Career Tips for the Fashion Industry

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You’ve skimmed the pages of Vogue and Cosmopolitan since you were just a child. You’ve put more effort into curating your closet than any other part of your life. It’s true—the glamour of the fashion industry draws you in. In practice, though, there’s more involved in having a successful career in the fashion industry than an eye for trends or a shoe collection to rival Carrie Bradshaw’s. That said, with the proper guidance (like the tips below!), you can develop your passion for fashion into a thriving career. 

Look the part. 

Fortunately, this step may be the easiest part for an aspiring fashionista. After all, you already love crafting perfect outfits for every occasion, and workwear should be no exception. When working in the fashion industry, your own clothes and accessories must demonstrate your expertise—while remaining professional, of course. Stay comfortable with practical pieces, but include a few choices that make an impact. You might turn to magnetic eyeliner and lashes for a glam touch or a statement necklace that adds a particularly bold touch to any look. 

Be prepared for the unexpected. 


The fast-paced, hectic environment is one aspect of working in the fashion industry that often surprises new recruits. With that in mind, whatever your specific role, you’ll inevitably find you need to think on your feet—which is one feat your Louboutins can’t accomplish for you. Whether it’s figuring out how to get rid of weed smell in clothes before an outfit needs to hit the runway or determining the best way to repair a frayed piece of fabric, you never know what crisis might arise as you work. Be ready to take it in stride and make a great impression in the process. Particularly when it comes to weed smell or smoke odors, be sure to have an odor eliminator and not just another product that masks odor, like an air freshener or a candle. You want to both look and smell like a million bucks, and weed smell doesn’t scream luxury.

Find successful role models. 


Ultimately, your career in the fashion industry will be a journey that’s uniquely yours. As you break into your new job and learn the ins and outs of professional fashion, though, a mentor or guide can make a significant difference. That inspiration doesn’t need to come from someone in your dream fashion-focused position either—trailblazers across the industry can help guide you towards your goals. Consider, for example, businesswoman Courtney Sarofim. In addition to her work in an array of male-dominated fields, Sarofim is quite the fashionista herself. She dresses impeccably, and she supports fellow trendsetters like designer Adam Lippes, making bold moves within the industry. While her professional focus might not be fashion, Courtney would be one excellent role model for industry newbies. 

Understand the key players. 


Whatever subset of the fashion industry you’re striving to make your mark on, some aspect of “who you know” will play a part in your progress. You don’t necessarily need to be exchanging contact information with Ralph Lauren, Alex Bolen (CEO and son-in-law of Oscar de la Renta), or Geoffroy van Raemdonck (CEO of Neiman Marcus) directly (though, of course, it would certainly help!). Simply knowing the names and basic information of notable fashion insiders like these will put you ahead of your peers from day one. 

Consider location. 


No matter how much you love your rural hometown deep in the Midwest, it’s probably not conducive to a flourishing fashion career. Cities like New York, London, Paris, or Milan are ideal spots for anyone entering the fashion industry. Do some research upfront and consider whether a particular setting is a perfect fit for the role your seeking. If you’re dreaming of working for a specific designer or brand, it’s a good idea to target your search to opportunities near their headquarters, flagship location, or other bases of operation. 

Maintain realistic expectations.


If you’ve had dramatic dreams of what it will be like to work in the fashion industry, be sure your expectations are reasonable before committing to a particular role or general career path. You wouldn’t enroll in law school anticipating the life of Elle Woods, so why would fashion be any different? Like with any job, there will be some less-than-glamorous duties and responsibilities. Whether it’s trying to combat the scent of marijuana smoke on outfits last worn by smokers or the monotony of unavoidable paperwork, there is almost always a task at hand that’s less appealing than your dreams once led you to believe. 

When it comes to a career in the fashion industry, it’s easy to lose yourself in daydreams of glossy magazine covers and racks stocked with fine fabric and garments. That said, like with any career path, you must learn all you can before accepting a position or seeking out new opportunities. Take the time to learn the basics of the industry and prepare yourself for the obstacles you might encounter along the way. Study the key players in fashion and identify a role model or two whose path can help guide your own. Plus, of course, be sure you look the part. A successful fashion career starts with the right outfit.