On Smiling

You should try it some time


There are two important things to note in this photo. On the one hand, the fashion. Light denim dungarees strategically cuffed at the thigh, a leather jacket double knotted around the waist in a dark color that’s not quite black, a Victorian under-blouse full of character and story. This is personal style in pure form. But is that because of what she’s wearing or what she’s doing?

Never mind the camera, look at that smile. That authentic, what’s-that-girl-laughing-about, I’ll-have-what-she’s-having smile. Across the pond it seems that anything less than what Tommy Ton captures as such is, for lack of a better expression, frowned upon. But this is not the case in the other cities–why?

What is it that renders so unfashionable about friendliness depicted through photo?

This woman, also shot in London, bleeds style: distressed, ripped jeans, a counter tonal blouse of the same fabric, a gold choker so thick it resembles a turtleneck. Would it have looked vastly more capital-F-Fashion had she hid her teeth and sunken her eyes, prompting the uninitiated to wonder what exactly it is that goes on during Fashion Week?

Probably not.

Maybe it’s vanity. I for one have certainly spent time comparing my smiley face to my stoic face but have resolved that there is little appeal in what looks like an angry chipmunk with thick eyebrows wearing more layers than her body can sustain. On a more visceral note, smiling just makes me feel better. Such is not the experience for everyone though and whether the contemplation of smile vs. frown actively occurs among others is not very important. For some, a frown exudes what they perceive as the more attractive versions of themselves. But does it detract from style (italicized for dramatic effect so please enunciate here) at large?

When the New York Times wrote about the end of true indie Street Style in September, I couldn’t help wonder if it was, as documented, the outlandish clothing that instigated the story or more subconsciously, the contrived nature of what seemed like photo after photo of fashion figure emulating alien/super model.

The photos brought forward today lack the conceivable artificiality that the Times criticized back then. These women own their looks. And whether or not what they’re physically exuding speaks to the temperament of current street style doesn’t really matter. The message conveyed is something different, more powerful and has little to do with the clothes on display. It’s about inspiration first and foremost, how they obtain it, maintain it and broadcast it for the rest of us to seek our own.

Photos are frozen memories after all and I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly prefer to indulge in happier ones.

So tell me, what kind of affect does smiling have on you?

Get more Humor ?
  • Kristina

    looooove the smile πŸ™‚

    and the outfits πŸ™‚


  • Elisa

    The thing is, I naturally look sad/depressed, so this is how I usually end up looking on photos, although I do look much better with a smile on. However too many people are trying to emulate the traumatized model look on street style snaps, which is slightly irritating, but then again, as soon as you know you’re being photographed, you will look fake to an extent, so does it really matter if the look is a fake smile or fake depressed face?

    Elisa – Wandering Minds

  • LaurenLeighann

    Such a great post! BTDubs, I’m a huge fan. Smiling is ESSENTIAL! Perhaps it’s because I was born and bred in the South (yes, that is a capital “S”!) or perhaps it’s because most of my adult life has been spent abroad where I usually don’t speak the language. A smile can stop trouble, stop cab, and in most instances open up an opportunity to experience new things. As cheesy as it sounds it truly is a girls best accessory! πŸ™‚

  • Tanalee Theanchai

    Smiling is contagious. Just to see someone else smile, makes you smile. It exudes a warm presence.

  • Nico

    Great post great message!


  • i love bloggers who smile..i get the appeal of not doing so but it is harder to capture a genuine smile..as for me i take my own shots with a remote while doing outfit posts and feel enormously moronic smiling at nobody on the other side..also it creeps out thinking what if a disembodied voice actually says hello to me in my room when i am baring my teeth so dumbly at nothing but air.

  • Gabrielle Pedriani

    I always try to dress in a way that feels natural – like I’m not trying to hard. I think there are certain pieces that help with this, but out of all of them, the smile is the most effective.

    It also makes everything intentional. There is no “fashion victim” if she’s the killer.

    I know it ruins the “mystique” that we’re all supposed to have to keep readers guessing, but I’m starting to wonder if a new era is rolling in during which that mystique is more isolating than alluring.

    Guess we’ll see. Supa fly post gurlfran.

  • Kate

    You’re never fully dressed without a smile.



  • I always wonder why most of the bloggers never smile. They go on posting about how fun their vacation was, but their photos reflect otherwise. Oh sure, most of them put a lot of effort working out those facial muscles and remembering all of Tyra’s SMIZEing lessons to put on a fierce look. But they forget that one pretty smile could have made them look pretty all the same.

