State of the Blog: An Open Thread

May 18, 2011

From Oh So Beautiful PaperCan you believe that 2011 is almost half over?  I feel like Rip Van Winkle, like I went to sleep in December and woke up in May.  But I digress…

It never ceases to amaze me how this blog has grown over the past (almost) three years, and how it continues to grow on a daily basis.  I love all of the emails, retweets and comments that I receive.  And I’m glad that I can provide some needed direction to a growing group of young, professional women who want to dress for work and maintain their personal style.

I’ve made some changes to the site since the New Year, creating columns that provide career advice and a chance for readers to interact.  I’ve brought back the Ask Belle feature in a central location and stopped doing some posts that just weren’t (in my opinion) working. 

I think about what can be done to improve Capitol Hill Style every day (beyond a new site design, I know, I’m like a broken record on this one), but I think I learn a lot when I listen to what you ladies want.  So, I thought I would open up the comments to suggestions.  Standard rules apply: no swearing, no personal attacks, keep it civil and please try to post more than “I like this” or “I don’t like that.”

If you want me to try something new or stop doing something, please explain why.  Comments that make suggestions and offer a defense for their position are the most helpful.  I want to hear about topic ideas, feature ideas, or just general suggestions and comments.

Thank you in advance, and enjoy this rainy (or in my Mom’s case, snowy, yikes) Wednesday. 

xoxo

Belle

Ask The Edit, Style

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  1. Fina says:

    More three ways to wear posts, please! It's one thing to read about an outfit, but to have three ideas all laid out to see, well, it's fabulous. I do agree, however, with some of the other comments. Please, less items featured in the posts that are out of stock. I would also love to see three ways to wear outfits that are all comprised of items in a more affordable price range. Keep up the great work, love the blog.

  2. Pema says:

    My favorite posts are when you put together an outfit. Your outfits are always stylish and conservative. As a fifteen-year-old teenager, I'm ashamed of how some of my peers dress in booty shorts and way-too-tight tops. I love your simple, professional, yet youthful style 🙂

  3. Fina says:

    More three ways to wear posts, please! It's one thing to read about an outfit, but to have three ideas all laid out to see, well, it's fabulous. I do agree, however, with some of the other comments. Please, less items featured in the posts that are out of stock. I would also love to see three ways to wear outfits that are all comprised of items in a more affordable price range. Keep up the great work, love the blog.

  4. Pema says:

    My favorite posts are when you put together an outfit. Your outfits are always stylish and conservative. As a fifteen-year-old teenager, I'm ashamed of how some of my peers dress in booty shorts and way-too-tight tops. I love your simple, professional, yet youthful style 🙂

  5. VA says:

    I would love to see more of the posts that you and Miss M did on “splurge or save” products. I am constantly wondering whether my expensive shampoo/face wash/lip gloss/whatever is really worth the price, or if I'm just paying for the label.

    I would also like to hear about where you shop in DC, Belle. I do most of my shopping online or at trusty old Pentagon City, but I KNOW there are cool and interesting boutiques in the area – I just don't know where to find the gems.

  6. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    I have a hard time figuring out what the perfect staple pieces are. I think you do a good job of identifying this kind of stuff. Maybe it could be a regular, once a week kind of feature? Just throwing that out there. “Perfect Staple Tuesday” or something

  7. Ashley says:

    I too like the Splurge/Save posts and have found them very helpful. It's great when I don't have to try out the products myself. I also enjoy the 3 ways to wear it posts because I don't like to buy something I think I will only wear once or with a certain outfit, so it's nice to see pieces that are versatile and HOW they can be versatile.

    I know you just did a post about the overseas shopping, but I think it would be nice to have more of your pieces be something that is available here. I like to try things on before I buy, and if I don't get to do that, I don't want to fork over $25 for shipping… the pieces are always great though!

    Love your blog, Belle!

  8. LS says:

    I second VA's request for the save/splurge posts. I love them!

