Hey! Quick update from the HNJ HQ. I was feeling really verbose about this a half second ago and was going to do a whole separate post about it, but then I'm not sure I feel so verbose about it anymore, so I'll get straight to the point here instead. 

I was really glad--and surprised to feel glad, because I also felt really disappointed--by the comments in this post. Not disappointed at you, disappointed at me. 

When I wrote these posts at Babble, everything seemed different. People loved them, I loved them, a good time was had by all. Oh but life was so simple back in 2011 ;). (I'm kidding.) I quit Babble to work on my book, and in the course of the year and change that I spent turning myself inside out to write what I feel is ultimately the most meaningful fluff that I've ever written, I started to re-evaluate just about everything I had always thought that I'd believed. Such as: that quantity was better than quality; that making others happy was better than making myself happy; that the things I had been taught to be true were necessarily true by mere virtue of the fact that somebody else believed them to be true. It was a really painful, excruciatingly beautiful year, and I came out of it with a much better idea of what was important to me, and of how I wanted to live my life. It was like finding a high-speed elevator when you'd been trudging too slowly up the stairs for too long.

It was kind of a tumultuous year for the blog, too, and I know I alienated a lot of readers. Readers who liked the "old Natalie." And I feel that, guys, I feel that. Even though I was Natalie Jean wayyyy before I was Nat The Fat Rat, if we're being stupid and particular about things. Anyway.

I was wrong, this is SO the textbook definition of verbose. Nice one. 

Anyway. I brought these posts back because a lot of my readers asked me to. I probably get three or more emails a week about those old Forever 21 posts. "I know you don't shop there anymore but it would SO help a new mom transitioning between wardrobes if you'd do them again." "I know you don't shop there anymore, but they were so fun to read! Please bring them back!" Please note I am not blaming these rad people for anything, nor would I want to. I made the decision ultimately. I mean, I missed them too. They're hella fun. They were also a small help in the income department, and I'd be lying if I didn't tell you the straight truth: the Holbrooks can't comfortably afford private pre-k. BUT OH WELL, CONTRACTS.

After talking it over with many people in my life who know me well and who thought me ridiculous for not continuing to write them all along, I decided to bring them back. I hoped it'd make everybody happy, including my husband who sometimes asks, "hey are you getting another paycheck anytime soon?" So I wrote one. It didn't feel right, but it also didn't feel wrong. So I wrote a second one. The second one felt wrong. It was fun, I was proud of the entertainment quality, but I didn't like looking at it. So I published my Friday post earlier than I normally would have so it wouldn't be at the top of the page anymore. And then I tried to forget it and figured it would be more fun than not and that life would go on. But a few of you chimed in to say that it also felt wrong to you. And listen, I am so glad that you did. My biggest failing in this life is not trusting my gut, and needing validation for feelings that I should feel perfectly confident in feeling. So, and I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I needed your input to solidify this one for me, and I'm so glad that I got it. But I'm also sorry that I felt I needed it in the first place? Wouldn't it be fun to be all perfect and junk? Maybe next time. Anyway, those posts just don't fit here anymore, and while I can't say I wish I hadn't done them (personal growth! two thumbs up!) I can also say that I definitely wish I hadn't done them.

So. I want to apologize, truly, for seeming disingenuous or hypocritical. I hear you, I agree with you. If it counts for anything, though my actions may have been both, my motives were neither. The people-pleasing side of me sure hopes you know that, while the me that I always hope to believe I am is confident enough in knowing that I am just a person doing her best with good intentions and that's all that matters. But hell, the ship done sailed on that one in this case. 

Anyway, I won't be continuing with this series. And to those readers who loved them and wanted more of them: I think you are rad, no matter where you shop or why. I do want to find a way to do something similar in the future, somehow, in a way that better aligns with the values I hold dear. I shouldn't expect to separate "entertainment" from "responsibility," and I feel badly that I tried. 

(You might be happy to know, this whole situation has pushed me to finally confront my diet soda habit. Because that just doesn't fit anymore, either. As much as it sincerely hurts my feelings to admit  it. :) I told this to Brandon just now; he says, "Yeahhhh I'll believe it when I see it.")

Anyway, that's it! Original post below, comments still up, lots of love for you in my chest.