  • a few days ago, a coworker told me that I’m one of those people that always look so happy. That is very far from my reality, but my thing is life is short so it doesn’t matter how shitty the day before was, I wake sadly attempt to look cute, put some lipstick on and put a smile on my face. And at the end, it really does make me feel better.

  • Elsa

    Love the first photo!!!!!!!!

  • I agree with you– I’m all for smiling. Even though it seems sort of frowned upon, so to speak, in fashion, I think everyone looks better with a smile. And happier, of course. And happier is better, in my opinion. It’s the whole point of it, after all, isn’t it?

  • Chael

    Love especially the first one!


  • desssie

    eventually it is so much easier to look serious (gives you smoldering eyes, makes you look important and legitimate, maybe almost like you’re anna wintour)
    rather than be natural and, as you say it, own what you’re wearing in a ‘that? Oh but i was just going down the corner to grab a coffee’ way

  • Somebody from Somewhere
  • vain319

    I love smiles and find I like to see how many people I can make smile with my own smile.Do it! it is fun.

  • ariela

    whatever man…. a bunch of weird words doesnt make this bullshit interesting or cool.

  • An Act of Style

    Smile to the world and the world will smile to you πŸ™‚


  • Ah ChloΓ©’s smile is a dream. Mine is more pirate gone soft, hence lack of in own cyberspace. Vanity will get me nowhere, I’m sure.
    More of that please

  • “A smile is the most beautiful curve on a female’s body”. (cit.) Sooo true!

  • Katie

    MR, I’ve been reading your blog for months and have never thought at about commenting till now.

    If fashion is all about expressing yourself and your personality, then why the sea of pictures of women pensively looking down at their pigeon toed feet in expensive shoes, and shots of girls brooding over their iphones. I was so sick of seeing that in blogs everywhere, that’s why I was delighted to find your blog, one of the few that actually exudes any type of real personality. Thank you for smiling and being brave enough to be silly and man repelling, it makes fashion fun!

  • Love that first photo, she looks very happy. Somehow I’m unable to pose with a smile, it only seems to come spontaneously, too bad… A smile can really make everything look better


  • I love the smiles! Sexy and strong in self. So important to smile, always. It’s the start of every relationship that’s going somewhere.


  • valerie

    love the photos and the smiles! πŸ™‚


  • lynnsay-xo

    I think everyone looks better when they smile, but it has a certain risk factor when in a photograph, if pyscological. For me it’s chubby cheeks with dimples and also the habit of keeping my mouth closed after 2 and a half years of braces.


  • monkeyshines

    beautiful captures!


  • Eva

    A smile brights up a photo any time! Love that! xx


  • I always smile, like you, I prefer my non-angry looking look. Plus, whenever I’m doing something that’s fun enough to warrent photos, I’m enjoying myself and smiling regardless. Those shots you chose are fabulous, just genuine and amazing!

  • Floatstardust

    We did a post on smiling some time ago πŸ™‚ We believe it’s what makes the photo different from others.

    Wanna float with us? http://floatstardust.blogspot.com.es/2012/08/smile.html

  • The Urban Promeneur

    I recently was asking me the same question, if it is that bloggers do not smile because they are so concentrated on presenting what they’re wearing in an unconventional, undistracting kind of way. However, those pictures show that laughing gives the whole thing its very own character and not just looks like made. It is transporting something other than designer pieces. Thank you for this post!


  • chelsiemoss

    I love when bloggers show a genuine smile, tells me they don’t take Givenchy bags and Isabel Marant sneakers so seriously.

    chelsie | mossypants.com

  • antifacebook

    Smiling sincerely is universally understood as a sign of peace and joy. Offsetting an expensive (intimidating), overly thought-out outfit by way of a brightly lit smile brings warmth and personality to the wearer and the wear-ee (? ). Flashing pearlies allows one to look inviting, as well clothes somehow appear even more cool. Almost as though the wearer is
    letting on that this is all just fun and light and their clothes do not just look good, but make them feel good. In short, expressions anthropomorphize clothing. As a fashion enthusiast I sit and stare, image after image of models and fashionistas intensely and blankly staring into or away from a lens. In fact I personally avoid some blogs for these very reasons, and instead favour more personable ones; in other words I’m on the manrepeller.com daily πŸ™‚ I apply the same thought to my everyday life actually. For example when shopping I approach and spend my hard earned dollars with the sales person who is smiling aka warm versus her colleague who thinks is doing me a favour by showing up to work. Mind boggling really. Smiling and expressing personality or lack thereof is what creates barriers between the fashion world – frivolous, uber cool, cliquey – and reality for us readers. These “cooler-than-thou” pictures are incessantly against the grain of of street style and fashion blogging. Bloggers are a new breed of tastemakers and style purveyors who have cracked the icy fashion world and are taking their readers along for the ride as they too were once on the outside looking in. In short its cool to look nice and even better to be nice. Being nice is the new bitch, if being a bitch was ever cool.

