Classic Autumn Rant

by jennine on October 7, 2009

autumn coat

It’s undeniable… Autumn is here. An while I’m missing the yellow and orange leaves in my old neighborhood in Germany. It’s got to the point where I have to have the ‘right’ coat. No more fudging it with layers… like I have been it’s too cold. And boots…well I need ones that can be worn on rainy days, and my old standbys were falling apart. Luckily, I had a gift card to write  from Talbots which was supposed to be used for the sponsored post, but through a series of miscommunications I didn’t get it in time. But in the end, I did get this coat and a pair of boots, and I just love them.

Coat and boots : Talbots • Hat : Yarn Over Movement • Jeans : G-Star • Sweater : Bebe • Tunic : Borne • Driving Gloves : H&M

The rest of this post is for those who do not read Independent Fashion Bloggers:

Which leads me to the next thought weighing on my mind. The FTC ruled earlier this week that bloggers have to disclose when they get something for free whether it’s a gift of for review. Personally I find this ruling a bit insulting.  I don’t want to get on any ethical high horse, but first of all I would NEVER post about something unless I genuinely like it, and would never take anything just because it’s free. I’ve always been clear about disclosure when I get something for ‘free,’ or even if it’s an exchange and it’s not something I would actively seek out but happen to like. Or even if it is an exchange and I would actively seek it out.  I understand that the weight of what I buy with my own money (which isn’t very much) is heavier than what is given to me. And that’s why it’s important for me to disclose everything, whether it’s the law or not.

For the record… If I were in this for the clothes. I would quit, and get my old job back, because lord knows I was able to get more clothes then than I do now. And sometimes…I think about it. Blogging is not a good way to get ‘free’ clothes. There are much easier ways to pad your wardrobe. There is talk about bloggers who start up for the fame, money and clothes… and well the only thing I have to say about that, is wow, there are much, much, much easier ways to get all of those things than blogging. Even the most ‘famous’ fashion bloggers, aren’t well, famous.

To say again, I would never post something just because it was offered to me for free. I get pitches all the time, and unless I feel it provides some editorial value I will not post it. This also applies to the sponsored posts (we’ve done five in two and a half years) , though I’m on the fence on whether I’ll do another sponsored post, as the last one was a bit of a stretch, though in the end, I was still able to find things that I genuinely liked and had value.

As hard as I work on these blogs, The Coveted and Independent Fashion Bloggers, and as straightforward as I’ve been, this FTC ruling has left me feeling dirty, or that I should question what we do here.  Magazines don’t have to disclose they get products for review for free because they need to test the products themselves makes for ‘quality journalism.’ They don’t feel bad…they’re doing their job.

Granted blogging about personal style isn’t always easy, there is always a pressure to come up with something new to talk about, and quite frankly, spending a moderate amount of money on your wardrobe isn’t going to cut it. Not even for that lady who wears the same dress every day (she’s doing it for charity, but she still needs donations for accessories). Often times I’m left to find alternative means of providing the best content I can without putting myself financial strain. Working with companies sometimes helps keep the content fresh.  I don’t have a lot of money as I spend my time writing this blog and IFB, my daddy isn’t rich, my husband just started his career a month ago, and let’s see… how else do people get clothes to review on a regular basis without paying out of pocket? I don’t know, I could go the route of some bloggers and post rehashed runway shots from style.com and random catalog pics and an occasional outfit post.  I could, but in the name of’ leveling the playing field’, I don’t feel that I should have to feel ethically compromised for working with companies to provide content for my blogs particularly when magazines do not have to pay out of pocket for the products they talk about.

So am I going to continue? Yes. I will do my best to provide fresh and interesting content for you. Will I make a clear distinction for items paid by me and when it’s a paid by a company? Absolutely. Will I feel bad about it? No. Well, I’ll try not to feel bad, I still have this weird general guilt thing about anything good or fun that happens to me. But that’s another post…

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Peldyn October 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

I am sorry this is making you feel bad. I do think the FTC is being a tad high-handed especially since I am sure we all disclose anyways!
Peldyn´s last blog ..Hat Crazy My ComLuv Profile

2 Sabrina October 7, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Love your outfit today! Especially the boots and bag. Sorry this whole FTC is causing you so much stress, hopefully it will all work itself out.
Sabrina ´s last blog ..What I Wore Today: 10.3.09 Lazy Saturday My ComLuv Profile

