To put it plainly, there are a ton of fashion, beauty and lifestyle bloggers these days; it seems almost everyone wants to share his or her own personal aesthetic with the world. Among the many blogs out there, only a few really stand out. And, while all are distinctly different from one another, there are definitely some things they have in common, too. In addition to consistency and a strong work ethic, all the best bloggers possess a powerful sense of individuality and major creative abilities.

Though blogging (especially fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogging) is often labeled as something shallow, truly being creative requires a lot of hard work, dedication and critical thinking. Thankfully, the bloggers behind Zanita Studio recently devised a guide to finding inspiration for all types of creatives–not just bloggers–because even the best sometimes find themselves feeling unmotivated and uninspired.

The author mentions that 2017 is the “year of story telling” because social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram allow followers to take a behind-the-scenes look at bloggers’ lives with “story” features. Sharing so-called “stories” on Snapchat and Instagram is a great way to develop more intimate, personal relationships with followers; at the same time, however, it puts a ton of pressure on us bloggers to constantly be creating top-notch content.

Furthermore, Instagram also recently introduced its “live” feature, which allows users to video chat with followers in real time. Many bloggers use this feature for impromptu makeup tutorials and unboxing hauls. Several creatives, such as YouTuber Lauren Elizabeth, expressed how difficult and tiring it can be to keep up with all these new platforms.

To combat this problem, the author suggests Pinterest as a resource, and I definitely agree! I joined Pinterest a couple months ago, and I genuinely wish I started sooner. There is an endless amount of creative content on that platform, from lengthy articles to DIYs to stunning visual inspiration. Many bloggers and creatives share their work on Pinterest, and from that inspo, others can come up with their own unique ideas, then “pin” them to inspire others.

So many bloggers and influencers publish the same “trendy” content the rest of the world shares, and as a blogger myself, I know how hard it can be to develop unique, quality material on a regular basis. In order to stand out and be successful in the blogosphere, it is undeniably important to find what inspires you personally and share that with your followers in a meaningful way–not the superficial, insubstantial content you think you should be posting based on the blogs or Instagram feeds of others. Not only is Pinterest a great way to find inspiration, it helps you save and organize your favorite findings, as well.

[source: Instagram user @areyouami]

Speaking of trend-based content, Matt Elison predicts women’s fashion trends for the upcoming season on a blog known as Chronicles of Her. One of the first trends the author mentions is from Vogue, which has throughout history always had a strong influence on designers (which have a strong influence on fast fashion retailers, which have a strong influence on consumers). This year, Vogue predicts the “death of cleavage.”

Elison also mentioned that chokers, a huge trend in 2016, will no longer be in style. We are currently a little over a month into the new year, and I am still seeing chokers everywhere I look: on campus, downtown, on social media, etc. Runway designers and luxury fashion brands may steer clear of chokers in 2017, but it seems a lot of young women still enjoy wearing this type of necklace. Because high fashion is typically ahead of street style, many who wear chokers now (including bloggers) may still see them as trendy, while big name designers are tossing them in favor of other styles.

[source: harperandharley.com]

Sara Donaldson, blogger behind Harper and Harley, did a brilliant job executing several of 2017s hottest trends in a single post last month. Oversized dress shirts–especially in a crisp white fabric like Donaldson wears–have been pretty big these past few months, while statement sleeves and shiny pants came into style more recently. While bloggers everywhere have been promoting all three of these trends, Donaldson ties them together in a way that is unique and tasteful.

Her neutral and nearly monochromatic color palette definitely helps tone the entire look down, while a neat bun keeps her hair out of the way and black sandals remain virtually invisible under gorgeous flared plants. This outfit embodies everyday glamour because it is the perfect mix between casual and elegant; it shows that fashion bloggers (and other influencers!) can create content that is mainstream and relevant (i.e., trendy), as well as thoughtful, substantial and most importantly, authentic.

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Vinyl pants are popping up everywhere I look lately. As soon as I saw fellow blogger Tessa Barton in a flashy red pair, I knew I had to get my hands on some of my own. Even though I think Barton’s fire engine red trousers are ah-mazing, I decided a jet black pair would be more practical for my everyday life–and who knows? I may end up loving these so much that I invest in a red pair down the road.

But for now, I’ve been having so much fun styling this black pair, which has zipper details across each leg. It is pretty cold where I currently live in West Virginia (with a mild day here and there), so mainly I’ve been juxtaposing these biker-inspired, structured trousers with chunky knit sweaters and feminine faux furs. Even though they are definitely a statement piece, these bad boys are super versatile; they work well with just about anything. And, yes–they are very comfortable.

Because layering is super important both for keeping warm and for putting together a killer outfit, I find that dainty, lacy camisoles make the perfect finishing touch on this look. Then, I add my go-to black booties for a little height; after all, my legs are definitely the focal point in these pants.

I polished off the ensemble with a couple shiny necklaces, including my rose gold nameplate, and as always, undone hair so it wouldn’t distract from the outfit. When warmer weather rolls in, I know these pants will look totally hot with a vintage t-shirt, red lips and a big, dry shampoo-induced rockstar mane.

Faux fur coat (not pictured), Free People, no longer available

Turtleneck sweater, Brandy Melville, $38

Patent finish pants, thrifted

Chelsea boots (not pictured), Free People, $128

Layered necklace, Free People, $28

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Last month famed French fashion house Louis Vuitton debuted its highly anticipated collaboration with streetwear brand Supreme. The high fashion label–which is known predominantly for its signature luggage–included six handbags, a backpack, a messenger bag and a holdall in its Fall/Winter 2017 collaborative menswear collection with the Manhattan-based subculture clothier.

Streetwear staples like denim baseball jerseys, jackets and scarves, emblazoned with a mix of Louis Vuitton and Supreme logos, turned heads as they casually made their way down the catwalk, according to fashionista.com.

Other noteworthy garments included oversized sweaters, sport coats and trousers, as well as clean-looking sneakers, eye-catching keychains and various styles of outerwear. As it is a fall/winter collection, many of the looks featured several layers of both solid and printed pieces, in fresh, muted hues. Pops of candy apple red and bright white added a youthful vibe that did not overpower an otherwise neutral color palette.

While the fashion show itself took place in Paris, Vogue claims it was a “celebration of the style of New York in all its artistic, eclectic, sybaritic, and liberated variousness” that was “inspired by the artists and parties that have shone brightly in the city…crammed with elegantly expressed underground references.”

In other words, Louis Vuitton’s quality craftsmanship and timelessness took the form Supreme’s alternative style–and vice versa–without a single comprise to either brands’ distinct aesthetic. Think: Parisian artistry with a New York attitude.

Also extremely popular over the past several months is Vêtements’ Thrasher hoodie, a hybrid of another French luxury brand and a San Francisco-based skater magazine. In terms of entirely collaborative collections, however, Vêtements worked with Champion to design high fashion sweats and activewear. Ranging in price from $540 to $810 on NET-A-PORTER, it is safe to say these pieces are meant to be worn anywhere but the gym.

In addition to buzz-worthiness (high fashion/streetwear collabs are big this year!), Louis Vuitton x Supreme has plenty of longevity. For one reason, it’s actually wearable. Runway styles often get a bad rap for being impractical, but Louis Vuitton x Supreme is the complete opposite. It maintains street style ease and comfort without jeopardizing a luxurious, high fashion feel.

The collection also draws in a ton of attention from teens and young adults, who typically favor streetwear over high fashion. If runway designers want to remain relevant in a society consumed by fast fashion, collaborating with streetwear brands may be the way to go.

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Admittedly, I am way more into secondhand shopping and thrifting than I’m into hitting the mall. Recently, I picked up a few major scores, and thanks to Poshmark, I was able to find a vegan suede fringe jacket–for $20, nonetheless. While I was on the hunt for a camel moto jacket, I spotted this Western-inspired piece and decided it would make a stylish alternative to a biker one. After all, I already own a black moto jacket, so why not change things up a bit?

I was instantly able to think up a ton of cute outfits with pieces already in my closet. From this season’s must-have bodysuit-and-mom-jeans combo to a smokin’ hot “athleisure” getup, the possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to styling this gorgeous statement jacket.

On this particular day, however, I decided to play it safe with gray and black underneath; in my opinion gray, black and tan look really elegant together, so this outfit was totally a match made in heaven for me. A simple, soft v-neck allows a lacy bralette to peek through, while high-waist skinny jeans and sock booties give the look a sleeker vibe.

Vegan suede jacket with fringe, thrifted, $20

Bralette, Free People, $38

Easy Jeans, American Apparel, $78

Sock booties (not pictured), Topshop, $70

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New media (including blogs) and social media (think: Instagram, Snapchat) without a doubt have a huge impact on the fashion industry. From the way we read magazines to who’s sitting front row at the hottest fashion shows, a lot has changed in tandem with new media’s rise–and not all of it is for the better, either.

Many industry professionals and fashion gurus yearn for the days when fashion was about art, talent and innovation; instead, they are left with a bleak world based on ads, sales and consumerism. This phenomenon affects not only the way the world sees the industry, but the scope of the industry itself, in six distinct ways.

Depp and Lagerfeld on the Chanel Couture Spring 2017 runway on January 24 [source: popsugar.com.au]

Nepotism: Nepotism is prevalent in just about every facet of the fashion industry, but it is most obvious when it comes to models, both on the runway and in print. World class designers, such as Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld, tend to favor the children of celebrities over models who have made a name in the industry for themselves. Bella Hadid (daughter of Yolanda Hadid and David Foster), Kendall Jenner (daughter of Kris Kardashian and Bruce Jenner) and Lily Rose Depp (daughter of singer-songwriter Vanessa Paradis and actor Johnny Depp) all served as Lagerfeld’s muse on the Chanel runway during the recent Spring 2017 couture show in Paris. Depp, 17, who closed the show in an ornate tulle gown, even walked arm-in-arm with Lagerfeld as she descended down the runway. Additionally, other celebrity children, like Bella Hadid’s older sister Gigi, and Hailey Baldwin, daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin, appear on numerous runways and print ads every season, causing traditional–and arguably more talented–models to be pushed aside.

