Fashion editors tend to fall into two camps – in-house fashion editors and stylists, and market editors. In-house fashion editors develop and oversee a publication’s theme while market editors help bring this theme to life by locating, borrowing and returning clothes. Getting a job as a fashion editor requires you to have at least a four-year college degree, but you should also have an interest in and experience working with fashion.
Colleges such as the Columbia, Notre Dame and Cal-Berkeley offer programs in journalism and communication that teach the reporting and editing skills you’ll need to succeed as a publication’s editor. Courses you’ll likely take include reporting, copy editing, photography, Web production, design and feature writing. A bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications may be enough to land a regular editing gig, but you’ll need more than that to work as a publication’s fashion editor. The Fashion Institute of Technology, for example, offers noncredit certificates in fashion styling. The type of fashion editor you want to be will dictate the courses to take while earning your bachelor’s or master’s degree.
You may need to study at more than one school to get the training and experience you need. Nina Garcia, fashion director at Marie Claire, studied at Boston University and Fashion Institute of Technology, while Courtney Weinblatt, senior market editor at Marie Claire, studied at Barnard College and Columbia. The New York Times’ online fashion editor, Simone S. Oliver, took a different route. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Howard University and participated in a two-week internship with the Times that exposed her to several aspects of journalism. Before becoming the online fashion editor for the Times, she worked for several years as a news assistant at the paper. Her interest in fashion positioned her to transition into her current role overseeing all aspects of her section’s daily content.
A degree in journalism and fashion-related experience and training still may not be enough to get hired as a fashion editor. "There's nothing more important than to intern at a magazine during college," says Ruth Basloe, a former fashion editor at Cosmopolitan. She interned at Harper's Bazaar during her senior year at Barnard College, which led to a job at Redbook, which gave her the experience she needed to land a market editor job back at Harper's Bazaar. You can usually find information about internships through your college or on a publication’s Web site.
Given the shrinking number of print publications, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for all editors to remain the same between 2010 and 2020. The savvy would-be fashion editor with the right experience and training may be able to land one of these coveted positions, but may be just as likely to land a position like the New York Times' Oliver, working as a fashion editor at an online publication.