Style

State of the Blog: A Few Responses

On Tuesday, I asked you to talk about what you like about Capitol Hill Style and improvements and changes that you’d like to see.  There were some recurring themes, so I thought I would respond to a few of the mentioned items publicly.

Specificity.  There are many of you who wrote in looking for more specific advice or different advice than I provide here.  Some of you needed maternity advice, others needed advice for women with fuller figures, more petite frames, etc.  I don’t write about these things, because I don’t know much or anything about dressing these body types.

If you have a specific concern or need more specific advice, you really need to find a blogger who has that issue as well.  There are a handful of maternity fashion sites like Expecting Chic, Nola Baby Bump and Jaclyn Day (who just had a baby) that might be of interest to you.  For curvier women, try the Curvy Fashionista or some of these recommended blogs

If you’re petite, Extra Petite and Alterations Needed are great.  And if you’re in college and want advice on what to wear for Spring Break (something most of my readers won’t relate to, because we no longer get the privilege, jealous), try College Fashion.  There are many lovely fashion blogs out there and a couple of Google searches will usually land you in the right place.

This is not a lifestyle blog.  A number of you left comments asking for my lifestyle content (recipes, decorating, restaurants, etc.).  This is not a lifestyle blog.  I’m not Cupcakes & Cashmere, I don’t hit the flea market on the weekend and turn my $4 purchase into a blog post.  This is a professional fashion blog, and it’s going to stay that way because there are so many great lifestyle sites (Mimi + Meg, Coco + Kelley, etc.) that there’s no void to be filled there.

Two Ways.  By far everyone’s favorite post, and that’s good, because it’s mine too.  Maybe one day I will expand it to more days per week, but it’s an incredibly time-consuming endeavor, so not right now.  But I’ll try to think of some other ways to accomplish the same thing that aren’t as labor intensive.

Beauty Posts.  I didn’t realize Splurge vs. Save was such a popular feature! I’ll see what I can do to bring that post back in the future.  However, it may appear in a slightly truncated form i.e. one product at a time.

Some of you also raised the point that I have a very specific skincare issue (adult acne), which not all of you share.  Lucky bitches.  So I’ll make an effort to work in some more universal product recommendations.

Link Issues.  Last year, the House made a decision to block Shopstyle as a malicious site (yeah, malicious to my wallet). So some of you cannot click on the links aggregated through Shopstyle.  Unfortunately, these links are the blog’s primary source of revenue.  Revenue that pays for domain fees, hosting costs and pays for the reader giveaways (because I very rarely accept products for free). 

I’m not willing to give that revenue up, but the majority of the items linked here are also found on my Polyvore page.  So I’ll start putting the Polyvore link in the posts as well.  I’ll also try to use more complete descriptions of items so that you can find them through a Google search as well.

Archiving and Search.  Unfortunately, Squarespace, the company that hosts this blog, has the worst archiving and search tools imaginable.  It and the Captcha in the comments are the company’s fatal flaws.  I’ll look into ways to improve this, but I can’t promise that there are any. 

Dislikes. For those of you who hate or don’t read The Hill Life, Discuss or Happy Hour, these posts aren’t going anywhere.  Why?  Because they’re some of the most read posts on this site.  In fact, of the top ten CHS posts ever, eight of them fall into one of these categories.  Plus, I like writing them.

Alright, that about covers the comments for which I have immediate answers.  The rest I will think about and look into.  Thanks to everyone who put in their two cents.

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  1. R says:

    BB creams? Thanks for the info – I'm investigating now . . .

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Blair says:

    The Hill Life, Discuss and Happy Hour are my favorites!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  3. A says:

    Great “constituent” services, Belle!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  4. Ellie says:

    THANK YOU for not changing into a lifestyle/college fashion/whatever else blog. This + corporette are the only blogs I trust for work-appropriate, fashionable clothing. Keep up the great work, Belle!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  5. ADL says:

    Belle, this is YOUR blog. You can write about whatever you want and earn revenue however you want; if someone doesn't like it, well then, they don't have to read it. Thanks for adding some entertainment value to my day. I may not agree with everything you write, but it certainly gives me something to ponder. Keep up the good work.

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  6. Krista says:

    The Hill LIfe, Happy Hour and Discuss are my favorites!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  7. Jen says:

    I've been reading this blog daily for about 2 years. When googling about BB creams the other day I even caught myself thinking, “I wonder what Belle would think about these.”