3 WendyB October 7, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Several of the articles I read pointed out that basically the FTC can do nothing to enforce this! Of course, I think bloggers should be ethical but this is kind of laughable…
WendyB´s last blog ..Champagne Wishes, Caviar Dreams My ComLuv Profile

4 Ashe Mischief October 7, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Thank you for your candor on this, dear. I think it’s important for active and influential bloggers within the niche (which I DO consider you one of) to speak up about their thoughts on this. It is a stressful thing to think about- it impacts all of us, and as with many things, I have a feeling those who AREN’T guilty are the ones who feel guilt over it while those who have caused this whole mess are the ones skipping along like nothing has happened…
Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..Doing Body Shots: Confessions of a Deviant Polka Dot Queen My ComLuv Profile

5 Ashe Mischief October 7, 2009 at 7:29 pm

p.s. I also appreciate the honesty and openness with which you’ve written about your experinces working with companies, writing sponsored posts, and the like.
Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..Doing Body Shots: Confessions of a Deviant Polka Dot Queen My ComLuv Profile

6 Clare October 7, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Yum, love your Talbots purchases! I’ve been following this FTC stuff too, and to be honest I’m actually on the fence. While I think that most fashion bloggers wouldn’t dream of writing about something they don’t genuinely like or believe in, I think that certain vendors/companies/etc. think that they can take advantage by offering up certain things in exchange for a review. Knowing that this whole process is under some kind of consideration may (only MAY) keep people from trying to take advantage of one another. Just a small two cents…
Clare´s last blog ..The Sunburned Hands I Used to Hold My ComLuv Profile

7 jennine October 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm

❤Peldyn…well, not all bloggers disclose, but I don’t think it’s for the FTC to try to enforce this on bloggers and not traditional media.
❤Sabrina…thanks…well, I’m sure it will work out too…either that or we’ll just forget about it.
❤Wendy… I was wondering how they would enforce it anyway…they’re stretched pretty thin as it is!
❤Ashe…ha..well you are probably right on that one. it is important to talk about, and i hope it just doesn’t get swept under the rug.
❤Clare…yes, this is a whole other issue that badly needs to be addressed. Badly.

8 Audi October 7, 2009 at 11:16 pm

What, do people actually get loads of free stuff just by blogging? Enough free stuff that they’d lie about whether the stuff was any good or not?? Of course I’m kidding a little here, but I’m honestly surprised that the FTC would let the handful of bloggers who receive any substantial gain from their efforts, versus the multitude who do it primarily for the fun and sense of community, drive the creation of a rule like this one. Do they really and truly have nothing better to do? Any honestly, are we, as a collective body of readers, naive enough not to be able to tell the difference between genuine reviews and ones that are ‘bought’ with free goods? Thanks FTC, but I don’t really need you to ‘protect’ me; I’m probably more savvy than you are!

9 Liv Lundelius October 8, 2009 at 2:23 am

You are so right! I don’t see the point why print magazines are allowed to do what is not acceptable for bloggers.
Thats bullshit. And of course its not a bad thing if you get gifts and support by companys.
You will write about stuff you really personally like eather way.
@audi: absolutely right!!!

@jennine of course you are going to continue! your blog is great.
Liv Lundelius´s last blog ..I, I will be king. And you, you will be queen. My ComLuv Profile

10 anh October 8, 2009 at 6:41 am

the boots and bag totally puts this outfit together. fantabulous jeanine!!!!
anh´s last blog ..Winter Accessories My ComLuv Profile

11 Tami - fête à fête October 8, 2009 at 7:47 am

I seriously wonder if the FTC can have enough resources to police the millions of blogs out there. And I agree with you - if we tried to get a wardrobe out of blogging we should quit blogging and find a much better paying job!
Tami - fête à fête´s last blog ..Dolce & Gabbana Fragrance Anthology My ComLuv Profile

12 DWJ October 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

I actually started my blog as a class project for my master’s degree. I talk about what I genuinely love and as my audience has grown so have the PR pitches and the attention but I’m by no means famous and for the few free items I get to review this whole FTC thing makes me wonder why do it at all if I could get fined $11,000!?! I work a full time job and blog because I don’t really make money from it (a grand total of maybe $75 a year), but I do because it brings me happiness but now…I hate that it makes me feel icky but I’m glad to know that someone whose been blogging longer than me and I look up to feels the same way too. Sigh…

13 BobbinTalk October 8, 2009 at 8:20 am

Ditto!!!

