5 Things I Wish I'd Known About the Fashion Industry When I Started
I've thought about clothes my entire life. I have fond memories of planning outfits for my various Barbie dolls, forgoing my fourth-grade birthday party for a trip to Gap Kids instead, and spending any allowance I ever earned on something new for my closet.
So you can imagine my excitement when I learned at a young age that I could actually earn a living working in fashion. As I grew up and began figuring out exactly what I wanted to do in the business (I ultimately landed on writing and editing), I spent my spare time learning about the industry—and, more specifically, the publishing world. But TBH, reading every book I could, learning from internships, and, yes, binge-watching The Hills didn't fully teach me everything I needed to know about succeeding in fashion. Sure, I figured it out eventually (I have my dream job now!), but I often wonder if life would've been easier (my magazine assistant jobs were tough!) if I knew more specifics about what I was getting myself into in this oftentimes crazy business.
Now, several years later, there's still stuff I'm trying to learn about the fashion industry, but there are things I wish I'd known way back then too.
Keep scrolling for the seven things I wish I learned at 22. Plus, go a bit further to shop some of my favorite fashion finds fit for any creative job.
There's a misconception in the industry that having the latest It bag (or shoe, or coat, you get the drill) is crucial to succeeding and looking the part. In fact, I've known colleagues (I'm including myself here) that end up blowing an entire hard-earned paycheck just to own something current to prove their worth in fashion. Although, as I learned over time, it's really not that bag that's going to get you ahead. It's your attitude and how you treat others. Sure, in the moment that item may seem like everything, and sure, you may look the part, but at the end of the day, a boss will forget that you had that bag and will remember who had the best attitude and who was the hardest worker when it comes to a promotion.
When I first started out in the industry, I used to stress about the quality of my outfits. But as we've already discussed, owning the latest designer items isn't everything. What I eventually learned is that styling skills are actually far more important than finding the means to buy a luxurious item. You can wear head-to-toe H&M and look like a million bucks if you train your eye to find the best, most expensive looking items in an affordable shop and learn how to style those items like a pro.
No, no, The Devil Wears Prada isn't totally real, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't experienced glimpses of Miranda Presley in various colleagues (don't worry—none at WWW). I used to freak (internally of course!) when dealing with difficult people and would lose countless of hours of sleep trying to figure out how to deal with then. But over time, I learned that at the end of the day, you just have to roll with it and not let the mean girls get to you. It'll only bring you down in the future. It's best to just rise above it all and move forward.
While you do have to fake it till you make it in some regards, being yourself will go much farther for you than pretending to be something you're not. For example, there's no reason to stoop to a colleague's mean nature to fit in. It's better to let your true personality shine through. It will get noticed, and you will rise up. Look at me!
While it may seem like you have to say "yes" to everything, it is okay to say no sometimes. After my first year working, I learned that if you're out with industry cohorts and you know you have a super-early morning the next day that you need to prepare for, it really is okay to bow out—nobody is going to think anything less of you (despite what you may think). Of course, if your boss asks you to do something, always say "yes." Duh.
What's your best career advice? Let us know in the comments below!
Opening Image: Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème