Comfy Sweaters (Part 2) and How Inspiration Can Turn Ugly

You guys, I was so excited for this sweater. I saw this picture, and I was immediately drawn to the sweater.

Burgundy (perfect fall color) + loose + warm + long = sold. This post was originally just about a sweater.

The above picture is from one of the blogs I consistently follow, Hello Fashion. I pretty much love every casual outfit she posts. I knew I had the gray tee, the destroyed skinnies, and the black suede boots, so (because this is “inspiration” week on my blog), I wanted to show you how I recreated the outfit.

Once I saw the pictures, the post turned into something more. For starters, one of the pictures above is in a fun pumpkin patch taken by a professional photographer. The other is taken in a northeastern Iowa basement by a husband with an iPhone 6 because one said blogger decided it was too cold outside for pictures. This picture of mine is the only decent one out of the batch because (as it turns out) it is soooo much better to take the pictures outside lighting-wise. (And side note: I thought it would be cool to show that there are pockets on the sweater, but it just looks like my hands disappeared…)

My husband always does a great job taking pictures, but even he can’t overcompensate for bad lighting. We had to use the flash so much (and the “fix red eye” feature) that my eyes ended up looking wonky in nearly every picture I took. And wonky as in, now, what color are her eyes?

So I try to take all of the pictures for the week in one day…it’s just easier on all four of us in this house. In one picture for an upcoming post about TOMS wedges, the “fix red eye” feature totally put a black spot on my upper cheek (nowhere near my red eye)…And I didn’t catch it until after the “black spot version” was saved…And in the above picture in its original state, you couldn’t even tell the sweater was burgundy until I used a filter. I try to use a filter on blog pictures only when it enhances the outfit because that’s important to me…to be myself in this space. To wear outfits I would normally wear. To wear my hair in ways I REALLY wear my hair, not just for a blog. To not wear lipstick (because I don’t in real life..at least not now. I’m a gloss girl.). But seriously…wonky eyes and a black spot on my cheek and a sweater in an unidentified color…It is almost laughable now.

Needless to say, I immediately felt defeated. (A little dramatic, yes.) How can you post these pictures, I thought to myself. They just look…bad. Believe me, I read style blogs every day, and nearly all of the pictures I see posted are so professional and beautiful. No black spots on the cheek, needless to say. But then I thought, how could I not post this picture?

I had to reevaluate my goals. Why did I start this blog? Well, two main reasons, actually. 1. A creative outlet for myself. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy fashion. So the blog thing works for me. 2. When I read blogs and look at pictures on said blogs, I am inspired to try new things in my style. I enjoy the creative process and appreciate seeing how bloggers put their looks together. Does every look translate to inspiration? No! But I just enjoy the whole process of creation and seeing it come to fruition in the blogs I follow. And I want other women, especially moms, especially women without huge clothing budgets, to get excited about style, to be the best versions of themselves. Hopefully my blog helps some women in that capacity.

I did not start this blog so I could look perfect in all of my pictures. No aspect of my life is perfect! So why should my pictures be perfect in every single post? I need to practice some humility here.

Comparison can create ugliness in our hearts, so we (ahem..I) need to be careful that inspiration does not lead us to comparison (and then perhaps envy). Leave it at inspiration. Do not let the inspiration “inspire” you to covet a new kind of normal or someone else’s life when what you have going on is simply great in its own right! Let what inspires you lead you to better something about yourself. And I need to hear this in several aspects of my life, including motherhood, homemaking, fitness, and the list goes on forever…So do you see how this post is not just about a sweater anymore?

Do you know what I did after I saw the batch of bad pictures? I silently sulked for a minute (being totally honest, albeit embarrassed). Then I stopped sulking and enjoyed my day. I went around town with my family. We drove around and saw Christmas decorations. We walked around the mall. We went out for pizza. I came home and worked out, then put my daughter to bed, while my husband put my son to bed. Nothing glamorous. But it was my normal, and I am choosing to believe it is pretty awesome.

So now…let’s look at this imperfect picture again and discuss WHY I like this outfit. Gasp. It’s another FORMULA/UNIFORM!

Textured cardigan + slouchy tee in complimentary (not competing) color + destroyed skinny jean + fun ankle boot 

Here’s a clearer picture of what this sweater actually looks like in person.

Here’s why this outfit works for me…We have already talked about the beauty that lies in wearing a comfy sweater. Since we are going baggy on top, we are going slim on the bottom. The tee is not competing with the texture or color of the sweater, and the fringe on my boots adds just a little bit of personality to an outfit that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. And with my top knot and a bit of makeup, I could push for having myself ready in 20 minutes.

My outfit details… 
Sweater: Forever 21 (still shopping there at 31 and will probably still be shopping there at 41…LOVE the trendy pieces at affordable prices)
Gray tee: GAP (old)
Jeggings: American Eagle
Boots: American Eagle (last season) similar boot

So today’s post was kind of sappy, but in the end, we still came out with an outfit formula, so the day has been saved. Bad blog pictures won’t ruin my life (and probably aren’t a big deal to most), but I have to be careful that I keep watch over why I do what I do (in all aspects of my life) and keep my heart in perspective.

Thank you so much for reading. Really. I know every blogger says that, but I truly mean it. Words have so much power, and writing is the greatest form of personal expression. (The blog has always been more about the writing than the pictures.) I don’t take either of those points lightly. So thank you for supporting my creative outlet. I LOVE hearing from you and what you would like to see more of on the blog, what posts work for you, etc. Have a great day enjoying your life!

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