just a thought – making the most of fashion school


Today I forgot it was frosh week (I thought that was supposed to happen after Labour Day?) and found myself going to the library and the mall surrounded by throngs of students.  It reminded me a bit of my first few overwhelming days at fashion school.  So, here are some comments from my experience as a fashion student.

  1. Use the Library. Its a tremendous resource that your tuition dollars pay for.  Getting familiar with the library is an incredible joy.  You can watch DVDs, leaf through magazines from the past fifty years on hundreds of different subjects, learn to search the stacks intuitively.  It helps you with your grades – but better than that, it helps you be a better writer and a better designer, an inspired and curious human being.
  2. Read your assignments. Most of school is just about checking if you’ve paid attention.  So pay attention.  Listen.
  3. Go to your classes. It cuts down the amount of time you need to study and makes exam time much less stressful.
  4. Don’t stress about grades. If you’re doing the first three things, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
  5. Experience is more important than school. The best reason to skip a class is attending or working a fashion event.
  6. Use a planner. Don’t be like I was.  I actually forgot a mid-term once.
  7. Don’t stress about how you dress or how you design in the beginning. Fashion students can get away with outrageous ideas and bad taste, and bad choices in fabrics and design details, ridiculous haircuts and outfits, or complete lack of clue, especially in first year.  Experimentation and practice leads to more confident, better constructed, more deliberate designs.  No one starts out as a fashion rockstar, except YSL types.
  8. Get up early in the morning. This was my secret strategy in fashion school where I never did a single all-nighter and submitted every project.  Get to school at 6am.  Ok, lets be real, before 8am. Early in the morning, the lab is empty, no lineups for machines, empty tables.  Get your homework done before class instead of after.
  9. Choose your designs, fabric and techniques to fit within your means and time available. Unfortunately the best way to really learn this is by doing the exact opposite at least once.
  10. Appreciate. Going to fashion school is a tremendous privilege.  You can do things there that aren’t possible anywhere else, make amazing friends, learn new skills.  Enjoy it and be thankful!

Are you a former fashion student?  What are your tips for making the most of your fashion school years?

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10 thoughts on “just a thought – making the most of fashion school”

  1. #1 is a great tip. i wish i could get up at 6 am in the morning, much less get to school by 6. maybe i’ll try that next semester. mornings are always great for getting work done..

  2. Great tips, Danielle… this time of year always makes me nostalgic for our old school days!

    I totally agree with your early morning tip! While I never quite managed to be at school by 6 (8:30 was more my average) getting there early has loads of advantages, including your pick of workspace and control over the radio! I secretly liked all-nighters, though; some of my best school memories happened at 3am!

  3. Ele and Annching – I wrote 6am? Um, I am totally exaggerating… Most days it was 7:30am to be frank. But imagine if I had!

    And yes, I totally missed out on the crazy sleep-deprived antics which is kind of a shame… though sometimes I would catch you all right at the end of it, enough to know its just not for me.

  4. one great adage i learned from a professor i had at parsons: “the long way is the short way.” meaning, do it right the first time, take your time, and you won’t have to do it over (thus taking longer overall). i still think about that today. it totally resonates with my personal philosophy and is just true, imo.

    one thing that helped me through all my schooling was to find something interesting about every class, even if i wasn’t majoring in that subject. a way i could apply what i was learning to something practical, or just getting interested in the sheer facts of a subject even if it wasn’t something i was likely to use later in life. i like to approach everything with some awe…it makes the present interesting. it certainly made my coursework more interesting.

  5. I found a great site too to help you with the design process to help develop those original to you ideas.. Bob Martin Fashion Designer is awesome. Just a little secret I post in interactive studio and he like my tutor.. lol He has amazing creditably and he has currently signed a partnership with Berninia for his work based on his dvd lessons. You can find him here at http://www.howtofashiondesign.com Best of luck with school…

  6. kay – “original to you ideas” is an interesting phrase eh?

    Tricia – love “the long way is the short way” so true for when you’re making things.

  7. My tip to students is to develop good relationships with your teachers, even if you don’t like them. It’s good practice for industry survival. You don’t have to suck up or lie, but teachers will probably be your best resource for information for a long while. Spending an hour perfecting zipper sewing will probably not be as important as spending an hour gleaning info from someone who has been sewing for years and years. It’s amazing what teachers will say one on one. You can practice zippers while looking for a job after you graduate.

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