31 January 2012

This Post is Brought to You By ...

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that a few handfuls of really popular style bloggers have announced that they are no longer accepting “courtesy of” items from retailers. Now I don’t know what the real reason is behind this change of heart (was it becoming an ethics issue for them? did they see a noticeable decline in freebies from retailers, so they decided to just give it all up? is it some sort of tax thing? are they going a different direction with their blog? is that just the “in” thing to do right now?) but the general reader consensus was that this is a good thing.


I think we all understand the reaction. Style blogging becomes more editorial and less realistic when bloggers trot around in tons of free swag all the time. As readers, we don’t know if someone is wearing something because that’s what their sponsors wanted or if they would have chosen it themselves. Posts look like commercials. Outfits become seemingly more out of reach because bloggers are toting pieces their readership may not easily be able to afford. I also read somewhere that courtesy items really also undermine the blogger because they’re giving up valuable Internet space that's worth much more than a $20 hat or $50 sweater.

I commend those ladies for deciding to make a change to their blogging lifestyle. But in keeping with my “to each their own” philosophy for life, I don’t see anything wrong with bloggers who do receive freebies. Blogging is a hobby for 99.9% of us in this community and we spend a lot of time doing it for little physical reward, so what's a nice trinket now again? And as a reader, if I see a "courtesy of" item and it makes sense to the blog and doesn’t throw me down and slap me in the face, I have no problems (plus I have fingers, and can click, click, click myself right away if I do).

IMG_2059  IMG_2020

I’m going to use myself as an example because … well, that’s about as many style bloggers as I really know, but I think (?) my stance would be fairly typical. I have a “real-world“ job and I started my blog for fun. Yes, blogging sometimes feels like a second job considering the time I spend on it, but I never hit “enter” on my Blogger account with the intention of wanting to be compensated or wishing for blogging to be my full-time gig. I know next to nothing about stats or advertising and don’t actively go pursuing sponsors.

I think I’m lucky that a few companies have reached out to me about sending me something to wear or review, and I’ll only do it if it is something where I can give my honest opinion, it is something I would purchase on my own anyways, and is related to fashion. Do I think I’m selling myself out or selling myself short? I don’t think so, because I can still be me - and I’m not here to make money blogging anyways, so I consider getting a cute necklace for free is bonus.

Now I know everyone doesn’t agree with me here (plus it’s not like I’m an expert or “above it all”), so please feel free to be honest: What do you think about bloggers who receive “courtesy of” items?

I'll never stop being amazed that how much better my skin looks in pics than it does in real life ... sigh.

Top: J.Crew vintage tank (sim here)
Sweater: J.Crew factory ocelot (worn here - sim here, darker here, long here)
Pants: Gap modern tuxedo (sim here, here, here)
Shoes: Boutique 9 via Anthropologie botanist heeled (worn here - same on sale here)
Necklace: Laila Rowe (worn here - sim here, here)
Bracelets: F21, T+J Designs neon cuff, Asos pyramid stretch (sim here, here, here)


  1. Hey Lis, I didn't notice this trend with other style bloggers, but now I'll be aware of it. I'm (obviously) in the same boat as you, I just started doing this as a hobby, for the sheer joy of participating in an activity that brings me a lot of joy, and it's been so much fun. Thanks for always being so honest and insightful in your posts.


    PS - Cute outfit as always!

  2. I love that animal print cardi with the bright pink!

    I'm a new blogger so I haven't been offered any swag yet. I don't have a problem with bloggers accepting it and wearing it in their blog pics. I do agree though that sometimes it becomes unrealistic when someone is wearing head to toe free stuff and they look like a catalog. Personally, I couldn't recreate that on my budget.


  3. My thoughts on the matter: I don't really care if a blogger recieves courtesy items - it doesn't make me any more (or less) likely to purchase an item. Sure, it gets annoying when a blogger's whole wardrobe becomes c/o, because then I wonder how much they are sticking to their true style, but whatever. If they want to be a sellout, that's on them.