It's Thursday, "the day before the day before Valentime's," as Huck likes pointing out, and at the very top of my to-do list, right after publishing this post, is buying bananas. I feel like, of all the fruits, you know? And readying the house for a photo shoot. And decluttering the bathroom. And laundry! Crap. Laundry. Also! I just glanced out the window just now and saw all these fat snowflakes falling peacefully to the dingy sidewalk below. "Huck, it's snowing!" I said, and then Huck shouted in response, "It's Christmas again!" That's cute.

So let's do it!
What YOU Should Be Buying At Forever 21 RIGHT NOW. Hit it!

Let's start off here with something terribly practical. Aren't these pretty?

Okay, I want to wear this always. I'd also much appreciate her hair. Share with us your secrets, F21 model!!

This would fall under the clothing category Brandon likes to fondly call "table cloth shirts." But I have a testimony of table cloth shirts, so there's that.

Not that I wish to condone such things, but I'm somewhat drawn to those shorts, and I'm not sure why. Oh no wait,  I know why! Nevernudes. Tobias Funke! Okay carry on.
Like Karen Walkers, only, like, 200 fewer dollars.
Anything that looks like my kid could have made it for me at school, and I'm in.
No, just give it a minute. You're starting to see it, right? With saddle shoes? Osh Kosh B'Gosh?

Dreamy. Wear it to bed, wear it to the beach, wear it to a party, ideally all in the same day, wouldn't that be fun?

Accessories are going to be key here. Giant macaroni noodle necklace, and then haphazardly roll those sleeves up a bit. Beat up tote bag and sandals. Wait, what season are we even in, anyway? Too soon too soon!

Mental institution-chic.

Okay can I BE her? Her shoes are cute too.

I happen to know for a fact that Madewell makes this exact dress just about every year, and just about every year, it sells out in maybe ten minutes. Oh, hey! See? (And that dress up there, too!)

Did we know this was happening? Are we losing Forever 21 to legitimacy now?

It's never too early to start planning for jumpsuit season.

Hey cute.

The little dip in the back hem, the pom poms, the button back, this is loooovely. The kind of summer tank that instantly polishes up your ratty old cutoffs and makes you look completely unstudied and fresh.

Basics basics basics basics.


Joey Potter would wear this. Just saying.


I have a few Alexander Wang t-shirt dresses that I scored on eBay that I love to death, but this one comes with bonus scoop back!


It's been a few summers since I wore skirts with any real regularity, but when I did, my blush-y pleated midi skirt was the one I'd reach for most. The most versatile thing in the world, this skirt.

I have to stop thinking about summer, but this dress and some brown gladiator sandals would really do it for me. Anybody going on tropical vacation any time soon so I can dress vicariously through you?

Why should a LBD ever cost anything more than twenty-three bucks? This is kind of perfect.

Oh okay, so this I could actually wear right now.

Cute shorts, good hair. Pockets! Good pockets are key.

Right? The whole thing.

I really love this light wash and those slanted pockets. Good detailing, two thumbs up.

Okay wait. Salmon . . .

Olive . . .
Khaki! There are even more colors, too! I always look stupid in these kinds of pants, so if you get a pair, wear them in my honor.

Far more expensive Madewell version in three . . . two . . . one . . . blammo.

Peach! And pink! And red! And . . . zaggy shapes!

Okay let's see beyond the horrible styling here and the awkward fit and imagine you bought this in your actual size, and you cinched the waist enough to create a bit of blousing on the top, and you're wearing it with bangle-y bracelets. Or, like, a kick ass head scarf. Unbutton that top button, too, what were they thinking with this one? Those shoes!?

Lady Mary shirt.

Electric blue! BTW, high waisted bikini bottoms, in case you haven't hand an encounter with them yet, are life changing.

Basics basics basics basics.

This backpack is all you'll need this summer. Slung over one shoulder like Angela Chase, beat up and a little bit dirty and all slouchy and stuff. Put all your diapers and back up onesies in this sucker, amazing.

Should you be feeling more Marilyn Manson-y this summer, here's this!


Boyfriend jeans, distressed straight leg jeans, whatever you want to call them, that pre-rolled ankle is what makes this version special. Good wash, too. Cute  top, too! But I couldn't find it online. But I wanted to!

This is the thing, is I know this is hideous. I know you'd feel like Colonel Sanders in it, and I know I know I know, but I can't help myself. I love it. I'm trying to come up with a way where you could pull it off and not feel stupid. I haven't found it yet, but dammit, I will.

You and me both.


Classic tee and a classic outfit and SOCKS WITH BROGUES.