    I will be graduating law school next year and appreciate that you sometimes take into account women working in the legal field. (like your idea about a nig diaper bag for hauling around legal files. Genius!)

    Thanks for all your hard work!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  8. eduncan says:

    Belle, I love “Discuss” and “The Hill Life!” Thank you!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  9. Kara says:

    “I'm not Cupcakes & Cashmere, I don't hit the flea market on the weekend and turn my $4 purchase into a blog post.” That line alone is why I love this blog. Thank you Belle!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  10. Belle says:

    Jen: I haven't tried the BB Creams yet, because I can't find one that's acnegenic. But we'll see.

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  11. AttiredAttorney says:

    As one of the people who commented asking for a wider variety of sizes, I would clarify that I understand you don't have experience dressing my body type, I would just be interested in seeing clothing items featured that come in a wider variety of sizes (tall, petite, plus, etc). I love your looks and styling; I would just love to be able to click a link to an item and find that I could actually buy it!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  12. Lauren says:

    belle! i didn’t respond yesterday but your comments here seem great – i love the blog and love where it sounds like it is headed!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  13. Mary says:

    I totally understand that you can't give advice for a body shape you don't have. I get inspiration from your posts anyway and try to use that inspiration to pick items appropriate for my body type. And while I love the fashion style and items reviews from Extra Petite and Alterations Needed, both of those women are really tiny. I'm technically petite because i'm 4'11 but i'm really curvy. my measurements are 36,28,38. can you recommend any other petite fashion blogs that are for people who are short but have curves??

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  14. Sofia says:

    Belle: I also am burdened with adult acne and I appreciate you sharing with us all the products you use! I'm willing to spend a lot on my skincare but only if I know it'll work and I trust your judgment. When I lived in DC for a couple months this past fall I also went right away to Blue Mercury in Georgetown and they were SO helpful.

    You mentioned you haven't tried BB creams yet, and currently I'm using Dr. Jart+ (https://www.sephora.com/browse/product.jhtml;jsessionid=1JK4WOIMUPH4YCV0KQNRPIQ?id=P285403&shouldPaginate=true&categoryId=6014) and I'm pretty happy with it!

    Thanks for keeping this blog true to its purpose. While I read other fashion blogs, CHS is byfar the most relevant to me and obviously to many others.

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  15. VA says:

    I too appreciate the skincare posts. It seems like every fashion blogger out there has the most naturally perfect skin imaginable (or maybe they Photoshop liberally?). It's nice to hear that I'm not the only one struggling with breakouts, and to read honest reviews of the different treatments and products available.

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  16. JenR says:

    Belle,
    Love your blog. I missed the original post about asking for comments so I am going to post it here. I would love to know more about what products or clothing you personally own and whether you like them or hate them. The two things I bought that you recommended b/c you own them and love them, were awesome. (blueberry makeup remover and my Shimera cami) I guess I am looking for maybe more of a review post? Other than that, you have recharged my wardbrobe and for that I am grateful!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  17. jen says:

    Like JenR, I'm late to the party. My late suggestion: tips on fashion for events. It's getting harder and harder for me to determine what to wear to charity events, openings, and galas, etc. This is especially difficult when my (or my sig. other's) work is a sponsor or has purchased the table. I feel like this is a common DC problem. What's work/networking appropriate evening wear?

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  18. L says:

    Belle,
    I don't have adult acne, but I do have other skin issues. Even though the posts on your skincare don't always apply to me, I don't dislike them. Just as you recommended that readers looking for specific tips in areas you don't cover go to bloggers who cover those areas, I'm sure that some readers come to you because you share tips for adult acne. Keep it up. You know a bunch about that corner of the world, and I'm sure plenty of ladies appreciate your advice. I check out other corners of the world when I need to deal with my skincare issues and come back to you for all of your other posts.

    Also, I'm not on The Hill or planning to be there but have appreciated the insight you share in them. Often, the message can be applied quite broadly. Please keep those up as well.

    I do agree with the requests for more complete-outfit posts simple because I can't get enough of them. Perhaps for more you could include outfit tips in the body of the post on a single piece without spending the time in Polyvore. I appreciated your print-pairing post in the same way that I appreciate the Two Ways posts. If creating full outfits is excessively time-consuming, I'd love to see whatever pairing suggestions you can share.

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  19. Chelsea says:

    Sorry, did not have time to comment on Tuesday, but I really enjoy the sections on issues specific to women in the workplace–the recent one that comes to mind is whether baking for the office reaffirms stereotypes about women. Would love to see more posts like that!