    HOWEVER, I think the reason why a lot of bloggers are making a big show of saying "I'm not longer accepting c/o items" is because companies simply aren't offering them anymore. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has admired that lovely Modcloth frock a blogger is shilling only to click over and realize it's 1) sold out 2) over priced 3) way too short for a regular girl to wear at a regular job. I think companies simply aren't seeing the return on their "investment" and thus, are no longer offering items to bloggers, because we, as readers, aren't buying. I think the "no longer accepting, kthanx" statement is just an attempt at saving face before they CAN'T get items.

  4. I ADORE this outfit. I think it might be one of my faves on you, for the simplicity and chic factor. :)

    As far as bloggers being given courtesy items, I don't really care so much. I guess I'd rather see non-courtesy items so that I know the blogger is truly sticking to their own style AND wearing items that most people can afford, but I can't say I wouldn't accept a courtesy item if it was offered to me. It only really frustrates me when the shoes they are wearing are $400 or the bag they are holding is $1,000, because for most of us, that's completely out of reach. But honestly, I never really gave it much thought til now. LOL :)



  5. I think sometimes I feel a little frustrated when I see a blogger with more c/os in their outfit details than stuff they actually bought.

    While I haven't gotten an abundance of freebies myself, I usually welcome them -- I mean, who is it hurting? The blog is fun, and having a company reach out to me feels validating, my blog is being noticed, I MATTER. And to pick up a little freebie in the process? Why not? I have yet to accept anything that I would never actually wear and I don't feel like I'm being untrue to my readers.

    PS. Love the leopard Cardi!

  6. It's a funny topic and I'm glad you brought it up. My blog is simply a hobby that is an outlet for me to write down my thoughts, dress up and sell vintage. I read somewhere a while back that most of the "uber" bloggers are represented by an agency...in fact, I saw the agencies web page listing the bloggers they represent. 99% of the most popular ones were listed. Thus all the swanky parties, fashion week invites,guest starring for major companies etc. I think a lot of these bloggers are looking to create a career for themselves and their blogs are the jumping off point into "branding" themselves.
    I actually don't read many of the big name blogs anymore because truthfully, I find them dull (except Atlantic Pacific...she's got crazy style!)and what I love and cherish most about blogging is the personal connections that are made through it. I think the small, homespun community feeling is what makes blogging so special and keeps me coming back for more!

  7. That last picture of you? Wow, Lisa! Gorgeous!

    So this whole c/o business ... I think in moderation (a piece here and there) is perfectly fine. Why not? Big whoop. I think it becomes a problem when someone's whole outfit is c/o'ed, especially when it's designer duds and that was not the platform on which the blogger originally started out on. It comes across as very "sell out-y." My personal overly-judgmental opinion is even harsher ... I write those blogs off and no longer visit. I'm just not interested in seeing expensive items all thrown together mish mosh style in what is loosely called "blogger chic" in the pursuit of shilling labels. I think I would be more appeased if one, just one, of the bloggers would own up and say something along the lines of "Yeah, I would have never bought this b/c it's too pricey/etc., but it was free, so how could I resist? Yay me!" I think honesty is refreshing and yeah, while it may be true, I'm so tired of being fed the line, "Well, I'm very discerning and only choose items that I feel represent me and blah blah blah." You're getting free stuff, the end.

    Rant over. This only applies to ppl who have literally turned their blog around 180 and shill shill shill (so, not you!). And like someone else said about the companies prob. no longer giving freebies out anymore ... bwahahahaahah that bloggers feel the need to save face and give this party line speech. Side eye/eye roll all in one. Puh-lease.

  8. I totally agree with you. Personally, I could care less whether someone is fully sponsored or not. I do my blog as a hobby as well. Sometimes the little freebie that is tossed my way is a nice perk for, as you said, an essentially second job without pay. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if someone does not want to be sponsored at all? I think that is great. It shows integrity and that they truly care about showcasing their style and that is it. If someone is sponsored in everything from their hair clip to their shoes and panties? That's fine too. It shows that they are business savvy. Personally, it doesn't bother me either way.

    I love your hot pink and leopard stripes today. As others have mentioned as well, that last pic of you is just gorgeous!

