The Fashion Industry Killed My Confidence, Here’s How I Got It Back

The Fashion Industry Killed My Confidence, Here’s How I Got It Back

When I got into the fashion industry - on the 90s- people didn't know what the job "stylist" was. I'd always have to explain that I shop for a living which made it sound cool and glamorous - which it was sometimes. But mostly I just suffered severe blows to my self confidence. Here's how working in this industry messed with my self esteem, and how I got my confidence back. I think you'll be surprised at what I share!

When I got into the fashion industry in the 90s, the job “stylist” wasn’t out there. It was a behind the scenes position before #bts was a thing. I didn’t see other stylists on Instagram, and think I want to do that! There was no instagram. And I didn’t know any stylists.

Back in the 90s - when I got into the fashion industry - people didn't know what the job "stylist" was. I'd always have to explain that I shop for a living which made it sound cool and glamorous - which it was sometimes. But mostly I just suffered severe blows to my self confidence. Here's how working in this industry messed with my self esteem, and how I got my confidence back. I think you'll be surprised at what I share!

But I did know some photographers. And since they worked with stylists they made the introductions that gave me my first assisting jobs.

Styling shoots intrigued me because it seemed like a fun career that would provide creative freedom.

And it did.

But it also killed my confidence as a young and not-so-young stylist.

Click play to watch the video where I share how working in the fashion industry did a number on my self esteem.

And read on for the full story.

The Fashion Industry For The UnFashionable

While most girls who got into fashion obsessed over the clothes, I didn’t. My clothing choices weren’t affected by trends or designers. I wore what I wanted, and did my own thing.

So when my boss – a high end fashion stylist – on my first job asked about my favorite designer …I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know the designers let alone have a favorite.

When I explained that I didn’t have one, she shot daggers from her eyes, and said I HAD to choose. (This was 1995 and hers was Helmet Lang.)

To her it was incomprehensible that I didn’t fantasize about owning a Fendi baguette.

For me, I felt ashamed and ill equipped to do the job. It was normal for me to second guess my decision to be a stylist when I worked for this woman.

Styling For The Supermarket

When I started styling my own jobs, I didn’t do high fashion. I worked for mainstream women’s magazines. These were often the ones you’d see while standing in line at the grocery store checkout.  

Usually, I styled front of book shopping trends (7 Leather Jackets You’ll Still Be Wearing in 7 Years). Or they’d want me to get outfits for the model who was illustrating an article. I needed to get a lot of clothes!

The way it works is that the brands loan the clothes to the magazines in exchange for publicity. But it was always such a struggle for me to get these clothes from the showrooms who were so damn snobby back then.

Because I wasn’t working for Vogue or Bazaar, I’d get all this attitude when I called in a request. And that’s even if they’d bother to return my call.

It wasn’t like I was calling the high end showrooms for these clothes. I was pitching the mall stores, and they said that the publication I worked for wasn’t a good fit. It was too low budget, mass market or…I swear they even said cheap.

After years of this kind of rejection, I started to take it personally. I believed that I wasn’t the right fit.  

From The Nosebleeds

New York Fashion Week wasn’t always the spectacle outside the shows as it is now. So waiting to get inside didn’t have the same kind of entertainment or “streetstyle” that you’d see these days. But I never enjoyed going inside either.

I remember this one experience at Nicole Miller where I had to wait forever. They escorted everyone nearby inside, and completely overlooked me.

When the lights went down and the show started, I was ushered to my seat. It was about 5 feet from the entrance where I was waiting. Without a doubt, it was at the shows themselves when my outsider status was confirmed.

Back in the 90s - when I got into the fashion industry - people didn't know what the job "stylist" was. I'd always have to explain that I shop for a living which made it sound cool and glamorous - which it was sometimes. But mostly I just suffered severe blows to my self confidence. Here's how working in this industry messed with my self esteem, and how I got my confidence back. I think you'll be surprised at what I share!

Fashion As Creative Expression

I no longer go to the shows. And I don’t style much editorial these days so I don’t deal with showrooms. I’ve also found good people to work with who don’t judge me on my favorite designer. (I still don’t have one, but love perusing the goods at Bird, Beacon’s Closet and Kith.)

But what brought back my confidence while still thick in my editorial days? Doing yoga. And getting good at it! Yes, the self awareness, mindfulness and all that yogic stuff helped. But really, it was just practicing and getting good at something that rebuilt my self esteem. And having it be something completely unrelated to my career was the key confidence builder.

Also yoga is very self expressive. So it reconnected me to why I got into the fashion industry in the first place.

I always loved to creatively express when I was young. And while I still adore putting together a “So Me” outfit…my real passion is helping others do the same.

Click here to see how I can help with your style reinvention so you always feel amazing in what you you wear.

Elysha Lenkin
I help women feel like superstars in their clothes.

6 Comments

  1. GGW says:

    Elysha,
    I have continually been on the search to connect with self-wisdom, self-expression and self-confidence. Self-acceptance of who I am, how I dress and how I look carries a vibe that is “contagious” to women and girls in my life. It is a WIN WIN WIN for all. Your story and video most definitely pays it forward as a generous gift to women and girls. Thank you!
    GGW

  2. Terre says:

    Yay yoga! Good for so many things!

  3. Yay Yoga!! Thanks, Terre.

  4. Hi GGW! Thanks for watching and I appreciate your comment💜

  5. Sue says:

    One of my favourite stories as a child was, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. I am nearly always reminded of it when I see fashion shows on tv, flip through glamour magazines, or walk past so-called top designer stores. I prefer clothes that flatter, stand the test of time, and don’t break the bank!

  6. Sue, thanks for reminding me of this story. I see how relevant it can be when looking at the fashion industry today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: