With fashion bloggers snagging high-profile magazine gigs and exclusive invitations to New York Fashion Week, the blogosphere has allowed new voices to take ownership of an insular industry. But with everyone vying to be the next Rumi Neely or Tavi Gevinson (a phenomenon at 14), it takes style to make a mark. Several local bloggers are doing just that.
Belle de Couture (belledecouture.com)
Who: Jennifer Rand, a true Southern belle who mixes vintage at low prices for high-fashion looks. She works for a government contractor by day, but she might just get a chance to pursue her sartorial passions further — she is a finalist in the "Nokia and Elle search for the Next Style Correspondent" that could win her a chance to go to New York Fashion Week.
Philosophy: "I love looking at runway photos, but street style is more realistic. People edit their photos so much, but I wanna see a girl who's not completely dolled up."
Blog excerpt: "I found these vintage Givenchy sunglasses a couple months ago for $1.00 at a thrift store. I was over the moon! Crazy what people will get rid of, and even crazier what thrift shops will charge for ah-mazing pieces (but I'm glad bc their ignorance is my gain)."
Artfully Artista (artfullyartista.blogspot.com)
Who: Laura Clarke, a design student who started sewing at the precocious age of 3. "I'm so surprised it ever got this far. I don't have a humongous shoe collection, I'm not skinny — I'm just me." Through expert thrifting, she can make miracles with a needle and thread.
Philosophy: "Don't be afraid to stand out, especially if you live in Pinellas County or Tampa Bay — it's easy to do. We tend to dress like tourists."
Excerpt: "I absolutely love the man-repelling aspects to this outfit... I'm not trying to scare the men away but if that happens from not belting my dress and wearing my big bling I don't mind... Because one really shouldn't dress so that other people will be impressed, rather one should dress to express one's personality."
Who: Samantha Gant. She currently works for Marianne Homsy Jewelry but wouldn't mind a change of pace: "I think that blogging full-time is a dream come true. If I could do this full-time, I would in a heartbeat."
Philosophy: Using Tampa Bay as the backdrop for her blog posts, she lets the photos speak for themselves — and lets the Florida weather dictate her outfit choices.
Excerpt: "I love that living in Florida gives me automatic permission to wear bikini tops virtually all the time. Works well since I enjoy taking a swim on a dime's notice."
Eugenia Woods (eugeniawoods.com)
Who: Red and Ray Alderson are two sisters who combine different tastes for a unique perspective on the Tampa Bay fashion scene. With the conversational tone of a best friend, the sisters relay their finds with readers and highlight local businesses.
Long-term goal: A store where artists and craftsmen can meet for workshops and network.
Excerpt: "Eugenia Woods isn't just about how we dress. It's who we are as a company and our passion for creating handmade fashion with a vintage spin. We talk about places we go, music we hear, style icons and showing off each of our own unique senses of style and giving a bit of variety..."
Bonbon Rose Girls (bonbonrosegirls.com)
Who: Kristin Swenson and Megan Yarmuth, close friends since Chamberlain High School, that have created a network where bloggers can be featured as the "Freshly Picked Rosebud of the Week." They provide tips on everything from finding maternity wear to how to wear the latest trends on the runway.
Excerpt: "This tropical floral frock that practically explodes with vibrant colors instantly spoke to the Florida girl in me!"
Next big blogger project: Teaming up with Tampa Bay Fashion Week and the White Book Agency, BonBon Rose Girls is bringing the Blogger Brilliance conference to Tampa on September 17.
With all the opportunities at hand, blogging can become an ego rush. "It's addicting!" says Belle de Couture's Rand. "And then when big-name people say something to you, you think, 'Oh my gosh, I'm one of them now,' but then you got to bring yourself down to reality. Okay, I'm living in Seminole, Florida."
But that can be a plus. Whether by thrifting, designing or styling their way to the top, bloggers like these are showing readers that you don't have to look further than your neighborhood to find some of the most stylish fashionistas around.