This is a Fashion Blog, Not the Paper of Record

Oct 19, 2011

Yesterday, an unexpected controversy was stirred up by a post about tights.  Yes, tights.  Write about sex ed, no problem.  Write about legwear, prepare for vitriol. 

In the post, I made a comment about how, in my opinion (and isn’t that why you read here, for my opinion?), there were “no exceptions” to the two-out-of-three rule.  Some commenters chided me for being so stringent and so dictatorial.  But, in my view, wearing a mishmash of colors on your lower half is not a good look for most women.  And, even if you are the rare flower who can make colored tights look good when paired with different color separates, it’s not appropriate work attire in a professional work environment like Capitol Hill.

So, what I meant was, that there were “no exceptions” in a professional office setting–because this is, at it’s heart a professional fashion blog about work environments that tilt conservative.  But it became clear after my second or third “clarification” in the comments, that I hadn’t made this point very well because I had assumed that the professional part would go unsaid.  Clearly, I was wrong.

On occasion, when I realize that I haven’t made my point in the way that I wanted, I’ll go back and alter the post.  I’ve done it a dozen times. 

Maybe a reader is genuinely offended by something I said (I made an unfortunate crack about Dr. Mengele once, and a reader was right to criticize me), so I change it.  Maybe I assumed that something went without saying when, in fact, it needed to be spelled out.  Or sometimes, the debate in the comments just changes my mind about something, and instead of forcing future readers to read dozens of comments, I alter the post to reflect my new opinion.

Whatever the reason, I sometimes change posts after the fact.  It’s rare, but it happens.  After all, I am the editor/sole writer/creative director/Grand Poobah here at CHS, and it’s my right.

So to the commenter and the emailer who accused me of abandoning my argument and insinuated that I engaged in a cover up to spare my easily bruised ego the pain of hearing my long cherished beliefs about tights challenged as heresy: This is a blog about shoes and purses, not the Pentagon Papers.  I don’t know where Hoffa’s body is buried or what is on the missing 18 minutes of the Nixon tapes or the identity of the second shooter on the grassy knoll.  There is no cover up here.

I like to be understood, and when it became obvious that I hadn’t made my point in the way that I had intended, I changed the post to make it more clear. If you have a problem with that, feel free to read elsewhere.  This is a fashion blog, not the paper of record.


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  1. Michelle says:

    A little off topic – My boyfriend bought me a Vera Bradley bag and one of those Troll bead bracelets. I hadn't heard of VB before he bought it a few years ago, but I knew of the troll bracelets and I told him I didn't want one. He sees people with these things and wants me to be “trendy” I guess. I told him that I don't want to be one of those people (I think I called them rednecks), but he doesn't listen. I just had to share my pain. : (

  2. KellyK says:

    I am dying laughing.

    For the “record,” when Belle edited the post last night, she told me that someone would be offended. I told her that it was no big deal, and that no one would care. Guess I owe you a cocktail, neighbor.

  3. Belle says:

    Actually, Kel, reading this in the harsh light of day without the benefit a cocktail, I see that my initial reaction may have been a bit over the top. I could take down the post, but that would only exacerbate the problem.

    Plus, it's snarky and probably a good lesson on my editorial policies, such as they are. And yes, you lost the bet. I demand libation compensation.

  4. Bettina says:

    Wow – when I read the post, I also thought it was a bit harsh, but what the hell, everyone's entitled to their opinions, even the one that coloured tights are never to be mixed with shoes and a skirt/dress of different colours ;-). It's not like your opinion will make people stop doing it. Not even in a dream could I have come up with the idea that people would get so worked up about it. It's tights, people, not the question of how best to save the world.

  5. Belle says:

    Bettina-Given that this is the third (maybe fourth?) debate that we've had about legwear, and given that the original post about nude house devolved into name calling, I think I've established that legwear is the third rail of fashion blogging.

  6. caphilldiva says:

    Sure, people come here to hear your opinion, but is it always going to be met with a follow-up post/rant if your readers don’t agree with you 100%? I read over the comments, and I’ve seen much nastier/more petty responses to a post before

  7. Belle says:

    Diva-This wasn't about the commenters who didn't agree. Like you said, people disagree with me all the time. That's not a problem.

    It was really more about the emailer who threatened to contact my advertisers and inform them about my lack of integrity. Like they would care, but it was not a happy surprise to find in my inbox. I guess you could say that I had a knee jerk reaction to being told by that I wasn't allowed to change my mind or clarify my position on my own blog.