  9. Wow, I can't even tell you how much I 100% agree with literally every word you said here. I was thinking of writing a post on the topic myself, and I think it would have read identically to yours. <3

  10. I've been reading your blog and admiring your outfits for awhile, but this is the first time I've commented.(waves hand) I completely agree with your stance and wanted to offer a little perspective on how much time and hard work goes into creating just one post from a newbie blogger. I created a blog recently as a joke, and then as a way to pass the time while I was recovering from an injury. Now, I enjoy it, but I had NO IDEA before this how time consuming it can be. So, hats off to you Lisa for working a full time job and putting in the time to write thought provoking/anecdotal/fun/stylish posts almost daily. Enjoy your perks. :D

  11. Excellent post Lisa! I agree with all of your thoughts! I mentioned to another blogger (that was being critical of others), that I never like to put anyone down. The reasons that we are all here, are VERY different. Some do it as a hobby, others are seeking a sponsor, and some run their blog as a business. I have an extremely diverse blog roll. It contains bloggers that thrift, embrace their own style, only talk about beauty or wear high end designs. The commonality that I appreciate about all of them is that they LOVE what they do, they stay true to that love (with the styles they wear and products they use) and embrace others along the way. I strongly feel you should promote products that you would buy or use. I have one reader who has nothing but Chanel designs and handbags on her page. She is not stuck up, she's giving and is the friendliest person to ALL (no matter what you have or don't). Last year I deleted a blogger, that only cared about numbers and charts. She made a comment to another that she didn't have time to talk because she had to respond to comments and seek other "potential" readers. She doesn't turn any offer down. She'll leave you a nice comment, but it's only to get a comment in return. When I do a giveaway, I NEVER advertise it in the title or twitter. I want that item to go to a true reader of my blog. It's never to increase readership. I've turned down several potential sponsors, because they were products that I wouldn't use myself. Sorry for the lengthy answer. Love your outfit girl! That pink and leopard is gorgeous.

  12. i have yet to be offered swag but i think i would have a problem with it if someone's entire wardrobe was a freebie. how can someone blog about being on a budget when all they have is free stuff? ahh, i ramble..

    Pieces of love

  13. I like everything about this outfit - the animal print, the pink, the tuxedo pants ... :)
    I noticed the trend in bloggers dropping the "courtesy of" items as well. I guess it comes down to blog purpose - some bloggers really emphasize and cherish the real-life, girl-on-a-budget aspect. It's like comparing street style and Vogue magazine spreads ... they're both good, just inspiring in different ways. I think someone with style can express herself with 100% self-purchased items, 100% freebies, or any mix in between. :)

  14. Love your outfit. I see nothing wrong with being compensated for the blog work, not that I have been bombarded with oodles of free stuff. It happened a handful of times, of which I accepted a couple only.

  15. I agree with the philosophy "to each his (or her!) own". I think if the item is in keeping with the blogger's overall theme (not outrageously expensive compared to the rest of her wardrobe), then it's not a big deal.

    You look absolutely gorgeous. I love the cardigan and the pop of color in the top!

  16. Great topic! While I don't think receiving a piece here or there to review or post on is bad, I do get totally turned off when everyone is sporting the same c/o. And when an outfit is almost entirely composed of c/o, I start to wonder if this blogger isn't just a big commercial for this brand or company. I'm all about evolving and experimenting with new styles and such, but sometimes I just have to raise an eyebrow.

    On another note, I just love those pants! Your legs look so long in them. I need to find a pair like that!

  17. Totally agree with you here Lisa. I didn't even know that it was possible to make a living out of blogging until I started reading blogs myself. I'm just doing it for fun here :) I love the pop of pink in your outfit!! Very sassy!!

  18. Adore the whole outfit esp. the pink. I think an item now and then is fine, but when post after post is c/o, that is overkill. Props to them for getting some swag. I just do not have the followers for any company to want to give me their wares. Keep it real!

  19. Your outfit is gorgeous...the pink is stunning on you! I think as long as you pick and choose what you accept (making sure it fits who you are) and are honest about the opinions about the items you receive then it's fine...as long as it isn't every day, all the time c/o!

  20. I read NO blogs with c/o stuff, but that may be more to do with the fact that I read blogs solely devoted to J. Crew, Antho, and Boden...with a handful of mommy bloggers thrown in for good measure. Out of all the blogs I read (not necessarily in my reader, I have a ton of "followed" blogs that I never even glance at--must figure out how to unfollow already), most have 200 or fewer followers, so the big guns at some style house would never even notice them.

