Book Review: Tales from the Back Row

tales from the back row book amy odell

Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View from Inside the Fashion Industry by Amy ODell

This book is a fun, behind-the-scenes peek into the fashion world, by the founding blogger at one of my favorite fashion blogs, The Cut from New York Magazine. It’s divided into stories about bloggers, trendsetters, designers, celebrities, editors, models, everyone else, and you and me…”the people who power the industry”. Amy tells of how bloggers/online writers were once at the bottom of the barrel compared to print media and how now those roles have reversed, with the rise of street style blogs and the Instagram “famous”. She gives many funny anecdotes about fashion backfires, sample sale mishaps such as the Alexander Wang designer sweatpants she wore during her boyfriend’s family dinner, her street-style-for-a-day adventure, meeting Karl Lagerfeld at a book launch, interviewing for a fashion writer position at Vogue, and more.

A few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Because at this stage of street style, you could wear an oversized glittery clamshell from the Victoria Secret fashion show around your entire torso and you would not look overdressed.”

“Famous fashion people are like tootsie pops. On the outside is a hard shell composed of publicists and assistants and those publicist’s publicists and assistants, and it is only through much persistence and considerable work that you’ll get to the human core at the center of it all.”

“I felt humor was a way to lay bare the seemingly aniti-femininst constructs of the fashion and media industries that drove me to it in the first place. People pay attention to humor.”

“A lot of people who seem to be a legitimate part of the industry have no discernible job that I can tell, I call these people ….dubiously employed folk.”

Here are Amy’s ten vital tips for working in the fashion industry:

  1. When you are starting out, always act like you know whats going on.
  2. When you have been doing this for a while, always act like you don’t know what’s going on.
  3. When in doubt, wear something simple.
  4. When really really in doubt, wear something black.
  5. Don’t post photos of yourself everywhere if it feels “off brand”.
  6. Work hard.
  7. Fear means you’re doing your job.
  8. Check your ego at the door.
  9. Beg for work.
  10. Put your cell phone down and enjoy yourself.

Buy the book on Amazon

Reserve the book at San Diego Library

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