14 Successful Fashion Industry Insiders Who Dropped Out of School

In the world of fashion, where it seems like everyone is highly educated, intelligent, and worldly, it would consequently be a bit surprising to learn that some very successful people actually didn’t graduate from college—or, in some cases, go to school at all.

But for many of the most recognizable names in the business, that’s just the case. Anna Wintour left her finishing school to move to London and jump into the world of fashion publishing. After two years at Parsons, Alexander Wang dropped out to intern. Giorgio Armani left medical school upon realizing he wanted to pursue a fashion career.

Keep scrolling to learn more of the biggest names who never completed college!

Anna Wintour

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Anna Wintour dropped out of finishing school to live in London.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

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The Olsen twins began studying at NYU in 2004 but left, citing “personal issues” involving safety and growing responsibilities with Dualstar Entertainment. 

Alexander Wang

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Wang dropped out of Parsons The New School for Design after just two years to work as an intern and begin his career. 

Blake Lively

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Beginning her career at age 16, Blake Lively started acting right after high school. She has not yet gone to college, though she plans to one day.

Donna Karan

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Donna Karan dropped out of Parsons at age 18 to work in New York and start making connections. 

Coco Chanel

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Chanel left school at the young age of 18, never seeking to pursue a higher education. 

Giorgio Armani

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Armani dropped out of medical school at the University of Bologna once he realized he hated the sight of blood.

Sophia Amoruso

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Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal, dropped out of her community college to work as a security guard at an art school in order to acquire health insurance

Heidi Klum

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Klum began modeling immediately after graduating high school.

Jason Wu

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Wu studied at Parsons but dropped out to intern for a designer before ever earning a degree.

Kanye West

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West transferred to Chicago State University from the American Academy of Art in Chicago after just one semester. He eventually dropped out, however, to pursue a music career.

Michael Kors

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Kors dropped out of school to begin his fashion career after only two semesters.

Ralph Lauren

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Lauren quit business school at Baruch College to design ties; he launched Polo Ralph Lauren that same year.

Reese Witherspoon

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Witherspoon enrolled at Stanford University but dropped out to act full-time.

Do you think you'd be successful in fashion without a degree? Sound off below, and shop some of our favorite collegiate-inspired pieces too!