Analysis Blogs Culture — Aimee Hewson, 6 March 2011
Beauty, Fashion & Style Blog Analysis PART 2 (Qualitative)

This is my final post as a VRES student, and part 2 of my analysis of eight Australian Beauty, Fashion and Style blogs – see Part 1 (Quantitative) here. In this post, I look at some qualitative aspects of the blogs by answering the following questions:

Identity – Is the blogger an insider (journalist, stylist, fashion designer), outsider (individual) or aspiring insider (wannabe designer/stylist)?
Writing Style – Do the bloggers use similar language and writing styles? How does each blogger position him- or herself as an author (personable vs business orientated)?
Visual Style – Are there any similarities or differences in the aesthetics of each blog (cluttered vs minimal)?

As a refresher, the 8 blogs I have chosen to explore are:
1. Madame B Fatale
2. Lady Melbourne
3. Mylookbook
4. Missy Em – Frugalicious Fashion and Beauty
5. Friend in Fashion
6. In City Fashion
7. 2threads
8. Dustjacket Attic

Identity

As seen in my last post, thousands of people follow Australian fashion and beauty blogs – the advice they provide is highly regarded by fellow fashion lovers and consumers alike. In terms of identity, I can establish the age range of most of the authors at between 24-37 years – based on running searches for the author of each blog via Google and social networks (predominantly LinkedIn, Facebook and articles on Womeninbusiness.com.au).  Furthermore, when looking at a portion of the subscriber base, it is evident that the age of these authors represents a similar age to that of their followers. This is unsurprising as in this field peer-to-peer opinions and recommendations are considered highly influential – popular bloggers are considered opinion leaders, holding the power to influence by virtue of their social standing. In breaking down the identity behind the eight blogs, I classified each blog by number of contributors:

1 contributor:
It can be established that 6 of the 8 blogs are sole-authored (i.e. they have only one main contributor).  Of these, 3 bloggers appear to be “insiders” who hold qualifications and/or knowledge in a related field. Lady Melbourne, aka Phoebe Montague, is an established fashion journalist with an impressive portfolio – creator of Lady Melbourne, editor of Melbourne Street Fashion and Lustable, judge for the Westfield Insider, and awarded best fashion blogger in the Asia Pacific region in 2009.  Lady Melbourne appears to treat the blog as a full time job, gaining interviews and other publicity to keep her busy.  Friend in Fashion, aka Jasmin Howell, on the other hand, holds Marketing and Management qualifications, yet does not rely on her blog as a full time job.  In between managing Friend in Fashion, she uses her marketing and communications expertise to partner with local and international fashion designers and labels as well as working a job in the Marketing industry.  The third “insider”, Krista Eppelstun, author of Mylookbook.com.au, holds skills in marketing, e-commerce, graphic design and photography, and has created 3 online businesses (www.bodyboardshop.com, www.australianflavour.com.au and www.mylookbook.com.au).  Of these, Mylookbook.com.au is one of Australia’s first Digital Fashion Magazines and was the Official Digital Media Partner for the 2009 Mercedes-Benz Brisbane Fashion Festival.  These 3 ladies appear to be Australian fashion, beauty, and style entrepreneurs and both Phoebe Montague and Krista Eppelstun have been nominated for the Cleo 2011 Fun Fearless Female competition, evidently for their efforts and successes originating from these blogs.

The accreditations of the remaining 3 individual bloggers aren’t so clear, however, it can be established that not all of these bloggers have journalist, stylist or PR backgrounds.  Madame B Fatale, aka Brie-Anne Wilson, specialises in makeup tutorials and has even contributed as a writer for the blog 2Threads, however a search on this author indicates she has a background in Hospitality.  The qualifications behind Missy Em and Dustjacket Attic were much harder to establish but it was found that the author behind Missy Em also manages her own personal blog – suggesting that her beauty review blog is perhaps a side project she adds to in her spare time.  On the whole, these 3 bloggers are “aspiring insiders”, as it seems they have developed industry knowledge on their own accord, and dedicate their spare time to share their passion and love for beauty and style.

