BY JANE BRADSHAW
This summer I got lucky.
No, not like that – I’m not reprising my role of Muse’s in-house Carrie Bradshaw juuuust yet. I got lucky because I really like my summer job.
Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a journalist. Partly because my mom told me that she always saw me as a writer (Jane after Jane Austen), but mostly because that’s what people labeled Jeanne Beker as and I wanted her job. As I grew older, I became more involved in writing. In elementary school, I was one of the main writers for the student newsletter. In middle school, I started my first blog in hopes that I would be like Tavi Gevinson and Karl Lagerfeld would make me his next muse. In high school, I worked my way up in our student-run newspaper, closing off my career as one of the Editors-in-Chief in my graduating year.
But, as I grew up, the media industry changed. People aren’t buying print publications like they used to. Newspapers and magazines don’t know how to transition into a digital age. Donald Trump has created the Fake News phenomenon which then became a real phenomenon and now we’re all confused with what is happening to the world.
During the crisis, I was encouraged by peers and teachers to pursue an alternative career path. “There’s no money in publishing,” they’d say. “There are no jobs there.” This is true: my incredibly talented cousin has a masters in journalism and struggled to land something consistent right out of graduation. She’s doing great now, but those first few steps into the cutthroat world of media seemed rocky.
I tried to find alternative passions. I really did. I’m studying psychology for god’s sake! But everything I did led me back to one thing: I loved to write, and I loved to write about fashion. After networking tirelessly for 6 months, and spending every spare moment building a multifaceted portfolio showcasing not only writing but also creative direction, styling, social media work, graphic design and other forms of content production, one of my cold-calls got a response. Two phone calls and an in-person interview later, I landed an editor position at a fashion magazine.
There’s a moment in The Devil Wears Prada that has stuck with me because it’s the reality working in fashion. “Let me know when your personal life goes up in flames – then it’s time for a promotion.” While my boss is an actual angel whose attitude is the polar opposite of the cold-hearted Miranda, she works me hard. I love every single minute of my day and leave the office just as refreshed and energetic as I entered it in the morning, but I don’t have free time. Between summer school, managing MUSE online, working and riding at my second job at SPINCO and doing all the extra work I’m required to complete outside office hours (including attending fun PR events) I am awful at finding time for a social life. Remember when I said I barely have time to eat? I meant it.
The number one question I’m asked, and, for me, the most challenging part about my job, is what I wear to work. Working in fashion, there’s an unspoken precedent that you have to dress well. After all, that’s our business. I’m sure that many of you can relate when I say that doesn’t come easy as a college student.
If any of you have seen me around campus, I’m probably wearing a SPINCO sweater and leggings. I started my own fashion club yet I’m far away from the pinnacle of on-campus style. It’s safe to say that even the transition to wearing real pants is a challenge enough.
For me, there were so many underlying factors in my school style choices. I left high school a lean size 0, slipping into any and all cool fashion choices with my svelte 34-inch hip. When I spent my gap year in Milan working as a model, I became the queen of neutral looks. It was black jeans, black tank, black leather jacket for when I met with edgier clients; black DVF wrap dress and black kitten heels for the more elegant ones; and skinny jeans and neutral colour sweaters for my personal life, save for one dreamy signature McQueen red tartan dress that I bought on sale from Holts.
It’s safe to say that working for three years as a high fashion model, with one of those years being spent in a fashion capital, your perspective of style and fashion changes. And, most importantly, your self-perception changes. You develop this mentality that the thinner you are, the better the clothes at work look on you and the more jobs you’ll get. It’s a simple yet potentially dangerous cycle, one that is not applicable to real life.
Fast forward to the end of First Year, and my metabolism, the All-You-Can-Eat food at Lenny, and the Queen’s drinking culture caught up to me. I was a size 10 and had no idea how to dress for a curvier frame. I bought a couple new pairs of pants and rotated through boring office outfits all last summer. Then, when school came around, Queen’s brought a wave of body self-consciousness and feelings of not completely belonging because I wasn’t thin. All I wanted to do is get back to my SPINCO family, whom I felt accepted by hence the hoodies and leggings look.
So, when I was faced with the challenge of dressing, I knew my outlook had to change. I had to learn what fit my body, how to make myself look and feel good even if it’s not necessarily on trend. All my outfits have to be elegant enough to be photographed, as well, since I never know when an event will come along or an important meeting I have to attend. The biggest road bump was the fact that I couldn’t afford to buy new clothes – it’s a fashion internship, after all, which means it’s unpaid. And let’s just say I spent the money I made during the year at the ARC on one too many bulk candy treats.