    • Danielle korneliussen

      You need to write a BOOK, my friend…Or at least Get a job as a fashion journalist for the NY Times? Loved what you wrote here. “Being nice is the new bitch”??? Brilliant!

      • antifacebook

        Awww shucks! Thanks Danielle πŸ™‚ My 2nd post in the cyber world, its proving to be a heck of a lot of fun.

  • I love smiling in photo shoots but I think you need a balance in fashion photography to grasp the “cool” factor of the clothing. However, these women pull both off!

    Style insights and fashion business learnings: http://www.mouthfulofstyle.blogspot.com

  • Love this post! So true: why not all just start smiling, in the end a smile always makes you prettier!!

    -xoxo- lorena


  • mckenzie.collins

    Smiling makes me happy! whether it’s me doing it myself or seeing it on other people, I think it radiates the happiness of what they’re doing/where they’re going through the photos, and I love that (as long as it comes naturally)! I think it adds to the outfit – adds a bit of personality and character πŸ™‚ These photos display it perfectly, amazing post.


  • Bri Wang

    To be honest, unless I’m truly 100% honest smiling (which usually doesn’t happen through the whole shooting of an outfit), I look incredibly forced and uncomfortable. I’ve just never been a photogenic smiler. But I definitely agree that a true smile can completely change a photo for the better. I think it just makes it so much more personal and genuine.



  • Niki

    “Smile is the second best thing your lips can do. Smiling makes the world go round. Start your day with a smile.”~ simply wish more people would think the same thing !

  • Really great and perfect post. I didnt smile on pics.. But inb live every day. xa Nice day.


  • iamturquoise
  • rita

    smile is the secret!

  • Donna

    As Will Ferrell said on Elf “Smiling’s my favorite!!” I couldn’t agree more. As a newbie blogger – I’ve done photos without smiling and it just doesn’t look like me AT ALL (the beau agrees). Great post, makes me think.


  • Lace and Chiffon
  • Jennifer

    I don’t know why I tend not to smile in my photos lol


  • diane

    I would be grinning from ear to ear if I got to live the life of many bloggers: free clothes, lucrative collaborations, trips to international fashion week runways. What’s not to like?

  • moiminnie

    Wish I smiled more on my photos but I have a whole body freeze every time camera comes around πŸ™ But I agree to some point, some people really do look much better with a smile, but others look better in all their seriousness. I also know a few bloggers who have their signature fake blog-style-smile and trust me, I wish they would quit looking like morons just for the sake of smiling in the photos for their blogs. It’s best if it comes naturally, fake smiles are even more unattractive than not smiling at all. http://www.moiminnie.blogspot.com

  • antifacebook

    A smile is the universal language of peace and joy. Those who are photographed and appear in blogs and magazines, smiling are really a visual breath of fresh air. They appear to not take themselves seriously, aware of the frivolity associated with fashion but yet they seem to be having fun. Flashing pearlies is the ultimate feel-good accessory that
    shapes and molds an outfit. In short, expressions anthropomorphize clothing. What the smile does say is that the wearer looks happy and feels good in their choice outfit – exuberating a certain joie de vivre. Is this not the ultimate quest that the majority, if not all, people are after? Feel good, look good and project said positive internal energy outward? (To look good is arbitrary to each person of course and not necessarily in an egotistical, waifish, self-involved way. Whatever way makes you feel good!). As a fashion enthusiast I religiously log onto my favourite dozen or so blogs and stare at my screen while picture after
    picture of mightier-than-thou fashionistas gaze icily into or away from the lens. As of recent, I frequent such blogs less and less. Instead I opt for blogs with personality that make fashion an outlet of creativity and fun; which is to say why I’m on manrepeller.com daily πŸ™‚ In fact I apply this mentality to everyday life. When shopping I spend my hard earned dollars with the help of a warm and smiling sales associate instead of her vacuous colleague who thinks is doing me
    a favour by showing up to work. Mind-boggling really. In fact bloggers who appear melancholic and grim looking are exaggerations of themselves and almost everything wrong with the fashion world. Fashion bloggers are the new kids on the fashion block as tastemakers and style purveyors. They have cracked the icy fashion world by way of ingenuity and relatability to the public. Their readers are taken along for the ride inside this snobby, esoteric yet tres chic society, as they too were once on the outside looking in. Point is smiling looks great and congeniality is even better. Being nice is the new bitch if being a bitch was ever cool. Or something like that. I think.