This borders on silly and cheesy but I think that's why I like it.

Put the fedora DOWN.

I really really like these.

If I could wave a magic wand and make this top white, or even gray, that would be cool.

Three times as expensive Madewell version coming up in three . . . two . . . one . . . kick it!

I think the killer styling is fooling me here, but this whole thing speaks to me for some reason.

Good hair, cute sunglasses, disaffected pout, nailed it.

I want to go to Florida and wear this. Or guest star in an episode of Three's Company and wear this.

I didn't hunt around long enough to make sure all 26 letters are represented here, so if your name starts with M you are in luck, and if not, sorry I was too lazy to help you out. But, pretty, right? Also bonus points for making me want to put on some eye shadow.

The flared jean is the big trend this spring, and the good thing about flared jeans if you're short is you can wear the tallest shoes you own underneath them and nobody's the wiser and now you can reach all the bowls in all the kitchens like a boss.

Hammer time.


  1. these are probably my favourite posts, EVER. brb, going to f21!


  2. I looovvvveeee that pleated skirt, I swooned when I saw in on the rack. It's from their plus-size line, though, and no adequate alternate could I find anywhere else in the store. This, by the way, is what prompted my first real existential shopping experience. It was a transformational Saturday spent at the mall, and it was glorious. But, still. No skirt.

  3. I love f21! I would literally buy everything here!


    Records of my Troubles

  4. that grey sweater and the "cool" bobby pin would be sweet!

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    1. i've always enjoyed doing these posts, and i got so many requests over the years, that i decided i could bring them back whether or not i shop there. btw, myself, i haven't shopped at f21 in over 6 months. :(

    2. I loved reading your F21 post at Babble, it's fantastic they're back. Make them crazier than ever before! xx

  6. You're still promoting clothing that wreaks havoc on the environment (something that should be alarming to you as the mother of a child who will soon have to face the consequences of global warming) and that uses sweatshops to produce its clothing. With that in mind, how can you possible promote their clothing in good conscious?

    1. you know, i don't do it in good conscience. i think about it, i worry about it, every time i do one of these posts, it weighs on me. i know this is me taking the easy way out over here, but i'm hoping that these posts are fun to read, that maybe you can get style ideas from it, and that, in the end, readers will make their own call about what they will and won't support with their money, and how you can make the biggest impact in making our world a better place for our kids. i try to showcase as many opportunities for that as i can. maybe those posts can be the ethical fashion equivalent of a carbon offset, because heavens knows NONE of us are perfect. (it would have been neat if you'd used a real profile so i could have answered you in an email, anonymity like this is frustrating on my end, as i'm sure you can imagine.)

    2. that said, i'm tooting my own horn here, but i think these posts are entertaining as hell. :)

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    4. I enjoy these posts, too and admit to occasionally shopping at F21 (or Forever 45 as I like to call it) when I need a bit of retail therapy without a spending hangover. I suspect that if I put any of the brands I consume under a microscope, they'd come up short. I don't know where Nordstrom sources all their products and I suspect that when I buy an expensive, say, Rebecca Minkoff bag, the only person who's making a decent wage is Rebecca, not the leather tanner.

    5. Danielle,
      I know I don't need to fight someone else's battle (or whatever this is) but please tell me "in good conscience" that you've never changed your mind on ANYTHING. It's not about cohesion on a blog. It's figuring out life. She's trying, man. Just like you and me ;)

    6. MW814 - hahahaha! and yeah, way way harsh. nat, you know life is fun and silly and ever changing. This is your blog, and you're right, these are super entertaining and hilarious. You've mentioned a few times about the old nat vs. new nat. And maybe I'm a bad blog reader but I love you just as much as I did back in the dizayyy and like, even if i didn't, I'm not the nat police. You are. Am I nuts for thinking people are taking this a litttttle too seriously?? You're the best, the funnest, the cher to my dion. or the dion to my cher if i'm being honest about my goals in life.... thanks for this fun f21 post, even if this shall be the last. I really enjoyed it. xo

    7. Life is not silly and entertaining for underpaid sweatshop workers. What bothers me is not that you featured F21 it's that you featured them AFTER saying you are boycotting them for ethical reasons. That's like saying "I'm a vegetarian but doing a post on best burgers". If you believe in something, stick by it. you don't have to do it just for the readers. It's your blog, be yourself.

