Blogging Lessons on To Universe With Love

1. Own your style. That is the best advice I can give myself at this point. This is not an area to second guess / look for constructive criticism / imitate the average person in the room. Its personal. Even if that means that I stray a little from my tribe, I got to do what makes me happy. I know what I like and I have embraced it.

2. The right answer to ‘why are you all dressed up? ‘ is “I felt like it today morning”. Smile after you say those words so that you don’t sound cocky.

3. About fitting in : As long as I am not wearing new outfits all the time and don’t look unapproachable, I fit in. I got it all wrong. Bay Area loves the hoodies and the sneakers. I automatically assumed that I have to wear that dress code to fit in. But they don’t care !! They don’t think about clothes or style or fashion for the most part. The CEO’s walk around in tshirts. There are enough hipsters who talk sustainability and ethical fashion. We are the rule breakers. If you wear the shit out of your old clothes and keep it under stated, you fit in.

4. When it comes to style, we talk too much about the clothes one can buy. But not enough about confidence and attitude to wear them well. I wasn’t born with it. I didn’t grow un in an environment where I could have picked it up. I have been trying to earn it and learn it since.

5. Stop thinking in terms of outfits to create. This happened to me after I did my first few OOTD posts. I am not a model wearing the clothes and posing to make a sale. Making unique outfits/buying garments for a specific look, is not for me. A lot of minimalist bloggers concentrate on ‘look at how many pairings I make with these 33 garments without getting bored’ sort of content. My contribution to the cause will be : I will wear the same clothes in the exact same manner everyday and wont apologize for it. I like this uniform THAT much !

6. Blogging made me ask if I was pretty enough to post an OOTD on the internet. Should I pretend that I don’t have a head and cut it out of all my posts – show just the clothes ? The answer : style has nothing to do with being pretty. Its not only about the clothes either. Its a point of view. We are all entitled to one. We should celebrate out choices. Don’t hide that head which carries the brain. If you are wondering if you should start a blog, DO IT !

7. My style journey didn’t end this year after I declared my closet built. There came a time this summer where I went into my closet and disliked all my clothes. It was a phase. A style rut. A new silhouette in the form of Everlane pants made me content again. I understand that its a part of life to want some change from time to time. As long as its once/twice a year, I am still honoring the pact I made with myself to put sustainability above my greed. I understand that its going to take time to edit my consumption habits. 30 years of bourgeois values aren’t going to un-do themselves in a year or two. I can how ever, try.

8. The itch to do controlled experiments

I am a trained statistician. I want to do a proper review of a product – a good evaluation with in-depth probing. Not a shallow opinion piece with words that I cant substantiate with science. Since I cant do this for every category, I pick one category – ballet flats. But should I spend the money on ordering products I don’t need just to evaluate them ? Should I spend the money paying cobblers and shoe makers for their time to teach me how to evaluate them ? One proper review. One good experiment. That is all I ask. Its my big blog post desire. One good review.

9. Stop getting rid of my beautiful clothes on a whim or for the sake of a number.

There is some pressure from the outside to brag about a tiny closet. Buy and cull, is a big pet peeve of mine. Creating less waste is important to me. Wearing the clothes till they wear out is very important to me. Training my mind to shop accordingly, is the most important aspect of it all. Everything else is a by product of that habit. I am trying.

10. Want to be an authority on all things blue

Somewhere along the way, I fell into a rabbit hole. I want to understand weaves, textures and pigments. I want to be the go-to if anyone in the world wants to discuss a love for wearing navy blue.

11. “Not this year”

This year, the major temptation didn’t come from blue dresses. It came from cashmere and textured sweaters. I saw too many stacks of amazing looking knit wear on the internet. I have 4 sweaters, which I think makes me spoilt. I told myself ‘perhaps next year?’ Its worked. Making a yearly round up keeps me in check.

12. The MVPs

The navy shirt dress by Steven Alan. The two cashmere sweaters I own from Everlane. Jil Sander ballet flats. The R13 denim.

13. Sk-II really works on my skin. Its been a game changer. I got it from Sephora during their thanksgiving sale for the 4th year in a row.

