging though, you’re right!

  • Fi Phillips
    June 4, 2010

    I think the pressure has always been there to conform. It’s an unfortunate human trait. “Be like us or you’re odd.” The one thing I’ve always valued in life is having a choice, be that to conform or find out own path. It’s only now, in my forties and seeing my children develop into two wonderful ‘individuals’ that I can truly be myself and not apologise for it.

    We love you, Retro Chick, just the way you are.

    • Retro Chick
      June 4, 2010

      You’re right Fi, even “alternative” cultures tend to be about conformity at some level I think.

      • Ashe Mischief
        June 4, 2010

        Oh, I think alternative cultures are TOTALLY about conformity. I used to have a rockabilly boss, and you should have heard about how she’d talk about other rockabilly girls… how it wasn’t a lifestyle, they were just dressing up for the event, etc. It’s silly and high school.

        Like you, I don’t want to be pigeonholed. I tend to think of my blog as a lifestyle and style blog. Some days I’m excrutiatingly hipster, some days I’m a bit rocker or punk, and some days I want to doll up. I hate when I’m considered a fatshion or plus-sized blogger, because it’s just one of my physical attributes– why do I have to be a different kind of fashion blogger because of my size? I love fashion all the same.

        So yes, let’s, as women, stop pigeonholing other women. Somehow I doubt men do this as much as we do– but any of us doing it, regardless of “niche” is really just doing us all a disservice.

      • Ashe Mischief
        June 4, 2010

        AND OMG I just noticed the title of your post!

        So appropo.

  • Victoria Whitecotton
    June 4, 2010

    As Fi said, there’s always pressure to conform. I feel it too. However, there’s no reason why you can’t be all those things. Fitting into a niche can be fun, but it can also be incredibly limiting.

    I love the blog just the way it is, with it’s eclectic mix of style advice and comments on days gone by. So keep doing what you are doing.

    • Retro Chick
      June 4, 2010

      Thank you Victoria, as long as people like it, that’s what I’ll do, because that’s what I like too!

  • Fiona
    June 4, 2010

    Don’t squish into a box be who you are, we like you that way.

    Yes there is a conformity in alternative cultures speaking as someone who’s spent a lot of time in one, I think even more so!

    I keep meaning to do my non-conformity post & keep forgetting!

    • Retro Chick
      June 4, 2010

      I’m glad 😀

      Everyone loves a tribe, don’t they. I do think it’s a human tendency to categorise and conform.

      I shall keep my eyes peeled for your non conformity post, when you remember!

  • Sherin
    June 4, 2010

    I’ve found I’ve changed my style a lot since I started my blog as well. I am way more confident in what I wear now.

    I do love your style and I do love your blog. I don’t think theres a specific need to squash yourself in a box. Never let anyone categorise you or the blog. It’s amazing as it is.

  • Louise
    June 4, 2010

    Stop the squishing! I just started my Louise LeMans blog to give myself a place to talk about girly, fashion and beauty stuff (among other things) because I was using what is supposed to be my graphic design “professional” blog to talk about that stuff.

    But I agree with you whole heartedly. I’ve got this part of me that wants to dress like a 50’s housewife every day and learn the proper patters to set my hair, and I’ve got this part that is really into Urban clothing brands, dance music and technology. There’s no way to suppress one or the other.

    In fact, in my first post on the new blog, earlier this week, I even point out that I don’t claim to be the most retro, or vintage or an expert on any of it. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about me creating a dialog with like-minded people…even if we don’t agree on every little thing.

    Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there just the (complicated, interesting) way you are.

  • Gemma
    June 4, 2010

    I think there’s definitely a push to find your niche…and sometimes the one you shoehorn yourself into turns out to be the wrong one, so you try to fit in for a while, realise it’s not working and then you have the tricky job of finding your way out!

    But I think at the end of the day what people react best to – no matter what the title of your blog alludes to (a problem I’ve had cos I use the word ‘big’ in a tongue in cheek way and it’s taken far too seriously) – is honesty, personality and passion, whether you’re writing about clothes, teacups, art, music or what you ate for dinner last night.