    The beauty posts/how-to videos don't really do anything for me.

    Also love the political jokes and analysis of politician's clothing. Nancy's lavendar suits, etc. Would love to see more of the political spin!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  20. Cara says:

    I suggested lifestyle posts but didn't go into any detail. I certainly don't expect you to start DIY-ing chandeliers (although I did like your s'mores recipe). I was defining lifestyle as the lifestyle of a professional woman – attending networking events, work parties, books you might have read about work issues, time management, whether or not to bake for your office, etc.

    I also second Chelsea's idea about analyzing the wardrobe choices of politicians – that could be fun.

    Thanks again for all the time you spend on this blog. And to echo so many others, this is your blog – do what you want.

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  21. R says:

    Please do not stop or change your skincare advice, some of it has been life-saving and definitely influenced the most caphill-inspired purchases. I love it and don't read other skincare blogs. This is very, very helpful.

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  22. Ari says:

    I second Jen's comment on what to wear to work/networking-type events – charity fundraisers, galas, etc…

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  23. nolababybump says:

    Thanks so much for linking to our blog. This is my first time visiting and am enjoying browsing your posts.

    Happy Blogging!
    ~Leanne (writer for nolababybump)

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  24. J says:

    Can you change the way your external links are set? Currently, if you click on a link, it opens up in the same window. So a few clicks on Polyvore or some shopping site later it is difficult to go back to your blog (though I always do). Would be helpful if you could set so that any links open up in new tabs.

    (I was in Korea for two months last year where BB creams started and nobody there wears foundation anymore. But note that BB creams come in a wider variety of textures than liquid foundations so don't give up if you don't like the first one. If you are adventerous and live in an area where there is a Koreatown, check out the cosmetics stores in the larger Korean malls and try the original Korean versions.)

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  25. E says:

    Have no qualms with the content of the response but surprised by the defensive tone. Why ask if you don't want feedback?

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  26. Beth says:

    Belle, for adult acne, did you ever consider antibiotics? If not, why not? I like all of your variety of posts.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  27. Anon says:

    I didn't respond to your survey bc I haven't been reading your blog long enough, but Discuss and The Hill Life are some of my favorites. Don't change what you're doing – you've got a great thing going. You're exactly right – if people are looking for something else, they should try another source.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  28. Belle says:

    E: I asked for feedback. I'm not defensive about it, at least I didn't mean to be. I just wanted people who took the time to leave a comment what they could or could not expect going forward.

    Beth: I don't agree with the prescribing of antibiotics for acne or for colds. Too many bacteria are resistant thanks to overprescription. I was a sickly kid, so I've taken enough antibiotics in my time, I don't want to risk taking any more.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  29. Belle says:

    J: Unfortunately, no. There is no option in squarespace to open links in a new window.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  30. Alterations Needed says:

    Belle – Thank you so much for suggesting Alterations Needed for petite women! What a nice surprise to see today…thank you! =)

    Mary – I completely know what you mean! Luckily, there's been some more diversity popping up in the niche of petite fashion blogging. I try to keep my blogroll updated with new petite bloggers (with size and height information if I know it), so you can take a look through there: https://www.alterationsneeded.com/blogroll. I'm liking this blog lately for the curvier girls: https://thesmallofit.blogspot.com/

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  31. Laura says:

    Love, love, love the blog. Thank you for all you do!

    Discuss is my favorite

    Would love to see some options for date night/nights out that involve flats (love to look at the gorgeous heels, but just not realistic for walking all over DC at night) and some spring/summer packing tips!

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  32. CB says:

    I too missed the original request, but I love love love The Hill Life and Discuss! I also miss splurge or save. Keep up the great work – without you and Corporette, who knows where I'd be!

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  33. R says:

    Belle, thanks for your comment RE: antibiotic resistance. From someone with a scientific background, I'm quite concerned that this will become a BIG problem and there are very few new antibiotics in the pipeline.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  34. HH says:

    I, too, missed commenting on Tuesday’s post, so here goes: a) I second/third/whatever the requests for advice on what to wear to work and fundraising events, b) like many of the other commenters, I love Discuss and Happy Hour, so I’m happy to hear that they’re not going anywhere.

    “Ask Belle” is one of my favorites and I find the answers very helpful and applicable. Also, while the Hill Life doesn’t apply to me, I tend to read it to glean professional advice and perspective. My vote is for even more discussion and advice centered around being a working woman. As far as suggestions go, I would like more posts on how to style/wear items that women tend to already have in their closets (suits, button downs, plain tees.) You incorporate quite a bit of these things into Two Ways, etc, but I’d like more fashion advice that doesn’t make me want to rush out and spend money. (I have no qualms about following the links to generate revenue, though!!!)

