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What Amy Odell’s Tales from the Back Row Taught Me

Fashion is indubitably one of the most intimidating and exclusive industries to ever exist. It’s often mocked in films for being too materialistic (ie. The Devil Wears Prada) and rejected by many for its superficial allure. The truth is that, like any other industry, fashion has an enormous importance in the world we live in today as it informs the current state of our society and generates trillions of dollars a year.

Is fashion an exclusive clique of artsy weirdos who love to reference Victorian era style while watching an Armani show? Yes. Is it an industry that exudes glamour? Yes. But most importantly, it’s an industry made up of hard-working individuals who have taken their passion for art and clothing to all aspects of the business. Furthermore, it takes a specific type of humor and sarcasm to be able to penetrate this circle as a complete outsider. One that I have not been able to master yet, but have come one step closer thanks to Amy Odell, editor of Cosmopolitan.com.

As the first fashion blogger of The Cut, Odell was a complete ignorant to the industry before starting to navigate fashion weeks and have lunch with Adriana Lima. (I can relate since I was 17 the first time I met the glamazon!) Still, she proves that there is beauty in being an outsider in an industry so alluring and exclusive: the ability to observe and analyze its irreverence from a distance without being absorbed completely.

In her first book Tales from the Back Row, Amy narrates how she managed to get an inside ticket to Anna Wintour’s office and interviews with Rachel Zoe and Sarah Jessica Parker. Moreover, she demonstrates an incredible capacity to not take the industry or herself very seriously and impart some words of wisdom to aspiring fashion writers like myself. 

After reading her book, it’s difficult to imagine the tall, red-headed, chic editor to ever feel awkward inside the industry. I met Amy last November at the Cosmo Fun Fearless Life conference and felt exactly like her when interviewing with Anna Wintour: intimidated. It gives me hope to think one day I won’t be an outsider anymore.

A million girls would kill for this job, but that doesn’t mean I should also. Faced with the opportunity to work as a fashion writer at Vogue (aka Fashion’s Bible), Odell realized that, even though it was the job she was supposed to desire, it wasn’t the position for her. In the end, she didn’t get the job, which did not deter her from moving on to places more well-suited for her humor and personality (ie. BuzzFeed and Cosmo).

Never judge an industry from the outside. “They say a picture is worth a thousand words- they’re wrong; in fashion, it’s actually worth a thousand people”. An industry is much more than its outside image. There are real people who work inside of it, hard-working people, I might add.

“The best way to make someone want you is to make someone else want you more.”To get the job at The Cut, Amy Odell presented an offer that another company had made to her, showing New York Magazine that, if they didn’t act fast, they might lose her for good. (This applies to many other aspects of life, too)

“So a boss asking you to leave a job – and it’s probably one you hate; most people who get fired don’t love the thing that they’re getting fired from- only saves you the extreme awkwardness of actually quitting.” Getting fired or rejected is not the end of the world. It might be the start of it.

“Marketing oneself is a vital part of the fashion industry.” (Or any industry, I might add.) Shameless self-promotion is vital in today’s digitally consumed world. No one will pay attention unless you believe you are worth it. Humble bragging your accomplishments and projects is not shameful.

“Roitfeld lesson number four: do not act like you think about your clothes.”Simplicity and effortlessness goes a long way in fashion- and life.

“Better to elicit a negative reaction than to elicit no reaction.” To exist undercover is no life to live.

“This is the job of a reporter: to nag and stalk and nag until you get what you need.” *Note to self*

 

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