14. Style should be an auxiliary trait, not the passion of one’s life. All the folk with great personal style have another passion. They have a life that goes beyond building a wardrobe and posing in clothes. Patti Smith makes music. Garance dore is an artist. When a lot of brain space is allocated to creating outfits, its no longer personal style. Its no longer effortless. Its no longer worn in. Its a monster that has taken a life of its own. Keep it contained. Put in a lot of thought before the purchase. Put some thought when dressing up in the morning. Let the clothes fade into the background during the day and allocate no more of your bandwidth.

15. My husband thinks I have a good taste. I help him find garments on the second hand market, primarily to keep him away from the fast fashion stores. When he gets a compliment, he proudly announces that I picked it out for him and “my wife has a style blog”. On the other hand, I actively try to not influence him. I dont want to dress him. I want him to keep his unique personal style. I don’t want it to converge into mine.

16. I am writing a book on personal style and closet building. While my little blue book is all about me, I want to write one that is applicable/helpful to everyone. I want it to be worthy of the price I will ask and the time one puts in to read it. I want it to be fat, juicy and thoughtful. It maybe a year in the making and I want something substantial to show for the time I put in.

17. Trench coats. Its appropriate to wear one everywhere. To the cafes. On walks. Picking up mail. All day like a turtle wears its shell for protection. What a wonderful garment ! I pick it over a cardigan because its more durable when worn outdoors and has a little bit of a structure.

18. Blogging about style. We are all entitled to an opinion and can express it. And even find friend who agree/disagree to converse with. We can celebrate our choices on a little corner of the internet and not worry about anyone’s approval.

19. Return of the Personal style. The market can throw anything at us. The old rules and traditional police might scream at us. We can use ‘not my personal style’ as an armor to do your own thing. I used to dress to show allegiance to  or stand out from my tribe. I now wear what ever the heck I want.

20. Pinterest. We needn’t browse the stores and expose ourselves to the temptation of consumption to enjoy clothes. We can scroll ! When I get bored of a garment, I look for newer ways to wear it by searching on Pinterest. There are some good ideas on there.

21. Talk of ethics when it comes to clothing. Fast fashion as a concept is getting more awareness finally ? Its not a household word but at least in the fashion circles, its become a dirty word. Lets keep at it and we might see a change in this decade.

22. Every one is talking about buying less and buying better. In the future, excess may be looked down upon. Instead of being a marker of opulence, it might become a marker of lack of self discipline.

23. I dont know any other point in history when the simplest of clothes are celebrated even by the fashion girls. I find it liberating.

24. RealReal. Better quality and more variety than Zara but at the same prices.

25. eBay : stepping up its interface game and making it easier for us to find quality clothes at the fast fashion prices.

26. Everlane, COS, …. For the longest time, if you wanted to not buy into fast fashion, it immediately left you at a loss. Where would one shop on a budget ? We now have an option. A person like my husband is not interested in fashion. He needs basic clothing at affordable prices. Actually, most people I know in my real life are this way. I can re-route them away from the H&M’s of the world.

27. I sometimes wonder if fashion bloggers exist on the same plane as rest of us humans. We read about climate change, pollution, fashion contributing to dead rivers, sweatshops exploiting women, excess consumption draining our resources …. and the bloggers seem oblivious of it all. I wonder if they live in an alternate reality ! In retaliation, I love all the blogs that popped up that talk about mindful consumption, plan every purchase carefully, show extra love as the clothes mature into old age, talk about mending, talk zero waste, promote second hand shopping, …. They are the minority, but they exist.

28. There are alternate views on following the trends. There exists a term called fashion victim.

29. Return of the quest and understanding of the term quality. If I said that my ‘Zara blazer is the same as the one from Margiela’ to my tailor, she/he will step in and tell me what to look for to understand quality.

30. Fashion Revolution Day. Growing more popular by the year. I participate. Its my least read/least commented blog post every year. I suspect it makes people uncomfortable.

32. Indigo dying. I got started and cant seem to stop.

33. Block heels. I used to think them as old fashioned but after trying them on, I see pointed heels as old fashioned – a way to torture our feet for vanity. I wish I could stick a block heel on all of my shoes. I plan to stock up before the trend disappears.