  8. Roberta says:

    I really liked the tights post. I recently discovered your blog and am hooked! I thought it was helpful, as I do wear a lot of boots w/skirts/dresses, and feel like I am constantly struggling with the right tights color. I work as a lawyer for a cabinet agency, occasionally go to the Hill, and the wardrobe rules were spot-on for my work environment. But the whole point of blogs is that they are one person's OPINION, which they are entitled to. Take it or leave it. Click that little “X” in the corner if you don't like it. 😉 And while we are on the subject of tights, any brands to recommend? Along with color struggles, I have quality struggles. What tights do you like?

  9. Ms. C says:

    Isn't it strange what people take offense to? Although, Belle, if I were you I would see through the snark for what it really is: a compliment (albeit an acrid one). I would bet that the readers in question are loyal fans who greatly admire your style and perspective. Generally, they agree with whatever you write — from your hatred of Vera Bradley to the immaturity of certain women's reproductive choices — because they share those beliefs and pride themselves in that harmony. However, when they read a post on the rule of three and looked down to see their maroon tights with brown boots and a brown dress, they took serious offense. Not because what you said was objectively offensive but because they admire you so much that they took it as a personal insult.

    I love reading your blog and I always look froward to perusing your content — even when we disagree. Your post this morning was a laugh-out-loud reminder that we all, myself included, take things a little too seriously and a little too personal at times. But seriously, isn't Vera Bradley gross!?! 😉

  10. Belle says:

    Vera Bradley is a crime against humanity.

  11. R says:

    Good grief. All this drama over tights? Seriously people. Perspective. It's a free fashion blog that's fun read.

  12. BN says:

    Belle, you are loved. So is your blog, even if some of its readers would never wear a giant gold and red fashion ring 😉

  13. Belle says:

    Ridiculous! Everyone needs a big red ring.

  14. Ms. B says:

    Belle – I appreciate the post. I would love to do tights, but never can seem to make it work right. I was told I was too OLD for tights and should stick to pants! Screw em…I'm doing tights this year.

  15. amy b.s. says:

    well, i have to say, that i completely agree with everything you said. as someone who was an offender of the colored tights rule on monday, i can tell you when i finally caught a look at myself in a full length mirror, i will never be doing that again. ever. you were definitely right. and now i'm on a search for some shoes or a skirt that will go with my extremely bright missoni tights!

  16. renee says:

    Nicely said! It's amazing what people get offended by these days.

  17. ~M says:

    That is just too funny! Thanks for the good laugh I needed at the end of a weird day.

  18. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    Dear maniac commenter who is harassing Belle. Get over yourself.

  19. Woah. Almost as bad as the thong debate. Hilarious read over lunch, though!

  20. KSB says:

    Belle, one word: recess. When people don't have constituents calling non-stop they have more time to over-analyze posts about tights. People, take a deep breath, go to Longworth, grab a bag of popcorn, and get over it.

  21. L says:

    Here here, Belle! I, for one, love the 'rules' because it makes getting ready in the morning so much easier. “WWBW?” (what would Belle wear?) is one of the easier questions I ask. Except for sequins. I just look dumb in sequins.

  22. Katie says:

    It's mildly frightening that people are that up in arms about a post about professional style and tights and that you <b>dare</b> mandate that women should wear tights that match either their shoes or their skirt.

  23. Sara says:

    I'm the reader who wrote you about the Dr. Mengele comment. Just so you know, the fact that you were willing to admit that it was an unsavory joke and change it- that's the reason that I continued to read and am still reading two years later. We've all hit send on an e-mail and then thought, “Hmm. Maybe I should have said that another way.” You're human, the fact that people expect you to be perfect- on a blog about fashion, no less- is pretty ridiculous.

  24. Belle says:

    Sara-Thanks, I've always remembered that comment because I was really wrong and you were very understanding about it.

  25. Anyone who's still offended by your stringent “rules” hasn't been reading your blog long enough.

  26. K-dog says:

    For the record: you are dead-on right about the tights. And about your right to change your mind or edit your own blog.

  27. Genny says:

    So sad that you even had to write this clarification! Why would anyone read this blog that didn't want to see items/get advice about corporate/work appropriate clothing? I actually disagree with the tights advice for NON-WORK outfits (when I think everything can be a little less conservative), but you're spot on for work appropriate outfits. Some commenters are just haters – if you can't say something nice, don't type your comment.

  28. Leah says:

    No way! i think the tights post is my favourite ever. so helpful for work, even though i work in a casual office.

    I think people can wear pretty much whatever they want outiside of work but there's no place i would go but right here to seek advice on work wear.

    and you're right, there is no shortage of “fashion” blogs out there if someone is looking for a different style!

    keep the advice coming please!!

  29. smile says:

    How old is TOO old for tights?

  30. Belle says:

    There's no upper limit on tights. Anna Wintour wears them and she's in her 60s. It's about how you wear them. A 50yr old woman couldn't wear bright purple ones, but black or navy or grey is ageless.

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