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Lessons From a First Year Fashion Student

School’s out for summer! It’s finally the time of the year to start wrapping up finals and packing everything up to move out until Fall 2022. I just finished my freshman year as a fashion design student at the University of Alabama, and I’ve gathered a bit of advice here and there on what this major is actually like, and spoiler, it’s not as easy as you would think. Whether you are about to start college in the fall as a fashion major, or are already in college and are considering becoming a fashion major, or if you are simply just interested, this one’s for you! Here’s what I learned in my first year as a fashion design student.

The major itself

First of all, be prepared for long hours and lots of time commitment. My class this past semester was two and a half hours long, and from what I have heard they are usually about the same throughout your whole time in this program. The long hours should be fun though. This is not meant to be something you stress over a lot and something you hate. I actually ended up loving all of the time I got to spend learning about the fashion industry and working on the sewing machines, and I usually didn’t want class to end. In a short amount of time you will learn so much about the fashion industry and sewing, so get ready. Also for this major, it’s super important to have good supplies. From my own personal experience of not wanting to have to spend a ton of money on supplies, it’s totally worth it. Invest in a good pair of scissors, hands down that is the most important. And do not use fashion scissors to cut anything else, they will never be the same after I promise. Also invest in a ton of different colors of thread, a good supply box, and all of the rest of the basic design tools. You will be using them for your whole time in the major, so it’s good to just have supplies that will last so you aren’t running to the fabric store every other week.

Never sewed in your life? Don’t let that stop you

A huge reason why I choose the University of Alabama is because unlike most other fashion schools, I didn’t need to know how to sew to be in the fashion program. I feel that most people nowadays don’t have the opportunity to learn how to sew at a young age. It’s just not as common. So now is your time. At least just try out one design class. Chances are you will finish with a piece you sewed completely by yourself, I did and I never thought that I would be able to do it. Teachers are there to help you learn, not to make you feel bad or discouraged. Everyone starts somewhere, so if you are passionate about it, it’s so worth a shot.

Stay Up To Date On Trends

To be a good designer it’s always best to follow the trends. Watch the fashion shows and red carpet events, your teachers and classmates will want to talk about the outfits. Stay in the know. Even as someone who loves fashion, obviously enough to major in it, sometimes I’d rather watch Netflix than sit and watch the Met Gala, but putting in the work to stay up to date on what is going on in the world of fashion will spark your creativity and inspire your own pieces you will design!

Dress Up for Class

This one is just a personal preference. It’s fun. You’re a fashion major, develop your personal style and show it off every day. Some of my favorite moments from this past year was seeing what my classmates would be wearing every day. It was so iconic. Every day is like a fashion show. Pick out cute outfits, and play around with styling different pieces, and yes, while traditional campus wear may be comfy, the feeling of picking out a good outfit and looking bomb on just a regular day is unmatched. Life is your runway. Period.

Lastly, Be prepared for judgement

Over this past year I have become very comfortable with having to tell people that I am majoring in fashion design. However, that was definitely not always the case. People, specifically adults, tend to be so judgmental because it is an unconventional major. I’ve had my fair share of unwanted opinions that usually go something like this, “you know how competitive it is right”, “don’t you want to pick a real career path”, and the worst of all “why don’t you choose a realistic major”. To anyone who has ever heard that before, and if you are in any major that is creativity based I am quite certain you have, just know that this major is realistic. For as long as time goes on fashion designers will always be needed. Plus, besides being a designer there are so many other cool majors that you can do with a fashion degree, but if it is your dream don’t give up on it. You will find people in your program who will believe in you and teachers who have been in the fashion industry to encourage you and support your goals. If I remembered one thing from my first year as a fashion student, it is that my teacher told us that no matter what anyone says the life of a fashion designer is not glamorous. Which I thought was odd at first. I decided to be a fashion major because it is a glamorous lifestyle, right? But after this yearI have learned that it truly does require a lot of passion and dedication. And not to mention sewing is a lot harder than it looks.

So after a long and tiring freshman year I would definitely say one of the best parts was joining the fashion program at the University of Alabama! It has allowed me to finally find people in my life who don’t think I am crazy for wanting to pursue a career in fashion and who will always gush with me over a new pair of shoes.

Gabriella is a writer for the University of Alabama chapter of Her Campus. She is a freshman studying Fashion Design and English with a minor in Creative Writing. She is actively involved in her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and loves spending time with her friends. Her dream in life is to move to New York City to start her own fashion line and become a published romance novelist.
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