So often we get asked by our Style Gurus—”What are you reading?” So we decided to bring together the CollegeFashionista community for a summer book club! Each month, we will be highlighting a must-read book in our new series—#CFReads. Read the book and then join us for a #FashionTalk on Twitter with the author and other CollegeFashionista book club members from around the world!
This month’s book club selection is written by the incomparable Kate Betts. Betts seems to have done it all. She has written for over twenty publications (including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE and Travel+Leisure); held top positions at both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and was the youngest editor ever to take over a national fashion publication. With her second book, “My Paris Dream,” Betts can now add “New York Times Best Seller” to her list of accolades.
We caught up with Betts as she discussed taking chances, dispensed incredible advice and how “The City of Lights” was the launching pad to it all.
Have a question of your own for Betts on her experience in Paris and beyond? Join us for our #FashionTalk tonight (June 29th) with Betts at 5 pm EST on Twitter as she discusses her new book and answers your questions live!
CollegeFashionista: You were the youngest editor ever to take over a national magazine. How did your age (or lack thereof) help you?
Kate Betts: At the time, the publishers at Hearst wanted to lower the median age of the Harper’s Bazaar reader, so they wanted a young editor who could tap into a new readership. In that way it was a plus that I was so young. The difficult part was that I gave birth to my first child three days after landing the job. Balancing motherhood with such a big new job proved extremely challenging!
CF: You have covered a lot of different topics within fashion—from Michelle Obama’s style to fashion news. If you had to pick, what is your favorite topic to write about?
KB: I loved covering the First Lady in the White House—it was such a historic moment and I relished all of the research on First Lady style. But I have to say that Paris will always trump any other topic for me. It is the city and the culture where I learned the ropes in the fashion business and those were such formative years for me—the years where I discovered myself and grew into who I wanted to become. So Paris has left an indelible mark on my heart.
CF: What would you say your style says about you and the American culture?
KB: My style is American in its comfort level and ease. But I’m very French in that I don’t buy a lot each season and I often wear the same basic things accented with accessories. That’s what I learned from the French—to dress up your look with great shoes, statement jewelry, a brightly colored scarf or jacket.
CF: What made you decide to write, “My Paris Dream?” Why now?
KB: I wanted to tell my story and I wanted to show young kids coming out of college that a career trajectory is not necessarily a straight line. You have to take risks, you have to be prepared to fail, to struggle, to make wrong turns and you have to learn from your mistakes. But most importantly, at that age, sometimes you have to go way out of your comfort zone—you have to get lost—to find yourself.
CF: Paris really helped shape you and your career. What is the one lasting thing that this magical city taught you?
KB: Don’t just live to work. Turn the equation around and work to live—enjoy life, look around, open your eyes and take in the beauty and aesthetics of everyday life.
CF: What are your must-dos for anyone visiting Paris?
KB: Sit in a cafe on a busy boulevard and watch the day go by. Then find an authentic bistro and have a real French meal. Walk everywhere; get lost.
CF: Your career and resume is, in a word, impress. What is your advice to aspiring fashion journalist out there on how to carve their own path and have staying power in this competitive and evolving industry?
KB: Find your voice. Write a blog; write a column for a local newspaper; get published! Figure out what you like and what you cannot bear. Talk to people, meet as many people as possible and ask a lot of questions. Curiosity is a great gift. Don’t be afraid to express yourself.