  7. Loving all the stripes & the textured grey sweater is amazing!

  8. An interesting,eye-opening read:

    1. very interesting, thanks for the link! i think i might share it in tomorrow's link round up!

    2. That said, you have a great eye!

  9. Thanks so much for including plus size options!! This curvy girl is absolutely SWOONING over those striped trousers!

  10. Why do you go and post these AFTER I've just returned from my tropical vacation?!?! :)

  11. Listen, these posts ARE entertaining as hell and as much as I hate ruining the environment, I hate ruining the world for my future children, but not everyone can afford other places. That's the way of life. So thank you for writing these posts for the ones that need the cheap fashion inspiration, and now I will go educated myself about Forever 21.

    1. For real. I try not to shop at F21 anymore either but the styling inspiration is so fun and honestly, I'm in college and I can't always very what I need secondhand, or afford expensive, albeit more ethical, options, and shopping in this place is limited. Ya girl's gotta wear clothes. And as far as "changing her views and ideals for no reason at all", I think you might be assuming a lot with little-to-no evidence. It's blogging, it's supposed to be fun, chilllllll. I doubt anyone is Yalung this last of things and going and buying every single one, because people are capable of making their own decisions. Fun post, Natalie. You do you.

    2. I disagree that "not everyone can afford other places". I work full-time while going to school for my undergrad so I can pay for my education out of pocket and not take out loans. I don't have a lot of extra money laying around-- I have never bought a single thing from F21. I make do with less, higher quality or secondhand clothing. Sure, I can't afford the $200 ethically made shirts, but I do my best to minimally contribute to the fast fashion industry. For those who are interested, I highly recommend "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion".

    3. Jennie, that's great! So happy that you can do that. I am in the same boat. I work full-time and I go to school. I don't take out loans and I budget. I do what I can. Good for you for not buying a single shirt from Forever 21! Really though, I just don' think it's our place to say what people can afford and where they should be buying their clothes. Let them live with their decisions. Some places have great second hand stores, others don't. Some people can go with less, some people like more. I definitely want to try to contribute less, but I just don't think it's right to get on someone's case for buying "fast fashion." Thanks for the article! I am excited to read it.

    4. Thanks for the reply! I think you're probably right-- it's not fair to jump all over people who buy fast fashion. To each their own, I suppose, but it's just a personal opinion of mine. Personally, I am neither here nor there as far as the "What You Should Be Buying" posts go. This is filler content for someone who has a book coming out in a month. Filler content isn't bad; it's a necessary part of blogging 5 days/week. I can't fault anyone for promoting their book by having a lot of content. Great! Hurrah! Anyway, interesting discussion with you, Dani, and on your blog, Natalie. Great weekends are ahead of us-- have great ones.

  12. I shop minimally and STILL can't afford most of the ethically made clothing that exists. I understand why shopping at places like F21 aren't ideal. But it sucks to be belittled rather than educated or politely reminded. That won't change anyone's mind.

  13. It's hard for me to be content with the few ethically sourced things I bought for Spring when I see so much cute stuff here -- I think as fun as they are it's more of stumbling block than anything else. In addition to the labor conditions and the environmental impact, there's that insatiable part -- that wanting of more always. I'm trying to get rid of that, too, but it's tough.

  14. Kimberely, I agree. "Retail therapy" isn't evil or anything, but it is a very Western phenomenon that literally translates to "consumption of unneeded, excess goods as means of entertainment", and that just leads to an unbalanced heart (says this anxiety-riddled woman ;)). I do it! I do. But I think it's important to understand it's not good for us, the environment, or the world.

  15. My issue with these posts is - I don't care if people shop at F21 or don't. We all pick our battles and what matters to us, we can't support every cause. The problem that I have is the disingenuity. You haven't shopped there for six months, but you're suggesting that other people do and then you're making money off them doing so by using affiliate links. I feel like these posts are like someone who is against animal testing (and spoken out about as such previously) but then encouraging people to buy products tested on animals to make themselves money. I used to enjoy these posts back in the day, but it was actually conversation started here by you that lead me to educate myself more on fast fashion and take steps to shop less, and more ethically. I hope this doesn't come across as a nasty or hateful comment (it's certainly not intended that way, I've been a reader for a long time) but I just couldn't not comment, and I'd be interested to hear any further thoughts you have on the topic.