    Would you be willing to have regular posts on 'going out' fashion? Post college, I'm struggling with dressing sexy without looking skanky. I see girls with skin-tight dresses barely covering their rears and think 'there must be a way to look hot and not expose myself.' I would love to hear your viewpoint!

    On a side note, thank you for asking for ideas. I'm really enjoying how CHS has become a more of a community in the past few months.

  9. Elena says:

    While I realize that your main focus is on professional fashion on the Hill, I would think that some of your readers (like myself) work in the great drab confines of DoD (contracting and govt.). Since I don't wear a uniform, don't work with clients everyday, clothing choices can be tricky. In a technical field wearing a skirt and heels on a non meeting day (and even for those) is considered too much, as is a full suit, so I get stuck in the trousers/khaki's and a button down all too often. Have you thought about exploring the idea of how to blend in with the 90% male worker population and yet still retain some femininity (besides accessorizing)? And yes blending in is important since in a male dominated field I already stand out given my gender and age.

  10. VA Gal says:

    First of all, I love this blog. I really enjoy how you realistically show the ways in which a piece can be used for different kinds of settings (office, going out, gallery, etc…). I appreciate it's not just office wear vs. clubwear and that you imagine people going to a variety of different kinds of places in life.

    Also, if you could find a maxi dress that comes in petite sizes without a neckline that looks like a triangle bra(short women have chests, we really do – but retailers don't believe me), you'd be my fashion blogging idol!

  11. S says:

    I love the blog, but since you asked…it would improve my experience if you would create links that open in a new window (tab) automatically. I often click through to something (wonderful) and lose CHS in the process (oops!). I just get so excited about the items you feature that I forget to right click and open in a new tab.

  12. Belle says:

    S- The links on Squarespace can only open in the existing window. Sorry.

  13. LS says:

    Sorry for posting again, but I just thought of another suggestion. I'm dating myself as a reader, but do you remember the 'color' outfit series from the spring of 2009? Anytime I'm bored with a solid colored piece in my closet, I look at those posts for inspiration.

    On the one hand, I'm thrilled that you have started branching out into stripes, patterns etc. However, I think your eye for color mixing is one of your truly superior fashion skills and I would love to see another 'color' outfit series. Maybe something like the recent 'All About Orange' or 'Blue Monday' posts? I have a lot of lilac, plum, orchid in my closet and it would great to see some purple. I'm sure you could think of something fabulous. Thanks again!

  14. Arielle says:

    S – if you hold down the control/command key when you click on a link, it will automatically open in a new window or tab.

    Love the blog, Belle!

  15. DHL says:

    I have only one minor pet peeve–often I'll see an item I love and have to have, click the link to find out where to get it, only to discover that it is completely sold out/hasn't been available for months/is no longer offered by the retailer/is completely absent from the retailer's website/etc. I'd love more options that are currently available! That being said, great blog! I really do appreciate all of the effort it must take to put so many great posts together!

  16. k-t says:

    Something I'd love to see, and haven't seen anywhere else, is some guidance on “does it fit? could it be altered to fit better?” Photos showing pieces that don't fit right, and what to change to make them fit. You frequently mention buying bottoms to fit the hips and having the waist taken in. What does it look like when the hips fit just right? Both standing and sitting. What do they look like when too big? When too tight? I buy things to fit my waist, and then have the hips taken in, which can be tricky with pants. I'm also a bit conservative and sometimes think that others are wearing their pencil skirts way too tight.

    How to layer without feeling or looking like the stay puft marshmallow man. When to tuck in a shirt and when to leave it untucked.

    Weight gain and loss. What are some tricks for making a wardrobe work (with minimal extra purchases) when your body is in transition? Some examples are pregnancy, new moms, the Hill version of freshman 15 (reception gain?), new fitness routine.

    Styles by decade. How might you stye something differently for 25, 35, 45, 55? Or 25, 45, 65, to make the ages further apart.

    Quality. I think some articles on how to determine the quality of an item could be useful. Think of the money (or at least frustration and disappointment) you could save your readers if they could better guess how many times they could wash a top before it would start to pill, etc.

