Aesthetic & Authenticity: Spring 10×10 Reflections

Earlier this week, my friend Kellie over at The Wholehearted Wardrobe wrote a piece about how difficult it is to feel a sense of belonging in the responsible fashion community when you don’t subscribe to its particular aesthetic. She writes:

“There are a lot of really polished ethical and capsule wardrobe blogs, with professional photography (or really talented Instagram spouses!), curated living rooms with monstera plants for that eco vibe…Small wardrobes that somehow have all the right pieces, wardrobes that have neutral colors, leather mules, a round straw bag, the right accessories. Whereas, when I look at my wardrobe, I see stray UGG boots, a pink Vineyard Vines dress from our engagement photo session, random pieces that are too good to part with but not quite good enough to admit to owning – or so it feels.”

It surprised me to see Kellie of all people writing that kind of post, because I’ve always admired her as someone with a really unique sense of style who stands out in a sea of trends. It got me thinking that if even Kellie feels this way, we probably all feel that sting of inadequacy when we compare our own wardrobes to the ones on our Instagram feeds.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve engaged in that kind of self-doubt, and I have bought the popular Instagram thing, and, like Kellie, I still feel the need to make excuses for the clothes that don’t “fit in.” But reading Kellie’s post also knocked something loose in me that I didn’t realize I was holding onto: for someone trying to define her own style through responsible fashion, I sure do spend a lot of time trying to look like everyone else.

Ethical fashion is important, but a trend is a trend is a trend, no matter what nice message you package it up in. Responsible fashion doesn’t get a pass in that regard just because it’s disrupting the fast-fashion industry. It has just as much power to make you want to consume, and to make you feel like an outcast if you choose not to.

In my opinion, that’s what makes the 10×10 community such a special and important space. On an average day, you’re scrolling through perfectly photographed blogger after gorgeously staged flat lay, but during the 10×10 challenge, your feed gets flooded with thousands of images of real women living their normal lives – blurry mirror shots and toddler cameos and all. The 10×10 challenge always reminds me that the reason I participate in this community is not to conform to a popular aesthetic, but to explore my own unique style and to develop a more positive relationship with my clothing. I’m not a model or a photographer or an interior designer. I’m a woman who needs to wear clothes. That’s enough. I don’t need anything else to participate in this community except a commitment to responsible consumption.

My Spring 10×10 Challenge

I think you’ve probably all seen enough 10×10 challenge recap posts to last you a lifetime, so I’ll just share a few thoughts on the details of my personal  experience with this challenge.

  • My MVP items were my black silk tee dress from Everlane, and my new Nisolo Mariella Mules (yes, the ones I bought because everyone on Instagram was buying them – no regrets!). My secret 11th item was my pair of black silky sheer tights from Hanes. Once I stopped living in fantasy spring and just embraced the fact that I’d need to wear tights for this challenge, it was much easier.
  • My least worn item was my flax linen skirt, which I only wore once during the 10 days of the challenge. That said, I adore that thing, and I know it will be getting a ton more wear as it finally starts to warm up.
  • I mostly met my goal! My single goal for this challenge was to Actually Do It, without cheating and without skipping a ton of days. I did it pretty much perfectly for 9 days in a row, but the 10th day was 25 degrees below normal here in DC, so I called it.
  • I did not meet my blogging challenge goal (to post one blog post for each day of the challenge), but I wrote about half the posts I wanted to, and that’s still more than I’ve written in the last several years of saying I wanted to write and never actually doing it. I also entered a short story competition during this challenge, which is something I don’t think I would have been so motivated to do if I hadn’t been blogging consistently and working toward developing a regular writing process.

Lastly, two incredible things happened to me yesterday after the culmination of the challenge:

  1. I was selected as one of the 10 winners of the Elizabeth Suzann 10×10 Giveaway. I won a $100 gift card to Elizabeth Suzann, plus three favorite books of hers, Caroline’s (Un-Fancy) and Lee’s (Style Bee). I never, ever win these kinds of things (and I enter an unhealthy amount of Instagram giveaways) so to say I was shocked and excited is the understatement of the year.
  2. Elizabeth Suzann featured my blog on her Instagram stories. And then I died. I mean. Holy cow. This is the biggest thing that’s happened to me, like, ever. This blog is just a little baby passion project of mine. It’s new and unpolished and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want it to be. That Liz read it, praised it, and directed her followers to it was an amazing gift, worth so much more to me than all the ES giftcards in the world. I’m overwhelmed with joy that so many of you ended up here and liked what you read. Please, stick around!

I posted a poll in my Instagram stories yesterday asking people to help me choose between ordering the Harper Tunic or the Clyde Work Pant, and the Clyde pants won in a landslide. Sorry to disappoint all you winning voters, but after much consideration, I’m getting the tunic 🙂

Follow along with me on Instagram for daily outfits & feelings at @goblinshark_ , and to all my new readers, welcome, and thank you!









3 thoughts on “Aesthetic & Authenticity: Spring 10×10 Reflections

  1. UM, WHAT!! You just made my night – it seriously means so much to me that my post resonated with you, because this is how I feel about everything you write! That post was seriously just a stream of consciousness vent session that I didn’t even edit, so it’s sort of humbling to see people relate versus thinking I’m crazy!

    I especially agree with what you say here about trying to look like everyone else. Same problem for me. And isn’t it hard not to try to look like everyone else, when we are surrounded by social media? It is reassuring that we all have a lot of the same challenges and self-doubt sometimes.

    Lastly, regarding your 10×10, nobody deserved that win and shout-out more than you. You are a beautiful, welcoming and inspiring voice in the responsible fashion community, and everyone should be reading what you have to say.


  2. Congratulations! I don’t participate in 10x10s, but I do find myself living out of a suitcase from time to time, which is nearly the same thing. (Except more like a 15×10; I tend to overpack). I am in suitcase mode this week and have a Harper tunic with me, so I can attest you’ll get plenty of use from it. I really, really wanted Clyde pants to work for me but they didn’t. If you’re a trinket hoarder, I think you’ll find the Harper pocket more useful than the Clydes. My Harper pocket is never empty.


  3. Lovely post. I have trouble deciding between the Harper Tunic and Clydes as well. Being Canadian I feel I’d better make the right choice as exchange is ridiculous. Can’t wait to see what you think of the tunic.


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