This is probably one of my favorite outfits/shoots of the year. I just love that it screams spring, but it also makes me laugh. For one, my legs are so pale!! My Puerto Rico trip can’t come soon enough because girl, I need a tan. And because allergy season has been so bad and I was sneezing up a storm leading up to this and my nose was rubbed raw which to me is super noticeable in these pics, but you let me know if you can tell!
Before we get started with today’s post, I just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone who read my post on why I quit my dream job and reached out with encouragement and support. I was so nervous to hit publish on it and it really made me feel good to have all of your support and even have some people reach out to me that they dealt with similar experiences. So thank you so much.
Today we’re taking another trip down editorial memory lane. When I was writing my post about leaving my dream job, there were so many examples and stories I wanted to throw in, but it was already so long and wordy to begin with. So I wanted to start this series, which is like a follow up to that post and call it, Confessions of a Fashion Assistant. Just think Devil Wears Prada Vibes. And I wanted to share small stories here and there of the ridiculous things that happened when I worked in editorial. And just a heads up, this post is dripping with sarcasm.
READING MY TEXTS
To provide some background, when I worked at a magazine I assisted two editors, the senior accessories editor and the accessories editor. It’s funny because the accessories editor was the one who really picked at me all day long and who I really had more confrontations with, but the senior editor, who was honestly just as nasty, was who ultimately led me to quit.
Anyways, the accessories editor was so nosy and I think it was because she was insecure, but she was always into everything, especially my business. If we were in the same room together and my phone was sitting next to me, screen up and I got a text, she would lean in and always look at it and then smile at me. Not just a glance, a full on look and read. And if someone texted me that wasn’t my mom or boyfriend, she would always ask me who that was. Along with the follow up question of, “are you talking about me?” Um, no.
I remember I was really close with my first group of interns and we all had a big group text. It was mostly for work to communicate and the occasional venting session because these editors were honestly crazy. And one time she saw the group text name pop up on my phone and tried to wrestle the phone out of my hand so she could read it. When I didn’t let go, she kept asking me if she could see it.
Her nosiness even went further than reading my texts. Anytime I would talk to the other assistants, she would always question me and ask me what we were talking about and would keep pressing me for details. And she would always end the conversation by telling me to watch out for them and not trust them and that I could only trust her. Yeah, okay.
THROWING SHOES AT EVERYONE
Yep, you read that right. No need to clean your screen or rub your eyes because you read that right.
So when I worked at this magazine, I worked in the accessories closet. It was so small. Think Harry Potter’s bedroom under the stairs, it was about two of those put together. And we had these tall shelves where we would store shoes that we wanted to keep to use for future shoots. Every now and then, the editors would come in and pull the shoes they wanted to return to PR companies so we could clean the closet out. When the senior editor came in to do this, she would pull product, create a big pile and call it a day. But, when the accessories editor would come in, you had better run for cover because she was about to make a scene.
She would frantically grab shoes off the shelves and just throw them with no regard as to where it would land. There were so many times while she was editing the shoes that she would drop them on my feet or they would hit my ankles or hit the interns. She always noticed and would just say with fake sincerity “please be careful guys” and then proceeded to continue throwing shoes.
And in case you think I’m crazy or over exaggerating, it was common knowledge that this woman threw shoes. The fashion assistant in the closet would bring it up that she was known for doing that and all my interns talked about it as well. It’s hard to explain this woman since you obviously haven’t met her, but I truly believe that she was very much aware of her actions and she was so calculated in everything that she did. I think she was 100% aware of the fact that she was throwing shoes at people, but honestly didn’t value anyone enough to care.
MAKING SURE I CAN’T LEAVE WHEN I HAVE PLANS
I rarely left the office before 9:00 p.m. I never made plans because I was always so tired I just wanted to go home and go to sleep and because I was so depressed that I isolated myself from everyone. But, every now and then, I would have dinner plans after work. Pretty much get togethers with my old Teen Vogue family especially our annual holiday dinner or dinner with my best friend Kyle and I’m telling you this was truly once in a blue moon.
Like I said, the editor was so nosy and would always question me or try to make small talk so I would bring up that I had plans and was hoping to leave by 7:00. Imagine that? Leaving at 7 and thinking that’s early and feeling guilty for leaving so early. And without fail, anytime I had plans she would always think of ways to make sure I couldn’t leave.
One time, we met with an accessories designer who brought her collection to show us and the editor made sure to volunteer me to help her pack everything back up so that I couldn’t go back to my desk after the meeting to wrap up my work. Or she would give me projects at 6pm and tell me they needed to be completed tonight. Without fail, anytime I had made plans for that night, she would think of something absolutely ridiculous to make sure I couldn’t leave, never even bringing up the fact that she knew I had plans.
Anytime I had a group dinner to get to, I was the last one to arrive or I remember one time keeping my best friend waiting a good hour and running to the restaurant to meet him when I was finally free.
