Admit it, we all love fashion magazines. Something about flipping through those glossy pictures and looking through incredible fashion finds just brightens up our day and makes time go by faster. But then there’s a problem. No, more than just one. You see something amazing listed, but then you realize it costs $25,000. You spot something affordable, but you don’t know if it’s available in all stores, select stores, or whether or not you can just get it online. Oh, and there’s also the issue that magazines are not issued very often. That’s where a blogazine comes in. The Pleat, started by Julie Chen, Samara D’auria, Desiree Marr and Tiffanie Graham, is a site that covers all aspects you’d want to know about fashion: What’s hot now? Where can we get these items at an affordable price? What celebrity looks are they digging? What designers should we be on the lookout for? What are some deals we should take advantage of? The best part is that it’s updated often, so you’ll always know the latest information.
We got a chance to get the inside scoop from Julie Chen, co-founder and managing editor of The Pleat, to get some fashion advice and learn more about this exciting new website you should all be following!
Where you were born: Taipei, Taiwan. Home of the best oyster omelets ever!
Where you were raised: Andover, Massachusetts
Age: I don’t believe in lying about your age. I’m 33.
Education: BFA in Fabric Styling from The Fashion Institute of Technology
Profession: Fashion editor and stylist venturing into digital unknown =) Co-founder and managing editor, The Pleat, www.thepleat.com
ABOUT YOUR FASHION CAREER
Tell us how you got started and how you got to where you are now.
I was lucky enough to score an internship at Jane Magazine during my senior year of college. I worked in the fashion closet, logging in all the clothes that went in and out. I’m not that old, but old enough to remember we used Polaroid film and paper to keep track of everything that we had to return. Tell that to the kids these days!
Was it hard as an Asian American trying to pursue a career in fashion? Did your parents ever pressure you to do something else or were they very supportive?
I definitely didn’t feel held back by my ethnicity and race, and apparently, neither do a whole generation of Asian Americans. I remember a story Vogue did maybe seven years ago on who would be the next wave of big designers, and the only person in the photo that wasn’t Asian was Tara Subkoff.
I felt a lot of pressure to be academically super-human growing up, sure, but for me, I found that mentality unrealistic and just plain oppressive by my pre-teen years. (This works for some of us, though. My brother went to Harvard and is a medical doctor now.) I was a defiant, headstrong, and definitely annoying teenager — I certainly tested my parents’ patience. I believe by the end of my high school years, they were just happy for me to pursue anything that you can get a bachelor’s degree for!
How was your life like before you started The Pleat? Why did you leave your previous job to work on this blogazine?
I was working as the fashion editor at Life and Style Weekly prior to starting The Pleat, where I also cover women’s fashion and accessories, so things actually aren’t that different. We mostly work from home on the site, so my commute time has shrunk from 90 minutes each way to 30 seconds — hard to beat that!
What I do miss about print magazine life is actually working with the clothes, being able to see and touch and get the whole effect of a garment or accessory.
What about now? Tell us about your typical day at work.
Throughout the month there are always previews of product for the upcoming season, new lines and website launches, designer collaborations being presented, so between myself and the fashion content directors, we try to attend all these events to stay abreast of new trends.
We also produce all of the content you see on the site. I research and request necessary images for each story, and write the copy as well. A layout for each story is put together by our art and photo director. We have an editorial meeting once a week where we pitch our new story ideas. I’ve also recently started managing our social media, advertising and promotional initiatives, which is something new to me. That’s the beauty of starting your own site — you get to learn how to do everything!
ABOUT THE PLEAT
What is your concept behind The Pleat? And why did you decide to go with that name?
We wanted a website about shopping and style that was fun to look and didn’t take itself too seriously. We also wanted a site that covered a wide variety of price points, because that’s how a lot of people dress these days. I literally just saw a girl on the subway carrying a Hermes Kelly bag and wearing an H&M coat. Good design is accessible high and low now; it’s about how you put it all together.
We really try to make sure the products you see on The Pleat, you can quickly link to and buy online, unlike a print magazine, where you have to tear the page out, go to the computer, type in the link or call the number listed, and jump through a bunch of hoops to check out something that’s caught your eye. We devote a good portion of our editorial coverage to shopping and style outlets specific for the web — sections like E-Tailers We Love! and Blogger Style are there to highlight the best of what’s online.
The Pleat — to be honest, we free-associated a list of random words and then cross referenced our favorite names with what domain names were available! But also it makes us think of staying in “the fold” of fashion.
What can readers expect from your website?
We’re fashion enthusiasts, but also realistic and down to earth about how much time and money the average woman actually spends on her wardrobe. No dissertations on the history of the bias cut, lectures on what you should not wear for your “body type,” and admiration of designer goods that absolutely stop short of idolatry. So expect trend coverage that includes the amazing designer splurge items, but also the best of what’s affordable and accessible to anyone with a computer and a credit card! And expect fun giveaways and special discount codes as well!
We’re also ramping up our sale coverage in the coming months, so stay tuned for that!
What are some spring trends we should be following right now? What’s hot at this moment, and what should we set aside? And since New York Fashion Week just ended, what trends do you think we will be seeing in the fall?
I am so looking forward to spring! I love the ’70s vibe going on: stacked heel shoes, longer, looser diaphanous blouson dresses in light fabrics, higher waistlines, lower hemlines, wide leg pants, and super bright colors.
A shortlist of great additions to your spring wardrobe this year:
- Something light and lacey — a tee shirt or skirt, or a pair of lace shorts!
- A white pant suit
- Simple silky separates
- A super bright dress
- A wide leg pant
- A below-the-knee-skirt
- Simple, stacked heel sandals with no platform
- A structured square shoulder bag
I’d give the tough, studded rocker look a break for now, as well as those super structured, ’80s cocktail dresses that have been floating around the past few seasons now.
Coming up for this fall — get a cape! I saw them everywhere!
Can you give our readers some advice on styling?
[Asian Americans'] skin tone always looks amazing in bright, clear colors, and jewel tones as well. Find a tailor you like — a lot of us are on the smaller side, so if you find something you love and it’s a little too wide, long, voluminous, see what your tailor can do to scale things down to fit your frame. Getting pants, skirt or the sleeves of a coat hemmed are minor alterations that make a huge difference in looking put together instead of sloppy or frumpy. Proportion is key! You can wear pretty much any trend whatever height you are if it’s fitted to your proportions.
I know a lot of us tend to have a narrow hipped, boyish figure, so belts are our best friends. Throw one over a cardigan, dress, or even a coat, at the waist and it will give you some shape.
And what advice do you have for those who wish to have a career in fashion?
You could probably say this about any career path — but I would say do what’s in front of you to the best of your ability, with as much enthusiasm as possible. Especially when you’re just starting out — the grunt work can be boring and unglamorous, but even the most menial tasks done well, and with a great attitude, is how to earn the trust and respect of your boss and co-workers.