Fashion Publishing: Writing about Fashion Vs. Writing about Beauty

by Kristen Bateman, Fashion Publishing

Beauty functions much like any other fashion accessory does. Wear a statement necklace with a basic sweater to pump up the look. Wear red lipstick with jeans to totally transform that look. But when it comes to writing about fashion versus writing about beauty, how does it differ?

Well, a lot actually.

“With fashion, we’re the experts,” said Lauren Bernstein, fashion and beauty writer at Glamour magazine. “If we say stripes are in, we’ll show different pictures to illustrate that stripes are in. If I say vertical stripes are more slimming, I don’t have to verify that with anyone. I’m the authority.”

But when it comes to writing about beauty, everything changes.

“With beauty, for any sort of instructions, you’re getting them directly from the source,” said Bernstein.

Think about the beauty pages of the last fashion magazine you’ve read. That complicated DIY braid? The instructions most likely came from a celebrity hairstylist that could validate the how-tos of why you should be braiding your hair that way.

According to Bernstein, much more research and interviewing goes into writing about beauty. With all of the new technology and complex ingredients in today’s beauty products, it makes sense. The average reader probably wouldn’t want to read about new technological advances in textiles when looking at an editorial spread. But most people would want to know about the latest ground-breaking ingredient in a foundation featured in a beauty editorial, and how it’s going to affect their skin.

“It’s very unusual to do both,” said Bernstein. “When I came into this role, it was a new one. They didn’t have a fashion writer position, so they were creating one and they merged that with an existing beauty editor role.”

For the aspiring editor interested in fashion and beauty, she suggested writing in both fields early in your career. She also suggested that for entry-level jobs, it’s better to take on a more general role, such as an editorial assistant versus a fashion or beauty assistant. As an editorial assistant, there’s more freedom to move between both categories. Getting a big, recognizable name on your resume, whether through interning or a real job is also important, as is getting experience in the industry. But in terms of moving from an internship to a real job, Bernstein said it’s more luck, timing and connections than anything else. “One of the reasons I love working at Glamour so much is that there’s such a desire to inspire people,” said Bernstein.