Today’s guest, Jeanette Johnson is the owner of J’s Everyday Fashion. Jeanette has been a blogging powerhouse for seven years (which is an eternity in the blogging world, by the way). Jeanette started her blog with the mission statement “affordable fashion,” and she has grown her blog with that mindset since she started.
However, Jeanette has struggled as she has grown her platform on fashion and how it relates to her faith, which is very important to her. To explore that, she has written a book: J’s Everyday Fashion and Faith: Personal Style with Purpose, which will be released on October 3rd. The book is perfect for anyone who is struggling to connect two sides of their personalities that don’t feel like they fit, or for anyone interested in learning more about our personal relationships to fashion and our views on it.
1. Jeanette wrote her book to explore the two sides of herself that she couldn’t figure out how they worked together
Jeanette grew up in Kansas in a very traditional Christian family where she was taught that frugality was important. Clothes were necessities and were treated that way in her family. Jeanette told me that nobody was modeling fashion for her growing up.
This made her feel like fashion was off-limits in some way. However, throughout her life, even as a young person, she can see how there was always something pulling her towards exploring fashion. She was drawn to bright colors, textures, and fabrics. Instead of embracing it though, she buried down the desire each time it popped up.
That all changed when Jeanette needed clothes for her first job right after college. She knew she needed clothes, so she set a budget for herself, and that helped rid her of the guilty burden she had been dealing with. All of a sudden, she had the freedom to explore the different fabrics, and pieces she loved without guilt or shame. That love and freedom was the start of her journey to a career in fashion.
However, she soon found herself deep into the fashion world and felt the other side of herself–the one where her faith was very important– was struggling to fit into this world she has created for herself.
Her love for fashion wrestled with her faith and the teaching of values she grew up with. Did those two things fit together? “The messages we get as a child is very difficult to unlearn,” Jeanette told me. “There’s a strong part of me that really wants to question all that, but I do care about being responsible with [fashion] because I want to honor all those personal values.”
Because of these ingrained rules, Jeanette felt she needed to follow to be true to her faith, her love of fashion felt at odds with those values. However, Jeanette found a part of herself through fashion that was important to her. She started to view fashion as her art form and that started to change the relationship between the two sides of herself.
As Jeanette tried to piece together these two sides of herself, she realized there were rules she was taught to live by that she wasn’t sure she agreed with.“There’s a part of my personality that’s a total rebel and anything that society tells us, I immediately want to question it,” Jeanette told me, “[but] I want to follow the rules and I want to break all the rules.”
So she did just that, and her book is the written version of the journey she took to figure out how to piece together those values she cares about with the art she loves. There are deeper issues behind getting dressed, like inner beauty, where your clothes come from, and why do we spend money on fashion –all important questions Jeanette wanted to explore in her book.
2. Setting boundaries has helped her be more authentic in what she shares and talks about
Since J’s Everyday Fashion has been around for years now, Jeanette has had her fair share of online harassers. It was really difficult for her to deal with at times. One way she combatted the negative backlash she was receiving online was to create boundaries about what she would allow or not allow on her space.
Of course, she wanted to have productive conversations around the topics she was posting about, but the mean, hateful comments she was receiving only shut down the conversation. The biggest way she solved that problem was to set boundaries of what she would allow or not allow on her site.
At first, it was hard to set the boundaries she needed on the site. Boundaries come with negative connotations, especially for women. “There’s this terrible thing that comes with boundaries that you will be labeled a B word,” Jeanette told me.
However, Jeanette found that after setting her boundaries and getting rid of online harassers who were contributing nothing to the conversation, she created a space where real dialogue could happen. In order to make sure she does have a place for constructive criticism on her site, Jeanette will talk to trusted friends when she’s not quite sure how to interpret a comment. Because communication online isn’t always clear, this helps her ensure she isn’t stifling a valid point that adds to the conversation.
3. Women can redefine their own relationship with fashion in a way that honors who they are
Clothes and fashion are necessary even if it isn’t something we love. There are so many different pressures for women to conform to fashion standards and we’re judged based on how we look before a word even comes out of our mouths. So even those of us who don’t want to participate in the structure still have to. Jeanette has been diving deeper into those concepts. She wants to change the structure of the system so you can dictate how you participate in it instead of the other way around.
The biggest advice Jeanette told me was, “Joy is where the authenticity is.”
Jeanette encourages you to think about why you’re making certain choices around how you present yourself through clothing. She knows fashion can be transformative if it’s applied to your life in the right way. In fact, it helped Jeanette come out of her shell in college.
According to Jeanette, there is something really special about when you’re wearing the right outfit with your makeup just right, and you feel like your hair is falling in the right place. It’s a magical feeling and one that we should enjoy. However, if the beauty you feel is only ever external, it might be time to examine why that is.
Inner beauty and self-love is the real thing to strive for. However, if you really do love and treasure yourself, wouldn’t you want to present the outside in a way that reflects your inside? Wearing outfits that flatter you and make you feel good about yourself is more about how you feel on the inside than it is about how you look on the outside. The right outfit can act like armor in the right situation. For example, the right outfit can help you exude confidence.
4. Respect what others love, even when you don’t get it
Jeanette gets frustrated that fashion as a hobby doesn’t get more respect. She explained that a sports fan getting dressed up in her favorite team’s clothing and painting her face for a big game wouldn’t be looked down upon. Or a chef with a huge wine cellar would be viewed in awe for her collection instead of dismissal. However, many don’t view fashion, makeup, and other traditionally feminine hobbies as worthy of attention. Instead, they are often viewed as vapid, shallow, or unimportant.
If a woman is spending money responsibly on something that brings her joy, that shouldn’t matter what that hobby is. Let her have a closet full of shoes she loves. Those hobbies don’t have to equal vanity, and Jeanette wants help to stop the stigma that it does.
Instead, Jeanette loves to view fashion as her art form and knows that many other women enjoy it in the same way. It’s a way to express yourself, and offer others a glimpse of your personality.
Of course, Jeanette knows that not everyone interacts with fashion in a healthy way. If you feel like you need to wear makeup or look nice, and you feel like you have to be made up to go out of your house, you should think through why that is. If you are just doing it because you love it, that’s the reason you should continue.
5. Success is all about hard work
“Success feels like a million little steps that go absolutely nowhere,” Jeanette told me.
When you look at someone else that you think has arrived, you think she must feel and know her success. In reality, success mostly just feels like everyday hard work. You might only feel successful a couple times of years, but most days you have to just keep doing it because you love it.
About Jeanette Johnson
Creator of J’s Everyday Fashion, a budget-friendly, down-to-earth style blog that encourages women to have more fun with fashion! With more than one million readers annually, Johnson’s blog is the winner of ShopStyle’s Best Everyday Style in 2016, and Sunshine Awards Orlando’s Blog of the Year in 2013 and 2015. She regularly appears on the national morning show Daytime, was the Shopping Insider for Visit Florida, wrote for Disney’s Babble.com, and is the co-founder of Central Florida Lady Bloggers. She continues her quest to make fashion more fun (and guilt-free) with her first book “J’s Everyday Fashion and Faith: Personal Style with Purpose” (Waterfall Press, Oct. 3), which was recently profiled by InStyle Magazine.