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Why I Don’t Like Telling People I’m a Fashion Major

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Okay, let me start this by saying, I am very happy with my choice of being a fashion merchandising major. I’ve always really enjoyed fashion, and no, that doesn’t mean I just really like a good shopping spree. It means I’ve read every book in my local public library on the subject, I enjoy researching how some of the most successful fashion designers and other industry moguls got to where they are now. I love giving my friends and family fashion advice. I even love attempting to draw designs that could possibly someday be worn by someone other than myself despite my significant lack of artistic skills. Since I was about eight, I wanted to be in a creative industry (either a party planner or a fashion journalist, which is what I’m now pursuing) and before then I wanted to be a teacher. But that was a short phase only brought on by that fact that my mom is a teacher, and honestly the salary is kind of what deterred me. I absolutely respect all teachers at any level and think they do not get paid enough, and the fact that they make a small fraction of a professional athlete’s salary is yet another problem we desperately need our country’s leader to solve and an example of how America’s priorities are all wacky. But that’s another article for another time.

I say all that to say fashion is my dream and pretty much always has been, so when I tell people this is the path I’ve chosen and they judge me or say that it’s easy or joke about my future in the industry, it makes me really mad and uncomfortable. I mean, you can try to avoid telling people this, but honestly it’s pretty much always the first question someone asks you when you tell them you’re in college.

Here are some of the responses I’ve gotten and you see how you would feel if you got them when you disclose this little piece of personal information:

  1. That’s such an easy major. Okay, you tell that to the five exams and two projects I have this week. No, we don’t just sit in class for a few hours a day and stare at gorgeous and expensive clothes, as much as I’d love to do that. Just like you do or did (whatever stage you are in life), we are learning valuable skills that will make us more attractive and useful to future employers in a very challenging and competitive industry.

  2. That doesn’t really require much intelligence. Oh really? Then why is this a major that so many colleges have seen fit to add to their curriculum? This is not an easy industry and even though we might be learning stuff that requires a different side of our brains, it’s certainly not easy! Why don’t you try to predict what trends people will want a year from now and have your job rely on the accuracy of those choices. It’s not easy to design an entire collection of couture (you know, the stuff you see on the runways during fashion week) in a season, only to have street vendors rip off your high end designs and sell them a week after the world sees them for the first time on the runways of fashion week, and take all your customers. It requires a different set of skills that a lot of other jobs don’t, but that certainly doesn’t mean that a stupid person could do it, thank you very much.

  3. Can you give me outfit advice? There’s a lot that goes into that process so no, I can’t just give you fashion advice as we pass each other on the street. I need to know your personal style, your style icons, the contents of your closet and what makes you feel confident. It’s a personalized process and it’s not something that’s super obvious and easy to just dole out.

  4. You must judge me so hard for wearing sweats right now. Um no, have you seen what I’m wearing? I literally wear leggings, a plain v-neck t-shirt, a sweater if it’s cold (but usually the same one) and Uggs almost every day like any other college girl because, just like you, I was up till 2 a.m. working on a project or studying for a test and woke up late, not giving myself enough time to actually look put together. So no, I don’t judge you for wearing what you want to wear, as long as you don’t judge me for it. This definitely works both ways. For some reason, a lot of the time when I tell people that I’m a fashion major, they look me up and down in my workout clothes (that I wear to do everything but work out), silently judging me and making me have to follow up with a disclosure that I don’t ALWAYS dress like this. But I shouldn’t have to do that. If I’m not judging you, you shouldn’t judge me.

  5. Oh, no wonder you’re so dressed up. No, that’s actually not it. Believe it or not, I actually feel more confident when I take the time to put together a cute outfit, add a little makeup, and style my hair. I feel like that’s pretty normal. It’s not like I wear a cocktail dress or something just as fancy simply to go to class. People literally say this when I’m wearing jeans, a cute blouse and riding boots. I guess compared to some college students, that’s dressed up but in the real world, that’s a pretty casual ensemble. Plus, that only happens about twice a week, tbh.                                                                                                                    
  6. You know that industry is really competitive right? Really? I had no idea! I grew up the majority of my life reading everything I could on the fashion industry and I had no earthly idea that it was competitive. Maybe I should switch my major…

I mean, haven’t you seen The Devil Wears Prada?! If not, it’s a MUST-see. It’s a cutthroat lifestyle, so you should be calling us fashion merchandising majors brave for putting ourselves through this.

Anyway, end of rant. I’m really hoping that by reading this article, you became a little more aware of how insulting these responses are when someone tells you they’re a fashion major.

Briana Thornton is a fashion merchandising major at VCU (although she certainly doesn't always dress like it). You can catch her if you can running between her job at the gym, soccer practice, and the many other activities she has chosen to overwhelm herself with this semester. She lives with the motto "Try everything once" because why not? She hopes to graduate in 2018, move to London, and run a fashion magazine, Miranda Priestly style.
Keziah is a writer for Her Campus. She is majoring in Fashion Design with a minor in Fashion Merchandising. HCXO!