Opinion: In defence of royal fashion finders

Our Europe Correspondent, Heaven LeeMiller, defends those who research the style of the royals and report on them.

Over the past few months, a lot of accusations have been thrown online and mostly on social media about royal fashion bloggers. The most recurring one is that royal fashion bloggers don’t care about the work of the royals or the causes they defend. They sometimes even imply that royal fashion bloggers are just dumb fans of a specific royal, unable of having an objective opinion about said royal and being shallow because they only care about fashion. These people often say that it’s the royal fashion bloggers’ fault if the newspapers’ headlines are always about what a royal woman is wearing instead of the event because royal fashion bloggers don’t care about the event. They also don’t understand how royal fashion bloggers could “waste so much time” doing something as “silly” and “insignificant” as looking for clothes online unless fashion bloggers are so-called fanatics.

Well, I’m the proof that these accusations are wrong. I can’t say that every royal fashion blogger is not a dumb fanatic, but I can say that, in my experience, 99% are not what these accusations depict.

They are not dumb fanatics, unable of being objective and critical of the royals they cover. They are not “wasting their time”; they’re spending their time doing what they love, just like someone with a different hobby would. They do care about the events the royals are attending and the causes they defend.

I am a royal fashion blogger, working at UFONoMore and write about Princess Marie on Princess Marie’s Closet, and I also care deeply about the events and not just about fashion. I also am a Europe Correspondent here at Royal Central. Every post I write on my blog about Princess Marie is 3/4 about the event and only 1/4 fashion. I spend countless hours emailing Kongehuset and the organisations hosting the events Princess Marie attends in order to have more information about the event and the cause so that both my post on Princess Marie’s Closet and Royal Central are informative enough for readers. This means that readers learn more about Princess Marie’s work and the work of the organisations.

I make tweet identifications for other royal ladies on my Twitter account, and usually I can’t provide a full description of the event because I only have 140 characters BUT if someone asks me more about the event, I know I can redirect this person to articles, reports or websites that will be helpful to them. Unfortunately, this rarely happens, and that is NOT the royal fashion blogger’s fault.

I once received an email telling me that I was talking too much about the event in my post and that it was an inconvenience that I was only talking about what Princess Marie wore that day at the end of the post. This was because that person had to scroll down the article as they didn’t care about the event; they only wanted the fashion information. I answered that I would not change the way I write my posts because for me the events are more important than fashion. But nowadays, people are interested in the style more than the events, and that is not the royal fashion blogger’s fault.

If a person is a royal fashion blogger, it’s because they love fashion but also because they love royals. They could blog about the style of celebrities and only have to care about what gown or suit they are wearing. However, that’s not what royal fashion finders want. As a whole, they care about the causes the royals are promoting; they care about the events the royals attend. I write about both, the royal fashion bloggers I work with write about both, the royal fashion blogs I read do, too.

Yes, I can spend hours looking for something Crown Princess Victoria, Crown Princess Mary or the Duchess of Cambridge wore. Yes, I can spend weeks/months/years looking for something Crown Princess Mette-Marit wore six years ago. But it’s not “wasting my time.” It’s not “being a dumb fanatic.” It’s “not having a life” or “being a 12-years-old.” It’s spending my time doing what I love. Because the satisfaction of finding something nobody has found before, after countless hours of looking for it, is incredible. Because I discovered things about fashion, I never knew before. Because fashion houses like Valentino answer my emails very kindly. Because Danish fashion house Ole Yde told me in 2015 that Crown Princess Mette-Marit wore their design at Crown Princess Victoria’s wedding in 2010 but that every media thought it was Pucci and YDE, so it was never rightfully credited. So I tweeted the info five years later to the surprise of everyone, and it felt so right to give them back the credit they deserved. Because I met terrific people, and we have a fantastic community. It’s also because every royal wedding, every christening, every significant royal anniversary is the perfect occasion to reunite everyone and be amazed by both the fashion and the close links between the families, as well as royal history.

Being a royal fashion blogger doesn’t mean a person cannot be critical and objective. Royal fashion reporters can say when they like an outfit or not. They can criticise the cost of an outfit or tell why they aren’t fond of it.

One day, a fellow royal fashion blogger, who became my closest friend in the royal fashion world, Sarah from The Royals And I, came to me and said she had that dream about a website that would contain both the clothes, shoes, bags and accessories worn by the royal ladies and the events from years ago that people forgot about or didn’t know about if they weren’t following the royals back then. That’s how UFO No More was created, and it is the proof that we care about both the events and the fashion. That’s the whole point of the website, reporting on past events and fashion.

This year, we continued something we had started to do last year – tallies. We have totals for the royal ladies we see the most and how much they spend. This way we can post this information, comment and make them available for our readers to make their own opinions about them. We also have tallies of the numbers of days worked based on their calendar for some of the royal families (not all of them but we currently have tallies for the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish royal families as well as for Princess Charlene of Monaco and Queen Letizia of Spain). The numbers of days worked of the British Royal Family are already well documented by other sources.

Fashion finders are not fanatics who gush over royal ladies no matter what they wear. They all have different opinions. A royal fashion blogger posting about an outfit doesn’t necessarily mean they like it. They’re just staying objective and reporting about an event and an outfit.