    Your blog is fantastic, Belle, and one of the only ones I read on a regular basis. Thank you for reaching out for feedback and keep up the good work!

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  35. Sam says:

    “please give me feedback and suggestions so that I can snark at everything you say and tell you why you're stupid for making your suggestions”

    I get that you want to do what you want to do but then don't ask for feedback and then have such a negative response to virtually all of it. I really enjoy about sixty percent of your blog but when your attitude comes out it makes me want to give it up.

    Your predicted response: stop reading the blog, then.

    & maybe this time I will.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  36. SK says:

    I rarely comment on blogs but just want to say that the reason why people read your blog is because you're YOU, so keep it up! We might not ALL identify with The Hill Life (I don't) or your specific skincare/clothing issues (I don't) or even need to wear suits (I don't!), but personally, you're one of the only blogs I read because you have a unique, true voice and perspective. There are just too damn many “bloggers” out there posting the same “fashionable” crap with not an ounce of unique perspective or context, but you are different, and should keep on doing what you're doing.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  37. Belle says:

    Sam: I'm sorry you feel that I was rude. It wasn't my intention. I responded to some of the recommendations with snark, because I respond to most things with snark, but if I didn't care about the time you took to make the suggestions, I wouldn't have responded at all.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  38. Leah says:

    Echoing the sentiments of others… what's the point of asking for feedback when all you're going to do is write a nasty follow up post about how you're basically just going to keep everything the same? It defeats the purpose of even for feedback in the first place.

    WIth that said though, I enjoy reading the blog as-is, and often times don't like when blogs change.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  39. Jenny says:

    asking for responses and then changing (almost) nothing? why'd you ask?

    also, there's plenty of ways to redesign the site or switch platforms so people CAN find what they're looking for. i've seen many times on here when someone asks a question in the comments and they're met with “I ALREADY POSTED ABOUT THAT! + the link to an archived posts.”

    if it were me, i'd be flattered that people either A. view you as a valuable resource on whatever topic they're searching for or B. remembered what i posted about and were hoping to reference it again.

    there are so many really good and affordable web designers who create modern-looking blog templates. if your site underwent a redesign with the user in mind (and you've heard directly from the users in this case; isn't that who you're looking to please/cater to?), this issue could be avoided: people would find what they're looking for, they'd linger longer on your site, and you'd be relived of the “task” of reminding people that you already posted about that.

    it just seems confusing as a reader. to be asked what we think (a la that neon + grey suit from a few months back) and then be told “oh sorry, i actually didn't plan to listen to any of this advice/feedback.” which is a fine attitude to have. who cares if you listen to us. but don't ask us in the first place, right?

    if you're happy what you're doing, don't send a call out to the masses. because people are eager to give their thorough opinions. and now, it feels like the people whose time has been wasted is ours. keep doing what you're doing if you like it. but try being nicer and more humble in your approach to your commenters. they're the ones who might be clicking on your shopstyle links that rack in whatever revenue you receive.

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  40. LW says:

    A summary of this post: There are some things you'd like me to post about that I don't? Well I'm not going to post about them, you can find another blog for those things. There are features you like? Great, me too! There are features you don't like? Too bad, because I like them, and I'm going to do them anyway!

    Belle, I am a frequent reader and big fan of the blog, but I have to agree with others who think your call for feedback and this response didn't seem to accomplish much.

    A suggestion for you to cater to those with different body types/maternity clothes/etc.: You linked to other blogs that would be helpful for them. Maybe you could consider bringing in a guest blogger for Two Ways every so often. You could have your Two Ways and then “and here's a Two Ways guest post geared towards petite/tall/pregnant/plus-size/whatever women.”

    March 30, 2012/Reply
  41. MA says:

    So…all of a sudden there are some pretty negative folks commenting here. If you look back at the response post, you'll see phrases like “I'll try to…,” “I'll make an effort to…,” “I'll look into….”

    I certainly did not read this as a negative response. Snarky? Sure, but that's one of the reasons that we're here. I like that Belle has opinions and sass. She is entitled to give feedback on the feedback; I would have been disappointed if she didn't.

    March 31, 2012/Reply
  42. Emily says:

    I didn't comment on the first post because your blog is my fave fashion and beauty blog. You do a great job. I know it's not your purview, but thanks so much for the links to maternity blogs. I had been looking for good ones for awhile.