34. We needn’t dress like our tribe. Globalization made it possible. Exposed us to different perspectives.

35. We needn’t own impractical clothes to feel dressed up. The world is changing quickly and has grown more accepting of women being comfortable and looking casual. ( It happened for men eons ago. )

36. I see women being able to wear yoga pants in public as an end to people of our past defining modesty for the 21st century women. Yes kids, please wear what ever you like. We women have been told how to dress for too long. We the women have been shamed for too long. Time to break the wheel.

37. Street Style is my biggest source of inspiration. I have a set of books that are full of ideas by folks dressed for themselves, not for the camera.

38. Social media has made it easier to consume content from the craftsmen / designers that we like. In the past, you had to buy a magazine to access that sort of thing.

39. I found my perfectly cut gray t-shirt. I have been looking for it since 1999.

40. Capsule wardrobes ! Becoming a house hold name rather quickly.

41. I can sit with a hot herbal tea, late in the night, and stare at Peter Lindberg’s pictures while listening to Max Richter.

42. I can’t relate to most fashion magazines beyond the photography. Style magazines are popping up for folks like me. Selvedge, Trendsetter, Gentlewoman, Gentleman, Many of Them, …

43. A confession. Five years ago, I wanted a Chanel boy bag. I found someone who makes a super-fake for a few hundred dollars on the internet. I emailed the customer service and asked them if they can make me one bag without the logo. They refused. They tried to convince me that the logo was the most important part of the bag. That minute – shamed me like no other. Never again will I try to buy the things I cant afford at the expense of my ethics.

44. Speaking of things I cant afford – Valentino rock studs. Let me wait two more years and then see if I can make a budget for it.

45. An Alaia skirt. A full skirt that sways. One more garment on my wish list.

46. An all black outfit can never get boring for me. There is a harmony that goes beyond the initial visual interest. Its the difference between lust at first sight vs love at first sight. The visual clutter on garments definitely has attributes like catchy, fun and interesting. But with time, they get tiresome. Once the lust levels out, its the love that binds a relationship. I see that with the classics in my closet.

47. The girl who shops in the vintage shops is my inspiration. There is a charm and romance about it.

48. The girl who wears her clothes till they become worn out and then some more out of love, is my inspiration. There is a sense of loyalty and adoration.

49. The men folk who buy less and wear the heck out of their clothes, are my inspiration.

50. Books on fashion designers are my new thing. They help me understand the significance of a certain design during a certain period in time. They help me understand the difference between a stylist calling himself a designer and a designer’s designer. It all is terribly exciting ! There is so much to learn. I now can list all the sartorial techniques that Cristobal Balenciaga invented.

51. Its a pet peeve of mine when I hear ‘I bought a few cute tops last month. It was only n$ in the sale’. The buying of excess of cute tops/t-shirts from fast fashion stores phenomenon. “Its only a cheap t-shirt” is not an argument ! Only count I recognize is how you much take from the earth in a short amount of time.

52. A purpose of building a closet is to be well dressed. Some folk can achieve this with very little. They have my admiration. Some people do this with a small closet. I am trying to learn this art. I have a medium sized closet.

53. There are folks who have tiny closets but are poorly dressed in my opinion. They don’t have my admiration just because they have n number of garments per closet. You have to be well dressed too. Its not about what isnt, but what is. ( Ironically, I got this exact comment in reference to me. ‘You have a minimalist closet but you are not dressed well. I find you very boring.’ I totally understand the sentiment lady ! )

54. Uniforms. What a brilliant concept. They existed through out our history. They have taken a different context and meaning today. We get to choose our uniform to help us instead of an army general to make us fall in line with the heard or a tribe leader setting the rules to belong to the community.

55. Traditional tribal costume in the modern age. We get to decide how much of the past we want etched on us. I do not like the saree. I wont let the traditional police bully me into wearing one. I like the lehenga. I want to choose what to wear, for myself without breaking the rules of decorum of the event.

