How to Start a Career in Fashion with Limited Experience

How to Start a Career in Fashion with Limited Experience

A career in fashion can be an exciting journey with so many avenues to choose from. You’ve got the passion for the industry but where do you get your start? Someone with a sincere interest in the industry can start anywhere because experience is experience! Below are Style Nine to Five Founder, Christie Lohr’s, inside tips on how to break into the fashion industry.

Working Retail

Starting off at a local retail store can be an excellent stepping stone in the fashion industry. At the beginning of her career, Christie’s first job was as a part time sales associate in high school. While working in retail you gain the industry fundamentals, like styling and leadership skills.

Through working with customers, you will be able to quickly assess their style and overall needs while you curate looks and find garments that suit what they’re looking for. Depending on the store, you may also be exposed to making commission and the importance of hitting your sales goals.

Don’t be afraid to take on more responsibility in these roles. During her time as a part-time retail associate, Christie went the extra mile, saying, “I took on leadership duties that were beyond my role”. Taking these initiatives not only set Christie apart, but also helped her to develop her leadership style when running her own company. 


Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door and potentially solidify a more permanent position. Internships put you right in the action and see the industry up close, which may not be as glamorous as you may have perceived it to be. However, this allows you to gain first-hand experience in all parts of the industry, which will help you better understand if this is what you can still see yourself doing.

In Christie’s case, “My first internship was while I was still in high school! I was part of a monthly fashion focus group at Bootlegger’s headquarters in Richmond.” No matter how big or small your role is, you can absorb skills simply by watching other professionals on the job and learning from them.

When applying to internships, be sure to highlight the transferable skills you have learned in a retail setting. According to Christie, key attributes to highlight are, “A sense of urgency, customer service, multi-tasking, drive, open-minded, and leadership (even if it wasn’t in your job title)”.

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Cold Calling

Cold emailing potential employers can be an effective way to make industry connections. Many stylists and other industry professionals have their professional email in their Instagram profiles. “Make the subject line short but impactful. When it comes to requesting a meeting, I would suggest a quick call instead,” Christie advises.

Don’t be discouraged if they don’t respond right away, but feel free to follow up with them. If you do not have access to their email, try connecting with them on LinkedIn. In your message, highlight your work history and key transferable skills that make you an asset to their team.

Starting off in any career can have a steep learning curve with some obstacles, but don’t be discouraged—you’re not alone! When you’re in the position of entering a new industry, it’s important to be confident in the skills that you do have, and also be eager to learn and gain feedback, which will ultimately help you nail down employment in a job that you love.

Is your LinkedIn in need of some extra help? Try Style Nine to Five LinkedIn Profile Refresh offering! Christie will make the improvements needed to make your profile to stand out to industry recruiters.

Demetra Maragos – Demetra is a Master of Arts candidate at New York University, who loves thinking outside of conventional lines to combine her passions of everything culture, fashion and lifestyle.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock