Playing dress-up and calling it work

by Alyssa Gocinski / Beacon Staff • February 27, 2014

Senior writing, literature, and publishing major Celina Colby models for a blog post about sweater season.
Photo courtesy of Jamie Kaplan.
Senior writing, literature, and publishing major Celina Colby models for a blog post about sweater season.
Photo courtesy of Jamie Kaplan.

Have you ever wanted to create a purse out of a book, but not known how? Trends and Tolstoy, the personal blog of a book lover, tells you how to do just that, and provides readers with anything from fashion show coverage to step-by-step tutorials.

Celina Colby, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major, created Trends and Tolstoy in February 2011 and has been updating it consistently ever since.

“Originally it was just for myself to keep track of my outfits so I didn’t repeat them,” she said. “But it’s become more than that.”

Although many posts feature Colby modeling her own clothes, Trends and Tolstoy also includes sections on DIY, product reviews, and lifestyle and travel posts, among others.

She said she usually shops at H&M and Forever 21, but she also likes to support local boutiques. She said she also spends a lot of her time thrifting and repurposing.

“It’s hard to choose my favorite outfit,” she said. “But I love anything with a tutu.”

Many posts consist of pictures of her modeling clothes with commentary on the different elements of her outfits, but some posts are simply wrap-ups of her day, with fashion aspects incorporated within.

Colby, a fan of classic Russian literature, said she included the name of her favorite author in the title. Although she said she has a passion for reading, she rarely writes about literature in her blog.

Trends and Tolstoy has been featured and recognized in numerous magazines and blogs, such as Emerson’s Chaos magazine and College Fashionista, and was named 2013 BEST Fashion Blog winner by The Boston A-List. 

“Once I studied abroad and met new people at the castle I gained a much larger audience,” she said. “I’ve even been recognized on the T before.”

She conducts photo shoots throughout the week and updates the blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with the help of her photographer, Jamie Kaplan, a senior visual and media arts major.

“I get to play dress up and call it working,” she said. “It’s kind of becoming my identity, my full time job.”

She said she drew inspiration from following This Time Tomorrow, a fashion blog that documents models showcasing a variety of styles and fashions as well as commentary from the blog’s creator, Krystal.

“I figured that if other people can create their own successful fashion blogs, so can I,” she said.

Trends and Tolstoy also has followings on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, and Colby said she plans to continue updating the blog after graduation.

Kaplan has been Colby’s main photographer since 2012, and helps her with many of her fashion photo shoots. 

“It’s fun for me because I’ve always been into photography,” she said. “It’s a way for me to do something I enjoy multiple times per week.”

They met as roommates during freshman year of college, and she said Colby asked her if she’d be willing to take fashion pictures for Trends and Tolstoy.

“A lot of the time hobbies fall by the wayside when you’re busy with schoolwork, so it’s cool that I get to do something I love,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan said they plan 20-minute photo shoots three times a week, usually in the downtown Boston area, and she uses a Canon Rebel T3i.

“The only part of this process that we both don’t like is when it’s so cold outside,” Kaplan said. “But at least I get to wear a coat — no one needs to see my outfit.”

Clare Fuller, a junior writing, literature, and publishing major, said she started following Colby’s blog last November after being in a writing class with her.

“Trends and Tolstoy is totally indicative of the professional style she gives off,” she said. “It’s very well-managed and values writing just as much as its fashionable content.”

 She said when she started following the blog, she immediately fell in love with the way Colby incorporates her own unique voice into what she writes.

 “Every post has a distinctly ‘Celina’ tone to it,” she said. “She tends to add witty comments in all her posts and it really adds personality to the blog.”