MY SEQUINED LIFE WITH THE SCARLET BOB
Although she worked for an advertising agency, Gemma Sherlock was drawn to fashion: “It was always my passion outside of my job.”
But after advancing as much as she could throughout her company, “I had an epiphany,” she recalls. “I went on a yoga retreat five years ago to the south of France. I came back and quit my job, and everyone was like, ‘She’s actually lost it.” I said, ‘I actually haven’t. This is the most sane I’ve felt in a while.'”
So she dove into fashion as a stylist in her native country of Ireland. She worked on television commercials and wrote editorials. But it still didn’t feel quite right: “It wasn’t the type of fashion that I wanted to be doing,” Gemma says. So, naturally, she moved to the States because, “as they say, ‘Until you make it in America, you haven’t made it.'” She got a visa, flew over a few times to make sure it was really what she wanted, then permanently moved to Bushwick. And that’s how The Scarlet Bob was born.
In 2008, blogging of any kind–but especially the fashion documentation so widespread today–was pretty new. “There weren’t any big names yet. It was in its infancy stages,” explains Gemma. “I was looking at all of these style blogs, and I just thought, ‘My style is more interesting.'”
Gemma says The Scarlet Bob is “a slightly exaggerated version” of herself. But past the fun, colorful exterior is a seriously sharp, thoughtful fashion critic. While her own motto is “Be ridiculous, be outrageous, be yourself,” she’s seen that popular fashion doesn’t necessarily encourage this mindset. “Fashion has become very safe… Everybody’s looking the same. It’s become quite formulaic,” explains Gemma. What’s more, she’s found many popular fashion blogs lack substance. “They’re not saying anything of importance,” she says. While she lauds them for their success, she asks, “Long term, what are you doing? Where does that leave you, and what are you saying?”
But it’s not just within the fashion sphere. Sameness permeates our society. “We are, as women, shown by the media that actually it’s not okay to be who you are or look the way you are,” says Gemma. “It’s this idea of beauty–who decided that anyway?”
What’s more, this ideal look doesn’t even exist naturally. Gemma gives the example of the Kardashians: “They’ve had so much work done on themselves… Their bodies are filled and tucked and it’s not real. People are trying to kill themselves to be that and it’s like, sorry, love, you’re gonna have to get part of your jaw sliced off. It’s really unhealthy. That level is unattainable.”
The Scarlet Bob stands out in a sea of baylaged blondes. In her blog, Gemma celebrates her self and her style, presenting the real, authentic aspects of her “non-glamorous life.”
“It’s about poking fun at that side of things, and having fun and not trying to pretend that I live this really glamorous life because I actually don’t.”
Authenticity is key, but “it has to come naturally,” as she says. So Gemma plays to her strength: her sense of humor. “I win class clown awards in places I’ve worked, I think I’m hilarious, so I make myself laugh a lot… so I’ve tried to integrate that. I’ve even evolved since some of the stuff I first started writing — it’s gotten a bit more crazy, in a fun way.” (Just for the record, Gemma is truly quite funny; I can attest to laughing often during our interview.)
As for The Scarlet Bob’s fashion sense, a statement Gemma makes can sum it up: “Sequins are for life.” She adds, “I like to wear them all the time because it makes me feel good, and why not?”
But how can we change this repetitive fashion regime? Perhaps by donning our own Scarlet Bob: “Wearing more color would really help everybody’s emotional state of mind,” Gemma muses. Maybe you’re not quite ready for the look. Either way, this is a call to action to embrace your own style. As Gemma says, “People shouldn’t feel afraid to be different or individual. You can look at these people but you don’t have to be like them.”
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Photos © Alli Lorraine. All Rights Reserved.