Guest Post
Ornella originally posted this in the YLF forum. We were very touched by her words, and we thought that they did a better job of capturing the spirit of the YLF community in 2011 than anything we could write, so we asked her if we could republish it on the main blog. Thank you, fabulous and thoughtful Ornella. We are privileged to have a wonderful community with members like you. — Angie.

I’ve been thinking about the many fantastic moments here on YLF, both on the blog and the forum, and trying to filter out which ones stood out for me the most. The first two were no-brainers, but the contenders for the third place were very strong and I had hard time picking one out. From the outstanding (both in content and reactions) blog post about Angie’s client Karen, to the excellent series of posts about Karen Kane clothing. From reactions to Glamour’s non-glamorous moment to AJ’s stylish feature in In Style. From a nerve-wracking chase for Rae’s wedding dress to Suz’s dramatic hairstyle change. From meet-up posts that took us to various places around the world to numerous threads by new forum members sharing the familiar delight of discovering the YLF community. From several blog-posts and threads redefining the perception of pear-shaped bodies to the series of Angie’s outfits at New York Fashion Week.

I have also managed to read through the entire blog archives earlier this year and I can tell you the insight into site evolution has been fantastic, and I particularly like that this year the format of the blog had changed to include not just individual posts, but entire series’ and the book section too. What else is heading our way I wonder!

What I love the most, regardless of the final list, is how my horizons are being broadened at rapid speed and how every single day I am privileged to be the audience of the fantastic posts and What I Wore’s (WIWs) , confirming that beauty, grace and elegance are not limited to body type, size, age, budget or lifestyle. I’ve said it many times, real style does not live on the glossy magazine pages, but it comes from the real women. And many of those women make this place their virtual homes.

So, without further ado, here is the selection of YLF moments that resonated with me the most in 2011. Join me in sharing yours if you like.

1. YLF’s 5th birthday on April 5 

I was in THE bubble the whole day – I could feel the global energy! The quiet build-up to the surprise that was prepared for Angie and Greg was magical. Something about knowing that so many beautiful, compassionate and intelligent women from across the globe came together, united not just by their love for style but tremendous respect for Angie and Greg, gave me goosebumps and a few tears countless times that day. Reading all the messages was about witnessing the floodgate of the most wonderful, positive emotions opened. If you want to revisit the comments and the sentiments in the blog post, make sure you check the video card too.

2. The Fernanda Effect

Of all the clients who we met this year, for me personally, it was Fernanada herself and her style journey that completely blew me away and remains the biggest inspiration. I could not believe the reaction her two (part 1 and part 2) posts had caused with me. There she was, saying openly to the world she had been lost in front of the wardrobe – before she was touched by Angie.

A few things I’ll always be thankful to her for:

  1. This beautiful and strong women had not been afraid to admit she was failing at the most “womanly” and seemingly easy territory — getting dressed!
  2. She trusted this community of complete strangers enough to be so open – what a credit to Angie and her blog audience!
  3. She and I are of similar age, which instantly sealed her as my role-model, especially because those were the early days of my own WIWs when I was still way too self-contentious and felt too exposed and uncertain of whether it was a clever move.

Fernanada had massive effect on me and helped take down major barriers inside me. The whole series of posts was rounded up with Angie’s own style epiphany, which was a cherry on the cake in many ways and after which I felt my own level of style literacy had rocketed. It was the true beginning of having fun with fashion for me.

3. Picture Perfect Challenges

These events (paintingsphotographs and decades) were proper style Olympics where the good old creed of the importance of taking part, not winning, was what really mattered. So pure in its intention and so creative in its execution! Again, the same as the blog’s birthday, the global energy on the days and weeks when we did the challenges was fantastic. Starting from the Southern Hemisphere and finishing with the far western corners of the North America , we took turns in interpreting the same inspirations in our own ways and appreciating each others’ outfits and ideas. There really is no better demonstration of the only rule we follow here, no better crash-course in style and no better place to get to know all the characters, no better occasion to get tremendous amounts of ideas one place. Fun doesn’t get more fun than this.

On a personal level, I have started posting my WIWs this year and realised very quickly that the benefits of this little ritual reached beyond just fixing my appearance. My style evolution coincides with another aspect of my life that I try to put in order, and conquering the wardrobe was simply about flexing and strengthening a confidence muscle so I can use it elsewhere — I quickly drew parallels between my style preferences and other lifestyle choices. A while back I’ve written a long post about what I’d learnt from my style experiments and a few days ago I had reached the highest point of self-acceptance I can remember. Yes, sorting such trivial things as dresses, jeans or shoes can lead to much deeper revelations. The added beauty of this community is the unspoken understanding that we are much more than the contents of our wardrobes.

But, back to the three YLF moments that include the entire community, they stand out from all the others for being utterly fun, insightful and inspiring. It is such a privilege to be a part of this community. And, here it goes again, but why miss the opportunity to say it: thank you Greg, for making things tick smoothly and to the highest standards. For us YLF is a playground, for you it is a job — but I believe you are the lucky one who enjoys what he does. Thank you Angie for being the driving force in releasing the barriers within us and teaching us to love ourselves and appreciate diversity and the other women even more. I know it won’t get to your heads if you do it, because I do hope that sometimes you just sit back, cup of tea in hand of course, and enjoy knowing what community YOU TWO have created and what impact you have on us.