Read an Excerpt from Danielle Bernstein’s “This Is Not a Fashion Story”

Danielle Bernstein seems far beyond her 27 years if her business portfolio is any indication. It currently includes her influencer pursuits; a collection with Macy’s; her own line of denim, overalls, and swim; and an influencer project management tool called Moe Assist—not to mention a stream of designer collaborations. She is a superior example of the millennial side hustle culture who managed to build a fashion empire. And now she can add author to her CV. She is debuting her first book, an autobiography, which may seem intense for someone who has yet to hit 30, but it reads more as a dating column-meets-career guide and a breakdown of social media ascent than simple life trajectory.

“I started writing a very different book five years ago after a horrible breakup and quickly realized that the timing wasn’t right,” Bernstein tells “Now, after 10 years since starting WeWoreWhat, I am finally ready to share all of me, the parts of me people don’t get to see on social media every day. My story is not just a fashion story, and I want to share the evolution of my career in hopes that it will help pave the way for others.”

Bernstein has faced her fair share of trolls in that 2.4 million followers, but she remains candid with each of them, bringing that transparency to This Is Not a Fashion Story: Taking Chances, Breaking Rules, and Being a Boss in the Big City.

“I wanted to share everything, all the different sides of me, my flaws and why I’ve succeeded. I’m hoping they take away something from my stories, whether it’s career motivation or the red flags to look out for when dating. I want my audience to feel closer to me after reading this book.”

Below, an excerpt from her new tome, which chronicles the early days of WeWoreWhat and how she blew up just as Instagram did, one follower and one photo at a time.

LESSON NINE: Stay Ahead of the Curve

At one point during 2012, I downloaded a new app called Instagram. I definitely wasn’t one of the first people on it. Instagram had been around for more than a minute before I made my first post: a blurry picture of my birthday cake. It took months for me to realize there could be synergy between my blog and this new social media platform. At first all I wanted to post were snaps of house parties and nights out with friends.

Until one night when Jess invited me to the birthday party of one of her coworkers at Hotel Chantelle on the Lower East Side. The venue has since lost its cachet, but back then, it was t​he ​place to be. Everyone wanted to party there—finance bros, students, and, yes, burgeoning bloggers. We were all jostling for a table on the rooftop, which had been decorated to feel like a park. There was dangly greenery, functioningParisian lamp posts, and a killer view of the city.

Jess and I happened to show up in identical outfits—a little black dress with biker boots. We laughed and each posted a photo of us to Instagram with the hashtag #twinning.

“Holy shit,” Jess yelled a few minutes later, her voice already hoarse from screaming over the music.“Your post already has so many likes.”

“Is that not normal?” I asked between sips of tequila on the rocks.“Fuck no. Look!” she replied.

My post had garnered four hundred likes and sixteen comments in less than thirty minutes. (For comparison, Jess’s version of the same photo only had ten likes and no comments.) I didn’t even know half of the people engaging with me. They were dying to know where they could buy my dress, how they could copy my hair. At that moment my alcohol-addled brain had a breakthrough: maybe Instagram had business potential.

But you have to remember: this was 2012. Instagram was still in its nascent phase. Only two years old, no one knew what the thing was. Was it more like LinkedIn or Facebook? Or was it a picture version ofTwitter? No one knew, and therefore the platform was a freaking free-for-all.

Still, it was dawning on me that the tool could be a major asset to my blog. Why not post my blog photos to my Instagram as a way to direct those followers to my site? Instagram was on our phones; our phones were always in our hands. Duh. This was the fastest way to reach people.

No longer would my readers have to open a web browser to visit the world of ​WeWoreWhat​. Now I was in their pockets, with them all the time. At the tips of their fingers. In theory, Instagram played off people’s obsession with reality TV, let- ting followers see what bloggers were actually wearing while we were still wearing it—even before Instagram Stories. Now I could post in real time. Gone were the days of running home to plug my camera into my computer. Instagram was instant, mobile, perfect.

In retrospect, I may have been one of the first bloggers to consciously cultivate my Instagram following and prioritize that over my blog’s readership. The rules to growing my following were simple. I engaged with my audience—whenever someone commented, I wrote back. I used hashtags to make myself more discoverable. I created a content calendar to plan my posts in advance. I also alternated between different types of photos—an outfit of the day post was followed by a new product arrival or lunch location—so that my feed never got stale.

After Instagram enabled tagging in 2013, my following grew astronomically. Now when I posted an outfit, I could tag every brand that I was wearing—and then that company would tag me in return, introducing me to their followers. I like to call this ​double exposure,​ and it’s the ultimate way to get eyeballs on your page. Always, always, always tag everyone and everything you can (and ask them to return the favor).And if a magazine like ​Harper’s Bazaar w​ ants to use my photo, they have to tag my account.

If you look at the strategic decisions I made during the early years of my blog—going from street style photos to pictures of myself, focusing so much on Instagram instead of the blog—it seems like I had aplan. In reality, I was flying by the seat of my pants, paving my path in an industry that was still mostly undefined. Hell, I was helping to pave the industry.

I actually think one of the biggest reasons I was successful was ​because I​ remained so nimble. I paid close attention to what both readers and the market were demanding. If something seemed to resonate with my readers, I gave them more of it. If the industry asked for something, I leaned into it. That’s whyWeWoreWhat ​will always be a work in progress, and why I’m always asking for feedback. We need to be ready to change day by day. Embracing that is why my blog succeeded where so many others failed.


Cover and excerpt from This Is Not a Fashion Story: Taking Chances, Breaking Rules, and Being a Boss in the Big City by Danielle Bernstein. Text copyright (c) 2020 by Danielle Bernstein. Reprinted by permission of Nextone Inc. All rights reserved.

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