I worked for a leased vendor at Bloomingdale’s for a year a while back. I was twenty-one, with no retail experience, or any professional experience at all, for that matter. Regardless, I felt confident that my passion for styling and my people skills would serve me well, and I was excited to learn and grow in the position of a sales associate. I took the job seriously.
Just a couple months into my time there, my then-manager was offered an outstanding position in New York City, and she couldn’t pass it up. Happy for her as I was, myself and one other part-time employee were left with no manager and not enough coverage for over two months, and I had a hard time keeping up. One day, I was the only present representative for this leased vendor, and I arrived to discover three enormous boxes of new inventory. Usually, once new merchandise arrived and had been accounted for, I would contact the brand’s visual merchandising specialist, tell her which items we’d received and which ones we still had, so that she could tell me exactly how to organize the selling floor according to the brand’s standards. When I called her this time, she told me she was on business in Miami, and that I would have to fend for myself. I was stunned, and I panicked. I had never attempted this task on my own, and though it may seem like a simple task, brands are actually quite particular about the way in which their products are displayed, and the amount of clothing I had to place was a much larger quantity than anything I’d dealt with previously. Let’s put it this way: visual merchandising requires visual-spacial skills, and I have a hard time making everything fit in my fridge. I wanted so badly to prove myself as a valuable employee, but with so little experience under my belt, no available guidance, and crippling anxiety, I had no idea how I was going to process, sensor, and organize these clothes, and still find time to make some sales. I became a total wreck. I found myself literally sitting on the floor—the selling floor—at my place of work, surrounded by clothes, and visibly in unraveling. Eventually, one of my closest coworkers, who represented a different leased vendor, looked at me and said, “It’s just clothes, Annie,” and I realized that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the selling floor wasn’t up to corporate standards for one day.
I’ve felt similarly stressed about the blog this winter. As much as I love fashion and blogging, my life doesn’t exactly cater to the field; I have precisely four friends who share my interest in fashion, and two of them are my mother and sister. My closest fashion-loving friend, who also happens to be a phenomenal photographer, helped me get the blog rolling, and then moved to New York City last May (are you sensing a trends here?) to pursue her career in photography. And again, as happy for her as I am, I can’t afford to pay a professional photographer, and so the blog currently depends on the kindness of my other, equally indulgent friends, who set aside their time and disinterest in fashion to help me take pictures whenever they can. But spare time can be hard to come by, and I’ve made a promise to myself to never guilt or exploit my friends for the sake of the blog. I’m also still in school, so sometimes I’m the one who has to turn down the chance to shoot for the blog, because I’ll only have one shot at my midterm.
And then we meet the factors in life that are truly beyond our control, incidents and circumstances that pervade schedules and plans. In December, an immediate family member of one of the people closest to me encountered some serious health problems, and while that individual is going to be more than ok, there were a lot of scares and uncertainties before this point, and there’s still a long road of adjustment ahead. Just as my friends give up their time to help me, I’ve had to focus on supporting this friend during this difficult time. And then the literal storms swept in…and wouldn’t stop.
Of course one can look stylish during the winter season. Hats, coats, boots, scarves, and lots of layering—winter offers some of the most exciting opportunities for style-enthusiasts. But, I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life, and I have to say, there’s a difference between winter as I knew it, and what we’ve experienced in Boston this year. Last winter was bitter-cold, but we hardly got any snow, and I hardly had to compromise my outfit choices. My shoes didn’t need to be anything but closed-toe. If a light jacket looked better with my outfit than an actual winter coat, I would brave the cold in the name of fashion. This year, however, on the rare occasions that I do step outside, I abandon my “dress for yourself” motto, and dress to survive this apocalyptic winter: I wear fleece sweats, big snow boots, giant turtlenecks, a big black puffy coat, and basically look like a charred marshmallow. As I trudge through gusts of freezing wind and wet slush, I actually whisper and mutter to myself, “Please, please no more…” You know, like a crazy person. I know there are some Boston bloggers (with more photography resources than I) who have posted playful pictures of themselves in the snow, but the fact of the matter is that my regular attire and style are not compatible with making snow angels, and I’m not going to publish posts of outfits that represent this unprecedented weather as opposed to my personal style. One of my main priorities for the blog is to help people dress stylishly for any situation, but I’d like to think this kind of winter is a one-time deal. My blog is about what makes fashion fun, not that which kills it and may also cause frostbite.
I woke up this morning with plans to shoot some outfits, but quickly learned that the forecast had changed to include snow. I felt disheartened, and gripped with anxiety. I’ve promised my readers and followers over and over that there wouldn’t be any more long breaks in between posts, and yet, another three weeks have passed since my last one. If everyone’s busy, or the snow won’t let up, or someone or something needs my attention more than Instagram, the blog has to wait, and sometimes that makes me feel like I’m back on that selling floor, halfway to tears, ill-equipped to tackle my to-do list, and unsure of what to do next. I want so badly to be a great blogger, but sometimes I have to accept certain setbacks.
You might be asking yourself, why don’t you just shoot indoors? Or maybe you’re flabbergasted because you thought I shot these outfits spontaneously as I was actually on my way somewhere fabulous in said outfits. Well, for one thing, my current apartment does not lend itself to pleasant photography, and it’s hard to pack up my clothes and shoot at other locations, because it’s hard to find a place to change in between looks. And as for the reality of photo shoots, while the outfits I post on this blog are one-hundred percent always outfits I have worn or plan to wear in real life, the best way to keep the blog consistent is to shoot as many outfits as I can in one session; but as I explained, those sessions have been scarce lately, and my friends and I aren’t really the kind of people who feel the need to acquire photographic evidence every time we #HangOut. That means there are frequent nights when I rock a killer outfit, but only those who see me in person bear witness to its awesomeness, and it’s all very if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods-y.
Just as with my job at Bloomingdale’s, when I started Annie’s Fashion Sauce, I didn’t really know what I was doing. It’s been so rewarding to grow and establish myself as a blogger, and I’m so grateful for the success and opportunities that have come my way so far. But the truth is, I’m still figuring the whole blogger-thing out, and sometimes life gets in the way. You can’t predict the challenges you might face, and you certainly can’t predict the weather. This blog is so important to me, and I hate the fact that, in these last few months, I haven’t been able to hold the Sauce to the high standards of my hopes and aspirations. Sometimes duty calls, or blizzards swoop in, and I have to remind myself, It’s just clothes, Annie. So I’m asking my readers here in Boston and all over the globe to please have patience, and to trust that once this weather passes and my life regains some stability, the blog will too—and the Sauce will be spicier than ever.