I Deleted Instagram for a Month, and Now I Dress More Like Me

Last month, I was sitting in a meeting with the rest of the Who What Wear editors, and we got onto the topic of just how much time we spend scrolling through our Instagram feeds. Curious, I opened my phone to an obscure folder in my Settings. There I found the number of hours I spend on Instagram glaring back at me: 21 in seven days.

I was pretty jolted, but not wholly unsurprised. After all, it's a big part of our job as editors and we can regularly be found searching for inspiration in our "saved" folders. Even still, I'm sure that spending 18% of my waking hours on a singular app will have long-term repercussions I'm not yet able to account for, but what I was really curious about was how the app might be subconsciously affecting my outfits on the daily.

At this point, you might be gearing up for a preachy article discussing all the ways that social media is ruining society. While I'm sure there are salient points in support of that argument, that's not what I intend to do here. Instead, my Instagram detox was purely focused on testing out a theory that we've discussed at length in the Who What Wear office: Is personal style dead?

After a month sans social media, I took stock of which trends I was consistently passing on—and which I was still really into. Romantic, corset-inspired tops proved to still win me over.

All signs point to yes if you consider how quickly trends are adopted by seemingly everyone within eyesight. Think about how accustomed we've gotten to consuming even the most "out-there" fashion items like loud, clashing colors and PVC pieces. In the age of Instagram, is anything still authentic or are all the outfits we see carefully crafted to garner our fleeting attention (and valuable double-tap)?

I was curious to test out just how much outfit inspiration I gathered from outside sources versus how much I gathered from Instagram. Admittedly, I was scared of looking like everyone else. And yes, maybe I had ulterior motives for momentarily deactivating the app like, you know, being more present in my day-to-day life. I thought, Would it make getting dressed way harder? Or would it take a huge pressure off me, knowing that I wouldn't (and couldn't) document what I was wearing?

I retired the accessories I acquired purely for the 'gram, like PVC bags, and instead put more timeless pieces to use.

Almost instantly, I noticed a shift in which pieces began to float to the bottom of the pile and alternately, which garments I kept in constant rotation. I kind of expected this result, but ultimately, I let go of overly trendy items that had found their way into my closet purely due to their Instagram-worthy potential.

I was no longer reaching for my reveal-it-all plastic tote bag or my adorable (but impractical) rainbow sandals. It's not to say that I regret those purchases—it's hard to regret anything as mood-boosting as a pair of rainbow shoes—but halfway through my Instagram detox, it became abundantly clear to me which garments actually contributed to my sense of style and which just contributed to a quick "digital high."

Available in sizes XS to L.

Without the ability to consult my "saved" folder, regularly overflowing with outfit ideas, I challenged myself to search for inspiration elsewhere. On a recent visit to Venice Beach's infamous skate park, I took note of all the graphic T-shirts and cool layering ideas I saw, which sparked this grungy '90s look.

I never thought that my outfits took a turn to the "boring" throughout the month, though. I found that my offline style actually became so much more creative because it was more personal. So what if these outfits weren't the most photogenic? They were 100% "me," and I realized that aspect of fashion is worth its weight in gold.

I kept returning to pieces that held sentimental value, like my collection of heirloom necklaces handed down from my mother and grandmother and the plethora of one-of-a-kind vintage tops I've scored over the years.

I gravitated more toward vintage items like this checkered blazer and my grandmother's like-new Fendi bag than anything terribly of-the-moment.

I won't lie, just a week into my digital detox, I was itching to share every detail of my daily 'fit again, having even more reason to snap cute photos. But by the end of it all, I was beyond grateful for the practice of slowing down and taking stock of what really defines my personal style. As we head into fall, I'll be taking a much more intentional approach to shopping for the season ahead.

I leaned into silhouettes that felt more forward, like "baggy" jeans, even though they don't always come across as the most photogenic on camera.

Available in sizes 26 to 28.

For even more ways that Instagram influences our style, see which fashion items are all over celebrities' feeds.

Related Stories