    HOWEVER, if it happens to a great blogger who enjoys writing, posting photos, and has a life beyond blogging, more power. That's awesome! :)

    As usual I am stunned by your skin. I want to see your skin IRL, I bet you are wrong, I bet your skin is just that amazing. ;)

  21. I feel like this is a more streamlined/simple look for you, and it's great : )

    I have no opinion on whether the blogs I read have sponsored items - if you like it, or like being provided with free things and talking about it, that's totally your business. As long as people are honest about what they like/don't like, and don't let it dictate all of their content, I think it's fine.


  22. I see nothing wrong about receiving doodads and garments to try now and again. It's an individual taste issue, and if it's something that is interesting to you and doesn't harm another person then why not? As you say, we're all free to click off elsewhere into the blogosphere if we are offended, saddened, or simply bored.

    Interestingly, you mention some conditions under which you would accept the item, and it occurs to me that it is perhaps for this reason that some style bloggers choose NOT to do this - they want to be detailed, complete and honest about the likes and dislikes, and don't want to bother with having to do this. I have a good friend who did such a one, and it was a good deal of work!

  23. I totally agree with you Lisa. It doesn't bother me that some bloggers get freebies from time to time as long as they are being honest with the feedback. I would love to be offered something free, but it hasn't happened to me yet. And I'm okay with that. I blog only because it's something I enjoy doing.

    On another note, I love your outfit today. The ocelot cardigan is my absolute favorite.

  24. I'm usually not attracted to the type of bloggers that have a lot of c/o merchandise. The thing that irritates me -- aside from their humongous pictures that go on and on in one post -- is that sometimes I want to look for the exact thing they're wearing and I have no idea when they purchased it. That bothers me the most. I don't care if they get items for free, if their goal is to be a huge blogger, etc... Each person's motivation for blogging or keeping up after starting, varies. I don't think there is an integrity issue with accepting free things. I can imagine it's easy to get caught up. Plus some people just don't know how to say no, even if they're uncomfortable. I've received a few free things, but I am not asked very often so I can't exactly speak from experience.

    Love your look in pants!!

  25. First off, I love your hair. It looks FANTASTIC here. And those pants on you = amazing.

    Secondly... I think we're of the same mindset when it comes to getting freebies to review/wear. I also wouldn't mind doing it if it's something that relates to what I typically blog about, do, wear, eat, etc. I've had some companies reach out to me to do reviews for things that have NOTHING to do with my blog or my lifestyle, and those I've declined. I also typically decline any request for just a straight-up ad (posting an advertisement for a company/product without anything else). I'd rather do a honest review than just an ad because at least that gives the reader something more than just a "buy this!" post, if that makes any sense. Sponsorship I limit to companies/people that I can see myself making purchases from.

    I personally don't get too turned off by bloggers who have a lot of "courtesy of" items in their outfits -- I often look to style bloggers for outfit inspirations and not exact pieces, so this doesn't bother me. Unless I really, really want that specific item and then can't afford/find it, haha!

  26. I don't see anything wrong with bloggers getting freebies now and then (as long as they are open and honest about it). It is so funny to me that many readers think that bloggers have all of this endless time and money to put together endless posts with fabulous clothes. When I read comments where people complain about bloggers not updating enough, etc -- I just think "helloooo, this is just for fun -- they don't work for you!".
    Love your blog and your style :)

  27. I'll admit, I'm suuuuuper jealous of everyone who has received a Hana hairdryer lately! I need a new hairdryer in the worst way and I would love to have one sent to me for a review. I felt the same way when the clairisonic reviews were going around too because I did buy one ultimately and it wasn't cheap! I have no issues with bloggers who take freebies. Certain clothing retailers get carried away in my opinion but for the most part the products see, to reflect the bloggers personality and style for the most part anyway... Like you say, it's hobby and fun for most.. But I can see the other side of the issue as well, imjust don't think its that big of a deal.

    Anyway, you are looking lovely, your style has really evolved, very sophisticated and smart but still fun and functional!

  28. I love this look on you - you look so tall!

    Most of the blogs I read on a daily basis have c/o items so rarely that I don't really mind. More power to them!


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