Pay-for-play on the red carpet: Per The Fashion Law, celebrity stylists and their A-list clientele receive large sums of money from designers seeking red carpet recognition. With award show season in full-swing, these stylists receive “anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000” per event, while the celebrities themselves can receive upwards of $100,000, according to Jessica Paster, who has dressed Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Miranda Kerr, Sandra Bullock and Rachel McAdams, among others. But, American lawyer and voice behind The Fashion Law Julie Zerbo does not take these so-called “ambassadorships” between designers and celebrities lightly. In fact, she states, “…it is important for advertising brands to think critically about whether a connection between the product (a dress or necklace, for instance) and its endorser (the celebrity) is material; whether consumers would understand that that endorser has been compensated for his or her endorsement; and whether a material connection disclosure needs to be made and how.” Furthermore, “…endorsements that have come about as a result of a connection between the endorser and the underlying brand without proper disclosure are violations of the FTC Act,” according to Zerbo, while “a misrepresentation is ‘material’ if it is likely to affect consumers’ buying choices.”

[source: harpersbazaar.com]

Lack of innovation in design: While the most coveted designs were once the intricate, handmade ones that took hours upon hours to assemble and often had to be custom ordered, that is no longer the case. As exhibited by Dior’s Spring 2017 ready-to-wear collection, the most popular pieces are now synonymous with the most Instagram-able ones. A simple white t-shirt reading “WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS” stole the show, made subsequent headlines, flooded social media feeds all over the world and gained even more esteem when it was worn by superstars Natalie Portman and Rihanna rocked it off the runway. A similar t-shirt by Gucci, which retails for nearly $600, came to fame on the backs (literally!) of several bloggers and Instagram influencers–We Wore What’s Danielle Bernstein and newcomer Alicia Roddy, to name a few–who’ve worn it throughout the past few months, as well.

The democratization of fashion: The fashion industry, which used to be comprised of elites, is more accessible than ever. Thanks to fast fashion, more and more people are able to participate in runway trends at the expense of sweatshop workers in developing countries, as well as the global environment. Bloggers and social media influencers post snapshots and videos from their front row seats at the hottest fashion shows, while magazines such as Vogue publish free online content for all to read, increasing the demand for fast fashion. As fast fashion’s popularity grows, the malignant practice becomes a societal norm, and writers promote it as a positive while ignoring the ugly truth. Similarly, high end designers seem to be in a never-ending worldwide competition to create the most buzz-worthy clothes, which has caused an extreme decrease in the quality and innovation of their work over the last five years.

Fashion shows that are no longer about the fashion: Instead of attending shows to actually see the designs, industry insiders (and outsiders!) seek invitations so that they can be photographed in the front row or spotted outside. The front row was once reserved for Anna Wintour (Editor-in-Chief of Vogue) and company; now reality stars such as Kim Kardashian-West and big name bloggers such as Chiara Ferragni of the Blonde Salad sit front row for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Jeremy Scott–some even sit alongside Wintour and co. They come to shows toting their smart phones in order to post photos of designs almost as instantly as they debut. At a given fashion show, followers can count on a handful of bloggers and influencers to Snapchat the entire event. Some big name designers, such as CÉLINE and Tom Ford, have tried presenting collections strictly to buyers and editors in order to combat this problem.

Gross violation of FTC regulations: Gross violation of Federal Trade Commission regulations is undoubtedly the most widespread dilemma currently facing the fashion industry. Countless bloggers, YouTube stars and social media influencers fail to disclose sponsored content on their respective platforms, misleading millions of consumers regularly–in fact, it seems there is a new culprit every week or so. In an attempt to come off as more authentic to their thousands, and sometimes millions, of followers, bloggers such as Natalie Suarez (known throughout the blogosphere as Natalie Off Duty) and Aimee Song (Song of Style) intentionally fail to disclose content paid for by fashion and beauty brands such Lord & Taylor and Laura Mercier, according to Zerbo. Influencers like the Kardashians and Jenners have also come under fire for posting misleading social media content sponsored by brands such as Balmain, Calvin Klein, Inc., Estée Lauder, Inc., Karl Lagerfeld™, MANGO, Mint Swim, MISBHV, Puma, Revlon (for Sinful Colors) and Roberto Cavalli S. P. A., according to Zerbo. While some bloggers and influencers occasionally include a #spon or #sp to their posts, it is often hidden in the middle or the end of a wordy caption. An FTC-approved disclosure, according to Zerbo, includes #ad or Ad: (not #spon or #sp) at the beginning, and video posts call for disclosure to be said out loud or displayed on screen early on.

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