Because having to dress up for the sake of #fashion, every single day, is frankly exhausting.
When I tell people I’m a fashion writer, the response I always receive is something along the lines of,
“So, what’s in style at the moment?”
Or my personal favourite – a quick head-to-toe assessment of what I’m wearing, a pause and then a confused, one-worded response of,
This is because I’ll most likely be wearing jeans and a shirt. Or something similar. No mess, no fuss. All simple. This style is typically what I’m most comfortable with and wear nearly all the time.
The universal expectation that a fashion writer has to be “fashionable” has always bemused me. It’s a fairly odd experience to navigate. Here’s why.
On one hand, the fashion industry is incredibly cut-throat. Cliquey, even. So in the past, despite my disdain I felt the need to conform by dressing up to the nines everyday, everywhere, for fear of being left out or being branded an imposter (ahh good ol’ imposter syndrome).
On the other hand, as a writer, I’m here to write. My role is to critique the eclectic world of fashion and play the role of an observer, usually behind the scenes.
This begged the question: surely that eliminates the need for me to dress up, right?
When I started my career in freelance journalism, I began in the fashion industry because that was what I was most passionate about. I loved the creative process of conceptualising, executing and publishing content that was honest, nuanced and well-researched.
But throughout that time, it was also drummed into me that I had to act, look and dress a certain way in order for the fashion industry to take me seriously. This particular expectation (and the pressure that came with it) often exhausted me – sometimes to a point where I would decline covering a runway or launch as it meant I had to wear something that was 1) in style for menswear 2) the hottest trend or ‘It’ item and worst of all, 3) incredibly expensive, as many conversations involved the intricate details of your outfit. The more luxurious it was, the better off you were.
When my curiosity moved to a completely different field – namely, the digital and technology industry – this conundrum never emerged. There was never an expectation that in order to be a technology writer, I had to be a world-class developer.
It got me thinking about the other verticals in journalism too. You didn’t have to play every sport under the sun to be a great sports journalist. Nor have been a local politician to be justified in covering a political scandal for a newspaper.
Yet, there is this innate idea that in order to be successful in the fashion industry, you had to have to a wardrobe that only others could dream of.
I’m here to say this is not true. Not even in the slightest.
What I wear has absolutely no connection to my knowledge of fashion and style. In fact, I’ve discovered that the best fashion writers and creatives in the field often opt for comfortable and simple clothing as they are there to do a job, not fish for likes on Instagram.
It’s disappointing that your worth as a fashion writer, and as such, whether or not the fashion industry accepts you, correlates with the quality of your wardrobe.
How you dress is first and foremost. How you think comes secondary.
This mindset needs to change.
Don’t get me wrong though – I love Versace. I adore Balmain. I drool over Tom Ford. But I also can’t afford them yet, so I turn to more affordable options like UNIQLO and Cotton On. I regularly shop sales. Sometimes I even wear hoodies from Target and stock up on sweaters from Big W.
That doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about fashion, or that I shouldn’t have an opinion about it.
However, I don’t think clothing choices should be discarded all together. I encourage you to express yourself through fashion. After all, personal style is a way to introduce yourself to the world, without the need to be verbal.
What frustrates me is the idea that if you’re a fashion journalist, expensive equals success.
This expectation is not only financially damaging but emotionally and mentally hurtful.
What frustrates me is the idea that if you’re a fashion journalist, expensive equals success. This expectation is not only financially damaging but emotionally and mentally hurtful.
It excludes creatives from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate.
It sacrifices quality of thought for vapid egocentric narcissism.
I wear what I like. I wear what I feel comfortable in. I style myself based on my mood (and weather). I’ll wear something fancier only if the event call for it. Having disposable income and a wardrobe the size of Europe doesn’t make you a good fashion writer. If we want excellent fashion journalism, we need need to be more open and considerate to difference.
And we can start by removing the expectation that every fashion writer always has to look stylish.
It’s about time we did.