All Posts in advice

June 21, 2010 - 34 comments

The More You Know: Notecards & Handwriting


an old note sent to me from Teen Vogue's Eva Chen

Since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by handwriting and the art of letter writing. I'm that girl who scribbles her name on everything. In fact, sometime after I write this, I think I'll finally go get my handwriting analyzed. As my mother tells it, I taught myself to write by copying her signature (from her checkbook no less) at a very early age, which resulted in a lifetime of perfecting my own signature that I can't wait to use on something other than checks & receipts...

I know I'm not the only one who keeps everything written to me stored for years after that best friend/summer fling/birthday/note passed in class and all those inside jokes have lost their relevance. Because years later we're still clinging to some fleeting sense of nostalgia.

The fashion industry seems to have a particular affinity for handwritten notes. I will always remember a certain editor-boss of mine whose office filled up daily with enough flowers and notes (mostly from PR firms) to rival a funeral home. It must be some combination of ass-kissing and a need for unique communication. Anyway, at some point I noticed a particular stationery convention that seemed like such a common practice that I should have known it, but didn't: many of these notes had their author's personalized headers crossed out. I came up with all kinds of reasons I was seeing this everywhere... Perhaps all these editors were simultaneously getting married and awaiting new hyphenated-last-name cardstock (coincidentally, a lot of them actually were engaged)? Maybe it was everyone's way of testing the ink in their pen? Did Anna do it once and has everyone been blindly striking through their name since? Whatever the case, I was definitely over-thinking it, but I needed a solid answer.

While I feared sounding uber-déclassé, I did ask an assistant editor once. She had no idea why, but said everyone did it. I had the urge to pull an "if everyone jumped off the top off a building would you do it to?" but alas, I was a lowly intern and I have a feeling the answer would have been a resounding "yes" anyway.

I searched Google to no avail until I found myself on Crane & Co.'s blog where some commenters came to the rescue. Anticlimactic as it is, turns out the name strike-through is just a nod of sincerity. Crossing out the last name in your letterhead is a way to convey intimacy and de-formalize the note. Basically saying "come on dude, you can just call me [first name]."

The more you know...

And since you've made it all the way to the end of this tale (I am so sorry), I reward you with more fashion-peep handwriting! And if you want even more check out the Details link below for a slideshow or Soma's Last Word features.

below: notecards from Tom Ford & Stephano Pilati to Details for their 10th anniversary; a note to AnOther from Miuccia Prada; and of course my own handwriting

tom ford details noteysl pilati handwritingmiuccia prada note


June 16, 2010 - 5 comments

What a Girl Wants

Valet. asked me to take their Female Perspective survey and sound off on men's style and I had a lot of fun doing so! My guy friends ask (ok, practically beg) for shopping counsel way more than my female friends so take the survey and maybe this will help steer them in the right direction. I've been assisting on a lot of men's shoots lately, and it's a really different beast from women's styling (duh) but dudes are refreshing to dress and generally easygoing on-set.

Speaking of men, I saw the most perfectly dressed man at lunch yesterday and wish sushi could have been a more appropriate occasion to snap a photo of him. He was wearing a worn-in grey henley, perfect fitting jeans cuffed just above the ankle with no socks, a slouchy beanie and casual black lace up loafers. I would bet money at least one of those items was Yohji but that he spent no longer than 5 minutes getting dressed. The point in this story? None. But he was hot.

And if any guys read this blog (haaay!) or women that would like to see two devilishly handsome friends of mine who maintain an incredible blog - check out Street Etiquette. Travis and Josh are extremely talented beyond their good looks and inspire me daily.

Thanks Valet. & Cory!

October 20, 2009 - 26 comments

Advice From Amy Astley @ FIDM: The Teen Vogue Handbook

Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Amy Astley recently held book signings and a Q&A at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, CA. I did some investigative journalism, pretending not to hear the security guard who asked for my "student I.D." & sat front row to jot down pages of notes to bring to you.

Photo from Teen Vogue's Bergdorf book signing in NY by Julia Chesky

A gaggle of fashion students sat in Room 500 of the FIDM building buzzing about courses, clothes, and Halloween plans in their best "I don't usually wear this to class" ensembles. Apparently, the place to be this Halloween is Santa Barbara...

"We're sorry to keep you waiting, but Amy is running a little late, she had to take a call from Anna Wintour, I'm sure you understand."

An audible gasp then collective giggles broke out around the room. Soon after, some FIDM figurehead or another introduced "Amy Astes" as a former Art History major, who once worked with "Anna Wintar." A little cringe worthy, but Amy politely corrected her, she was an English major at Michigan State, and all was quickly forgiven. The fashion aspirants were all smiles, sitting with eyes wide and notebooks ready as Amy took her spot at the head of the classroom. I whipped out my pen and took 4 pages of notes, just for you.

