This month I’m interviewing Chloe from Of North. I am over the moon! Chloe’s blog recently moved to Of North from Urban Tease and I’ve been following her for as long as I’ve been reading blogs. She’s gorgeous, she puts clothes together in the most genius of ways and her writing is beautiful, honest and touching. Interviewing her has been wonderful! Here’s what she had to say
Jess: I know that you’ve been blogging for a long time now. Yours was one of the first blogs I read regularly, before I decided to start my own! How did you get into blogging? Do you have a favourite post, or a favourite blogging moment?
Chloe: I’ve always been pretty active online since the early days of Neopets (no shame). I was really into graphic design and coding, and, as a result, I had a network of friends who blogged and owned their own websites. Several of them joined Lookbook.nu when it was first created. I joined because they were all talking it up to me, even though I really had no interest in fashion myself. Back then it was an invite only community. There were maybe a couple hundred of us. I remember my first look got 64 hypes which back then was a lot. It was on the top of the main page. Anyways, seeing all the creative people on Lookbook.nu pushed me to explore and develop my style further. I decided to start a blog as a way to track my personal style. I really had no plans on it becoming a long term thing, or a public thing. It was a very personal endeavour, devised only for my own creative reasons. Soon I had a platform and a community of followers encouraging me and critiquing me. I fell in love with it. Plus, writing is a huge passion of mine. I’m a big talker in that I like to talk things out and express myself through words as well as clothes. Blogging was a win-win, so I’ve continued with it 6 years later.
It’s impossible to choose a favourite post or blogging moment, really. Because I’ve been at it for 6 years, so much has happened. I’ve liked being able to develop my blog into something bigger, though. I guess my favourite blogging moment would be the growth it’s seen in the past two years.
Jess: I’ve really enjoyed your recent fashion posts. The summery 70s meets 50s pinup vibe you’ve got going on is really cool. Do you feel like your style has evolved a lot recently? How does having a strong sense of personal style influence other areas of your life?
Chloe: Thank you! I’d say that my style is constantly evolving. Two years ago, I would have never ever ever touched a pair of overalls. Now I have a pair that I adore! Recently I’ve definitely been getting into the hippie look. When I was in middle school, I was such a hippie. I had really long hair down to my butt that I straightened every day trying to look like Michelle Phillips. I wore velvet bell bottoms and peasant blouses. For several years I looked back on that with embarrassment. Now I’m dressing like that again! 12 year old me would be so humbled (or maybe horrified). All this said, I like that you bring “strong sense of personal style” into the conversation. I definitely have a strong sense of personal style. I know exactly what works and doesn’t work for me. Sometimes I’ll see things and say, “That definitely wouldn’t work on me like that…but I think if I try it this way, it will work better.” Such as overalls. I can’t wear them like a lot of people do – I have to wear them in ways that work with my body and other pieces of my wardrobe.
My sense of style influences other areas of my life by giving me confidence. I am so sure of what my style is, that it gives me assurance in my other abilities as well. When you have a deep understanding of who you are as a person, you know your limits, you know your strengths, you know what gives you a thrill and what makes you uncomfortable. It’s the same in style as it is in your life in general: having confidence in what you wear, what you say, what you do… People will pick up on it. The best thing to wear is always, always confidence.
Jess: It’s awesome that you sometimes talk about feminism on your blog, and I really enjoy reading those posts. When did you first start thinking about gender related issues? Is feminism something that is generally accepted in the area that you live in?
Chloe: I was raised by a mother who is a very strong, stubborn, independent woman – and by a father who often had very sexist, misogynistic viewpoints. When I was younger, my mother forbade me from watching the Disney princess movies. She got upset whenever I said that I wanted to be a hairdresser (“That’s not a real career. You don’t go to college for something like that.”) And then to offset this, my father often made off putting remarks about women in media and women’s roles in society. It was all complex, but none of it really made sense to me until I was in college. Out of nowhere, I found myself reading feminist works. I was sucked in. Everything made sense with feminism.
I would say that feminism has been a journey for me, though. I still will throw out the word “bitch” now and then. I’m torn about sexual depictions of women. I’m angered by most everything in media. I’ve sworn off Woody Allen and am struggling with how I should feel about John Denver. Once when feminism is in your life, you can’t be ignorant. So many of your decisions – who do I associate myself with? What vernacular should I be using? Should I be watching this TV show or movie? – are impacted. It’s wonderful and terrible at the same time. Mostly terrible because you’re in a minority. Mostly wonderful because it’s such a refreshing understanding of why we are what we are as a society – and how we can change.
Jess: I love reading your blog because you’re so open and honest about your thoughts and feelings. I think it’s brilliantly brave of you to wear your heart on your sleeve online. Has it ever caused problems for you?
Chloe: I am very vulnerable in my writing. Sometimes I hesitate between what is naive, what is inappropriate, and what is valuable to share. I often think very cautiously before writing. In a recent post, I wrote about my recent relationship with a heroin addict. I waited a few months after his disappearance to write about it. I knew I wanted to write about it, but it was such an emotional, heartbreaking event in my life that I didn’t know how I wanted to write about it. Then, one day, I heard about a local woman who was murdered by her drug addicted boyfriend, and I felt this urge to share my story. Because there are always other people in the world who experience similar things, similar emotions as you. I’m really proud of that post in particular. It took me hours to write and I probably went through an entire box of tissue because it was so painful. But it gave me closure, and it was also very beautiful in how people responded. So many of my readers have been through similar experiences. I had long time readers, friends, strangers, telling me their stories and thanking me for sharing mine. It was such an empowering reaction. Sure, there are always, always going to be haters. Some people are uncomfortable with the truth, or with raw emotion, or with people wanting to grow from horrific events in their lives. But you cannot ever let someone make your feelings or experiences invalid. They are ALWAYS valid. When you remember that, vulnerability and openness become very beautiful things.
Jess: What’s next for Of North?
Chloe: Continuing to grow. Continuing to share my wardrobe, my inspirations, my stories, and my life with people. Many people view blogging as a very self-centered, narcissistic thing. Which it totally 100% is. But it allows me to write everyday. It gives me a platform to reach people, to encourage new ideas or points of view. It allows me to be a part of a community that lets me grow in unexpected ways. From where I started 6 years ago, there was no way I would have charted my journey in blogging to this point. But here I am and it’s such a wonderful place. Who knows where the next 6 years will take me?
Thank you so much for taking part in my Blogger Favourites series Chloe, I’ve loved learning more about you! Don’t forget to check out her beautiful blog