Over the past month, I took a picture of my outfit every morning as I left for work. As the month progressed, I became surprised at how many clothes I had that I never would’ve thought to wear, but can actually fashion an outfit out of. I also became more comfortable and confident in my shape. It’s not the asparagus stalk it once was, but I’ve got a small waist and proportionate bust/hips that don’t look half bad when styled correctly. You can see by my outfits the mornings I was in a rush and the days where my self-confidence wasn’t too hot. But you can also see when I was feeling good about myself, and it is those photos that I hold dear. It proves that I can still feel fashionable at any size, not just when I had model measurements. I do owe a lot to my mum, who took incredible care of her clothes and let me raid her cast-off closet (a hoarding space where everything is in garment bags and they haven’t been touched since she last worked, which was when she was pregnant with me) whenever I asked.
- H&M frill sleeve top, H&M poppy coat, Urban Outfitters Vintage Renewal Pants, Marc by Marc Jacobs bag, rings & bracelets from Courage My Love
- I spent about 2 hours finalizing my first-day outfit. This colourful jacket and printed pants combo made me feel confident so I went for it.
- Dress vintage Laura Ashley, top AA, Levi’s men’s jacket, Urban Outfitters necklace,
- This look was inspired by the Man Repeller article that said to make nightgowns a daytime look. Probably not my best fashion moment, but it was fun to experiment, especially in my first week on the job.
- Vintage corset blouse from Consign Toronto, Sandro skirt, coach scarf, earrings from indigenous craft market in Arizona
- I had a PR dinner that night for FIOL Prosecco. I have to say the photos of me turned out really bad but I felt very sophisticated in this look – probably because I’ve never worn a scarf like this before.
- Zara off the shoulder crop, Levi’s jeans from Value Village, Urban Outfitters adjustable drop pendant necklace
- Zara striped trousers, Zara off the shoulder sweater, Zara gold chain collar necklace
- Zara culottes, winners linen tank
- Can you tell I was in a bad mood? you can literally see my sports bra through my top. Fashion doesn’t hide your mood.
- Zara pants, H&M blouse, Zara gold chain collar necklace, Levi’s men’s trucker jacket
- This is what I thought I could pull off in the 15min I gave myself to change between a spin class and leaving for work
- Anne Taylor blazer from VV, winners suede navy tank top, gap skinny jeans (regular length), Zara purse
- I want to note the struggle of being tall: these are regular length jeans, and they sit at almost a capri on me.
- Anne Klein vintage trousers, black top winners, H&M earrings, H&M poppy coat
- This is probably my favourite outfit I’ve ever worn. I feel like a professional.
- DVF skirt, H&M blue sweater, dollar store socks, forever 21 hoops
- This is a close second.
- American Apparel crop top, Saje necklace, McQueen Denim midi skirt,
- Anne Klein vintage trousers, Aritzia tank, Anne Taylor value village blazer
- H&M t-shirt, weekend by Max Mara pencil skirt
- Levi Jeans, Winners black top, vintage blazer
- H&M sweater, Zara culottes
I think you can tell my confidence was increasing this week just based on my poses.
- HOLIDAY MONDAY
- Zara side stripe trouser, Bench reverse zip sweater from Value Village
- H&M t-shirt dress, Sandro skirt
- Vintage skirt, the belt was taken off of an Anthropologie trench-coat, t-shirt from Winners
- Vintage cami, Levi’s Jeans, forever 21 hoops
Looking back on a month of outfits, it’s surprising to me that there isn’t more research into the psychology of fashion. Knowing my personal schedule combined with certain feelings on certain days, you can see my emotions and my thought process reflected in my clothing choices. More importantly, you see the transition of me settling into my job. At first, the outfits were a little bit more experimental, I was utilizing my accessories that never see the light of day, and I was trying different style identities until I found my stride. By the final week of this experiment, you can see that I’ve settled into my workplace, my sense of style, and dressing my body for my role as a fashion professional.
If you have made it this far into my self-exploration of personal style and indulgence in my narcissistic hobby of mirror selfies, I only have one piece of advice to offer to you: don’t be afraid of fashion. I think that despite my undying love for the industry and the beautiful wearable art that it creates, I was afraid of exploring what fashion means to me because I was afraid of having to come to terms with my changing physique. And I think it’s important to note that I understand a size 10 isn’t big, but the physical transformation of going from a high-fashion modelling body to a normal sized body took a pretty heavy toll on me psychologically. However, whether it was the accountability of taking an #OOTD photo or working alongside some of the most magnificently dressed individuals in Toronto, I’ve just become comfortable in my appearance. I’ve let go of the perceived expectations of having to look like the Hadids, or be dressed in all Aritzia clothes, in order to be deemed stylish. I’ve learned that, for me, I just need to feel like I’ve invested time into my outfit in order to feel confident. Through this experiment, I know now that I don’t need to be afraid of clothes, and more importantly, I don’t need to be afraid of my size.