I'm no personal style blog aficionado. But in my mind, personal style blogs are built on a model that goes something like this:
Girl meets clothes. Clothes meet world.
What happens next, of course, could go either way. Sometimes the world doesn't care to meet the girl and her personal style blog joins the hundreds already crowding the Internet unnoticed.
But if the girl is good enough, savvy enough, adorable and stylish enough, the world will welcome her and make her a star. It's what happened, for example, to Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller, who combined her city-chic style with a strong, easily transmitted thesis. The same goes for Fashiontoast, who stood out in the California landscape for her religiously adhered-to personal style: black and white clothes, sky-high shoes, ombre hair and oversized black shades.
It's also what happened to Jane Aldridge, the Texas teen behind the blog Sea of Shoes. Founded in 2007, Sea of Shoes focuses on Jane's enviable shoe collection, which includes everything from brand-new Giuseppe Zanottis to vintage YSLs. Jane, with her vibrant orangey-red hair and enviably small waist, builds intricately styled outfits around her luxe footwear and has her mother, Judy, photograph her nearly every day in gorgeously styled photo shoots.
For her keen sense of designer heritage (this girl knows her way around a vintage store) and her glamorous look, Jane has been embraced as one of the top personal style bloggers in fashion. Five years since she started her simple Typepad site, she's still a star, a fact evidenced by a recent Texas Monthly profile entitled "The World at Her Feet."
And yet after reading the profile, I get the feeling more and more that Aldridge is barely a personal style blogger at all -- at least, not the kind I love to read.
The photos on Sea of Shoes -- portraits of Jane in her outfits and the occasional still life of a shoe, chair or some other charming doodad -- are gorgeous, of course. They epitomize the sumptuous eye candy the fashion blogosphere was built upon. But they are, simply put, pure fantasy. "You know, it's true," Judy tells Texas Monthly. "Our life out here is fantastical. My ex-husband says we live in our own world."
The fantasy comes partly from being at such a remove from the real world -- Jane, writes Texas Monthly, has never heard of Pippa Middleton nor zeitgeisty TV shows like "Access Hollywood." She doesn't seem to spend much time with her peers, most of whom are away at school. ("She gets together with them whenever they come home from college," Texas Monthly notes.) Instead her constant companion is Judy, who helps with the photographing, styling, shopping and more.
The fantasy is further upheld by the photo shoots themselves, which are gorgeously staged and often set outside in nearby woods that Jane has dubbed "the Enchanted Forest." You will rarely see Jane out and about on the street.
And the clothes? Well, the stuff of every fashionista's fantasy. Texas Monthly writes that Jane's parents have spent thousands of dollars on shoes for the blog: her father puts the number in the "several hundred thousand" dollar range, while her mother says it's more like $70,000. The ever-growing collection includes Balmain, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Giuseppe Zanotti, Yves Saint Laurent, Proenza Schouler, Rochas, Alaia... well, you get the idea.
An isolated setting, a single model, the unlimited trove of designer goods -- it's all well and good, but it's the stuff of Vogue, W and Harper's Bazaar. The beauty of personal style blogs is how, well, personal they are, how enmeshed in the blogger's every day life. I want to see how the fashion-savvy girl behind the computer pairs her Chanel booties with the Forever 21 shorts in her closet, how that crazy tribal necklace looks over whatever she's got lying around. I want to see what that adorable outfit looks like when she goes out, onto the sidewalk, into the city, in contact with other people, just living her life.
In short, I come to personal style blogs curious to see how a girl, equipped only with her own clothes and sense of style, meets the world.
For an unattainable high-fashion fantasy, I've already got Vogue.
Read Texas Monthly's original profile here.