February 1, 2011

Chicago Manual of Style—2/1/11

It barely takes a Google search to find hundreds of blogs devoted to fashion. Most fashion blogs seem to fall into one of two categories: Someone posting pictures of their own fabulous outfits or someone commenting on celebrities’ fabulously questionable outfits. Although these can be fun, particularly if you know the fashionista in question or are feeling rather vindictive and need a celebrity target for venting (in the latter case, see, sometimes it’s refreshing to click through a different take on fashion blogging. So here are three blogs for you to peruse and judge at will, blogs that either have an interesting twist on the conventional or present something entirely different.

The Sartorialist

Scott Schuman spent years working in the sales and marketing departments for designers like Valentino before opening his own showroom for young designers. In 2001, he closed his showroom and began to focus on photography. Schuman then created The Sartorialist, a blog so successful that Time included it in a list of Top 100 Design Influencers.

At first glance, his blog might seem like typical pictures of people in pretty outfits. But this isn’t exactly the case. First of all, the photos are really, really good. These aren’t clichéd modeling pictures of a twenty-something girl pouting against a brick wall. These are photos of people on the street or personal friends, or behind-the-scenes snapshots of fashion shows. Secondly, Schuman isn’t necessarily interested in pretty outfits. Instead, he sets out to capture the type of images that fashion designers use for inspiration. He’s as likely to post an outfit because he’s intrigued by the draping of a pair of sweatpants as he is because he likes the cut of a shirt. He doesn’t intend for readers to copy the outfits, but instead wants the photos to encourage new ideas.

Academic Chic

On the other end of the spectrum, Academic Chic is not run by anyone with a history in the fashion industry. Instead, it’s the blog of four self-proclaimed feminist academics. I recommend this blog partly because of its academic focus. Yes, the posters are grad students and consequently face a set of challenges different from those of college students. However, certain rules apply for all facets of academia. Whether you’re 20 or 25, you have the same challenges in creating an interview outfit.

Mostly, I recommend this blog because it does a series of photo-fashion tutorials and how-tos in a section called “Taking Notes.” Academic Chic breaks down fashion in clear, academic terms. For example, they explain why certain colors go together by constructing a color wheel and using equilateral triangles. They also combine function and fashion with posts on finding a stylish backpack, one which both looks good and has plenty of pockets to keep all your pens, papers, and Post-its sorted. The tone is slightly quirky, straightforward, and not at all condescending, just like that of the best grad students.

Tom & Lorenzo

With a URL of, it’s unsurprising that Tom and Lorenzo first began blogging about Project Runway. And then you might guess that their main qualifications are that they are Fabulous & Opinionated, as their website’s subtitle suggests. As a married couple, Tom and Lorenzo tackle fashion, TV, and any combination of the two.

Tom and Lorenzo have four kinds of posts. Sometimes they blog about recent ad campaigns or collections. Sometimes, they do “In or Out” posts on various celebrities. Sometimes they follow TV shows. These three types of posts succeed because of the force of their personalities. The pair is snarky, often in disagreement, and always funny. The fourth type of post, the post that really sets them apart, is the combination of fashion and TV. Their episode recaps are insightful, and their taste impeccable. When this results in Mad Style posts, I couldn’t be happier. Mad Style is essentially a fashion analysis of Mad Men. Tom and Lorenzo examine most of the characters through their outfits, pondering how the colors in a shirtdress tie a wife to her home or similar hairdos signal two women as foils for each other. But regardless of the topic, their posts are pretty, smart, interesting, and always entertaining.