I think it was supposed to be a compliment.
Dress ~ Loft Outlet 50% Off Dress Sale $19.99
Nine West Wedges ~ Ross Dress for Less earlier this year
MMD Button Flower ~ Megan Mae Daily
Fox ring ~ thrifted on business trip to Wilmington, NC
I'm Not Vain, Just Showin' that Older Women Love Style, Too
You'll also know that for years I've been making recommendations for reasonably priced conservative career clothing within legal and office staffers' budgets, initially spurred by Corporette's clothing recommendations for "overachieving chicks" with MBAs and JDs. I love the guidelines and inspiration for office fashion, but many of the daily personal shopping recommendations are for items of clothing that cost more than my mortgage or car payment.
Fox ring thrifted from A Second Time Around in Wilmington, NC
Then I started looking for more realistic style blogs to follow, seeking real women showing their daily work wardrobes, sharing re-mixing tips and suggestions to stretch a clothing budget. I quickly discovered it was real hard to find women past their 30s blogging about their daily office style. That's when I decided that maybe I should put my budget career clothing recommendations where my wardrobe is, because maybe other older recessionistas were looking for style bloggers more like themselves.
I also discovered thrifting from other style bloggers, and learned that much of the time my entire work outfit could cost less than $50 - and feature items of clothing that while still conservative-office appropriate, are much more interesting, well-made, and from designers and labels I previously could not afford.
But the Old Camera Wasn't Up to Snuff
I started taking outfit photos with my older Canon PowerShot (look at all the hair in this post, sometimes I miss it so much!), but quickly realized that I wasn't getting the image quality I wanted. Not that I'm a model or the most stylish middle-aged woman on the planet, but I've always loved art, both looking at it and making it. Photography is just another artistic media for me. I also realized that the style bloggers I enjoy the most have pretty good cameras, and take pretty good photos.
My family is on a limited budget, but last fall, Dear Hubby, the technological genius and Absent-Minded Professor, agreed we could upgrade to our first DSLR camera. After setting a budget and doing the research, we bought a Nikon D3100 from Best Buy, which came with the standard 18-55mm VR lens.
But what should have been an oh-happy-day experience turned into buyer's remorse. I still wasn't getting an image quality consistent with the new camera investment. Close-up photos were great; people pictures not so much. Part of my style blogger limitations include having to take photos on the fly, often inside during cold or rainy weather. Much of the time, the whole process takes less than 10 minutes, setting up the tripod and grabbing a few pics in my actual office. Low light was not my friend, no matter how many blinds I opened, or lamps I turned on. There was visual distortion in most of my pics that drove me bananas, even though my family insisted they couldn't see what I was seeing.
What this Middle-Aged Recessionista Needed Was a New Lens
After about ten months of pure frustration, I went back to the drawing board. I felt like we'd made too much of an investment in the Nikon D3100 to give it up. I started asking people who were technologically-inclined, and/or better photographers what they recommended. Everyone recommended a new lens specifically for portraits and people pictures, but some of the lenses were in price ranges that cost as much or more than the camera.
My gorgeous mom striking a style blogger pose.
I did some more research online, especially about Nikon lenses preferred by wedding photographers, and then noticed that one of my favorite bloggers, Kasmira at What I Wore 2 Day, often uses a AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens, and gets consistently beautiful pictures. (Of course it helps that she is also stunningly beautiful.) This lens is also in the lower end of the price range, and I had a Best Buy coupon for an additional discount.
I was sitting in the recliner, and Sasha Jane was on top of it when I took this.
I picked up my new camera lens yesterday, and took a ton of test people and cat pictures while the family was over celebrating the holiday. The improved quality of the photos was the equivalent of fireworks for me. I am thrilled with the purchase. Not a single photo in this post has been edited, other than cropping. The artist in me is happy, and the budget career style blogger is pleased to take this blogging venture to a new level.
Sasha Jane is beautiful, and she knows it.
What do you guys think? Can you see the difference between the standard kit lens and the 35mm f/1.8 lens?
Related Posts: Practical Paralegalism's Top 20 Style Blogs; Three Paralegal Style Bloggers You'll Love