56. A toned body is how we get our clothes to look good on us. Exercise is couture.

57. Romance. Allure. Elegance. Attitude. Glamour. Fun. Experimentation. Sustainability. Frugality. Time. Classics. Staples. Tradition. Trendy. Avant garde silhouettes. Feminism. Steering towards a future we want for us women in terms of clothing. We get to decide and make up our own minds.

58. Heirlooms. I am not a sentimental person and I do not wish to dump thy stuff on my progeny. But my taste buds like timeless classics and durable products. I wish for my carefully chosen things to not end up in landfills and get used by people, who ever they may be. On that note, I enjoy wearing my mother’s hoop earrings and pearls.

59. Iconic things. I dont think I own any or want to. I really admire them from afar on other people. Contemporary designs by good craftsmen is what I enjoy wearing.

60. Silence, solitude, stillness and simplicity – have a context in my closet.

61. Quality and durability are not interchangeable words. Every time I hear : “This shirt costs 10 times that of one at H&M. Does it last 10 times longer or what ? lol “, I want to scream. If linear models explained real world data, data science would have retired eons ago.

62. There is quality and there is a quality. We have been trained to buy because it satisfies a quality more often than overall quality.

63. The number of people who ask me “how on earth can you write a fashion blog? You are dressed very normal ! Shouldn’t you be wearing weird over the top clothes ? Does it mean that you buy clothes all the time?” – is too many ! Well, fashion is a craft that I have barely there understanding of. No, I don’t buy clothes all the time. I write a personal style blog. There is a difference.

64. I get PR emails worded like this “Hello fashionista. Love your blog. We have been looking for trendy bloggers like yourself to promote this fast fashion product. blah blah”. < Cringe> How did I mange to attract such emails ?

65. The blog title was a joke acknowledging that I was sending more noise into the vastness of internet. You guys improved the signal to noise ratio by reading the content. I do not regret the title. But when I say it out loud to new people I meet in the Silicon Valley, I realize the folly : too much cheese in it. Its sounds like a teenager’s “Dear Diary” sort of title.

66. Nobody read my blog till Florie and Lin put me on the map.

67. Blogging has given me some clarity when it comes to closet building. Its kept me in check, on my consumption habits. Its helped me connect with people. The affiliate links fund a charity without my doing nothing differently. I am tempted to say : only good things can come from writing a blog. Everyone should write one !!

68. On one fine day, I wished for friends with more similar interests, on the blog. An email came in the next day. We went out for a coffee. After one hour, we stayed back for wine. Stories were shared. It didn’t stop there. A sisterhood started. Movie nights, cooking dates, fashion parties, book discussions, lets hang out in your closet sort of dates, what do-you-think-of-these-shoes sort of text messages, …. I adore her. Yiran is another soul I met through the blog and wish I saw more of.

69. On the blog, I seem to attract cliques of people who interact with each other and with me. With time, I seem to loose them and a new clique forms with new group of people interacting. I correlate it to the evolution of my content. When I wrote about simplicity, I had a set of people who found it relevant. But then I started bashing fast fashion/cheap clothes and drove them away. I now write about personal style and that rings a bell with the current set of readers. When I write anti-consumerist/minimalism/travel/camping related posts, I see a dip in the numbers. I have a few readers who have been there since the beginning. I am very grateful for everything. Thank you !

70. In terms of traffic, consistency is what helped the blog grow. I wrote one post per week in 2017 except for the one month when Cinco was injured. One PR lady kindly told me that my blog has potential but I need to utilize my Instagram account better. I am too chicken to promote the blog on social media. I cant spam people with photos of my shoes and my not so significant thoughts. Our feeds should be uncluttered. So be it for now. Pinterest is supposed to help but I haven’t figured out how to use it. On some days, I want to be read by more people. But most of the time, I want to be a secret corner on the internet where I write for a small group of people and myself.

71. Its a dream to interview Stella McCartney for this blog. Its a dream to be invited to go see how the clothes are made in the ateliers filled wth craftsmen. Some day !

72. I want to become a sustainability blogger. Join the ranks of the folk I admire and the blogs I read. Unfortunately, I shop too much to claim to honor that word. When I do better, I will put minimalism and sustainability in my blog’s tag line.

