Have I mentioned that 2016 was a huge year for Style and Cheek? Because it was a HUGE year you guys. For the past three years I’ve put together a Year in Review post and I love it because it gives me perspective on just how much things have changed in a year. And since this was Style and Cheek’s most successful year to date there’s a lot to cover, from sponsored posts to nonstop events. While work was busy, my personal life was a little rocky. Big changes came this summer with the blog and ending two post series, I had a lot of drama with friends, and a lot of “what the hell am I doing” moments.
It’s so weird to end a year and feel like wow fuck 2016 but also holy shit thank you 2016 for giving me a chance! I’d done collaboration posts before 2016 and even received free product for the posts but this year I finally secured sponsored posts. And if you don’t know what that means, it means that I got paid for my work. I’ve done well with affiliate links but sponsored posts are a lot easier because you get paid for one project and know exactly how much you’ll receive. This was a big deal for me and the blog.
It made me realize how much I like writing about experiences, reviewing products, and sharing cool things with you. This year I was immensely grateful to dive into sponsored posts and review products. It was awesome and made the work I did incredibly rewarding. It’s not only validating as a creative, but it feels nice having someone trust you enough to give you one, the independence to create something that fits with your brand and two, believe the time and effort you spent is worth money. And more money means more things to buy and try and talk about on the blog. But it’s not all about money as you’ll see in these favorite posts.
Calling each of these posts a favorite doesn’t just mean I love them. These posts were significant. Posts that made me learn something. Posts I’m proud of. The biggest thing I learned going back through this year of posts was that I didn’t love everything I was putting out during the first half of the year. It was obvious to me the ones that I threw together in a rush, and that happens when you’re trying to churn out content five times a week. I’m not saying that writing five posts a week is bad by any means, I did it for almost five years and sometimes you’re super inspired. But I realized I need to find a balance. That’s what I’m hoping to work on in 2017. Balance.
I’d be grateful if I was able to be as successful in 2017 as I was in 2016. But at the same time, I’d love it if I could figure things out personally. Hence the need for balance. My goal for 2017 is to do better. I know I am capable of putting out work my readers enjoy and I will use the tools I have available to do the best that I can and keep growing. Thank you to everyone who believes in me and enjoys reading Style and Cheek! Here are my favorite blog posts of 2016.
1. Art! A topic I don’t discuss often on the blog but one I love. Two of my favorite blog posts in 2016 were about art. First, a post about art under $200 which provided some direction on where to find great affordable art, and second a post featuring one of my favorite artists, Stephanie Vovas whose work is all about 1970’s Hollywood glamour. These posts were mostly about sharing things that inspired me so I was so so so so so pumped when Stephanie Vovas herself commented on my post saying how happy she is that I’m a fan! I was starstruck! She’s just as sweet as I thought she would be and ugh hearing that someone is happy about something you’ve written about them is part of why I do what I do. So thank you Stephanie for that.
2. I don’t want this post to be focused too much on posts I’m proud of but I did want to talk about my Parachute Home post. For the past five years my most popular post has been a baby shower inspiration post I did when my sister in law was pregnant with my niece Riley. It was the only time I’ve written about baby showers and yet it’s been the most popular, that is until I wrote a review about Parachute Home’s bedding line. A post I put a ton of effort into because I freaking love their products. The pride I feel is for both the post itself and for the fact that a post I actually care about (no offense to baby showers) is getting traction!
3. While food is always a big topic on Style and Cheek, one of the posts that made more of an impact on our life and eating habits was the roundup of vegan recipes I put together when Dan went vegan for a month. Often we don’t get to try all of the recipes I post about in roundups before I post them, but this was different. We tried all but one and have made most of the recipes multiple times. We eat the chana masala on a regular basis. I’ve even bookmarked this post since we come back to it often.
4. 2016 was the year I shared my fitness story! I had no idea people would be interested in hearing about my fitness journey since I’m no crossfit or yoga guru, but when I finally did it, I realized that everyone struggles as much as I do with fitness. Whether it’s finding time to workout, working through an injury, or finding the right workout for them. Then during the summer I was invited to a Flywheel event and took my first cycle class! Before 2016 I didn’t have the confidence to take a class with a bunch of people. But 2016 was a big year for me fitness wise and I’m glad I decided to go for it.
5. Oh boy outfit posts. I struggled with outfit posts this year. My year-long collaboration with Moorea Seal ended halfway through the year with one of my favorite outfit posts (thanks to photographer Shaun Turley), a simple purple wrap dress and heels. But after that I only wanted to do outfit posts when I had a product to talk about which wasn’t as structured as my monthly outfit posts with Moorea Seal. Another favorite outfit post was the one I did in collaboration with Hanes. From that point on I had a lot more confidence in my style and my body. Plus working with Hanes was easy and fun.
