It’s a funny thing being a style blogger; while you generally stick to your own style, and don’t go out of your way to dress in something you’d never wear normally, you also tend to make your “going to blog this” outfits a little… extra. As if everyone who comes to read your blog to see your style won’t actually want to see your style. I realize that I often fall into the trap of thinking each photoshoot has to be better than the last. Each outfit has to be the best outfit, each location has to be the most  beautiful, each post has to be the most exciting one.

I think part of this has to do with social media. As someone who works on making her hobby (blogging) something beneficial as well, it’s often hard not to focus on the numbers. It’s hard not to be discouraged when a follower count doesn’t budge for a few weeks, when blog hits don’t rise beyond the average, when you’re working hard to hit a goal but it seems like that goal is just too far off.

Grace Karin sent me a dress for review. All opinions are my own. 

So you start almost unconsciously trying to make every outfit flashier, fancier, more unique, more fun, more beautiful… the list goes on. And when an outfit or a photoshoot doesn’t go quite as planned, you almost don’t see the good in what you’ve produced because your expectations were far too high.

That’s where I was with this shoot and this outfit. This beautiful maroon dress from Grace Karin paired so perfectly with my new Bicycle For Two flats from Banned, and I was so excited to take photos. The outfit itself is actually quite everyday, but felt elevated with the teal-and-maroon combination, the flower basket brooch and earrings, and the absolutely adorable shoes. I was dreaming of photographing somewhere green and lush, perhaps by a big tree, and capturing a picnic-esque quality with these photos.

But then my husband suggested this arbor behind a large common building at a local park we were at, and I thought… might as well try it. After all, an arbor is still flower-related, and I knew that the park generally had very nicely groomed landscaping. 

What I didn’t realize was that the parking lot just outside of this area was about to be flooded as tons of people went to their cars, chatted, and generally got ready to wind down fro a local kids’ baseball game. I didn’t realize I was photographing right in plain sight of a rush of teenagers. I didn’t expect that the sunlight, which had been a perfect golden hour just minutes before, would disappear behind the clouds and leave the sky feeling cold. And the location, while perfectly fine, was not the lush green I had imagined. The more pictures I took, the more I felt like things just weren’t working out.

When I got home and looked at these photos, all I could think about was how uncomfortable I had been, how disappointed I was that these were not the cute, picnic-at-the-park style photos I had wanted, how dull the light felt compared to my previous weekend of being able to shoot in beautiful morning light and perfect golden hour glow. So I set them aside and thought… I’ll just recreate this outfit and re-shoot the photos some other day. Maybe with better hair, or better makeup, in a cuter location. After all, each post has to be better than the last, right? And after that photoshoot with the flowering trees, these just felt so blah to me. 

But the thing is, they’re actually not bad photos. The photographer in me is disappointed that they weren’t at the location I had in mind, but objectively they’re fine. The outfit, I love. For how much more everyday it is, for how comfortable this dress is, for how relaxed I look wearing it. Sure, it’s not that glamorous pinup style that one sees all over Instagram, but it’s my style. And isn’t that what this blog is about? I very rarely post outfits I don’t actually wear, but even so it’s hard not to get caught up in “new, better, fancier” as a blogger.

So I decided not to re-shoot, and to use these photos just as they are. I  may look a little uncomfortable, but it may just be my own feelings from the day projecting onto how I see these photos.  

I know this post has been entirely about photos, so let’s move on and talk about the dress! Grace Karin is one of my favorite reproduction brands on Amazon. They have their own website full of even more beauties, and never fail to produce pretty, comfortable, and well-made garments that I find myself reaching for over and over again. They’re perfect especially for everyday wear as a mom, because they’ve got some stretch and are easily washable, which is always a bonus!

This pretty wine-colored dress, with its keyhole tie back and full skirt, became an instant favorite for just how comfortable it really is! It has more stretch than some of my other Grace Karin dresses — who also head the Belle Poque and Kate Kasin brands — but it’s still supportive and holds its shape well. And at $30 per dress or under, they’re wildly affordable. If you are looking to grow your vintage wardrobe with easy-to-wear everyday pieces, I highly recommend Grace Karin!

You can see more of my Grace Karin dresses here: this floral number which remains one of my favorites, this pretty orange-and-red dress, the cutest veggie-print frock, this Wednesday-Addams-esque outfit… 

And I have more in my closet that I’ve never photographed for the blog! As you can see, Grace Karin fills my closet and I’m always looking at more to buy. Do you have a favorite budget retro brand? I’d love to know about it!

Dress, c/o Grace Karin | flats, via BST group | headscarf, brooch, and earrings, thrifted | belt, from another dress