  17. Belle says:

    k-t: I don't give weight loss tips on the blog, and I don't intend to. There are a lot of great fitness blogs out there that can fill this need. Try skwigg. https://skwigg.tripod.com/blog/

    But we could do some posts on what to wear…

  18. DB says:

    I'm really a big fan of the “Three Ways to Wear” posts. I am still in college and while I have worked on building a professional wardrobe, I still feel like I have two completely separate wardrobes (one for work, and one filled with jeans and t-shirts for everyday). It seems like you usually try to have one of the three outfits be for a more casual setting, but I would love if you could offer more tips, advice, or examples of how to mix my (usually expensive) professional attire into a more casual atmosphere without being over-dressed.

    I also really liked Dr. Jean Grey's suggestion about a focus on staples. I'd really love if you could do a bit of a budget breakdown for those (although, arguably, if they're staples they should be worth the extra money). But a 10th commandment trouser or pencil skirt themed week (kind of like the week of blouses you just did) could be another idea.

  19. Anna says:

    I love the different ways to wear a single piece. Those are my favorite.

    Also, any discussion of make-up, travel/work beauty routines, or products are great.

  20. Victoria says:

    Please please please more plus-size options! I know you wrote recently about increasing your coverage of this, but I haven't seen anything since then.

  21. Meg says:

    While there really isn't anything I don't like that you post about, there are a few things that I absolutely love and have been know to ignore phone calls so I can finish reading. My favorite posts are : “splurge or save,” the “three ways to wear,” and any snarky reference to crocs, vera bradly and Uggs (seriously, I find these to be so entertaining!).

    What I would like to see more of is what stores you shop at in DC, how your closet organization business is going (stories from the trenches), and I would like to request that you continue to do your summer intern guide/suggestions. While I'm far from being a summer intern, I find forwarding a link to your blog and that topic is a kinda way to gently hint at proper office attire.

    Looking forward to the remainder of the year!

  22. Belle says:

    victoria- I apologize for that. But the bottom line is that I have no expertise in this area, and whenever I sat down to write a post on it, I ended up just copying something from another blog that focuses on plus sizes, and I don't want to be in the business of doing that.

  23. Stephanie says:

    I would love to see a week long segment on the outfits you actually wore that week. It is one thing to put together sets of items that you would ideally wear together if you happened to own all those pieces, but it is quite another to see what you put together out of your own closet on a day-to-day basis. This could easily be accomplished without revealing your identity by simply cropping your head out of the photo.

  24. mndaln says:

    Victoria- I am also a plus size girl and use Belle's blog as inspiration. Although I may not be able to find the exact same item, I can frequently find something similar. It's frustrating, I understand, but one of the most important things I've picked up is dressing to suit your body and realizing that not all fads are for every person.

  25. Laura says:

    Hi Belle! So I've been following your blog for the past six or so month and really love it. I'm a college student in Arizona, but was introduced to your blog by a sub in a communications class (I believe she's your friend). I absolutely love the three ways posts. I have very little fashionista in me, and seeing how you can use items in different ways really helps give me more ideas. I don't have many professional clothes, so this really helps me understand whats acceptable and what works. The beauty product reviews are also very helpful, as I am similar in the fine hair and acne areas. Your work is amazing and I deeply appreciate your dedication. Thank you so much!

  26. Patricia says:

    I rely on this blog to help me stay current, but conservative. I do live in the DC area, but work for a conservative Fortune 100 company. I just turned 50 and CHS helps me stay up to date. I would also like to see how you would stlye your older readers. My favorite is the 3 ways to wear. I love the way you mix it up – I come from the matchy-match era and need constant reinforcement on what goes together rather than what matches.

  27. DM58 says:

    I love, love, love the three ways posts. They are my absolute favourite.