    1. This is really great feedback, thank you! this is the exact reason I hadn't done one in so long, it hasnt feel right for me, either. honestly, this is kind of like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks, and i'm glad to feel a definitive "nope." i'm going to take this one back to the drawing board. I think the fun of these posts can be found with a different retailer maybe? different format? something like that. i'm glad I gave it a shot, not just for those who've been requesting them for so long, but also because I feel like I can stop feeling like "maybe I *should* bring them back. you know, it's a funny thing, when some readers think you've sold out when you stop doing one thing, but other readers think you've sold out when you try to start up again. I don't know, i'm typing this on my phone in the lobby of an office so maybe this is completely incoherent. anyway, thank you. xo

    2. you are so transparent and willing to engage about this stuff. THANK YOU for demonstrating that it is okay to stumble while you grow and that it's all about what you learn when you do trip up. you stick to your guns and remain firm about what matters to you, but you're open to giving things a shot! being able to read about the process while you figure this stuff out has been, without hyperbole, a source of life-changing inspiration. thanks so much, nat. x

    3. I think these posts with a different retailer would be an awesome idea. I too, hadn't really thought much about the larger impact fast fashion has on the environment until you educated me, so it's kind of odd to see you now returning to these posts, which I'm not going to lie, I actually enjoy. I get your struggle, because they are fun to look at and draw inspiration from, but I really do think the idea of doing similar posts with different retailer(s) would be just as great, with less controversy. I'm sure though, there are going to be people who have negative things to say about similar posts featuring different retailers too (all of this is SO expensive, no normal person can afford that, etc.), it seems that it's hard for you to win sometimes. I'm rooting for you. BTW, congrats on your book. I can't wait to read it when it comes out.

  16. I debated a while before adding my two cents into the conversation, but I wanted to to make sure the conversation didn't turn into a Natalie-bashing extravaganza based off some links to a fun, cheap, disgustingly irresponsible fashion store. Personally, I've known about F21 and they way they run their business for a while, and haven't shopped there for a few years since discovering their policies. However, I do still enjoy these posts -- they ARE fun. There are parts of them that are inspiring in a fashion-sense, and I think it's because you've made it so very clear to your readers that 1) You don't support these types of retailers and 2) You are conscious about where your clothes come from, that makes me take it for what it is. I don't see it as you validating their business policies, or necessarily encouraging your readers to ignore their poor policies. Actually, I akin it more to your internet round-up posts. As in, "Hey, look at these giddy-inspiring, adorable/creative/delicious outfits that are out there, just in case you were curious." Sure, the conversation that's been sparked might merit a re-think of the post series, but as a long-time reader who does know the background behind this store, know that at least in my mind, I don't think any less of you because of it. We're all human, we all know what it's like to give off a vibe that was unintentional, and we all should know that no one is to blame for how others respond to our actions. For instance, I've been searching for an affordable, leather-look backpack for ages, and if I were to choose to buy theirs, it would be on me. Just because you said, "oh cool, this exists here" doesn't magically turn you into a money-hungry, conscious-less, un-cohesive, irresponsible blogger, or shopper, or mother, or human. The internet is a great place to get things blown out of proportion, and it's a great place to take a stand on what you believe in. And overall, it's a great place to be human, and make mistakes, and to not be perfect, and to have a little fun. Just know you have supporters out there when you're feeling like you're making blunders, and even when you actually do make them.

    1. thank you Katrina! it's true, that was exactly my best-case-scenario hope in bringing these back, and it just doesn't communicate. i'm so grateful for readers like you! i'm happy to have been called out like this, though. I too often ignore my gut, and this is an instance when I definitely should have stuck with it. a comment below mentioned taking it down. I figured that was reactionary, but now that im rethinking my rethinking... would that make anything better I did?

    2. I totally get it! And honestly, I feel like those who feel strongly will have their say here, and you can respond in kind. The most they can ask is for you to respond honestly and then, well, the focus should be on your actions in the future. Sometimes we make the wrong decision! Worrying about what's already been done won't change what happened. Including the F21 article in your link round-up and encouraging others to join the discussion was admirable, and if you feel like clearing the air further, maybe include a quick mention why you'll be stopping the series in a future post, possibly the next time you talk about conscious shopping? I'm no expert, and I know everyone has their own opinions. But to be honest and open about what mistakes may have been made is all that matters. You do you, bb girl!