  • Antilla

    I’m from Geneva (Switzerland), and here when I observe people in the street, in the bus the morning, I notice that they are sad, that they don’t appreciate life. It’s horrible to see how people become individual. And I agree with you when you say that when you smile it make you fell better and it’s contagious! In fact we need not much to live better.
    Thank you for this post.

  • obsessed with all this distressed denim


  • Amalie Espeland

    i so agree! be happy πŸ˜€ I mean, if a dark, mysterious, melancholic look is what you are trying to achieve, then fine. But, smiling makes others smile. Smiling creates a friendly, accommodating look. Not a hey- i’m awesome- but what’s with you- kinda look. so yeah, i love the first photo. i need a blouse like that.

  • vittoria gallacci

    When I smile one eye closes more than the other one…. πŸ™‚



  • GUS

    Your blog is just amazing !!!

  • LOVE these photos! the girls are gorgeous and I love the denim, especially the overalls. Smiles are so refreshing; bloggers should definitely incorporate more smiles into their blogs, including me! xx


  • Maria Nichole

    I am OBSESSED with Tiffany Hsu’s style (the smiling gal in the second photo). Check out my post about her personal style here on the Mawi London Blog.


  • Ellen Donbeck

    I agree! I love how you smile and have fun with your blog! You always inspire my mind and my closet πŸ˜‰


  • Kiah

    So funny… I touched on this subject a few weeks ago. I have to say that I feel like over-smiling (showing teeth) takes away from the clothing. I tend to focus more on the face, teeth, hair & makeup and so the fabulous fashions get lost. I hardly ever see a super models smiling as they strut down the runway. I believe the designers force that so that their clothes give the impression, not the individual. I’m no where near a super model but I do separate my “real” personality from my “style” personality. Just call me SASHA FIERCE! lol Great post!

  • I love seeing smiling fashion pictures, it help brighten my day and remind me that you don’t have to be miserable to be beautiful and stylish.
    Fashion has a sense of humour to it that make it more versatile and welcoming to the masses.
    I like your post and enjoy reading all your funny and humours mood poured out in a page.

  • Sarrie

    I actually am really bad at smiling. Happens to be, I’m a pretty upbeat person and can’t even manage to find my inner pms. Still, I have to agree with Ms. Medine, smiling definitely gives forth a warmth that one person should have towards another, unless there is a severe case of animosity which would then call for some spitting and flicking.

  • The problem is smiling accentuates my chubby cheeks and makes me look awkward so I’d rather look mean and stoic on photos. But I agree that a smile instantly lights up a picture and lets the viewer relate to it much more!

  • Vanesa

    I absolutely love everything you do! You’re definitely and amaaaazing source of inspiration to me! πŸ™‚ http://boobsandloubs.blogspot.hu/

  • Agree!

  • P. Bateman

    Wow… All three smiles are gorgeous, however I do have a favorite.

  • Jamie

    I love the overalls! You’ve inspired me to get break out an old pair, I’ve been thinking of getting rid of them but they look so cute on you!

  • Well, I love fashion bloggers that look happy in their outfit posts.




  • Jen

    I love this post. I agree 100%

    I featured TMR on my blog a little while ago.


    I’m a mom of three girls and an actor in SF.

    You are rocking it girl!

  • Stephanie

    A Smile with a capital S is what makes me happy in my blog posts. With all the sullen faces around, a friendly face might loan some lonely desperate person, seeking fashion inspiration, a smile of their own. In fact, I tend to crack up– nostrils flaring and all in front of the camera!


  • Duda duda

    As a natural smile when you are autentic smiling person, no matter what people say…

  • rhodawong

    bloggers + smiling = good (:


  • Thorunn

    I always smile on my blog! http://www.double-pizzazz.com

  • Amber

    Well written and thought-provoking as always. I wish there were more fashion blogs like you.


  • yvonne

    Sometimes I dont smile in photos, to appear more natural and at ease.. as if it was almost candid. haha.

  • I agree that smiling brings back some sort of authenticity to street style photos! No one is actually walking around all day smizing and sucking their cheekbones in (at least I hope not). I really enjoy your smiling pics because they reflect what I think sets apart your blog from so many others (beyond the whole man-repelling thing): fun, life, ease, and a whole not-taking-everything-too-seriously type of attitude!



