Many people read fashion blogs for reviews and inspiration, but there are also those of you out there reading these words preparing to enter the fashion industry. You are part of the next generation of designers, buyers, stylists, strategists, and editors, and step one of going into a career is always to learn as much as you can about it.
Fashion is a particularly tricky field, considering its incredibly fast-paced yet principled nature, and keeping up with the industry requires a lot of commitment and discipline. Here are some tips on keeping fashion a part of your life:
- Follow blogs on all of your devices and always have a magazine on hand
Use apps like Bloglovin’ to browse various blogs from your phone, and keep a list of your favorite blogs on your computer so that you don’t forget to look them up each day. Having a magazine in your bag at all times will allow you to always be working, as well.
- Learn the jargon
Although clothes seem fairly uncomplicated — skirt, jeans, shirts, coats, what’s there to learn? — professionals have to know exactly what about a shirt is right or wrong, what details to look for, and what makes a specific article of clothing unique. When your job is based on aesthetics and putting together an outfit, suggesting “boots” rather than “heels” is too vague. You have to think, for example, about the specific heel height, whether the front is open or closed, or whether the fit is slouchy or tight. Check out this great comprehensive fashion glossary from Women’s Wear Daily.
- Know the material
Literally. Understand how different materials hang, feel, and look. Oftentimes the textures and extent of the variations between, say, organza and taffeta do not come across as well in pictures online, yet the two fabrics are not the same. Visit your local arts and crafts store and try to get to know the materials. Or better yet, just go to your closet!
- Read about the business side
Research key players in the fashion industry — the CEOs, the creative directors, the designers behind the brands. Know how different people affect a brand, major events (for example, YSL’s transformation into Saint Laurent or Marc Jacobs’ departure from Louis Vuitton or Angela Ahrendt’s success at Burberry, not to mention her fairly recent move to Apple), and the general “mission statement” of the both the largest companies and your favorite brands. Websites like Business of Fashion are incredibly informative and often have great interviews with insiders.
- Make fashion a part of your daily routine
Rather than checking on your favorite blogs or flipping through a magazine when you have free time, schedule time during your day to do those things. Also important is the fact that you should be reading as a researcher, not a hobbyist. Study and analyze what you see, how items are worn, the strategy and care behind the decisions that were made, and then apply what you learn to how you dress and how you think about fashion. Be active and focused.
- Investigate gadgets that can help with garment routines
Clothes require careful handling – washing, drying and ironing. Learn about modern devices, such as a steam generator iron or a garment steamer. Find out how they work and what could be your benefit from owning them. Visit Steamer Specialists for more information.
- Talk to like-minded and industry people
Become friends with the salespeople at relatively high-end stores, because more likely than not they are there because they want a career in fashion. Notice those around you — classmates, colleagues — who dress well and try to learn. Join clubs, participate in forums, and if you make a contact, keep the relationship active. You never know who you’re talking to, so always be friendly. Also, others like you who are looking to make contacts will appreciate that you are serious about fashion if you can show that you know what you are talking about.
- Get a job in retail
Getting an internship at places like Kate Spade or Condé Nast can be a little easier if you have experience as a sales associate at, for example, Barney’s. You can be exposed to new brands, learn what customers like, and get paid!
As always, thanks for reading and get out there, you strong, intelligent, well-dressed, ambitious overachiever, you! People say that the phrase “work hard and you’ll achieve your dreams” is unrealistic, but remember that you are different from other people. What one person considers hard work, you might consider average. You will make different decisions, have different perspectives and contributions, and you know what? That dream job you’re thinking about? Becoming CEO of Burberry, creative director at Prada? Someone is going to get it…so why not you?