Friday, April 23, 2010

Blogging and Mentorship

I've been thinking a lot lately about the things that I love about having this blog, and what keeps me posting day after day. Today I thought I'd share some of that with you, but to do so I will first tell you a little bit about my job, which I rarely discuss here but which is nevertheless relevant to the way I feel about blogging.

One of my favorite things that I do at work is mentoring other people. Unfortunately with mentoring, the better you do it the less and less you're needed to, because the people you mentor eventually become independent and no longer need your guidance. I suppose this is how parents must feel as their kids grow up; sure it's gratifying to watch them accomplish things on their own, but it's bittersweet because there's nothing more to teach them.

But even when my mentees (is that a word?) at work no longer regularly need my advice, they still bring me moments of real satisfaction in my job when they show me what the mentorship has allowed them to accomplish. What I provide is not expert advice, it's just the seeds of my knowledge and experience that someone else can nurture and develop in their own way. Mentorship is a collaboration between two capable people who care about the same thing. That glimmer of an idea that I might provide is taken away and developed into something better and more complete, like a wave that pulls away from the shore and comes back bearing something polished and beautiful. This is in many ways far more satisfying than the feeling of simply being needed.

That, I think, is what draws me to this daily discussion about style and fashion. I'm clearly not an expert; I'm just someone who has a passion for it and has been dressing myself with varying degrees of success for several decades. The little kernels I throw out there, in the form of daily outfits or mini tutorials, are meant to spark the innate talents of the people who pick them up, and are meant to be interpreted in as many different ways as there are readers.

And like the mentoring I do at work, the most satisfying moments are when someone tells me about how they experimented with an idea they got from this blog and how great it made them feel or the compliments they received. Or how they've started to take more of an interest in their style, or are getting better use out of the clothes they have by combining them in new ways. Sure it's flattering to be asked for advice, but it's better still to hear that someone has taken an idea and run with it, transforming their wardrobe to suit their own unique lifestyle and taste, and developed their own skills in the process.

Not everyone who comes here needs any advice at all, of course. Perhaps you prefer to scan through the pictures for inspiration and don't often stop to read the text, or maybe you just enjoy the amusement of peeking into a wardrobe that is the polar opposite of your own. Quite possibly you're here to chuckle at whatever train wreck of an outfit I've put together today, and that's fine too. But the opportunity to provide other people with ideas that can ignite their own creativity, whatever direction it takes, is the thing that keeps me interested in this blog and is what keeps me posting day after day.

Today's outfit:
Dress: Forla Paris
Cardigan: Max Studio
Scarf: a boutique in San Luis Obispo
Belt: Oscar de la Renta
Boots (new!): Bronx


Anonymous said...

You've inspired me (a great deal) to wake up the creativity I used to employ when getting "dressed." It's becoming a lot more fun to be me :-)


Anonymous said...

I love this post, Audi! It's so well written and thoughtful. I love your blog and am constantly inspired by your style. Though, if we put our closets side by side, I don't think we'd have many identical pieces, you always make me think differently and see my closet with fresh eyes. And that's a thrill! So thank you for that and for this post.

And I love the new boots! The buckles are fantastic, and I love their placements. The polka-dot scarf was the perfect touch, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Andromeda said...

Well, between you and the Academichics, I wore a skirt over a dress the other day :). I felt pretty awesome about it too.

Andromeda said...

Skirt UNDER a dress, I mean...too much homework, no brain left today.

Mikaela said...

I love your blog! I read it for fashion inspiration, it spurs me to be more creative with my own choices.

I have more fun with fashion now that I spend more time thinking about it, and experimenting with different looks.

I always love the way you put things together, and I second that, amazing boots!!

Michelle said...

I don't comment that often, but I do love your blog! I think my favorite thing about it is that you regularly mention non-fashion things, and you break down why each outfit works. Like science. (Umm, yeah, can you tell why a blog named Fashion for Nerds would appeal?!)

Poppy Buxom said...

My big moment of pride was when I guy I sat next to at a dinner party told me he was following my instructions on moisturizing his skin. A guy! I felt that was quite a coup.

But I guess for you, blogging is like an apprenticeship; the apprenticeship is over when the student brings the master something he's made, which surpasses anything the master taught him.

So ... um ... I'll let you know when I think I'm more pulled together than you. ::cough::neverhappen::cough::

Ashe Mischief said...

This post was lovely. <3

ardenkatherine said...

You inspire me so much to dress creatively. Before I browsed through your outfit posts I was in such a fashion rut. I'm a university student (in biology) so I don't have a lot of money to afford clothes. I'm slowly learning how to combine what I have into something fashionable and creative.
So anyways, keep inspiring!

the cheap chick said...

Thank you for this well-written post! Your words made my morning, and expressed exactly what is beautiful about blogging.

Raquelita said...

I often come to your blog for inspiration and just to see what you're wearing. I also really enjoy reading it because it is well-written and thoughtful. I would imagine that you are an incredible mentor to have, and those who work with you are very lucky, as are we in the style blogging community, to have you.

Sarah said...

I subscribed to your blog because I love the way you dress. It inspires me to put things together in ways I never think of. Actually I covet most of your closet. <>

susan said so said...

You are definitely a mentor to me; I've learned things from your how-to's that I'd been circling around for years! Your blog is one AHA! moment after another...


C said...

You've hit the nail right on the head, Audi. It's precisely the back and forth, mentor-mentee relationship that makes the fashion and style blogging world so dynamic, slightly addictive, and totally fun. Lovely post.

Rad said...

I love your style, especially the fact that you are so creative and unique. I also love that you do this in an industry that is not known for its sartorial daringness.
It's funny, sometimes when I am trying to put together an outfit, different bloggers come to mind. Right now, I have this homemade vintage prairie dress with vague Edwardian elements (high collar, ruffles) and I am challenging you as I try to figure out how to style it without looking like The Color Purple. I know that you could figure out a way to make something like that modern and edgy. I also bought a thicker belt (encouraged by friends) and also thought of your unique style.

scicurious said...

I love what you wear, I've been taking a lot of your advice to heart (though I still can't do the big belts high on the waist, they're uncomfortable to me). You've given me a lot of confidence to try new things in fashion.

And a friend told me the other day when we were going out "I didn't know what to wear! You're so fashionable..." *blush*

Stephanie N. said...

Thank you for mentoring me, Audi. I've never thought of it that way before, but it's true. I have a 2.5-week trip to Bulgaria and Turkey coming up in a couple of weeks, and I have been so excited about using what I've learned from you about packing for travel!

Janer said...

I do often just look at the pics - you always put together something fantastic and I go away inspired!
Today, I'm very glad that I read your post too. This is what community and expression is about. And you're an excellent mentor and writer, Audi!