73. I am surprised that my light weight posts get lot more hits than the ones where I put in some substance. Essays are what I want to write. So be it.

74. I currently have 300 drafts that I started but never finished. If you are curious about how I blog : I keep dumping thoughts into a draft when ever they pass by. Every month, a few of the drafts becomes ready to be pushed out. The blog writes itself without any effort from me. I do take that one photograph on Friday morning and publish it in the evening.

75. A few photography tips I picked up this year : A glass window makes the prettiest moody light. A white cloth with a loose weave diffuses the light well when shooting by the window in afternoon light. My OOTD photos look better if I position the camera at waist height instead of shoulder height. ( Else, I look stumpy. ) I shoot on 35mm. I dont care for a shallow depth of field because it looks too polished. The photographs should be chic, not elegant, not sloppy. I do not like white wall backgrounds. Most bloggers have a signature style. Mine is to pose next to the plants/trees. There are plenty of spots in our neighborhood with lot of neutral tones and a splash of vegetation. An outfit photo in our backyard takes exactly 5 minutes to shoot with a timer. I used to make Hombre sit in a spot to adjust my focus and then go sit next to him. These days, I use a book as place holder and shove it out of the frame when the timer sets off. I dont care about every detail showing. I am not trying to sell my outfit. One photo will do. A flat lay takes the same amount of time, but is a pain to clean up after. The way I blog – is the path of least resistance.

76. If you are popular, your mouth piece is louder than someone who knows more than you on the same topic. One example : usage of the word quality. Most of us just DO NOT have the expertise. A few internet searches and a few expensive garments doesn’t mean that we understand the craft or that we can evaluate a craftsman’s work. I look at some of the words I have written in the past and cringe. Possible explanation : Dunning Kruger Effect. This is the reason you find plenty of folks on the internet with the audacity to lecture trained environmental scientists who work in the field 24*7, on climate change. The same goes with me talking about ethical fashion. I know so little and have no journalistic training to figure things out. We did some google search and think we know enough.

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The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

77. An opinion and a review are not the same. ‘These are bad pants’ and ‘I don’t like the cut of those pants’ are two very different sentences. ‘These are good pants’ and ‘these pants fit me well. I really like them’ are also very different sentences. We are allowed subjective opinions but there should be some objective analysis for the review to be useful to anyone who is not the author of the post. We don’t have the exact bodies. We will not all bump into the same rude customer service guy. You loosing your mail doesn’t mean I will. We need better reviews.

78. A review is an evaluation. There are standards. There are specific ways to design an experiment depending on the nature of the product. One has to do factor analysis. One has to eliminate the bias to the best of our abilities. One has to be knowledgable in the field.

79. All is not lost. We can put in the time to learn something about the craft and then attempt an amateur version of a review. I am glad that we are making an honest attempt at understanding quality. Turning those clothes inside out, identifying the stitching techniques, assessing if its the right fabric for the right design, …. I accepted one product to evaluate. By accepting the free product, I introduced funding bias into my review. There has to be qualitative and quantitative analysis. I am sinking under the weight of understanding the craft to perform the qualitative analysis. Recording the wear and tear of 100 wears is much easier to do. In the end, I will have to draw a conclusion from one data point. How can I do bad science ? It’s the ultimate dishonor.

80. I like that times are changing. Folks like Gothamista are raising the standards of what is acceptable to be called a review.  Reviews by amateurs, Deepak Chopra lecturing on quantum physics while flaunting his MD degree to pose as a scientist and Gwyneth Paltrow’s cures are accepted on the internet for reasons beyond my understanding. I am tempted to call it anti-science and anti-elitism.

81. I have a new found admiration for bloggers who show only outfits and don’t try to fill the space below with vapid words and undercooked reviews after wearing the product once. They say ‘don’t have anything in your home that you don’t believe to be beautiful or useful’. I should try this more often.

82. Click bait titles. Wasting someone’s time on a false lure … I have learnt that catchy titles do well with bringing in traffic. If I use a obscure title for a post, the post goes unread on Bloglovin. The titles have to be the usual popular keywords or catchy to generate some interest. Sigh ! SEO kills creativity ?

