Fashion courses are notoriously competitive, and having been declined from London College of Fashion on my first application, I know more than most, the true importance of the personal statement.
I'm guessing this will be a mammoth post as I have a lot I want to put across to you. However, I hope it helps at least one person! I know I could have done with more guidance when I was writing my personal statement- people don't consider fashion as an 'academic' subject, and therefore helpful tools seem to be few and far between!
Three years ago, I was living in the Cayman Islands and studying for my A Levels. I had applied for fashion courses at London College of Fashion, London Met and the University of Manchester. Much to my dismay, my application at London College of Fashion was declined.
It was only two years later, when applying again that I really began to understand their reasoning behind not offering me an interview first time around.
Originally, I was a typical young, lover of clothes that had a little dream to study fashion. My personal statement was full of cliche lines such as 'as a child I would always be found flicking through the pages of vogue' LIES 'my favourite designer brand is Chanel' LIES 'I love shopping and act as a personal stylist to friends' HALF LIE. Now, how many times do you think the tutors read lines like this each year? I must have sold myself as a ditsy, giddy teenager that loves pretty dresses!
It was upon the second time of applying that I realised the need for a unique, inspired and quirky personal statement. I had done a lot of growing up within the two year gap between applications and I truly feel that my mature attitude is what sealed the deal for my place at LCF.
Side note: the majority of the people on my course are much older than that of someone who has just finished A Levels. I think this highlights LCF's desire to accept students with a mature appreciation of fashion as an industry.
And on that note, this leads me nicely on to my first step in writing a fashion personal statement:
1. Ensure you are writing and thinking with a high level of maturity.
For my second personal statement, I swapped the cliche lines listed above for unique ones that truly reflected me as a person, and not that of a 'typical fashion student'. Below is a list of some of the best lines within the statement:
"Some people claim to have a 'passion for fashion'. But my desire to work in the fashion industry is more...
The Times newspaper actually released an article in which tutors at LCF gave guidelines on how to write a fashion personal statement. One tutor explicitly said, "avoid saying things such as 'I have a passion for fashion'". After reading the article, I wanted to pick up on this in my personal statement as it shows a keen interest and thorough research in the university.
"London was an obvious first choice as my place of study because…"
Obviously, avoid stating this if you have applied to other University's that aren't located in London. But picking up on the surroundings of the university is a good point to add because it shows a keen interest in the lifestyle change that you are about to undertake by leaving your family home to head to university alone.
"Keeping up-to-date with fashion is important and I do this by…"
Avoid stating boring generic answers here like 'reading vogue', you need to demonstrate a deeper interest in fashion. A person who couldn't care less about fashion could write about vogue- its so generic! Instead, list blogs you genuinely read (whether they have one follower or a million) and subscribe to true fashion websites such as drapers.
"My interest in fashion peaked when…"Now is where you really need to get your thinking cap on! Especially if, like me, you haven't come from a particularly fashion focused background. Here, I chose to talk about the extensive travelling I'd done and the varying street styles I was exposed to. Remember to think outside of the box- an event that isn't fashion related can still be linked back to your desire to work in the industry. If you're really struggling, it might be a good idea to arrange some voluntary work, even if it's just in a local charity shop selling clothes! After all, the fashion industry is ALL about experience and contacts.
"During my studies I have gained skills in…" "I have also gained skills in my job as…"Like I said earlier, tutors reading your personal statement won't expect your whole life to have been fashion related- it's up to you to relate real events in your life to skills you will need at university. Think of general skills that will be needed in any course such as time management skills, being able to work as a team, being confident etc. State qualities that are true of your personality because if (when) you are called for an interview, you will be expected to demonstrate and talk about them!
2. Sell yourself!
There is no doubt that the hardest part of writing a personal statement is having to talk about yourself in a positive manner. It is all too easy for us to list the great things about our friends and family, but when faced with the task of talking about ourselves- we all become so modest! Well, modesty aside my friend! This is your ONE chance to shine, and to kick the butt of the other 3,000+ people applying for your course! If you're really struggling, ask friends, family and teachers to list your positive attributes, then take that list and try to link the qualities to one of your achievements. For example, "being a confident person means that I am often chosen to lead group discussions during class." There, that wasn't so hard now was it?
3. Be original.
I have already emphasised the need for a personal statements that avoids cliches at all costs. However, in being original you do need to ensure that your work is indeed, your work. UCAS are not messing around with all their warnings about plagiarism. Believe me, I know a friend who used my personal statement as 'guidance' and was ever more painted as a cheat by UCAS! Searching the internet for blogs like these for inspiration is all well and good, but please do ensure that inspiration is all you are using them for! That being said is the reason why above I only included part sentences from my personal statement- in the hope that it will get your creative juices flowing rather than you simply copying and pasting something that I have already submitted.
4. Demonstrate a true appreciation for fashion as an industry.
Each year, tutors much read statement after statement where potential students simply list their love for clothes and shopping. What tutors really want to see is a true understanding that fashion isn't all about glamour, and that in fact a huge amount of hard work goes into all aspects of the industry! It is not, however, enough to simply state this- you need to say how and why you have come to appreciate the fashion industry.
I am now sat here (on the bus) searching the deepest corners of my brain for any other inspiring guidance I can offer, but I think I am finally done rambling! I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and that it was helpful. If you need more advice or wish to send me your personal statement for review please feel free to email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, xo