Monday, July 23The Voice of London

#OOTD: The Instagram Runway

If you’re an Instagram user I’m sure you’re more than familiar with “#OOTD” whether you follow fashion blogs or not. But, why do we do it? And what makes us think our followers are interested in what we are wearing?

Words: Lauren Banton, Subeditor: Tsakane Chabane 

It’s Saturday, 9am and you’ve agreed to meet your friend at 11am for a coffee and maybe some shopping afterwards. You made the plans on Wednesday and immediately thought about what you’re going to wear. It’s autumn so you’ve gone for a khaki jumper dress, tights and some ankle boots. Or straight leg jeans, a cable knit jumper and boots – let’s not leave the lads out! Before you leave, you plan on throwing on a cocoon coat and an over-sized scarf to complete the look.

You’ve finished getting ready, hair done, and you’ve even spent a bit longer on your make-up perfecting that winged liner. One last look in the mirror before you go out the door and you realise you still have 15 minutes before you have to go. You reach for your phone and somehow you’ve found yourself on Instagram. Since you’re standing in front of your full-sized mirror and feeling confident in how you look, you think “hmm this would be good for a selfie” and before you know it-you’ve taken a snap of yourself. You skip the filters because most of them make the khaki look a weird shade of brown. Now it’s time to write the caption, the first thing you think of is “#OOTD”…WHY?

For those that don’t know what “OOTD” stands for, it means “Outfit Of The Day”. It’s an Instagram hashtag that has been used over 61 million times, you can click on it and see what other people are wearing on the same day, or what they have worn all throughout the year. I can’t help but wonder why are we curious about what strangers are wearing? And more to the point why are we posting pictures of our outfits anyway? Somehow it’s rather intriguing!

Similar to our fascination with what celebrities are wearing, which trends they are setting, what their favourite designer brands are and whether or not that dress they wore to a film premier was “fresh off the runway”. Instagram has made it possible for us to feel like celebrities too, all we have to do is post a picture, use the hashtag “#OOTD” and wait for the comments from random Instagram stalkers to come flooding in. In a sense Instagram is a runway, we can post hundreds of photographs showcasing our best fashion looks while people spectate. Is all this posting just a way for us to feel as though we are part of the fashion industry, are we under the illusion that if we use the hashtag hundreds of times that a designer will have the burning desire to send us clothes to be pictured in?

Instagram has given everyday people the power to become fashion icons, for many, their thousands of followers have stemmed from their first “#OOTD” post; now people are following them purely for their fashion content. For example, Shirley B Eniang is a Youtube personality, someone who started her online career from posting beauty related content, she now has over 300,000 Instagram followers.

A bit of grey, a bit of snakeskin. #ootd

A post shared by Shirley B. Eniang (@shirleybeniang) on

Gents, don’t feel as though you have been left out. Here is Tio_T, a model who has over 70,000 Instagram followers and is also a fan of “#OOTD”.

Both of their comment sections are filled with people’s outpouring of jealousy at how “stylish” they are. Essentially, it is a “get the look” post, as now users are tagging where they purchased the clothing.

Source: Instagram shirleybeniang

Source: Instagram shirleybeniang (Lauren Banton)

I suppose we all want to look like Shirely, but that’s not the point. Who are these people that we are holding up to be our fashion icons?  “#OOTD” is a hashtag that is used for both inspiration and envy, it only takes a few seconds to scroll through the millions of posts containing the tag to realise that. Some post to show their followers their true fashion potential and for others it is an opportunity for them to show off their latest designer purchases. The hashtag can be a positive thing, why not show others what you are wearing in that day, fashion is a way of expressing yourself and maybe you just want others to know how you are feeling. Maybe you’re proud of the outfit you have scrapped together from your bobbled clothes from last autumn! Or maybe you’re a fashion blogger and feel as though you have an obligation to post your outfit because that is what people expect from you. Either way, continue to feel good, use the hashtag and continue to stalk everyone’s Instagram to your heart’s content, surely that’s what it’s there for!