What defines a fashion editor’s style now? A common search for the answer



I’ve worked in fashion for well over a decade, and I know great clothes inside and out: who makes them, who wears them, and how cool, interesting people are putting them together. A big part of my job is helping others decide how much they’re worth their hard-earned money — and of course, how to squeeze the most style juice out of their purchases. But I also have a dirty little secret: I don’t know what to wear lately. Celebs are pairing dresses with jeans like it’s 2002 again, and influencers are hitting the runway in their nudes. And as for editors like me, who usually flock to the same unique trends and after coming, the Tik Tok-created “beauty” and the ever-increasing runway collections have left many of us confused and bewildered. Which way does the style insider change the oil?

One afternoon at the offices of Bustle Digital Group, I found myself overwhelmed by this question. It’s around lunchtime and I’ve decided I hate the pants I picked out that morning. Even though they come from a really cool designer label, they’re very cropped, fitted around my waist…they feel like something I can’t quite put my finger on. When I started searching Google Style, I got a voicemail from a friend who works in fashion PR about how instead of tracking the brand, they put them in a lookbook, you know, just work. “I’m going shopping because I don’t know how to dress right now,” she said as I slipped into the hallway to listen.

Wardrobe befuddlement is resonating as a theme with my contemporaries in all corners of the industry. A few months ago, WhoWhatWear founder Hilary Kerr posted a long post on Instagram about her personal style—about losing—and wanting—that fashion writer and journalist Lauren Sherman took to her magazine, Lauren in the Post, to explore. Self-improvement flavors. (“Like everything else, my style has changed again,” she writes. “Enough to worry me a little, if not completely.” And the ’60s, learning how to dress after the plague. And when I mention this article to any editor, writer, or socialite in passing, they laugh and grumble. They said, “Tell me what you know.”


Christian Vierig / Getty Images Entertainment


Edward Berthelot / Getty Images Entertainment


Christian Vierig / Getty Images Entertainment

“I feel like I’m standing in my closet saying, ‘I don’t want to wear one of these, but I don’t want to take it off,'” says Ali Pugh, fashion creative and editorial director at Gup. I’m secretly a little relieved to know that she’s stuck with it too, because her clean, understated look always seems to have a clear sense of direction that’s not affected by fashion trends. “I think I always have to remind myself that this is my own style and I always feel better when I look better and look like someone else.” Still, she finds a major sticking point is that people simply don’t dress for multiple occasions in one day. A flexible, mixed work schedule allowed him to dress strictly for office hours and call until nine at night. Gone are the days of tossing on some lipstick and heels to jazz up your jeans and t-shirt before leaving the office.

With high-definition cameras constantly hovering at every party, there’s even more pressure for editors — and everyone, really — to put effort into their outfits. “I think the call to dress up more than it was 10 years ago because there’s social media and there’s images,” Kate Davidson, LouisaviaRoma’s editor-in-chief, told me. Experienced in working on both Ill And Harper’s Bazaar Before entering the world of luxury retail, she saw fashion insider-approved style up close.

“About 15 years ago, the old guard [of editors] She had a very different uniform,” she said. “It was an over-the-shoulder umbrella, the right jeans, and a T-shirt and heels.”

I find myself nodding, and mentally recalling the wide swaths of industries I’ve jumped on board for. In the year In the early 2010s, there was the “model off duty” moment — slouchy, tissue-thin tees, skinny jeans and a moto jacket — and it followed shortly after with the looks of the Jenna Lyons-led J.Crew catalog. (I bought a lot of striped shirts and pants back then.) In 2015, the style around my office turned to faded 501s and ugly sneakers (remember “normcore”), followed by a craze by Alessandro Michele. Gucci. And, of course, under Phoebe Philo’s guidance was a constant, ongoing obsession with the lowly and cerebral (old) Celine.

“[Now] I think there are elements in the game that are more about me,” says Véronique Hyland. IllDirector and author of fashion features dress codeOver email, I asked her for her thoughts on the landscape of the industry. of the day. “I hesitate to say post-pandemic because we are still very much in the pandemic, but after the lockdown at least, people wanted to enjoy fashion more and apply a unique approach to dressing for all occasions. ” Additionally, she explains that “Look at Me” is because the job descriptions of most editors have changed. With the rise of social media “personal brand” building, behind-the-scenes industry players are also emerging as influencers.

