"So…you like fashion. But can you live it? The difference between an everyday fashion fan and a bonafide — we're talking diehard — fashion nerd is much more nuanced than just having a frequent shopper card at Bloomingdale's. To really live, breathe, and sweat fashion (in a healthy, 'this is my hobby' kind of way), involves continual immersion — think lots of studying, reading, experimenting, and discussing. And, like any other form of geekdom, a whole lot of unabashed passion. Even if your day job doesn't involve fashion, and you haven't the pleasure of Daphne Guinness' credit limit, it doesn't mean you can't "get" fashion in a big way. From the best websites to read to research trips to take, these are the essential steps to take if you really want to succeed at style — and maybe even make it your livelihood. So, ready to ramp up your fashion cred? Here's our cheat sheet for taking your fashion passion to the Next Level."
Unless you're Gisele Bündchen and built like an avatar, not all clothing will feel good on you. While styles and trends are subjective, fits definitely aren't, and it's important to know the cuts, colors, and lengths that make you feel good about yourself — and in turn, you'll lookmore confident (read: better)!
While it may be easy to imagine your favorite sweaters are being made by a workshop of happy elves in Soho wearing matching smocks, it's not the case. The business of fashion is as modern and messy as any other, and the consumer choices you make helps validate and perpetuate good and bad systems.
Sure, knowing your brands is helpful in that you'll never make a "Guh-vin-chee" mistake, but knowing a brand's design history, its politics, its big players, and its tendencies gives you the context to really understand it. And hey — loyal sports fans, movie buffs, and vinyl lovers have encyclopedic knowledge of their own industries' biggest players — Alexander Wang should be your version of Tim Tebow.
If you don't have hours upon hours in the day to get lost in fashion blogs (with or without your boss' knowledge), a robust, well curated RSS feed is a great way to stay on top of content. Are you a news addict? Use Google Reader and add a slew of fashion news sites to your feed to catch the latest happenings across a variety of publications. Obsessed with personal blogs? Set up a Blog Lovin' to follow your faces.
We're not asking you to go all Extreme Couponing on us here, but we do have to say that for the majority of clothing out there, if you look hard enough, you will find a way to save on it. There are plenty of websites that find these deals, promotions, and sales for you (Lyst andHukkster being some of our favorites), and plenty more that allow you to do your online shopping more efficiently (Polyvore and Shopstyle). Get familiar with these tools, and just watch as your online shopping gets more and more savvy.
If your friends are already big fashion nerds, then congrats — you've found a family! If not, the Internet has made it extremely easy to engage with like-minded folk. Whether through Tumblr, Pinterest, Pose, IFB,The Fashion Spot, or any other number of forums and blogging networks, sharing your finds, reading about others, and discussing within a supportive community can be one of the most effective ways to learn.
It may be scary making your first post, but keep at it. Eventually, you'll find that you want your online fashion buddies' opinions on a new pair of shoes before anyone else.
So, maybe your local mall only has one department store. Perhaps you've never encountered an H&M before. Maybe you only have access to mass brands and haven't seen independently curated boutiques before, or you've never spent time digging for treasure in a consignment shop. Perhaps — God forbid —you've never held Prada in your hands before. To understand the shopping landscape out there, you've got to have encountered clothing in the optimal way it should be experienced — on the racks. Why not make a trip out of it?
If you're able, plan trips to nearby shopping Meccas (as a challenge, leave your wallet at home, so you're forced to just look) like NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, or Los Angeles…hell, make a week out of it! It's one thing to look at photos of designer products, and it's a whole other experience to hold something in your hands, put it on, and walk around. Don't understand the appeal of a $100 T-shirt? The magic of a pair of handmade shoes? The joy of a gown that fits just right? You can't really describe it until you've put it on.
If you've never been thrifting before, organize a roadtrip with your friends. Plan your route by hitting up thrift shops and just dig; practice spotting those brands you've been researching, and seeing other people's discards as potential wardrobe additions (don't forget that most things can be tailored). Just don't leave home without hand sanitizer.
If this is truly your one passion in life, it's becoming increasingly easier (not to mention, more profitable!) to make fashion your career. Depending on your area of interest, whether it's writing, styling, designing, or even researching (yep, looking at blogs all day can be your career), you may find that you'll have to take a few classes first. Many universities offer associate degrees to help give you a leg up before you apply. And internships, most of which nowadays are paid and don't require you receive credit (like our own!), are a great way to get some experience, if you have the time to spare.
And if you've started a blog that's starting to take off, think about placing ads on your site, looking into partnership opportunities with brands, and other ways to turn your blog into a source of revenue. But remember — if you've plotted out your fashion ethics in advance, you should have opinions about how you feel about the marriage of content and advertising. Don't let an advertising opportunity confuse you.