    3. Katrina, I agree fully with your thoughtful comment. Thank you for that. Natalie, I really don't think you should take this down. Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate (thx T Swift:) and I'm sure that, because your blog reaches such a broad audience, there is at least one reader of every post who doesn't like something you wrote that day, you know? Those people are usually the loudest too, and there are tons of people who read and like what you write and just don't comment about it (but they do keep coming back to read what you write week after week). You don't need to change, delete and adapt your posts for the people who disagree with the content, even if they are the loudest. This is ultimately YOUR space and you are allowed to write and feel whatever you want to write and feel, especially since your blog is so crazy successful when you do just that.

  17. I think people are struggling with the fact that you decry someone's ethical practices...but then turn around and make money off them. Honestly, I think you should take this down and explain/issue an apology. I really enjoy your blog, but this, and your subsequent vague "just seeing if it worked/how it felt!" comments are leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
    Really, I do enjoy this blog and your fashion recommendations. I just didn't expect this from you.

    1. hi Beth! I completely understand where you're coming from and i'm so sorry to have left a bad taste in your mouth. honestly, I know this grosses you out further, but this is something we'll just have to agree to disagree to agree on. my motives definitely aren't the kinds of motives to leave that taste in your mouth, though my actions certainly are (bad taste about it here, too.) taking it down was a thought of mine but then I felt that was too strong a reaction. and I wouldnt want to hurt or pass judgment i those readers that LIKE this and ASKED for it. anyway. this was a really great learning experience for me, and I hope readers are as generous with people making mistakes as I am trying to be to myself. but definitely, consider this an apology for not trusting my gut and keeping these posts in the past. I really am sorry to have gone back on my word like that, especially since that isn't at all what I set out to do. does that make sense?

    2. LOL, yes, I totally followed your thought pattern. Thank you for the edited post - I really appreciate your honesty.

  18. It does to me! Thank you! :D

  19. Can I ask what your thoughts are on gettig a part time job if money is tight?

    1. if i could make more money working part time than i do by writing and blogging, i would. new york is expensive, yo. but i wouldn't, so i don't.

  20. I really appreciate the edited version of this post. I, for one, dig where you're going: more authenticity is generally good, I think, even if we're fumbling and awkward in getting there. There's a line from the poem "The Paradox" by Sarah Kay (whose book I totally recommend, btw) that's "I am stumbling in pursuit of grace / I hunt patience with a vengeance" and I think that says what a lot of us go through so well. I definitely get these posts being fun, but them also not really fitting. You do you, lady, in whatever form that happens to take on any given week or year or pivotal life point. Things are allowed to change.
    I think something in a similar vein, maybe, like a more general "great things to buy online right now" from various sources (and if a F21 link pops into it, then hey, more power to the person who's getting that item) and maybe on a biweekly/monthly basis or so could still stand a chance of fitting, though, or keeping the elements you enjoy. Sending love and good luck!

  21. wow! people are intense!! i was enjoying seeing these again, but respect a reason not to as well. :) way to take things in stride, sister!!! you are fabulous!

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  23. I am grateful that I have Natalie's blog to read at the end of a long working day. Her fun text, tips, ramblings, pictures are right here available for free to everyone. I am glad Natalie is able to get compensation for some of these posts. Bills are there for everyone and who's life is that pristine anyway? Don't feel bad Natalie, it's fine!

  24. Dearest Natalie, I think the way you handled yourself through all of this was incredibly graceful, humble, and inspiring. We are all a bunch of people making a bunch of mistakes day in and day out; what a gift it is to find someone willing to say "hey! i messed up" and then get to watch them right things. I personally loved these posts (even though I shop 99% second hand), but more than that I loved seeing you choose your morals and gut over a paycheck and people-pleasing abilities. That has to be hard (especially with so many people watching!) and I just think you're really cool. Can't wait to read your book :)
    Keep doing what you're doing, girlfriend (insert fist bump emoji here)

  25. You don't owe anyone an apology. I personally shop secondhand and liked this post to get thrifting inspiration. Do you boo. Haters gonna hate.

    1. See, here's the thing. I'm not a hater. I don't think anyone here is a hater. We are merely expressing our observations when someone says "I have made a choice to not shop at ABC due to their unethical practices" and then posts a "But these super cute items at ABC!". When you're a blogger, and aim to make a living via your blog, you do owe your readers something. They are your audience and your lifeblood when it comes to keeping your blog alive.