  • CJ

    I, for one, have fallen into the smiling-isn’t-chic brigade, but I think that’s because I’m young and have been brainwashed by all of those hauntingly hot photos on websites like mrblasberg.com which feature models and editors who bare frowns that say “I have a secret but I can’t tell it to you unless you look equally as unhappy as I am.” The day Anna Wintour smiles in a photo will be the day you can throw in the towel and say your work is done…until then, keep smiling.

  • Jessica @ Mrs.Doll

    When I am reviewing photos for my blog posts I always tend to gravitate towards ones with a smile. I like photos where I look happy. They don’t always turn out to be the best of the group though so non-smiling photos take the win sometimes.

  • This just made my day! ok here’s my thing right… Ok, so fabulous fashionistas above…Overalls are so much fun! And taking photos in the street is fun! Enjoy yourself and laugh it up more often! And I think the next one is Tiffany but could be wrong… it is so good to see her having a laugh! a) she’s at Fashion Week b) looking bonkers amazing and what is there not to smile about!! and Julia Sarr-Jamois every time you get dressed jump for joy! Look at your wardrobe! and the places you go! And after all… we’re talking fashion! IT IS MEANT TO BE FUN! It’s not war and peace! Laugh and smile fashionistas you are amazing, talented and blessed. Leandra, you rock my world. πŸ™‚

  • Dusty Petals

    Nothing screams out style more than a genuine smile!!!! Great post! xox


  • chicfashion
  • muguettt

    waooow these bloggers are smiling!! =))

    for my diy fashion blog:

  • Julia Style Me

    So true about the smiling. When I work on a fashion shoot, I would always, request models to smile. I always feel happier smiling in my blogs, besides I am too long in the tooth to pose looking cool – I will leave that to the fresh faced younger bloggers who can radiate without smiling!

  • Faye de Lanty

    Another genius approach from you Miss MR. I agree style can be way too up its own arse most of the time and its crazy that we see smiling as such an exception! I say show your fashion fangs for all to see! Faye x

  • I feel bloggers don’t think they will be taken seriously if they smile. I personally would love to smile more in photos but when I smile I resemble my dad in a blonde wig circa ’87.
    I think everyone should smile though, it’s free after all and generally the best accessory, except maybe a Charlotte Olympia Perspex clutch.


  • while smiling does detract from the clothes and vision of a human clothes hanger, i really like seeing pearly whites in fashion. i admire the happiness of the beautifully dressed, which makes them even more gorgeous. Then my line of sight and envy tracks to what they’re wearing. To me, high fashion objectifies models and robs them of their universally human smiles to draw our attention to the materialistic

  • Maarten Gubbens

    OMG, All three smiles are gorgeous, but i like the first one..:)
    Mens Fashion

  • MarthaDahhling

    Smiling makes street style post and outfit posts just look a million times better. There’s a certain ease and carefree feeling in a photo wear the wearer is smiling. Makes it look less contrived and more open. Everyone should smile – it’ll lead to fewer wrinkles.

  • Michelle

    The frown is OUT!

    What’s not to love about a truly genuine smile? It truly is the best accessory. Thank you for posting this!

  • hattie

    smiles are contagious! smile at some one and they smile back. you may have just made their day by injecting a sunny smile into it. so imagine picking up a mag and seeing smiles your guna wana look at those pics and absorb the whole look. http://cliftonhairmania.com/

  • brant torok

    I smile all the time; a woman said in my hearing ‘I don’t like smiley people.’ She was a scowler.

  • brant torok

    Why are they all young women?

  • I love to see anything fashion-related (from editorials to blogs) that feature honest, spontaneous expressions. Doesn’t matter if it’s a smile or a yawn, everything that isn’t a bitchy smize with a slightly open mouth complements any outfit wonderfully and should be encouraged. Goofiness is also amazing, it looks like you are living your clothes, instead of just carrying them around on your body. And that’s what I like about the ManRepeller, it has a human factor that makes everything much more approachable and I love it.

  • i keep seeing pretty smiles and DENIM =]
    smiling makes me feel instantly happier. but smiling in front of a camera is so gdamn awkward!


  • jdfashionfreak

    this is great ! I do smile a lot, but in the pictures you can’t really see it …. hmmm just wonder why ??

  • bellalucca33

    Someone told me that “a smile is the best accessory!”

  • Lose it?
  • I love this. Smiling is so under-rated!