    With respect to suggestions, I would love more focus on jewelry. I love so many of your outfit choices because I see the jewelry you post with it. this gives me ideas of what jewelry complements an outfit. But I would love occasional posts that focus on jewelry alone. For instance, take one statement piece and show how to mix it with certain outfits for different occasions. And most importantly, how to match jewelry with other jewelry. I find that I am drawn to statement necklaces and bracelets, but often never wear them in a normal day because I have no clue what other jewelry to wear with them. What earrings complement rather than clash with that chunky necklace? what rings can I wear that will complement my wedding ring? what about a watch and a ring on the same hand. are there rules for mixing metals? what about lengths of earrings with certain outfits? how can I use jewelry to dress an outfit up or down?

    As you can see, I am jewelry ignorant. I feel that I can put together a decent outfit these days, but have no clue what jewelry will take it to the next level. I lived a few years in the south – the home of the makeup and jewelry overload. I never ever want to look that way here in DC, so find myself compensating by wearing no jewelry.

  28. Bt says:

    I love it all but once a post is one week out, its really really hard to find again. Could you possibly start tagging your posts with like tenth commandment, bracelet, gold jewelery, etc? This blogger does interior design and fashion and does a really good job of it as an example https://www.elementsofstyleblog.com/

  29. S says:

    I second DM58 – Jewelry is a huge issue for me. What necklines I should/shouldn't wear necklaces with. When I should just wear dangly earrings. Mixing metals and colors. Anything in that area would be a big help!

  30. Belle says:

    Bt-tagging functions are limited, but you'll see that the posts are tagged. Also, you can search for a post using the bar at right.

  31. Charleigh says:

    I've been reading your blog since Spring of 2009. I discovered it when I was doing my first D.C. internship and I was reading another article that mentioned CHS.

    The article mentioned you because you had commented on what a Member's son had worn to his wedding (It was like this bright green tie I believe, and what a fashion no-no that was).

    I read you religiously every day since while I was still in D.C., but then once I went back to California I only checked in every now and then.

    Now, working full-time in front of a computer and soon to be coming back to D.C. for grad school, I am back to reading your blog all the time in the excitement of having D.C. be a part of my life again (and the need to see something appealing on my computer screen while at work).

    So here is what I would like to see:

    Other than of course, your fashion forward thinking, your entries about life in D.C., what occurs there, who can be found doing what is what I would like to see more of.

    I don't mean for CHS to become a kind of gossip column, nor would I want your blog to become such a thing as Real Housewives of D.C.. but like with you having a brief blurb about Gold Cup a few weeks back, What sort of black tie events have happened over the weekend? Who were some notable attendees? Where are the favorite places for happy hours/ Who could we expect to see? Where do the young people go for nights out? What gallery openings have been talked about? Where do Members (which are really like the celebrities of D.C.) spend their time?

    You do an excellent job talking about Hill Life (internships in D.C., where listings can be found, what needs to be said to whom to get recommendations, the government shutdown, whether grad school is important), but every day LIFE in D.C. is what I would like to see more of. I know, it's a huge responsibility to take that on with everything else you do. I am more just thinking along the lines of how I ended up finding CHS in the first place — “Ohnohedidn't wear a green tie to his wedding!” Like, behind all the seriousness of D.C. there are great writers like you who can talk about the fab AND fun behind it all.

    You're great Belle. Really.

  32. Fina says:

    More three ways to wear posts, please! It's one thing to read about an outfit, but to have three ideas all laid out to see, well, it's fabulous. I do agree, however, with some of the other comments. Please, less items featured in the posts that are out of stock. I would also love to see three ways to wear outfits that are all comprised of items in a more affordable price range. Keep up the great work, love the blog.

  33. Pema says:

    My favorite posts are when you put together an outfit. Your outfits are always stylish and conservative. As a fifteen-year-old teenager, I'm ashamed of how some of my peers dress in booty shorts and way-too-tight tops. I love your simple, professional, yet youthful style 🙂

  34. hillybilly says:

    I'd like to see you do style for different body types and ethnicity. Style for white women is different for style for petite and Asian women or black women. You get what I mean.

    Also, those venting posts you do, Belle, they are actually pretty good for the rest of us because it's like “finally someone is saying what I've been thinking!!” Don't hold back, keep them coming (not to the point of complete irrationality, though).

