Lolita Blog Carnival: What Makes A Good Wardrobe Post
This year I didn’t make a wardrobe post. I’ve only bought a few things this year, and I’d much rather do a video and show off my new dressing room once it’s set up. That said, it might be a couple months before we finally finish decorating and furnishing it; still need some more shelves and lighting in there!
But, I have made wardrobe posts in the past, and I have looked at a lot of posts as well. One thing that immediately comes to mind when I hear people mention that they want to do a wardrobe post is the sheer weight of a lolita wardrobe. I mean, look at your closet. Is the closet poll starting to bend? How much weight do you think it takes for that to happen? So, that said, if you want to do a wardrobe post, be prepared to get a work out! It also takes a lot of time. I personally recommend starting in November or December instead of trying to do the whole thing in January.
Consistency between photos is a really big thing, IMHO. You want all your photos to match. So, before you start taking pictures, decide on your set up. You want a relatively clear background, like a blank wall, closet door, corner of your room that is cutely decorated, etc. You also want it to be someplace well lit (or that you can make well lit), and you want it to be a place where you can ideally leave everything set up for a few days, minimum, so you can stop and come back to it.
If you are using a camera (and I recommend a real camera over your phone if possible) make sure to white balance it, and, if possible, put it on a tripod. If there is any chance of the tripod moving, put a couple masking tape marks on the floor for your positions. Then you don’t have to worry about half of your photos having the dresses in a different location.
If you can’t put it on a tripod, or are stuck using your phone, you can make what I call a stupid tripod. What is a stupid tripod you ask? A stupid tripod is a pile of boxes, or books or really anything relatively stable on top of a chair, table, book case, whatever you have around you house. The only rules are that it should be relatively stable and you want it in a good place that you can use it without knocking it over. Place a sheet of white paper on top, and tape it or rubberband it to the top most thing (use your imagination, rig some thing up, I believe in you) and then set your camera on it. Move your camera around until you have what you want in the frame. Then trace around your camera with a pencil. Now, theoretically, as long as you put the camera back in that same spot,
you won’t mess up drawing your ridiculous still life of books and camera your photos will all look alike with the same background so people can focus on the clothes. If you are using your phone, put it in a short cup or bowl on top of this tower. Be careful. Use common sense. (I am not responsible for any damage resulting from a stupid tripod falling over. Please, please, heavy large things on bottom, lighter smaller things on top, stable stack of stuff, ok? Imagine you are building a nest for a rare bird egg, not playing jenga).
If you have a decent camera, zoom out a little. Now, if your camera moves at any time during the shoot, you have more room to crop your images all the same later.
If you have a dress form, things are a lot easier, because you can just dress it. If you don’t, you can try laying things out on a sheet. Pick a plain sheet and try to get it as wrinkle free as possible (You can try taping it to the floor with masking or painters tape). Stand on a chair, and lean down over the sheet. Make sure you aren’t blocking your own light or casting a weird shadow. Look through the camera, and then where ever the corners of what you can see through the camera are on the sheet, put a piece of tape or a small item. This way, every time you look through the camera, you just have to line up each corner of your view with the tape marks / items. Crop these out later, but as long as you line up with them each time, they will make it so that all your photos are at the same angle / zoom level.
Don’t be afraid to bring in a few extra lamps from another room and use them to give your setup more light if you are using indoor lighting. I’ve totally had lamps on chairs, or tables, or even kitchen counters. Note: Mixing sunlight and lamps will give you a weird light color on one side if it’s not even, so I recommend sticking with one or the other.
When setting up, always start with your longest dress (or longest skirt + blouse combo, or coat). It’s really easy to set everything up for a normal length dress, then you get to that one piece that is long and it doesn’t fit in the frame and then it throws everything off.
If you are making coordinates, or at least pairing blouses or cardigans with skirts or JSKs, take inventory first and figure out if you have an even number. If you are using a dress form, I personally prefer the look of a blouse + skirt pair over a bare top / bottom and separate blouse / skirt photos.
If your dress form is smaller than you are and it’s causing things to look frumpy, grab some clothespins, or any kind of pin or clip that won’t damage your fabric, and pin back the fabric to give items more of a shape. You can see a somewhat extreme version of this above at the waist of the blouses. I probably pulled these in too much, but you get the idea. Tightening corset lacing and tying waist ties can help as well. However, if you aren’t taking photos of the backs of things, you don’t have to tie them pretty, just tie them any which way so you can’t see the waist ties / corset lacing. Your closet isn’t going to judge you, conserve your energy.
Speaking of looking frumpy, there is nothing worse than doing your whole wardrobe in a beautiful set up and then realizing everything is looks like it’s been balled up on the floor for 6 months. Iron or steam things as you go; wrinkles make things look cheap and like you don’t take care of your clothes. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrinkled because it’s just been washed; people are going to assume it lives in a pile under your bed. I own a cheap travel steamer, and it’s wonderful to work with (plus you can travel with them, what’s not to love?).
Lint rolling things is also a good idea, especially if you have a lot of dark colored clothing and/or if you own a pet. Spending time editing out hair in photoshop after you take photos is pretty much the last thing I want to do by the time I’m done taking photos.
For small accessories, and shoes, I recommend taking photos of multiple things at once to save time and sanity. Decide how you want to group them (by color? by style? by type?) and sort them into groups. When displaying them, if you have cute storage containers, you can use those containers to display the items. If you don’t, placing boxes or books under a solid colored sheet can give you a multi-level display area. If you put a cardboard shipping box under a sheet, you can even poke sewing pins into it to hold things up.
If you have an item you can’t display without propping it up with something un-cute, consider taking a picture of the setup without any items in it, and then, without moving the camera, take a photo with the item. You can then layer these photos in photoshop and cut out what you used to prop up the stubborn item.
Don’t be afraid to use cute props like stuffed animals, tea cups, jewelry boxes, etc to help you display your items. As long as the prop doesn’t steal center stage, it can be a great way to help show off things that don’t look their best flat on the ground.
When posting things, edit all your photos to be roughly the same size, and consider editing multiple photos into a single thumbnail image if your wardrobe is too big to post on your platform of choice (LJ has a text limit, sadly). For mine, I do each row of items in the post as a single image.
One final tip: this is the best time to cull your closet. You are dragging out every single thing you own and photographing it. If there are things you are iffy on, or don’t want, this is a great time to inspect them, take a couple extra photos, and then list them on lacemarket. It’s also a great time to take inventory of what you have; if you have 20 pairs or purple shoes, and 1 purple dress, for example, it might be time for some of those shoes to make their way to new owners (or for you to buy 19 more purple dresses, hey, I won’t judge). Or, on the flip side, you might notice you own a lot of things that would go great with a pink blouse, but you don’t own one. Make a list of things you want to add / remove from your closet and address it later. It’s also a great time to check for items that may need to be cleaned (for example accessories that may have tarnished) or need repairs. Make a list and tackle those things after the wardrobe post too.
Above all, have fun with it, and if you don’t finish by the “deadline”, don’t stress it. Post a partial post, or post late; it’s all good. And don’t get too hung up on comparing your closet to other people’s either!