      If you want to keep followers, you need to be authentic. I called this one out as I would have with anyone in my life, esp when I see someone acting inconsistently with their stated values. I am far from perfect and never claimed to be. However, I try to act in line with my values and do what I say I'm going to do. It's HARD. But if you're going to be a blogger and put yourself in the public eye (by choice), you have to be ready for this.

    2. hi beth. i appreciate this comment, and i appreciate that you're not a hater :). this got me really thinking. this whole "do bloggers owe their readers" thing. this comes up a lot in conversation between myself and my blog-writing friends, and between myself and my blog-reading friends (i also read blogs, so i'm a reader, too). so, which readers do i owe? when readers come to a blog for one thing, find they aren't getting it, then request it loud enough, and then get it, have they gotten what they're owed? if it upsets other readers who feel they're owed something different, what then? or, if a blogger ignores her readers, for whatever altruistic reason, isn't she still ignoring her readers? this whole idea of catering to readers is what got me in this position in the first place. i felt i owed my readers these forever 21 posts that they loved and kept asking for, so i decided to do them for them, regardless of my own feelings. (also, a 10% commission on a 9-dollar tee shirt? i have much more earning potential in affiliate linking somewhere more expensive, this wasn't a money-making move. i did take advantage of that possibility, but it wasn't my motive or goal.) honestly, and i mean this in the spirit of good conversation, but don't i have absolutely no business owing anybody ANYTHING, if what you're all truly here for is my authenticity?? don't i only owe myself? "if i want to keep followers." which followers? the ones that wanted forever 21 posts? or the ones that want me to not cater to my followers and only follow my gut? i have no answers, obviously, hahaha. it's just a really fascinating idea that is much more complicated than just saying, "you owe your readers." i love my readers, i'm so grateful for my readers, and i try to respect my readers by giving them what they want. the takeaway for me from all this is that i can't. and that's okay. i don't feel bad, or embarrassed, and i don't think i should feel any of those things, either. i feel curious and a little more resolved. i respect those readers who need to come here and tsk tsk at me, i get it. i made a decision without thinking through it to the end. i know it's exciting when people goof up. i'm happy to take the abuse and try to make better decisions in the future. :)

    3. I appreciate this dialogue :-) And FYI, it's not exciting to me when people goof up - I'm not here for the entertainment.

      When I said that, I meant "owe" in terms of authenticity. As an outsider/reader, I expect my bloggers to be authentic; to their brand, to their method, to their thoughts, philosophy...whatever it may be. That's why I'm reading. So, in a sense, yes, I believe that bloggers do owe readers. Blogging is a business, and you strive to make money off your readers. There isn't ANYTHING wrong with that, but there should be a balanced relationship there.
      You're right, though, at the core, you need to be authentic to yourself, which is why people spoke up about this post...b/c it didn't seem authentic to what you espoused. Again, appreciate the respectful dialogue :-)

      I teach leadership development to college students and we have very interesting conversations about ethics, core values, decision making etc. Now I'm wondering if there could be a case study in here somewhere... ;-)

  26. Hi Natalie!

    First I want to say that I have been a fan of your blog for a few years. I really enjoy reading about your life and generally enjoy your writing style.

    I think you have the right to post what you want - it's your blog. But, I do recognize there are some weird ethics with this post. I liked your update and appreciate your decision to move forward without the F21 posts. My concern is that the links within the post are still affiliate links. So, in theory, you're still making money off of this post. Isn't that the thing about the post that put a bad taste in people's mouths? I'm just not following the logic on why it's okay to leave the affiliate links up.

    Anyway, I am not normally one to comment so I hope this came across as respectful. I don't want to start any wars or come across as critical. I just wanted to get your input.

    Thanks so much!

    1. good call, links removed. xo

    2. Good thing this similarly-conflicted yet broke-ass student hit those links up hard while the gettin' was good. :)

  27. Please make an ethical clothing brand store round-up of clothes and accessories instead! (if you feel like it)

  28. Bubbly water and Kombucha are healthy carbonated alternatives to soda! They totally satisfy that craving for something fizzy without the bad stuff.

  29. This comment section was not at all what I was expecting, and I'm so glad.

    1. i'm so curious about what you were expecting to see!!!

    2. Oh! (I just saw this reply, I'm so bad at commenting) I loved seeing grown ass people having considerate and respectful conversations with one another in a comment section - anywhere, not just here! Not seeing a mudslinging comment area was a real bright spot for me. I walked away with a little pep in my step and went out looking for an old lady that I could have helped to cross Atlantic Ave. There seemed to be a gracious overall tone in the dialogue between people here and it was so refreshing.

