The summer before Taylor Swift released 1989, the paparazzi captured the pop sensation’s every waking moment in Manhattan. For Sarah Kucharski, it was a golden era.
Kucharski obsessively identifies and critiques Swift’s style in real-time, and Swift’s big move to New York in the summer of 2014 was the challenge she’d been waiting for.
“It was wild,” Kucharski says. “Every single day, maybe even twice a day, there would be new outfits and it was so much fun. It was so much fun.”
In 2011, Kucharski started Taylor Swift Style, also known as “TSS”—“the original Taylor Swift blog,” the account claims on Instagram. Today, she still spends around 20 hours a week working on the blog and she counts Swift herself and Swift’s stylist among her followers.
Kucharski says when she started the blog in 2011, there wasn’t anything like it.
“At the time, celebrity fashion accounts weren’t really as much a thing as I think they are now, where there’s kind of a closet account for every celebrity,” she told The Daily Beast.
On the blog and Instagram, Kucharski identifies almost everything Swift wears anytime she’s photographed: red carpet, candid shot, Instagram post, TV appearance—everywhere. Kucharski identifies the skirts, the tops, the dress, the rings on her finger. She’s even dabbled in identifying furniture that pops up in the background of Swift’s Instagram. On a good day, she can even identify Swift’s clothes within an hour after a new photo pops up.
“It was definitely a lot of trial and error,” she says, “but it’s gotten to a point where you are kind of able to spot brands just by sight alone just because you’re in it all the time and you can just recognize her favorite brands and her go-tos.”
Eventually Kucharski found her groove, mixing in some fashion criticism to her original process. When Swift wore a romper from the Mary Katrantzou Resort 2015 collection at the 2014 VMAs, Kucharski wrote, “The nicest thing I can probably say about this is… her legs look great?” She named the moment “The Incident”—an outfit her blog still references.
Kucharski might have been the first of her kind, though Selena’s Closet, a style site and Instagram account for Selena Gomez, began shortly after in 2012. In recent years, this type of Instagram has blown up.
Jenna, who prefers not to disclose her last name, got into the game by helping run a dedicated style account for actress Genevieve Padalecki. Wanting to branch off on her own, she started “Margot Fashion Files” in 2015, right before Margot Robbie starred in Suicide Squad.
“In real life, I’m not a fashion person,” Jenna says. “I just buy whatever and wear whatever, but I do enjoy looking at the current fashion trends.”
Jenna has invested a few hundred dollars into the style website. She uses an affiliate program but has only made 25 pounds, about 30 bucks, from it to date.
Jenna says it’s all just for the thrill of finding the matching piece.
“[Robbie] wears a lot of boutique kinds of pieces, so you might not know what she’s wearing,” Jenna says. “I spent two years looking for a pair of boots that she wore—that’s how dedicated I am when I focus on something.”
Still, there might be money to be made. Kucharski says she makes money from her blog, but declined to give specifics.
For Airien Leight, who runs @petedavidsonsstyle on Instagram, it’s not about affiliate links. The 14-year-old says she started the account in May because of lack of “good Pete Davidson style accounts.”
“I made one because I know how big of a role fashion plays in Pete’s personality and then Pete actually followed me when I had like 12 followers, which was insane, but then obviously a few days later, he deleted his account,” Leight says. (Davidson deleted his account after posting he didn’t want to be on Earth anymore.)
Lately, Instagram has been purging some of these style accounts. Kucharski didn’t say why she believes her original Instagram account @tayswiftstyledotcom was disabled in May, but several style accounts have started to create backup accounts in case theirs get purged.
The account @baldwinsclosett is a backup style account for model Hailey Bieber. Its bio reads that the original account was disabled with 100,000 followers.
Still, Kucharski says she never thought about quitting the blog because it’s a labor of love. And even with the target of her obsession as a follower, Kucharski continues to post her opinions on Swift’s fashion choices—the good, the bad and ugly.
Kucharski says she is committed to being “critically kind” even when she thinks an outfit misses the mark. “Just because you’re a fan doesn’t mean you can’t express your genuine opinion in a constructive, kind, polite way.”
After all, Swift might be watching.