How to become a successful blogger? Well, the greats in the business always tend to resonate the same thing: Be true to yourself, find your voice, and your niche. And, of course, pick up some PR and marketing skills along the way.
Ticking all the right boxes is Zephyr Basine, the Editor-in-Chief of CollegeFashion.net, a blog that’s for the students and by the students. She’s come a long way since 2007 when she sat in her dorm behind a laptop blogging about fashion, relationships, beauty, and all things that 20-something college students care about.
With writers contributing from campuses far and wide and an impressive following on social media, we just had to get a one-on-one with Zephyr to find out what’s hot and what’s not in millennial fashion.
What was the inspiration behind starting College Fashion?
I started College Fashion in 2007 when fashion blogging was really just beginning to become a “thing”. I was reading quite a few blogs at the time but was quickly frustrated that nothing catered to my demographic—women in college. Everything was either for much younger teens or women with established careers and incomes.
I knew the kind of content I, and a whole segment of young girls of my age wanted to read, and so I decided if it doesn’t exist, I might as well create it. I spent my winter break (Dec ’06-Jan ’07) working on our very first layout and the site went live in March 2007.
At first, CF was just my personal blog where I’d talk about the trends I liked, outfits I saw around campus, etc. As the site took off, I realized there was much more demand for content than I could produce alone, and the desire for a more well-rounded perspective on fashion. So, in 2009 I brought on other students to share their experiences from around the campuses. The site has grown like crazy from there.
Three fashion items college girls swear by?
It’s cliché but true: Leggings, sneakers, backpacks. Those are the tried-and-true college girl style staples. Of course, our readers mix it up with trendier takes on those staples. Right now they’re loving Stan Smith Adidas and Converse sneakers, sheer paneled leggings for that Athleisure vibe, and Fjallraven backpacks. It’s fun to play with basics and make them more interesting and unexpected. We’ve been seeing lots of white sneakers with bodycon dresses on campus, for instance.
Three things people should retire from their wardrobes once they’re out of college?
Sorority/college organization tee shirts—that’s really the only one I’d say as a firm rule. You don’t want to be wearing the tee of your favorite on-campus organization once you’ve graduated. Those shirts are for a place and time—college! I would keep them only as mementos, not clothing items you actually wear.
Otherwise, I’m not big on fashion rules or dos and don’ts. I believe fashion is personal to everyone, and honestly, you can pull off whatever you want if you style it right. I mean, if you told me a few years ago that every fashion girl around would be wearing furry pool slides this year, I would have laughed. You just never know, so don’t restrict yourself.
What seems to influence college-goers most, when it comes to fashion?
For our readers, it’s a combination of trends and budget. College students are very cost-conscious, as they should be! College is expensive, most students don’t work while in school full-time or if they do, it’s usually an internship or an on-campus job that doesn’t pay very much. So budget is a huge concern.
However, college is the most amazing time to experiment with trends. You don’t have the “real world” responsibilities of restrictive office dress codes. You can go for something out of your comfort zone or follow trends that are out there because you’re still figuring out your personal style.
Which, typically, are three aspirational brands for the college-goer of 2017?
There are different levels of aspiration. Among our readers, at the highest level of aspiration, it’s Chanel, Gucci, and Saint Laurent right now. Those are the prestige brands most girls would be buying if they could afford to. There’s also more attainable aspirations—the brands you can save up for in college and actually afford a piece or two at some point. In that category, our readers love Free People, Lululemon, and Kate Spade.
A current fashion trend that college-goers seem to absolutely love?
Athleisure is the biggest trend we’re seeing across the board. Everyone is dressing up their athletic wear and combining it with more casual pieces for fashion-forward looks. The trend is definitely going strong right now on campuses everywhere.
Satin And Mesh Crop Top By Ivy Park, £32
Personally, what are your three must-have fashion items?
My style is minimalist but I like to add a little drama. Right now I’m loving oversized denim jackets, printed kimonos, and distressed mom jeans.
Brands, designers, or high street stores that you usually shop from?
Topshop MOTO Graffiti Hem Mom Jeans, £30
My personal favorite place to shop is Topshop. I’m obsessed with their jeans! Nordstrom is my go-to store for basically everything else. I’m not a huge brand girl, to be honest; I just buy what I like and what looks good on me, and I’ll take a look at the brand later. We also have Primark here in Boston so I love to head there for cheap finds.
Do you follow the work of other bloggers? Name some you admire.
My personal favorite fashion blogs are Man Repeller, Sincerely Jules, Le Fashion, and Cupcakes & Cashmere. But, lately I spend more time scrolling through Instagram than I do reading fashion blogs. A few of my favorite Instagram accounts are @parisinfourmonths, @huntforstyles, @nanysklozet, @sherlinanym, @angelicablick, and @allanaramaa.
And I’m really into the body positive movement that’s taking off on Insta right now. It’s amazing for women of all shapes and sizes. My favorite follows there are @bodyposipanda, @omgkenzieee, and @effyourbeautystandards.
I also waste tons of time watching beauty tutorials because, frankly, they’re so fun! I love Lola Liner (she’s always my hair inspiration), Nikkie Tutorials, Xthuyle, Shaaanxo, Jaclyn Hill, etc.
What advice would you like to give to someone who wants to become a fashion blogger?
Understand that you’re going to have to improve pretty much every skill you have, and try to be compassionate with yourself throughout that (never-ending) process. It’s not enough to have a great sense of style or to be a killer writer. When you are in charge of a fashion blog, you really need to learn to do it all and realize that most skills can be improved.
I still wouldn’t consider myself the best writer around, but I’m much better than I used to be. And view every mistake or roadblock as an opportunity to improve; don’t let a setback stop you. I am a perfectionist by nature so I used to let mistakes get me down; now I realize there’s nothing I can do but learn and move forward.
It’s silly to dwell or beat yourself up for not doing something perfectly. Life, and blogging, is about growth and evolution. Be kind to yourself, stay positive, and believe in your vision.
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- Adidas Sneakers
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