    3. Also, because my inexperience with commenting leaves me paranoid that mine will somehow be misconstrued, I don't mean any subtext or sarcasm at all! I really did enjoy seeing the respectful dialogue between commenters above :)

    4. Haha, now I have to butt in and say I was thinking the exact same thing, folks just seemed respectful here. Which is something I've been thinking about, just how the end doesn't justify the means, and how I need to remember that applies to conversations too. And for a little love note (guess with 2/14 I have love on the mind) I just want to tell you how much you've inspired me. Which is a helluva lot. So, I don't know, thanks!? for being you. xo

  30. So I've sat on this for a few days and I get that you are trying to explain yourself for what was ultimately a decision you regret, but I find it like, a lot distasteful that you are mentioning your son's pre-school costs, especially considering you have a weekly standing date night and your capsule collection had literally close to a hundred pieces of clothes that were on average many $$. I know I'm taking this kind of personally - I recently went back to work full time after a glorious three years at home with my boy, and I haven't bought a new piece of clothing in months, and my husband left a job with bomb ass hours for a better paying, but longer hours job so we could afford a private tuition. I understand that is still a priveledge and a choice but you are coming across as kind of tone deaf considering other points of your life - and I recognize they are just snapshots, not the whole picture. And yes, when i have some extra cash, I'll shop at forever 21, so I don't have a problem with that aspect except in how you have wrote at length about your move from fast fashion to ethically sourced clothing.

  31. oh oh!! follow up to comment I just posted - OR you could take a look from a fastfashion outlet and then recreate it using ethical/thrifted items, compare costs etc etc - really lay it out for people. Perhaps we'd be surprised by how affordable it can be? who knows!

    1. darn it, original comment hasn't shown. Anyway, I just ranted for a bit about how I love this blog, and your response to this latest issue, Natalie. fastfashion is a hard one (though it shouldn't be - but we are conditioned these days to wantwantwant, and it is a hard habit to break). I barely had $$ to buy anything even when I did buy from 'fast' stores, so to only buy ethically - try as I might - feels like I can now only afford 1 item a year. But, perhaps, that is exactly what I get and I need to make peace with it, you know? I also find it hard that there are so many stores out there who market themselves like classy ethical options, and it is only in the fine print that you see that they're just like the rest.

  32. Dang. How do you do it lady? how do you make taking criticism and insults look like a well rounded heart to heart? What you read on the internet is totally fake, but sometimes its sooo real ya know? That argument is evident here in the comments and your posts. I think we all learned some lessons here and I can't wait to see what you come up with for a new outfits post. I adore your blog even more now that you were honest with your fan club.

  33. Natalie, you mentioned losing a couple of readers over the year and I can say, for myself, that I've found your blog more honest and interesting in the past year or so since I've started following you! I admire how you take criticism in stride and respond in an appropriate way. You don't even need to apologize or explain yourself because it's YOUR blog but I know your readers appreciate that you do. In response to the F21 post haters, it's a very middle-upper class privilege to be able to only shop for ethically sound food and clothing--not everyone can do it! I appreciate those post because even if you don't shop at F21 they can still be a source for inspo and humor :) Keep at it Natalie, love your wit and humility in your blog and can't wait for the book. xoxo

  34. I freakin love this. You just won at being a person on the internet.

    Also, re: owing readers, you don't.<-----(sort of concerned about the structure of that sentence, but I'm letting it slide) My curiosity and your personal voice are what brings me back here.

    You're right, describing clothes (at least when done Natalie style) is really entertaining. The comments are right too, somehow. It did feel weird. But I just wanted to give you a small virtual high five for not getting passive aggressive or defensive. I loved your thoughtful responses to feedback. And I'm sure its really confusing to navigate writing for an audience. You're doing pretty damn good, though!

  35. I'm really sad these aren't continuing but I understand why. I will compromise by you promising to pin more on Pinterest. Just kiddin. Kind of. Thanks for always being honest and upfront!

  36. I think others have said what I'd want to say about promoting F21 after admitting to not shopping there yourself, so I'll leave that alone.

    What I can add is this: the textured crepe maxi dress (photo #2) is REALLY disappointing in person. The color is dull, and the top provides no support at all -- they must have it pinned up the wazoo in the back to make it drape so nicely in the photo.


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