Royal fashion bloggers are not the reason people are more interested in fashion than the events; they’re the result of that shift. People know where to go to read what they want. Readers are not children; they decide what they want and don’t want to read.

So far, I have been talking about my work, my experience working with other royal fashion bloggers and reading royal fashion blogs, but I thought I should ask other royal fashion finders what their thoughts and experience on this matter was.

Everyone agreed that, as I said, the reason there are so many royal fashion blogs is that they are in demand, as people want to read about fashion more than they want to learn about the event and the work. We all have the same overall structure in our posts; we talk about the event and the cause first, link to some informative websites or stories or the organisation’s website, before talking about the fashion at the end of the post. This way, even people who are not interested in the event will have to catch a few words while they are scrolling down. It might not seem like much, but there is nothing else that can be done. People can’t force readers to read about the event if they don’t want to, but at least, those in the royal fashion world know we care. We know we put the information out there. So if people don’t care about events, it’s not our fault; as was mentioned before, these fashion findings are a result of a shift by readers.

Here is what WhatKateWore said to me: “One of the nicest things about doing What Kate Wore is all of the friends I have made, including many I have been fortunate enough to meet in person. There are a lot of terrific people in the blogging community, and they have been of immeasurable help over the years. Most of us are friends and do what we can to help each other out whenever possible. Having said that, there are have also been some not-so-fabulous experiences. Occasionally there will be a nasty tweet or Facebook post asking “why don’t you get a life,” or “quit picking on the Duchess, what she wears is none of your business,” that sort of thing. There have also been critics saying we should be writing about Kate’s charities. That one doesn’t bother me because I am comfortable with the amount of coverage we dedicate to Kate’s patronages and charitable efforts. I know our readers have learned about many issues and charities important to the Duchess as well as William and Harry, things we would never have known about were it not for covering the Duchess. On one occasion a group of Kate style and fashion bloggers teamed up to raise money for EACH; this was a month-long effort that raised more than $500. Another thing I do in almost every post is links to the organisations being covered at Kate’s engagements. That can be extraordinarily time-consuming, but I think it is important to offer people links. You never know the impact of just one click: it might be something that helps a reader, or it could raise awareness about an issue or event; it might even result in a donation. The reality is that Kate’s charities have a higher profile in some quarters precisely because of the fashion blogs.”

Yes, royal fashion finders could always do better, but as a whole, they are trying their best. In my opinion, this kind of criticism is so unfair. Making royal fashion bloggers responsible for the fact that the interest in the work is lost is also unfair. Most royal fashion bloggers aren’t just “royal fashion bloggers.” They are first and foremost royal bloggers. They report about the events, the work, the causes and, yes, the fashion, too.

When we read tweets saying that this Princess, Duchess or Queen should have worn a repeated outfit, a different colour to make sure that the attention will stay on the event, this is not accurate. Because no matter what a royal woman wears, the headlines in the newspapers and the some of the readers’ interest will not be on the event. Unfortunately, the attention will be focused on her clothes, hair, bump if she is pregnant or if there are speculations that she might be pregnant, the way she walked and so on. Is that the entire fault of the royal fashion finders? No. It’s just what the interest is in right now, whether we agree with it or not. This is not only for royal ladies but most of the women in their daily life.

Fashion reporters always try to do better in their coverage; I can say for sure that they are always open to criticism that might help them improve their posts. A lot of the royal fashion bloggers I spoke to said they noticed a shift in the past few months as people seem to think they can tell us how to manage our blogs and what we should or shouldn’t do. People seem to believe that they can go on Twitter, criticise us and accuse us of the lack of real coverage in newspapers without providing any proof. That’s wrong. You might disagree, and that is your right to do so. You might not like a Princess we’re covering, and you might admit that whatever she does, you will never like her. That’s fine, too.

So, what’s the point of attacking royal fashion bloggers? I saw tweets addressed to us “fashionistas” asking if we would still follow the Duchess of Cambridge if it weren’t for her clothes. I know I would, and I know the UFONoMore team would. I also know the royal fashion blogs about the Duchess of Cambridge would, as well. Would the readers continue to read our blogs if we weren’t covering their fashion? I’m not sure about that.

Another tweet said that it “is the royal fashion followers who demean the Royal Family.” Isn’t that a huge responsibility to put on bloggers who are just sharing their hobby with their readers? You don’t see people criticising cinema bloggers and saying they are demeaning the film industry with their positive or negative reviews or how they focus on the photography more than the scenario and vice versa.

Despite all of this, I never thought for one second that I would stop blogging about royals. But that happened on 12 November. I received a hateful and cruel direct message on Twitter, and while I won’t tell the story again here, as I feel I have talked about it enough on Twitter, it was the first time that I thought “that’s it, I can’t do it anymore”. Because the things said took it too far. At the end of the day, royal fashion blogs are the easiest way to criticise royals, and unfortunately, people don’t seem to realise that behind every royal fashion blog, there are real human beings, with feelings, who are just doing what they love and who have real, personal opinions.

It is essential, too that I make clear that I’m not saying royal fashion bloggers should not be criticised. Constructive criticism is great and helpful, and we can all disagree with someone and explain it clearly and nicely. However, using royal fashion finders to spread your dislike, or even your hatred, of a royal is not okay, and it will never be.