To the Class of 2013: words from Fern Mallis

Ever wonder what a commencement speech at a Fashion School sounds like?

Well, Fern Mallis- oh, just the woman who created Fashion Week in New York, shaping American culture and Fashion as we know it today-was our guest and Commencement honoree. I jotted down a few notes. (Yes, I wrote down notes in an actual notepad. (I practice what I preach!))

Although this isn’t her full speech, it is what she concluded with.

Here are ten things she wanted to tell us before we go off into the real world- a list of do’s and don’ts.


10) Penmanship. There’s still value in sending a handwritten (legible) card. Before they eliminate hand writing things altogether take the time to write things down.

9) Google. Use it to learn something about the person you’re meeting especially for interviews. Asking what the interviewer/person does when you should already know is unnecessary.

8) Get there early. Soak up the energy. Feel the vibes. Do you see yourself there? When you come on time or late, you do yourself a disservice. You come flustered and in a rush instead of being able to evaluate your environment. Also, dress appropriately. You can never take back a first impression. The truth is we are judged for how we look.   People do notice what shoes you’re wearing.

7) Gum? Never, ever in public. This is non-negotiable.

6) Grooming. Girls, your manicures should cover your nails fully. Don’t turn what was meant to be aesthetically pleasing into a distraction.  Hair should look clean and put together. The interviewer or person you’re meeting shouldn’t have to wonder when you took a shower last.  Guys too.

5) Resumes. Yes you’re all creative people but use a clean clear type face. Be concise and honest. Pick things you’re most proud of. Have a smart explanation of what you want to do. Do not over embellish. (They still check references)

4) Listen and think before you speak instead of thinking of what you want to say while someone else is talking.

3) Smile and make eye contact. Be engaging.

2) Handshakes should firm. Don’t you hate those sloppy fishy handshakes? Handshakes communicate for you. Let it be a good message.

Last but not least,

1) Be nice. “I don’t care how smart, pretty or handsome you are. You are competing with people just as capable as you are. Be the person/personality you want to work with. Only hire people you’d want to have dinner with.”

Interesting how she gave “simple” advice, right? It only goes to show that the things that matter are the things people often forget. The common sense sort of things. Given that she’s had more years of experience in the fashion industry than I have been alive and that she has seen the industry grow and transform, I’ll take her word for it.

Congratulations Class of 2013!



“Now go out and make this world a better more beautiful place.”- Fern Mallis

You got it Fern. Thank you for your words. I hope we make you proud!

If you’re in New York and want to hear Fern Mallis in conversation with Oscar De La Renta, check out 92y! I wish I could make it..

Related posts:

What job hunting for a job you really like is like (in GIFs)

Voices of the World as heard from the Brooklyn Bridge

On my Mind: 2 H’s

Subscribe to the right to know whenever I have a new blog post (cause who knows when that’ll be), add me on facebook for real-time updates of adventures or find me here:

AndreaM Signature