14 Lily October 8, 2009 at 10:12 am

I understand the initial reaction to the FTC ruling and since you’re already transparent about whether a post is sponsored or not I don’t think you are the ruling’s target audience. Unfortunately I read many blogs that aren’t clear about whether they purchased the item or if it was free, and to me that is misleading. I would like a lot more things if I didn’t have to pay for them! Bottom line is bloggers need to disclose their advertisers and sponsors honestly, the end.

Love your ensemble, Talbots usually has a few “wow” pieces whenever I visit, I think it just depends on how you put them together with other things!

15 Alicia October 8, 2009 at 10:45 am

I hate double standards. Especially since the quality of acutal journalism is debatable these days…ugh. If bloggers have to do it, so should magazines. Besides, how do they plan on enforcing this? Seriously. There are thousands of blogs…

The bloggers I love and respect are all very ethical about gifts and promotions. Thank you Jennine for being one of them.

16 MAISON CHAPLIN October 8, 2009 at 11:47 am

Hi Jennine, I got to know you blog via HiFashion, because of your interview. I like your blog very much, and i’m going to follow it! ;)

kiss,
A. de Castro

MaisonChaplin.blogspot.com @ Baptiste Giabiconi by Lagerfeld
MAISON CHAPLIN´s last blog ..Wallpaper: Baptiste Giabiconi by Karl Lagerfeld My ComLuv Profile

17 Sheena October 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

I absolutely love the fall jacket and the driving gloves! It is a perfect autumn look. Bravo to your entire post and speaking up on this FTC ruling as well. Please keep on doing what you are doing because you really are great at it and I know it’s something that you put so much work into.
Sheena´s last blog ..Music Makes the World Go Round My ComLuv Profile

18 Sonja October 8, 2009 at 2:28 pm

First off, I think you look totally lovely in your autumn duds. Second, well said. If the FTC is coming down on the ethics of getting samples of products to review, why are they targeting bloggers? I’m fine with disclosure. I don’t have anything to hide. I have a problem with the double standard. Journalists in traditional media get tons of products for review that they definitely do not return (even though the FTC states that they do). They also tend to have much greater influence on purchasers. And yet the FTC won’t admit any of this or hold them to the same standard.
Sonja´s last blog ..Classic Autumn Rant My ComLuv Profile

19 eyeliah October 8, 2009 at 2:58 pm

That coat looks great on you, the perfect fall winter staple. I can’t wear that color, it washes me out.
eyeliah´s last blog ..Americas Next Top Model Season 13 Episode 6 My ComLuv Profile

20 enc October 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Well said, as always, Jennine.

I have had several offers to do paid posts, or to advertise. I have also had offers of free stuff. All of the offers blow my mind, given that I have only a few dozen readers. I’m not really in a position to spread the word, as it were. Many, many other bloggers have thousands and tens of thousands reading their work, and could influence more people than I ever could.

Anyway: only one time did I ever accept free stuff for review (fitness clothes), and I did it under the express/clear conditions that by accepting the items, I was not guaranteeing a good review—the manufacturer was at my mercy. I also offered to return the items once the review process was done. The manufacturer declined a return (good call on their part—who wants used fitness clothes back?), and accepted my terms, so I did the review, and I kept the items. I still have them now. At the time, I was in a huge quandary over doing the review. I felt like a gigantic sellout for about a week, and I really put the items to the test with great skepticism, but as it happens, I loved the stuff, so it got a good review. In fact, I’m planning to buy more of it.

I wish more manufacturers would offer me things to review. I’d love to have a go at some of the silly fitness gadgets on the market now. Chinup machine anyone?

For the record, Obviously, I’d never do any review or accept any free stuff without letting my readers know what was happening. The new ruling seems really discriminatory and pessimistic to me. Would anyone accept free stuff without saying so? Isn’t the implication here that we’re all honest people who just want to share our love of fashion? Like you, I aver that we bloggers have integrity. Why wouldn’t the government give us the benefit of the doubt, and assume the same?
enc´s last blog ..Poll #47 Needs Must My ComLuv Profile

21 Kate October 8, 2009 at 7:39 pm

I do think it’s a little strange that now we “have” to disclose that we have received a free item. I also get offers all the time, most of them being stuff I wouldn’t be caught dead in. I have pride in my blog and I wouldn’t just put anything on there. Personally I think it’s our business if we get free items and if we like something and we do a review on it, what’s the harm in that?

Basically the FTC is saying that our business should be made public. Well then, why shouldn’t business done behind closed doors by other companies be made public?
Kate´s last blog ..Little Red Riding Hood My ComLuv Profile

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