Even more than that, if we ever had a half-day before a holiday, she would make sure I couldn’t leave; especially if she wasn’t leaving early. I remember Labor Day weekend, we had gotten a half-day on one work day and I was so excited because my mom and I made plans to go shopping and to grab dinner, but of course at noon, the editor came running my way with all these tasks and projects and questions and her and I stayed at the office that day until 6pm (early). And most of that time was spent with her going through my emails and telling me I had to organize my emails like hers and asking me all these questions about each and every email. It is so painful just thinking about this.
TOLD TO GO TO EDITORIAL EVENTS & THEN MAKING SURE I CAN’T ATTEND
Obviously similar to her making sure I can’t leave work when I made plans, but this time, the editors are literally the ones telling me to go to these events, but then creating roadblocks to make sure I can’t go!!
In editorial, you spend a lot of time going to events and PR companies to view collections and show face to build relationships. As exciting as this sounded, I was always so overwhelmed at work so I hated when they asked me to go to events because it was so hard to manage their requests while I was out.
There was one event in particular that I was so excited for. It was near my mom’s job, it was after work and was an event hosted by a handbag designer that was going to take place at Dylan’s Candy Shop. It was around the holidays and I was excited to attend this event with my mom because I thought it would be so much fun. Both of us even made a little more effort with our outfit that day to look nice.
Close to 6, I had emailed the editor just reminding her that I was covering the event and if she wanted me to do anything to wrap up before I left. Naturally my editor emails back and cc’s the senior editor and pretty much chews me out saying that work is a priority and that this event isn’t important and that’s its ridiculous I wanted to leave early.
So, let’s go over a few things… she told me to go to this event, I wanted to leave at 7pm which was reasonable and I always prioritized my work, even over my health.
Ooh I’m just mad thinking about how upset I was that night. It was this constant cycle of telling me to go to events, then making sure I couldn’t leave and accusing me of not prioritizing my work when I left or tried to leave for events they were telling me to go to and then circling back with me and asking me how was the event and then yelling at me for not attending. Do you have whiplash? Because I definitely did.
EXCLUDING ME FROM TEAM MEETINGS
Here’s what I learned a few months into the job. There was apparently a few weekly meetings that happened with the fashion team where the team would get together and pitch ideas for the magazine like shopping pages for example and another meeting where the photo team would communicate upcoming shoots to the fashion team.
And why did I only realize this after being with the team for a few months? Oh, because I wasn’t invited. And in case you’re thinking, well you were a fashion assistant, I’m sure it was editors only. Nope, everyone went, all the assistants went except me.
One day I had walked by the conference room and saw everyone in there and when I asked the other assistants they had told me what it was and they never understood why I never came. Me, trying to take initiative, I asked my boss what those meetings were and if I should/could attend. Her response, I don’t think it’s necessary. I just couldn’t understand why every single person on the team attended this meeting except me. Honestly, one day I just decided to go in anyways and I found them useful and interesting and was so mad that my editors wanted to stunt my growth so much that they excluded me from team work meetings.
HIT THIS DEADLINE, BUT CHECK YOUR PHONE, BUT GET OFF THE PHONE, BUT WHY ISN’T THIS DONE…?
Every work environment is different when it comes to phones so my rule of thumb is always put it away until you can pick up on social cues and see what other people are doing around you.
When I worked at this magazine, I was always so busy, especially so in the mornings when I had to follow up with a list of PR companies and the early hours are always the most crucial. Whenever my editors were out visiting PR companies in the morning, they would text me, but wouldn’t email me and expect immediate responses. I always hated having to balance the two and didn’t understand why they just couldn’t email me everything if they were already emailing me. I never caught their texts as soon as they came in and they were always so mad but if I sat there with my phone glued to my hand, I wouldn’t be working on my computer.
There was always this mixed signal where they would come stomping in, asking if this and that was done and not understanding why it wasn’t even after they spent all morning texting me and giving me 100 other tasks. They would always give me a disapproving look if I was on my phone for a millisecond when they came into the closet, but wanted me to keep an eye out for their texts.
I remember one time the editor told me that I should be following all these other editors on Instagram and keep an eye out everyday on what events they were going to so I could make sure that the senior editor was aware of these events to see if she got invited or needed to reach out as to why she wasn’t invited. She said I should be always having her back by keeping an eye out on what’s going on on social media.
So again, to clarify my role, I had to manage a group of 9 interns, do all these tasks with deadlines, keep an eye out for their texts, be on social media, but also make sure I’m hitting those deadlines. K. Cool. Noted.
HAVING TO PAY FOR EDITOR’S ITEMS WITH MY OWN MONEY
At the magazine, each editor was entitled to and encouraged to have a corporate card. My editor never wanted to have a corporate card and instead always just did everything on her personal card and then got mad at me when her expenses weren’t approved quick enough because it was her personal card.