Amy's Beginnings

- though she trained to be a ballerina, Amy always loved writing and aesthetics, ending up an English major at Michigan State, where her father was a professor.

- first editorial job was as an assistant at the late House & Garden, where she learned the ins and outs of publishing.

- when HG folded, a Creative Director she had impressed on the job recommended her for a position at Vogue where Anna Wintour tapped her to launch Teen Vogue

- Teen Vogue spent 2 years in development, and after 4 test issues Conde Nast decided there was real potential in the market and deemed TV viable.

- Was massively intimidated by Andre Leon Talley at first, but he's actually "the sweetest man," and says Anna is the "ultimate editor."

The Book

- Since taking the helm at TV, nearly every girl she encountered had questions about breaking into various roles in fashion. Basically, on a personal and marketing level, it made sense.

- Why isn't her name on the cover as the author? "I didn't write the book!" she said. The handbook is comprised of industry professionals advice as a "roadmap to careers, whether you want to be the next Karl Lagerfeld or Anna Wintour or not."

- Karl Legerfeld gave her favorite quote from the book.

- Wanted to keep the book visually appeal with the usual great Vogue photography and design integrity.

- On reality TV "I don't want to be a media personality. I've seen people laughed off Madison Avenue for taking the reality star route, it can really backfire." That's also why you didn't see so much of her on the Hills.

Getting Your Start

- "Fashion is not the road to riches. But there is definitely room to make a living."

- NY vs LA/everywhere else: Who cares? "Fashion is so democratic now! With the internet, you can gain exposure in fashion from anywhere. The Rodarte sisters live in Pasedena at their parents' house!"

Read more

July 29, 2009 - 9 comments

The Teen Vogue Handbook: An Insider’s Guide to Careers in Fashion


Teen Vogue is the best. They bust out great content month after month, manage to keep afloat among all the publishing madness, & gave me my start in this industry. I met with my fashion fairy godmother aka Amy Astley while in NY this May and she mentioned Teen Vogue had just finished their first book with Penguin "The Teen Vogue Handbook: An Insider's Guide to Careers in Fashion".

Though I was bummed that I wasn't included in the book in some capacity, they made up for it by filling my place with interviews from Anna, Marc, Bruce Weber, Patrick Demarchelier, their own editors, assistants and, I presume, interns. Can't complain, nor compare (well, maybe to the interns & assistants).

The title speaks for itself and this is Teen Vogue, so expect some great photo spreads and (yes, I'm completely biased here) great advice as well. I don't know where I'd be if Ms. Astley and sooo many of the other TV editors didn't let me plop down at their desks every time I'm in NY (heads up Teen Vogue: I'll be in town on the 12th!).

It's not due out until October 5th (though you can pre-order the book from Amazon) but there are already two great quotes coming from the Kaiser and the Bob:

"Ask yourself, Are you sure this world is for you? And are you sure you are the right person to survive in this world--the world of fashion, a world with no rules, no laws?" Karl Lagerfeld

"Do your homework, go online, visit every museum, and intern. You just need to have a love for what you're doing. It's not about thinking that it's the cool thing; it's about really believing in it." Anna Wintour

Preach it. And here's hoping the rest of the book doesn't go on to glamorize the industry too much.

July 15, 2009 - 10 comments

What to Wear: Stylist on Duty


Whether I'm assisting on a shoot or working lead (styled a shoot for BUST magazine yesterday! more on that later), the ideal uniform goes something like the above - give or take a tank, tee, or a romper if I'm feeling feisty. We're not saving lives or anything, but stylists do a lot more manual labor than given credit for. There are hours spent running around, on hands and knees, loading and unloading suitcases/trunks, wardrobe racks, garment bags, whatever, and it is legit hard work.

My uniform pretty much speaks for itself... No-fuss, comfort, and functionality trump "fashion" on set:

  • A loose mens shirt is comfy and good storage for all those spring clamps.
  • Tights/leggings. No explanation needed.
  • Tools of the trade: steamer on standby, & prop kit stuff (scissors, clamps, lint brush) handy
  • Accessories that serve a purpose (bangles/rings can get in the way), but add a personal touch.
  • Flat shoes, the shittier the better.
  • Unless of course you're working with Meisel... then make sure it's all black.

There's definitely no reason to overthink it. Find what works for you so you barely have to think about it all. What's your "on the job" uniform?

[pictured: alex wang shirt; forever 21 glasses; converse by john varvatos; rowenta travel steamer; charm & hammer toolbelt]