  35. Belle says:

    Pema-A 15-yr-old?!?!? Oh my. Well, welcome.

    Hilly-I do get what you mean, but I'm not asian and I'm not black, and I don't know anything about either. There are a lot of great blogs that focus on those fashions, but it's not something that I have the expertise to do.

  36. KFra says:

    I really like the lifestyle blogs such as the ones about career advice for getting on the hill and what the experience is like when there. I also really appreciate that you talk so frankly about your own struggles with acne/clothing sizing, etc. It really gives the blog personality.

  37. janebird says:

    yes!

    i love splurge/save – so helpful in deciding when and where to spend.

    i love the idea of “season staples” – your polyvores do an amazing job illustrating great mixing and matching – i think that they could do a great job for staples for the season too! (ten pieces you need for spring, summer, fall, winter)

    i love an inspiration board or “things we can't live without” (the perfect espadrille, cocktail, CD, etc.) – it might be a great lifestyle extension of the fashion and style you do so well.

    thank you belle for many days full of color and style thanks to CHS!

  38. CA says:

    Your blog is amazing – I read it every day! I would love to see the return of Belle's weekly reading. I also think it could be fun to see you “shop” a certain store/store's collection and put together outfits/pull wearable outfits just from that store or show how to combine them with things you already have. I guess that's kind of like the Polyvore sets, but a little more accessible/commercialized. Also, I wonder if the blog roll you have is current – what other blogs do you read daily/weekly? Thanks so much for the time and heart you put into this! CA

  39. Taylor says:

    Belle, I absolutely love your blog. I do have a suggestion for a new type of post: seen on the Hill. You could describe outfits you saw other Hill staffers wearing that you liked, as you did a few weeks ago. They could be more inspiration than specific, since you might not want to take pictures or ask a stranger where she purchased every article of clothing. However, this might help address some of the suggestions from commenters that you include more plus-sized options, more pants, etc. It could add some variety if you describe other outfits you admire but might not necessarily wear yourself.

  40. Jen says:

    Thanks for asking for input!

    I'd love to see pieces that you've chosen earlier return for restyling to work for a new season or trend. As much as I'd like to, I can only really buy one or two (quality) pieces a season. Returning to a piece, for example a style you've chosen for spring, and updating the look to go through summer or fall would be great. It would help me transition through the seasons and widen my perspective on the options in my closet.

  41. Emily says:

    No critiques, but some things I especially love:

    I really like when you've done date-night outfit ideas. They always ended up being great outfits and color combos and place-appropriate which is fun (aka: staying in, dinner for two, picnic, etc.) Dating outfits is an area that I'm always unsure of for some reason!

    I also really like your travelling/packing posts. Your Project Campaign Trail posts were great. Some what-to-bring tips for vacations would be way fun too. Day-to-night posts would be a fun idea as well. How to chang the accessories/shoes/etc. to make a quick switch to evening.

    Keep up the good work – this has become daily viewing for me!

  42. Liz says:

    Hi Belle!

    I'd love to see your blog roll updated. When I'm finished reading your posts, sometimes I just want more, so I've looked at your blog roll, but they seem a bit outdated. I would love to know what other blogs you read or find interesting. Thanks!

  43. KRF says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to provide thoughts and feedback to CHS. I am open to reading more about blogs, books (i.e. your post about author Kelly Cutrone), Web sites, and magazine articles that may inspire you, provide career guidance, make you laugh, or offer fashion ideas. I have been a long time reader of InStyle magazine since the early 90's but like to explore other resources for product reviews, fashion options, etc. Thanks so much for your hard work.

  44. Liz says:

    Hi Belle!

    It's Liz again. I would really love a “Belts For Beginners” post or series. I don't own any belts and I don't even know where to start with them, even though you always sing their praises in your posts. I see from your posts that belts really tie an outfit together, but please consider educating some of us about belts by starting with the basics….like, really basic. Thank you!

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