Being a fashion assistant, I was not only making pennies, but also not entitled to a corporate card. Which got pretty annoying whenever my boss had to go to Paris fashion week and needed all these things for her trip like a new toothbrush or travel toiletries and a memory card and would just email me her list when she wasn’t in the office so I had to send my intern out with my personal credit card. Even though, I obviously got to expense the charges and get reimbursed, it’s annoying to have those funds holding up my card and if I wasn’t reimbursed soon enough I was out of that money until I was. People always think I’m weird because I hate charging things even though I’m going to be paid back, but for me it’s the principle. It’s still a charge and it’s still something that is tying up my money.
She would also request all these magazines that could only be found at this one magazine shop in soho that only accepted cash. I once had to send an intern and because we didn’t realize it was cash only, she had to use her own personal money and when I told the editor, she just brushed it off and said she would pay her back and never did.
And an update on that toothbrush she needed for Paris in case you were wondering, she left it behind at the hotel. So I had to ask someone on the team who spoke French to call the hotel to ask if her toothbrush was there, I then had to send them a UPS overnight label so that they could send her toothbrush back to her. Yep.
NOT BEING ABLE TO ENJOY A DINNER WITHOUT BEING HARASSED BY EDITORS
I think one of the things that frustrated me the most about working in editorial was the fact that I was like a doctor that was always on call. It literally became my tag line, I would say, I didn’t go to medical school, I’m not a doctor, why am I always on call??
I always got into the office early to get my day started because I had to. By the time 9am rolled around, I was already deep into my work. So by the time 6pm came around, I would crash and it was frustrating for me because both of my editors would never get in early, but would always email well into the night so I was constantly working around the clock.
There was one time when the other assistants and myself had organized a Cinco De Mayo dinner at a restaurant near the office. I was excited because although we spent most of the day working together, this was our first time out and about. And what could be better than tacos and margaritas? When we were at dinner, which I think was around 7 or 8pm, my senior editor was emailing me like crazy. Again, it was frustrating because I spent the early morning and all day working and trying to get things done only to have her at the end of the day put her two cents in. She was so rude to me and was changing everything I did that day and was criticizing me for how I emailed.
I remember getting so upset during dinner and not being able to shake it off. Even the other assistants flat out told me that they could see it on my face and my demure that they had lost me. I remember after the meal, all of them walking to the train and I walked back to the office close to midnight to try and make the changes she insisted were so important.
DRAFTING & REDRAFTING AN EMAIL ONLY TO HAVE TO WAIT FOR EDITOR’S NAIL APPOINTMENT TO BE OVER
The accessories editor I worked for was such a control freak and you had to do everything exactly her way. She didn’t care if you did it one way and she did it another and you both got the same results, no it had to be her way.
Before each shoot started, I would send an email out to the team basically with an accessories update giving any packing instructions or anything specific I had to call out. My first week, I had to send that email out and she wanted me to send her a draft to approve. No problem, I’m new that’s fine.
My issue was that she made me draft and redraft that thing a hundred times. Sometimes it was as small as changing a word here and there or something as vague as I don’t know, it just doesn’t sound right can you change it to make something a new paragraph. Instead of coming over to my desk or having me come to her, she chose to have us email back and forth.
At this point it was 7pm and the cherry on top was when she told me it still wasn’t good enough to send, but she was heading to a nail appointment and if I could wait until after she finished for more feedback and she didn’t want me to send this from home so if I could stay in the office until it was final. So I spent a good hour just walking around the office and taking in the view and exploring as I had to wait for her to go to her nail appointment, get her nails done and then go home.
The bigger cherry on top was the next day when she told me, “oh you could have just sent that final email from home.”
EDITOR NOT WANTING TO DEAL WITH THE OVERTIME ISSUE
You could imagine with all the ridiculous things I went through, my overtime went through the roof. I would fill out my timesheet, which was a paper timesheet by the way and it was laughable how many hours I put in. You would think a big fancy magazine had a more efficient way to document hours.
When the higher ups started talking about budget cuts, the one thing they wanted to try and focus on was figuring out why the assistants were working so late and if they could cap the overtime hours. I remember my one friend who was a fashion assistant met with her boss who tried to help her delegate her work so she didn’t have to stay that late.
My boss on the other hand, told me she knows why I stay late, but wanted to hear it from me and then offered no solution and pretty much told me I should be working these hours and that this was normal. Normal? Funny because when I look around the office at 10pm, I seem to be the only “normal” person there.
Ooooh, I’m a little heated writing that to be honest! It’s still hard to take a trip down memory lane and not still be angry about this stuff. But, I hope you enjoyed todays post and if you haven’t read the background story, you can check out my full post of why I quit my dream job here.
This is only the start of a new series I want to continue doing so I have a ton more stories to share and I hope you enjoyed this post and let me know of any feedback you have below.
Thank you so much for reading!