The Devil Wears Prada is one of those rare, iconic films that can be repeatedly watched and enjoyed. It has endured the test of time through its drama-filled, fictional telling of the true cut-throat atmosphere of a billion dollar industry and the people who work in it. Here are six valuable life lessons from The Devil Wears Prada.
- Be Prepared
Andy Sachs was in for a rude awakening when she walked into her interview at Runway. She didn’t know the magazine, she didn’t know the editor and chief, and she didn’t know anything about the fashion industry.
The lesson: No one else was in that room to promote Andy but Andy herself, and she did a terrible job. Equip yourself with a wide breadth of knowledge and express more than your accomplishments on paper, because you are more than your resume. So, have your own back. Represent yourself in a way no one else would, because no one else can. By being prepared, you can walk into a situation as a confident leader and seem like an asset to any team.
- Be Passionate
Not only did Andy not know anything about Runway or the fashion industry, she wasn’t passionate about it at all. As a result, she wasn't teachable, so no real effort was made to understand the industry. It wasn’t until Nigel called Andy out that she understood her mistake. While Andy had been resentful toward Miranda for being harsh, Miranda was only doing her job. Andy was the one who was mediocre, because she lacked passion and drive for the job other girls would have killed for.
The lesson: take a step back and acknowledge your position in life. There are things worthy of being grateful for and, therefore, worthy of being passionate about. Passion makes us pursue things with an added vigor, and it separates the excellent from the average. If you want to impress, start with being passionate so that you can be teachable.
- Pursue Excellence
Throughout the film, viewers watch as everyone around Miranda Priestly anxiously works hard to meet the standard she sets. In fact, one of the opening sequences shows all the effort everyone puts up to impress her as soon as they learn of her incoming arrival. Not once does Miranda belittle herself to their level. Rather, she sets the standard and everyone else is left to either sink or swim.
The lesson: have a vision and do everything within your power to see it through. If you pursue excellence, you will become irreplaceable and the people around you will be forced to uphold the standard that you are setting.
- What You Wear Reflects Who You Are
It wasn’t by mistake that Andy’s wardrobe had a recall the moment she felt more confident about herself and the value she could bring to Runway.
One of my favorite scenes is the monologue in which Miranda Priestly effortlessly tears Andy to shreds for referring to clothing as a pile of “stuff.” Miranda makes the point that although Andy pridefully sees herself as an exemption to the world of fashion, she’s not, because the clothes she was wearing were influenced by the selections made by the heads of the industry.
The lesson: what you wear is one of the most important forms of non-verbal communication. Without words, you are telling everyone intimate details about yourself. Maybe you’re not a judgemental person. Maybe you don’t even care about how you look or what you wear. Regardless, other people will make immediate judgement calls about you based on how you present yourself, so you may as well work to give the best impression even when you don’t feel the most confident.
- Real Friends Will Support Your Growth
When Andy started doing really well at her job at Runway, her friends were less than enthused. In fact, her boyfriend even broke up with her over her success. They claimed she had changed, but it seemed more like she figured out who she really was and wanted to be.
The lesson: your real friends won’t be jealous of your success. They will be excited and cheer you on, because it should be a progress party for everyone. That doesn’t mean Andy shouldn’t have made more of an effort to communicate and spend time with her boyfriend and friends. It also doesn’t mean that Andy wasn’t being emotionally abused at work. She should have made more time for her loved ones and she was being taken advantage of at work, but the point remains that her friends didn't appreciate or support her growth. Nigel was clearly a better friend because he was real with Andy when she needed to adjust, pushed her to be her best, and cheered her on when she succeeded.
- Remember Who You Are in the Midst of Your Success
At the end of the film, Andy realizes she made a decision that valued her career over her character when she allowed her coworker, Emily (the one who was truly passionate and dedicated to the industry) to get screwed over for her own success.
The lesson: in the midst of success, be humble and remember your roots. Stay true to your personal morals and values. Not everyone would be bothered that Andy put her own success and career first. At the end of the day, she learned to have her own back, and that’s great. However, that decision didn’t sit right with her, because it was not true to her code of ethics. In the midst of all her success, Andy remembered to humble herself and be true to who she is.
"That's all." - Miranda Priestly