Like a tremendously stylish fairy godmother, Lucky EIC Eva Chen has blessed us with her words of wisdom in a column entitled "Want to be a Fashion Editor? Here's What You Should Know," part of HuffPo Style's new series "How to Actually Make it In Fashion." Chen's advice for mini-Anna Wintours? Go to fashion school.
Chen, who grew up in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, was pre-med in college and worked as a paralegal for several years before dropping that path to join the publishing biz. Her impressive resume includes stints at Elle and Teen Vogue. Chen is known for being a social media pro and for "bridging the gap between print and digital," according to HuffPo. One look at her Instagram account and you can see exactly why.
During her interview with the website, Chen addressed the popular question of whether or not to go to journalism school when pursuing a career as a fashion editor.
You do not need to go to journalism school if you want to work in the fashion industry. I think high schools condition you to think this way: If you want to be a fashion editor, go to fashion school. If you want to be a writer, you should study journalism. I think that the best school in life is experience. I think that practice makes perfect and I can say that even now, as someone who has been writing and editing professionally for about a decade. It has taken me 10 years to solidly define my voice and solidly feel secure in what I am doing, and that is a testament to practice.
This is solid advice, bearing in mind the fact that we all have different paths. Chen herself studied medicine. Although fashion writing has long been a dream of mine, I studied fiction in college and actually fell into my current position as fashion and beauty writer almost by accident. When I am asked for early career advice —which is surprisingly often, given that I'm very much in the early career stage myself — I have a hard time because I know the people I'm talking to always assume I have some big fashion background with fancy internships. I have none of those things, just writing ability, a good eye, and many adolescent hours spent reading Vogue.
Chen recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all path to fashion writing or editing.
You find your voice by writing and you find your voice by reading a lot, and I feel like that has definitely been the case for me. My advice for young people is, study what you love and intern in what you want to do. And I think it's okay to pivot as many times as you need to.
It's not a quick fix, that's for sure. But there really are no shortcuts. To have the career you want, fashion or otherwise, you need to work hard. If you've found the right fit, it won't always feel like work.