    The negative comments on this post are baffling to me. Thanks for all you do!

    March 31, 2012/Reply
  43. Ellee says:

    Hey Belle,

    I am a little late commenting on your post about the state of the blog! I looked through the comments and one thing I didn't see (or might have missed) was possibly adding the “pin it” feature for your fashion posts. I absolutely love the outfits you put together and always want pretty much everything! I also always want a way to keep the outfit ideas organized. I would love to be able to just “pin” it in my Fashion Board on Pinterest. Although I do not know the logistics of how to get the “pin it” button, I know I have seen many blogs with this feature recently. If that is feasible I know I would love to be able to keep all of your outfit suggestions in one easy place! Keep up the great work, I love your blog!

    March 31, 2012/Reply
  44. Artemisia says:

    It's funny how people read things differently – “feedback” and “royal edicts from readers” are totally differently thing in my book.Who knew!

    Love the blog, love the attitude, appreciate the responses, and hope you have a thick skin.

    March 31, 2012/Reply
  45. Shannon says:

    I'm a semi-retired blogger, so I get that it's natural to get a bit prickly when we feel criticized. But, Belle, you ASKED for feedback and you got it! Last I checked, it was close to a hundred comments of ideas and suggestions. That indicates a very loyal, active readership.

    And your response seems to be, “Yeah yeah yeah, that's a nice idea and all, but I'm not changing a thing.” Count me among those who wonder why you bothered to ask for our opinions in the first place.

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  46. CR says:

    I know I'm late to the party, but here goes!

    First of all, I don't think your tone has been defensive. Yes, you said there are certain points of feedback you aren't going to respond to, but you explained why and I think that's useful information for your readers. Thank you for taking the time to be so responsive and thoughtful.

    Suggestions! Agree on loving your perspective on work/professionalism, and would like to hear more about what has helped you navigate your professional journey. Whether that's books, advice you've been given, or humorous stories, inquiring minds want to know. And adding wardrobe suggestions to the 10th Commandment posts might be a way to get more of the value of the Two Ways posts without the added time of pulling pictures.

    Overall, love your tone, insight, and creative yet professional wardrobe help. Thanks!

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  47. Kaylee says:

    J (hopefully you'll see this), if you're on a PC, you can just click the wheel in your mouse and the link will open in a new tab. Or you can right click and select the open it in a new tab or new window (sorry if you already know this). I know there's a way to do it on a Mac, as well, I just don't know what it is.

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  48. Teal @ Expecting Chic says:

    I'm coming around late (vacation – it really gets in the way of this whole blogging thing), but first let me say thank you for mentioning Expecting Chic among your maternity favs. That made my day and more importantly, introduced me to your fantastic blog. I'm now totally crushing on you after reading your post about floral jeans. I couldn't agree more – ugly is an understatement. But back to my point at hand – I love your tone, your features and I'm happy to now know you via the blogosphere. Have a great week!

    April 10, 2012/Reply
  49. GoGoGo says:

    I don't know if you check back here after the fact. I'll repost this next time you ask for feedback. But this is one I've heard about from a bunch of women who would otherwise be natural readers of yours. I just heard it again this weekend, and I want to be sure to remember pass it on!

    The “Elected Official / Hill Staffer / Unpaid Intern” headings for your three price bracket posts: they're confusing to new arrivals, and potentially a big turnoff!

    I've been a reader for a while now, so I get that there's a combination of fantasy and practicality at work. My sense is that these headings are designed to be a playful way of incorporating the Hill theme into these posts, rather than a literal guide to purchasing. I assume you're not literally advising unpaid interns to sink their savings into every given cocktail ring/pair of sunglasses/sweater, any more than you are literally advising actual octogenarian Members to splurge on the $100+ lace undershorts. I assume!

    But literally is how many people take it! Whenever I bring up CHS at a reception somewhere, at least one woman in the group says, “That blog is a fun idea, but she's ridiculous. Did you see those $60 earrings she thinks interns should be buying?” And I am a big enough fan that I've had this conversation six or seven times.

    I think if you're attached to the headings, it might be worth explaining on the About page, or phrasing slightly differently. (LIke at least take the word “unpaid” out!)

    Just my (solicited! not unsolicited!) two cents.

    I agree with “E” in being surprised with the defensive tone. If people are proprietary about your blog, it's a good sign. You've hooked them and they feel like they have a stake in it.

    May 21, 2012/Reply