83. I am tired of talking about myself. I cant do it this often. I don’t want to think about clothes every week. I wish I had a blog partner. I wish she had fabulous style and will allow me to photograph her ….

84. Stop taking it all so seriously. If I wear a black turtleneck, it needn’t mean something profound or be tied to my inner depths of my core being.

85. AndyHeart is my favorite OOTD blog. Shot from the Street is my fav fashion blog. Lin‘s blog is my favorite style blog. My Green Closet is my favorite sustainability blog. Favorite Youtube channel : Use Less. Fav blog on minimalism : Ariana’s Paris to Go. The content on ManRepeller and Cup Of Joe astonishes me. How do they do magic that often ?

86. LeMaire is my designer of the year. I have read every interview of his. I buy the magazine when I know he is in it. I have a crush on his muse. I adore the man’s mind.

87. I want to learn ways to do commerce that aligns with my content while staying authentic.

88.

“…We call a brand or a person authentic when they’re consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.

– Seth Godin 

89. It may come off as I have it all figured out, on the blog. I really don’t. The initial arrogance is fading. The revolutionary who was confident that she can change the world has died. I am more dejected than ever – on fast fashion, on sustainability, on fashion, on what makes a good influence, …. on what my role has been.

90. I think I dabbled in everything too soon – decluttering, minimalism, closet building, fast fashion, sustainability, zero waste, ….. and did nothing properly. This year, I want to explore zero waste while I continue to write my Little Blue Book.

91. I got an email from a young lady in India. She read about ethical fashion on my blog and wanted to know how one should shop if she had no access to places I do. I really don’t know.

92. I often get accused of not promoting Indian textiles and way of dressing. Guilty as accused. What can I say about clothes that I don’t own ? What can I say about clothes I don’t wear ? I can say ‘they look pretty and have a heritage’ but you already knew that. I will try to showcase what I know this year.

93. I have written some strong words on this blog about shame and consumption. My friends are now terrified of me. I visited a girl friend last week. The first thing she did after I entered her home was to show me how she recycles. My little sister hides her fast fashion purchases when I visit. My older sister hides her numerous expensive purchases when I visit. Another friend of mine decluttered before I visited her home. I feel awful for doing this to my dear ones who are going out of their way to please with me.

94. I have noticed that my friends started wearing plainer clothes. I have said the words ‘visual clutter’ too many times. I am not sorry for that. I am one person sharing my point of view. I am no editor telling anyone how to dress. Trust me, I am under no illusion that I am an influencer or a taste maker or the best dressed in any room.

95. Harsha has a problem with the image filters I use on my photos. I like using the cool tones and reducing the saturation of the greens in my pictures . He say’s that its whitening my skin. Coming from a county that is obsessed with fairness of skin, he thinks its an irresponsible thing for me to do. I shall try to show my brown skin more accurately in the future. Boy, being on the internet comes with a lot of responsibility !

96. Now to the good stuff : Blogging is a lot of fun. Matching a few photos to the text and making it into a post is an easy victory. Its like making your bed every morning. Or getting a morning workout done before sunrise. An easy check on the list of things to do in the day that boosts the morale. When real life is hard, I will take these easy victories to cheer myself up. Getting a blog post out every week is an easy check !

97. I think you guys have seen most of my outfits. This year will more or less be the repeat of the same. This is the point where I have to admit that I blog for my own selfish reasons – to record my outfits. One has to post OOTDs like no one is watching. That is the fun way to do it. This is the only place for an introvert like me can post safely without making a spectacle of herself.

98. Imagine a life time of outfits recorded. It’s both useless and romantic at the same time.

99. When I did my 2017 round up of purchases, I realized how imperfect I am. I shop ! I need to tone down the judgement I reserve for the consumption horses. I also need to forgive myself and do better this year.

100. We went to California Academy of Sciences last week. I saw the coral reefs and came out sobbing. I have to do more for sustainability. Much more than buying two garments less or recycling my trash properly. We all have to do so much more to keep what we have got. Here’s to a year of doing instead of hoping. Cheers !


Please contribute your notes to this list. Start with 101 and keep the list going.