“There’s actually less and less of a difference between the two roles, partly because the job descriptions have blurred a bit,” she says. “Editors are creating social content and acting as influencers, and influencers are moving into editorial and other traditional media. I don’t think there’s a clear divide right now.”

Davidson agrees. “Publishers [at magazines] They are being sold. [editors to advertisers] With their own personal social media handles. So they’re selling that into packages and editors get a bonus or some other quid pro quo,” she says. “That really tipped the balance [idea of] Editors as influencers. And as these girls all build their own personal brands, which we’re seeing a lot of right now, I feel like that’s becoming a little bit louder, a little bit more of a statement of why they’re wearing it. And a little more direction. We [editors] He was always supposed to be behind the scenes and quiet, but this situation was completely reversed.

In many ways this makes perfect sense to me. There was a time in my early career when I could definitely go to an event and tell you, just by looking at everyone’s clothes, who was the old-school writer or stylist and who had a lot of online presence. And I’ve seen the lines merge between categories over time: many of my colleagues have grown their influencer career into a full-time gig; Top-tier digital media stars have landed contracts at legacy publications (see Editor-in-Chief Appointments of OG “Bloggers” Brian Boy and Margaret Zhang Perfect magazine And Vogue Chinarespectively).

Yet I still can’t shake the feeling that the answer to my worries is less about editors wearing flashy clothes for social media than quietly writing fashion rules. I’ve been surrounded by social media for the better part of a decade, but it’s only recently that I’ve felt insecure about how to dress for it. The world I work in right now feels like a jumbled snow globe, each little white flake representing a fast-moving trend just waiting to snap into place.

Admittedly, part of the problem for me is that I’m at a difficult transition point in my life. At 35, I feel constantly torn between the decade I left behind and the one I hurt. Trying out every “-core” look on my social media feed makes me feel incredibly old, and I try hard, but I haven’t gotten into an alternate uniform yet that I’m completely convinced of. Maybe I need some room for trial and error, but with two girls under 4, I don’t have time to put on clean clothes, let alone rethink ways to put them together. And don’t even get me started on not wanting to dress like a mom…but not wanting to look like I’m not admitting that I’m one.

Designer Maria McManus, whose namesake line was a hit with capital-F fashionistas days ago, recently had to rethink the way she dresses. But unlike me, she feels a little bitter about not being able to do a few key things. “With the business, my husband’s business and my two children, I had to think carefully about what my uniform was to make it easy to get dressed in the morning. Like a perfectly fitting pair of pants and a double-breasted flannel. “I think it goes back to those pieces like a great shirt, a great T-shirt, a great blazer and a great pair of pants — and then a sweater. [on the season]. And I’m too neutral for everything to change.

On the other hand, Davidson is inclined to experiment with her look. A big part of her job is putting pieces together in a new way for a photo shoot – so why not keep some of her camera-ready ideas for herself? Because I style [on set] I really, really always have a running wish list in my head,” she says as she explains her bold clothing choices, recently topped off with a pair of low-cut Miu Miu midi-tucked boxers. A cut-out dress in Barbie-worthy pink. In fact, McManus has noticed more than a few other editors since launching her latest collection.

“It’s exciting because we started pre-fall and it’s kind of pink. Many people have reposted the all pink outfit [from our lookbook] Our button-down shirt and long column shirt dress,” she says. “It’s two basic things, but it seems like the producers all wanted your entire outfit to be one color.”

Personally, I’m not sure I’m ready to dive into head-to-toe foam tones, but after reporting this episode I’m not going to completely dismiss them as an option. Although everyone I spoke to for this story had a different approach to tackling style now, they all had two things in common: In general, fashion insiders are no longer synonymous with the trends that have guided them through the years. The map now – in fact, everything goes! – and incredibly sweet support and advice on my journey to find my fashion groove.

So it was with an open mind that I recently found myself thinking about something unusual for me: a sequined Stein Goya collection, chosen by a colleague for a holiday party style story. “I think I want this,” I told her as I adjusted the piece. “who am i?!” Honestly, I’m still figuring out the answer to that. But I hope you blink.


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