6. I’m not sure it we’re going to continue doing food posts in 2017. However, the one recipe post I loved was our spring snack board with olive tapenade. We got very lucky with light that day and I liked how the photos came out. As a blogger you’re your biggest critic but this post not only felt true to what Dan and I eat when we’re treating ourselves to a stay-in date night but it looked good too!
7. Change was constant throughout 2016 and one of the biggest changes was Jamie of Hello There, Lady! and I ending our Tuesday/Wednesday collaborations. I was very sad to lose her but the time had come and we both knew it. She put out amazing content for Beauty Basics every week and I know readers really loved her beauty insight (s0 did I!) but the series I most enjoyed was Recreate The Look, and her California Beauty Look was my favorite of the year.
8. Dan and I went to Austin! Austin is cool. We did an insane amount of planning before we went, mostly about restaurants we wanted to visit and damn Austin has great food. I wrote an entire post about restaurants in Austin and I know we didn’t even scratch the surface. We treated ourselves and stayed in Hotel San José which is a really cool boutique hotel in South Congress. Talk about endless inspiration. This place was like a gorgeous private jungle. And I’m pretty sure we both think about the food in Austin nonstop. Café No Sé! G’Raj Mahal! I wanna go back! And maybe stay at Hotel Saint Cecilia?? *wishful thinking. It’s the more posh sister to Hotel San José so I can only imagine how beautiful it is.
9. Beauty posts! Not just beauty posts but sponsored beauty posts! Yep, this was the year of experimenting with beauty posts. I’d like to do more beauty tutorials and was very happy with my drugstore makeup tutorial with Bartell Drugs (my first makeup tutorial ever). A month later I wrote a review on Nexxus New York Salon Care products that I was very proud of. It made me realize that I like writing about my experience with beauty products. It was also the first sponsored post I wrote which required me to submit a draft to the brand which made me feel like legit blogger (I know, these milestones are probably weird to you but it was a big deal!)
10. We did away with HSWI halfway through 2016 and as much as I love some of the outfits I put together over the years, it was a huge relief. There were a few bright spots but I found them very stressful. Sometimes I think, “but wasn’t it great knowing what each store had available at any given moment?” Yes, I was always on top of trends and products which was helpful. But I wasn’t putting out work I was proud of. So it had to go. Even though this year of HSWI didn’t have as many favorites for me as previous years, I liked the bodysuits with skirts post best. RIP HSWI, you’ll be missed…kinda.
11. I got lucky this year when it came to events. I did a lot of cool things! This isn’t a bragging thing, this is a ohmygosh Julia you left the house and did things! But not all of the events included a professional photographer so I wasn’t able to share everything with you. This cake decorating class however was well documented and freaking amazing. Jenn of Hello Rigby and I won this cake decorating class with Bells Pastries through an Instagram giveaway and I had such a blast. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy the class! I definitely recommend one of Jasmin Bell’s classes for those who are interested in baking. These are the kind of posts I love sharing with readers because it’s something I’ve experienced that they can go do too!
12. This was the only hair inspiration post I did this year and I love it. It solidified that I needed to cut my hair off. I was drawn to the shorter cuts without even realizing it. That Lily Collins photo with her red hair is still my favorite. It was the only crazily dyed of the whole bunch, surprisingly since it was the year of unicorn hair. But 2016 felt more like the year of hair accessories than anything else. What do you think 2017 hair inspiration has in store for us?
13. Jewelry was a big one this year. I don’t know if I put it out into the universe that I needed to expand my jewelry box or what but I was introduced to a lot of great jewelry brands this year. Then I was invited as a guest to a Kendra Scott influencer cocktail party and dinner which was a nice intimate way to introduce us to the brand. I wrote about my favorite pieces after the event. And I was lucky enough to collaborate on a cool post with local brand Silver + Salt jewelry and my friend Esther of Uncommon Cartography.
14. 2016 was the year of dresses on Style and Cheek. I didn’t realize how many dress posts I wrote until I went through all of them. From t-shirt dresses to casual LBDs to a holiday dress roundup, I was super into dresses this year. But my post about holiday dresses was by far the most exciting. That’s something I’d like in my life, more party dresses or reasons to wear party dresses. What are your thoughts on party dresses? Unnecessary or wish you had more excuses to wear them?
15. The 2016 Visual Survey may have been my favorite post of the entire year. I had a great time putting it together and really loved searching for photos based on vibes and having absolutely no expectations for the post. If you want a kind of therapeutic post, you should consider making one for yourself. Even if you don’t post it for the public. I like how it summed up 2016 and set some expectations for 2017. Plus I like pretty pictures. :) Now let’s hope 2017 kicks some serious ass.