Unlike commercial endorsers, none of these 6 bloggers represents the interests of one company, and thus are highly influential to their readers. Overall, these bloggers are central to consumer decision making and readers value their opinions because they possess knowledge power, evaluating and synthesising product information in an apparently unbiased way.

2+ contributors:
Two of the eight blogs have 2 or more contributors: 2threads and In City Fashion.  These blogs appear to be run as a online businesses, relying on income from an online store, sponsorship and advertising.  2threads has multiple writers, including a post by Madame B Fatale, giving the impression that many of the other editors may also have their own personal blogs as well.  As this blog is very fashion news oriented, the posts appear to be very formal, indicating that many of the writers have a strong love for fashion journalism.  The blog In City Fashion has two authors, and due to the nature of the content (similar to that of 2threads) it can be assumed that these authors are “insiders”, aka professionals and aspiring writers in the field.

Writing Style

When looking at the trends in the textual style of each blog, I refer back to my word cloud in part 1. A closer look at the top 15 terms used in the last 30 days (as at 05/02/11), indicates that fashion bloggers tend to use similar language and terms when writing about fashion:

 
Word Count on Top 15 Terms

(If you are interested, you can view the top 90 words via a visualisation I created here.)

In terms of writing style, similarities can be found between those blogs with 1 contributor compared to those with 2 or more contributors. Blogs with 1 contributor are written in first person and appear to have a much more personable nature.   Take Lady Melbourne for example, where posts include aspects of the author’s personal life, such as what she did on a particular day, combined with discussion surrounding a fashion discovery or event.  Much of her posts are based on everyday life stories whilst tying in fashion and style content.  Dusjacket Attic, however, stands out as having very little commentary as content is heavily focused on visuals yet the author (who remains a mystery) still adds a sense of being to the blog, by including a personal opinion and note every now and then, eg.: “Nice to see Cintia Dicker again, she does a fab job as usual (she really suits this look). Photographed by David Gubert on location in New Orleans and styled by Jana Pokorny for Marie Claire AU April 2011. Hope you are all going great and enjoying your first week in March! Xxx”.  The other blogs with 1 contributor show a similar pattern, each author giving their blog a sense of identity whereby subscribers relate and connect on a much more personal level.  Blogs with 2 or more contributors on the other hand are written in third person, in a professional, business orientated manner.  Author and subscriber relationships are not evident, particularly by the lack of comments on posts.

Visual Style

The most visual blog is Dustjacket Attic, showcasing fashion images from magazines and photographers from all around the world.  The content of this blog would be considered to be similar to that of a photo journal, as text is mainly used for referencing purposes.  In terms of similarities, it is interesting to note that the blogs that were the most popular (Lady Melbourne, Mylookbook and Friend in Fashion) use a similar colour scheme and have a minimalist look and feel:

 
Lady Melbourne

 
 
Friend in Fashion

 
 
Mylookbook

These 3 blogs all use a black and white palette, perhaps to accentuate the colours and imagery of the content itself.  Other similarities exist between the two online shop blogs (2Threads and In City Fashion) as both have a colourful, “pop-culture” look and feel, similar to that of pedestrian.tv or V Music.  Pages are both vibrant and it is evident that the style of these blogs have been considered in order to attract a desired audience.

The remaining blogs (Madame B Fatale and Missy Em) are very colourful, with personalised banners, allowing the personality and creativity of the blogger to be seen through the aesthetics of the page:

Madame B Fatale

Missy Em

Overall, all blogs are welcoming, informative, and have a sense of purpose, hence why they all carry a dedicated following of some sort.

This concludes my qualitative analysis of 8 Beauty, Fashion and Style blogs.  If you have any suggestions for further research I’d love to hear your feedback.

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About the Author

Aimee is a recent QUT Business and Creative Industries graduate. Driven by digital and social media she is excited by future advances in technology, enabling audiences to be reached and monitored in new and unexpected ways. In expanding her knowledge of the digital realm, she is currently working on this project as a VRES (Vacation Research Experience Scholarship) student over the Summer as well as interning in the digital department at George Patterson Y&R, Brisbane.

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