12 Questions With the Editor-in-Chief of Fashionista, Alyssa Vingan Klein
Tell me a bit about yourself: where you’re from, how old you are, what you do for a living and how you arrived at your current job?
I grew up in Virginia Beach (757!), went to college in New Orleans and moved to New York in 2009 after graduation. I'm the editor-in-chief of Fashionista.com, which is actually the first place I worked when starting out in the industry a decade ago. I hopped around for a few years—from PR at Alexander Wang to editorial at Marie Claire—but a stroke of good timing brought me back to the site full-time in late 2013.
Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in fashion, or was this something you arrived at later in life?
Around the time I was set to graduate college, there was a significant uptick in both fashion blogs (Jak&Jil, Fashion Toast, Sea of Shoes) and fashion-centric reality shows ("The Rachel Zoe Project," "The Hills," LOL), which made me curious about the inner-workings of such an outwardly glamorous industry. I'd always been a big magazine reader and collector, and was confident in my abilities as a writer, which is why I decided to major in English. But it was fashion's sudden proliferation within pop culture and the opportunities popping up within digital that ultimately led me to focus on it.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring fashion writers and journalists?
If you want to be a writer, you have to write! Even if you're just honing your voice via a Twitter feed, a personal blog or a newsletter you blast out to friends and family, having material to show editors when you pitch them for the first time is crucial. Also, never be afraid to cold pitch publications—if you're confident in your ideas and are able to back them up with reporting or in an op-ed format, more editors are willing to take a chance on you than you'd think.
Do you have any major style influences?
I wouldn't say that anyone has directly influenced my personal style, but there are certain industry-types and celebrities that consistently inspire me with their fashion choices: Diane Kruger, Zoe Kravitz, Kristen Stewart, Sienna Miller, Dakota Johnson, Rihanna. They're all willing to take risks on the red carpet — a rarity in today's hyper-critical social media landscape where everyone can widely broadcast their opinions — and manage to always look interesting and impeccably put together on their off-duty days, too.
How have you arrived at your style as it currently stands? Does your job affect the way you dress?
Around the time I turned 30 a couple of years ago, I started to finally feel comfortable settling into my personal style. I stopped following trends so closely, cut myself off from fast fashion and sample sales altogether and really honed in on what types of silhouettes work for my body type. I'll buy a few key pieces every season, but make sure every fashion purchase is money well spent. Because I am a digital editor, I spend most of my time at a computer, so I tend to veer on the more casual side; denim, flat boots, block heels, well-made knits and outerwear is where the bulk of my budget goes. When fashion month rolls around and I know I'll be representing Fashionista at the shows, I'll step it up a bit, adding proper heels, some red lipstick or a Chanel bag to my repertoire.
Do you have any style dos and don’ts?
I can only really speak for myself here, but the "don't" I'd advise my younger self to stick to is not feel pressured to participate in every trend. Especially in the age of the Instagram Discover page, where hundreds of women are wearing variations on the same outfit, it's crucial to have your own point of view and invest in pieces that fit well and that you love—not just because they're "cool."
What’s your daily routine like?
I have to be online to read and assign out news pretty early, so I am pretty low-maintenance on weekdays; aside from my Drunk Elephant serums and some mascara, I don't wear much in the way of makeup to work. On days that I have meetings, PR or showroom appointments, post-work events or fashion shows, I do get properly ready with makeup, blow-dried hair and the like, but I'd say this only happens a few days a month. I tend to exercise after work—around 5:30 or 6—which is my way to wind down from the day and force myself to log the hell off for a while.
What does a typical weekend look like for you?
I am admittedly very bad at relaxing, a consequence of working in digital, so I try to take as much of a break from "content" on the weekends as possible. Of course, I still check Twitter and e-mail periodically, but I usually book workouts every Saturday and make some sort of social plans for Sunday in an attempt to stay offline. Because I go out pretty frequently for work during the week, I aim for an early-ish bedtime on weekends, too.
Do you have a favorite item in your closet? How about a piece you’re most attached to?
My parents very generously gifted me a Chanel 2.55 bag when I graduated college, and it's my favorite material possession. We made a whole day of it, driving from Virginia Beach to Washington, D.C. as a family to go to the Chanel store. My dad looked like he saw a ghost when he saw the receipt, and I'm not sure he's fully recovered, but I hope it comforts him to know I still frequently use it to this day. I know the value of Chanel bags increase consistantly, but I can't see myself ever parting with mine willingly.
Talk to me generally about fashion for a moment. What are you loving? What are you hating?
I am growing a little tired of "viral" fashion—meme-worthy runway looks like teeny-tiny handbags, giant coats, or Instagram-baity footwear like platform Crocs, knee-high Uggs or "ugly" sneakers—but since online attention is key to commercial success, I don't see this trend going anywhere fast. As for brands that I am into, I'm still excited by what Alessandro Michele is doing at Gucci, Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga, Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy and Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino; I love the vision Kerby Jean-Raymond has for Pyer Moss; I'm curious to see where Hedi Slimane brings Celine after his breakout second season; and I'm very intrigued by the upcoming debut of The Marc Jacobs, the new label the company's launching this spring.
Do you have a favorite female style moment of 2019 (or 2018)? How about all time?
We did a year-end post at Fashionista dedicated to Tracee Ellis Ross's red carpet looks in 2018 — she's definitely among the best-dressed women in the game right now. That said, Rihanna is also up there and she always goes all-out; it's tough to top her Met Gala ensembles from the past few years. A look that stands out in my memory as an all-time favorite is Kristen Stewart from Cannes in 2016: She wore a tweed Chanel skirt with a cropped white T-shirt and freshly bleached hair. Iconic.
What does the rest of 2019 look like for you?
I don't know! My job (and fashion in general) keeps me on my toes, which is honestly why I love it so much. Shout-out to the internet!