    I think we’re almost seeing a return to the early blogs, where people were less concerned with a topic or niche and more concerned with writing about interesting stuff they’d found on the internet. Which can only be a good thing!

  • Annasaur
    June 4, 2010

    What Louise said. “Like-minded” does not have to mean “from the same horde of zombies.”

    One of the reasons that I read this blog is because you are authentic to YOURSELF, not slavish. You define your look, rather than the other way around. You are unapologetic about who you are. It is so validating to me, as someone who also loves to do mash-ups of periods, lines, and styles. Keep doing your thing, honey. We’re into it.

  • Jocelyn
    June 4, 2010

    As a new blogger most info I researched on fashion blogs strongly suggests finding a niche in order to stand out. But I believe what it comes down to is motivation. For me, I want my blog to be a creative outlet for my love of glamour, whether that be in fashion or otherwise. Thanks for sharing this post because it’s something that I definitely needed to see before I began to write myself into a corner.

  • Leah
    June 4, 2010

    I’ve always hated the question “how would you describe your style” (not that I’ve been asked it all that much!) for the same reason. It feels too final to sum up something, which I think stems further than just what you wear, in so few words. I’m sure I do conform/fit in somewhere, but I’m with you in not particularly trying box myself/my blog etc etc into one thing.
    I don’t think you necessarily HAVE to define what type of blog you write – I suppose people just find it easier when it comes to searching for similar blogs they might like. I don’t know. Maybe with personal style blogs, if someone has a particularly strong aesthetic, the style/niche automatically forms.

  • Renee
    June 4, 2010

    i love blogs for the author’s writing voice / style moreso than the particular niche the blog is in. personally, i just write about what i like and what i wear =)

  • Carrie
    June 4, 2010

    i definitely feel the pressure but am trying to write whatever i want, whenever i want. i want my blog to be my creative outlet first and foremost.

  • Laura Kim Connell
    June 4, 2010

    Was just thinking of this today. How we feel we have to let one thing define us. I met a banker who VJs on the side and is pursuing modelling. I think that’s cool because it brings balance to your life. There is so much out there to enjoy. Why limit yourself? This is the strange way we make our own chains.

  • jennine
    June 4, 2010

    ooh yeah i hear you on this…on one hand niches can be beneficial they help with your ‘elevator pitch’ but on the other hand no one really is a one sided niche… i think it’s good to mix it up, it’s much more human that way.

    • Retro Chick
      June 5, 2010

      Those are the blogs I like to read myself. Those that feel like they have a real human behind them!

  • Andrea
    June 5, 2010

    I applaud your reluctance to define yourself as one thing – I try to avoid that, too. I get a lot of comments from people wondering why I post about ‘frivolous’ things like vintage and write ‘serious’ books. I think this is ridiculous. We are all complex people made up of many different qualities and interests – the blogs I like (like yours!) are the ones that show the whole person.

  • Aurélie
    June 6, 2010

    Thanks for this article! I’ve decided to wear vintage outfits for a few months. Before, I didn’t dare to dress as I wanted because of people judgement, and I’m still a bit afraid of it but thanks to all these blogs I dare more and more.
    Here, in France, people love puting everybody in a box and you mustn’t leave this box! I hate this mentality and I admire people who don’t mind about what the others think.

    Sorry for my crappy English!

  • CarolAnn Edie
    June 9, 2010

    Do you prefer “niche” blogs? – sometimes, when I’m looking for something in particular. I think the best things that have survived on my feed reader for the longest are the blogs centered around a person, not an idea.

    Do you ever feel that people are trying to categorise you? – sure, as humans, that’s all we can do to deal with the stimuli surrounding us.

    Do you categorise yourself? – always, and always in positive, non-limiting terms.


  • Annching
    June 11, 2010

    I think we’re all forgetting that blogs are a two-way street, and people come to read about the blogger behind the blog. I think authenticity is the right way to go. I don’t worry too much about defining myself, because I know that the more I blog, the more easy it will come to me. We shouldn’t feel confined as bloggers! We should feel happy to share!

  • vinda
    June 14, 2010

    i love the way you write things here! i can totally relate to them all! i blog about things that i love too, and i love fashion as a form of art. anyway, thanks for sharing! this brightens my day 🙂