Career

The 5 Best Autobiographies to Read if You Want to Work in Fashion

Written by: Bri Lee

I recently wrote a post about whether or not successful bloggers can create other successful bloggers (the answer is yes, duh), and it got me thinking about other ways we can learn about the fashion industry – specifically from other women who have walked this path before us. I consider the books below the best autobiographies because they have been written over several decades. If you read them all, you’ll be able to see really interesting developments through the fashion industry over time. (Also – a difference in how these incredible women pushed boundaries in their generations!)

I also picked them because I totally tore through each and every one of them – they’re great reads that also teach you about this crazy world we work (and live) in.

The Vogue Factor

Kirstie Clements was the editor at Vogue Australia for 13 years. You might not have heard much about her or about this book if you’re not an Aussie, but Kirstie has an undeniable wealth of knowledge (and gossip) that she is all-too-happy to share in this timeless memoir.

My favourite thing about it? She started as the receptionist.

Honestly. If you want to read a book that inspires you to work your way up the ladder to your ultimate dream job, this is it. Kirstie made me believe that the only thing between me and my aspirations was hard work. I leapt out of bed for weeks after finishing this book.

the best autobiographies for fashion#GIRLBOSS

Sophia Amoruso is incredibly fresh. She’s different from all the other women on this list because she started her business from nothing at a time when her business model didn’t even exist yet. She was quick and adaptive with social media and tech at really critical moments, and carved a career for herself from the outside of the traditional fashion industry structures.This book is also wonderfully split into chapters that teach you life lessons whilst you follow Sophia’s own journey.

It makes you feel like you’re having a cocktail with your fabulous BFF – what more could you want?

D.V.

I have to say – not only should you read this book, but you also must watch the documentary about Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. They go hand-in-hand.

Let me also put this clearly: Diana is one kick-ass lady boss.

This book is so delightful and it’s full of totally quotable witticisms. The other women on this list have written their autobiographies to sound genuine and real, but I think Diana has written hers to be particularly entertaining. She has a truly unique view of the world, too. Her lessons on how history, art, and humanities overlap with fashion are incredibly valuable to anyone starting out. It helped remind me of why I fell in love with fashion in the first place and that element of perspective is so important to hold on to when work gets tough.

Grace

best autobiographies if you want to work in fashion
Do I really need to sell this one? It’s Grace Coddington. The. Grace.

The most important lesson Grace taught me is that you can totally love your work and be absolutely dedicated to it, and that is cool. You can be enthusiastic! You’re allowed to get excited and sweat for a creative vision you believe in! So much of the fashion industry is people pretending not to care. So many young people and social media celebrities work for that “effortless” look in both their personal style and their career. They want you to think they’re too cool.

Well, Grace has a lesson for all of us: being successful and loving what you do is the ultimate “cool”.

Vivienne Westwood

I had to put Vivienne’s book in here because it has that same awesome perspective as D.V.

She’s a literal grandmother now, but this huge book also positions her as the grandmother of punk, the matriarch of fashion activism, and the heroine we all want to be.

She’s so gutsy, and this book doesn’t hold back from sharing the rougher, tougher parts of her life. They run alongside the glossy stuff and are important reminders for us newbies not to lose sight of the bigger picture. We can contribute to this industry in rebellious ways by rejecting fast fashion and sexism, you know? Vivienne has done it all and has been successful across multiple decades. She’s a woman we can all learn from.

What do you think?? Have I missed your favourite? Do you love or loathe these? You know me – always looking for the next great read!!

– Bri
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