7 Things I Wish I Learned in Fashion School

At some point in our lives, we all look back at the choices we have made and re-evaluate them. On the block today is Fashion Design School; a two-year fashion design program at a Toronto college which lists many of the valuable courses as electives rather than part of the foundations, offering students one elective in each year included in the tuition. I have a passion for fashion, and to quote Jess Glynne: there’s no place I’d rather be. I can confidently say that it was student debt well spent. However, now that I’ve arrived in the working world as a professional I can think of a few things I wish I had learned during my time at Fashion Design School.


1.     Fitting

Fittings are a crucial part of dressmaking and fashion design. If a garment is too tight obvious bunching will occur - I’m sure we’ve all tried on something that was two sizes too small and felt like a sausage stuffed into casing.  And if a garment is too big, the wearer appears to drown in it and is equally unflattering. Although this topic is generally covered, it would have been valuable to spend more time on this foundational subject.  Learning how to get a perfect fit for your garments is quite a feat, something many professionals still might struggle with. Anyone in the fashion world will attest to the fact that the fit of a garment is the largest determining factor to make or break a look.


2.     Networking: The Virtuous Circle

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know:  Although this is not necessarily true across the board, many of the best opportunities are created from networking relationships. In an era as social as this one, more information or tools on how to network and build connections within the industry is a valuable skillset. With the wide range of seminars and conventions across the globe, networking has not only become an essential part of our modern day, but necessary and anticipated for many businesses. Metaphorically, networking is similar to the snowball effect in which the more people you meet, the more opportunities arise, which ultimately leads to meeting even more people and opening more doors.


3.     Block Making

In garment creation, a block or a sloper is your foundation pattern.  It is the very basic pattern that can be manipulate into different garments; it is an incredibly versatile and endlessly useful tool.  This program lent the students a sloper for the duration of the program rather than teaching the foundations of making your own. Thankfully, this skill is in just about any fashion-drafting textbook.  


4.     Structural

As a cosplayer I often find myself online trying to find a good tutorial on how to properly create a garment that contributes to the structural integrity of my costume like a hoop skirt, a corset, or even a petti coat. Unfortunately I didn’t receive training on this subject in my program, but I found a great step-by-step walkthrough of corset drafting on Your Wardrobe Unlocked, an online resource for beginner, intermediate and advanced costume creators: http://yourwardrobeunlockd.com/articles/costumemaking/paterns/65-drafting?showall=&limitstart 

As far as petti coats and hoop skirts go commercial patterns have some very easy to follow patterns and instructions. I’ve yet to make a hoop skirt but I will be needing to for the upcoming convention season and I will be using this tutorial: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Draft-a-Custom-Hoop-Skirt-Pattern-With-the-/  


5.     Some organizations prefer volunteer experience to interning

A career counsellor once explained that employers prefer volunteer experience in a candidate as it gives the impression that the volunteering gives the impression of someone with experience, where as interning is still learning.


6.     Fashion is an art; art is subjective

Individuality and creativity are often the two driving factors behind the most incredible garments in fashion. Focus more on expressing your unique style rather than worrying about whether or not others like it. There will always be a factor of the market and current trends, however, as a designer you should be able to take inspiration from those trends and shape them into your own.  Always keep in mind though not everyone is going to like certain trends.  I’ve heard so many complaints about even just this year’s pantone colour of the year


7.     A good pair of fabric shears can make all the difference

There is nothing worse than cutting with dull shears. It’s important to invest in higher quality tools, especially if you’re using them everyday. Invest in yourself and take pride of your talent!