Caroline Vazzana is a fashion writer, stylist, editor, creative director, and social influencer in New York. After graduating from a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania with a fashion degree, she began working in the editorial departments of Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and InStyle Magazines. Today, Vazzana contributes to multiple fashion publications, styles various celebrities for red carpet events, and runs her own blog, Making It In Manhattan. She also recently published a book under the same name about how she survived the New York fashion world—and how you can, too. Vazzana agreed to give The Talko an exclusive interview, which we have split into two parts. Check out part one below.
TheTalko (TT): Let's start with where it all began for you. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
Caroline Vazzana (CV): I’ve always loved fashion and style. From the time I was ten years old, I was always determined to put together my own looks and just to have fun with fashion. I never liked to let my parents dress me or anything, so those outfits may have been a little crazy. My mom was so supportive in letting me express myself.
I knew I loved fashion and I actually got really involved with art… So I originally thought I wanted to be an artist and that’s where my love of creativity came from. I joked that when Project Runway came out and everyone with a pair of scissors and fabric wanted to become a fashion designer, so did I. I started drawing clothing and then once I went to college I got to try out being a fashion designer. I quickly realized that I didn’t like sewing so there was a big hitch in the whole plan. Then I decided to do internships and find my place in the industry. But I knew I wanted to do something in a creative field.
TT: In your book, you mention that you went to a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. Why did you choose not to attend a big-name fashion school?
CV: I definitely knew I wanted to do fashion and I thought I wanted to be a designer. But then thankfully I went to a school where I could easily shift to more of a merchandising/writing track, whereas if I went to a big fashion school I wouldn’t have been able to do that.
Also, I was a big cross country and track runner in high school and college. When I was applying for colleges I knew that I wanted to go to a school that had fashion but also had some sort of running program that I could be part of because it was still something that I really loved and many of the big traditional fashion schools in New York didn’t really have that.
I found a small school that had fashion and cross country and track and scheduled a visit. I just absolutely loved it and I loved the smaller vibe. I felt like I got to have a lot of one-on-one time with my professors and learn from them individually, which in a bigger school might not have happened. So, that’s kind of why I chose to go on the smaller route. Although it wasn’t a fashion school, they offered a lot of cool things like internships and extracurriculars that you could get so much out of.
TT: Who is your fashion world inspiration and why?
CV: I’d probably say, I really love and admire Iris Apfel. I think she is such an amazing style icon and role model in this industry. I’d say she not only has this amazing, very cool, eclectic style but also an incredible personality. She is just so unapologetically herself and doesn’t care what people think. I’ve gone to seminars where she’s spoken and she’s not, like, trying to be pretty, she’s just trying to be herself and I think that’s so important. She doesn’t believe in plastic surgery. She’s just so open about all of this and I really admire that.
She’s the one who inspired me to wear my glasses more. For a while, I didn’t think my glasses were “sexy” or I felt like glasses didn’t work for more formal occasions. But, seeing pictures of her at events, she’s always wearing her glasses and for me, that was a really big inspiration to wear glasses more. Like, if you want to wear glasses, wear them, make them work. They’re part of who you are. No one can tell you they’re not right. That’s how fashion is—there’s no rules. She really inspired me to be myself and embrace my imperfections, which I really love her for.
TT: You currently have a following of 178k on Instagram. How did you build your social media and blog presence?
CV: For me, it happened really organically. I started my website when I was still working full-time at a magazine and I started it only really because I had started writing a book. My literary agent said, “Well, you know, your book’s not going to come out for some time, so in the meantime why don’t you start a site with the same name so people can start following you and reading your career advice and getting your name out there?” So I was like, “Okay, sure, why not?”
So I started this website and soon enough I found that a lot of people want to read about career advice, which is great. That’s what my whole brand is about. It’s about inspiring and empowering people who want to work in the industry. Then I think because of that, through Instagram I started sharing my daily outfit posts. In New York City, that can be a little black and white. I have a very eclectic and colorful sense of style. I really don’t take myself too seriously. I try to have fun with fashion. I think fashion should be an expression of who you are, so I’d like to think that through that my followers can feel who I am and can feel my personality. I think, too, a lot of people follow me for outfit inspiration and kind of to see this New York City lifestyle.
But I can definitely say, for sure, when I was still full-time I was just taking quick iPhone pictures every day of my outfits and now I meet with a photographer and put a lot of thought into it. I’m constantly posting every single day and I’m on a regular schedule. I think it’s about posting consistently and gaining a rhythm, like, who are you and what are you posting about? For me, there’s a really strong focus on fashion and style, New York City, and career.
TT: What does it mean to you to be a modern-day Carrie Bradshaw?
CV: I feel so honored to be called that. To me, it’s being a young New York City role model for this next generation. I get sometimes, “You’re a modern-day Carrie Bradshaw, just more relatable.” I really like that as well. We’re both writers, we’re both named Caroline (not many people know her name is actually Caroline!) and we both have this fun sense of style, this love for New York City, for trying out cool, trendy restaurants, for being at all the events and things like that. She’s more of a sex writer and I’m more of a career writer, but we’re both authors. So I love just being able to be a role model for young girls everywhere.
Where I say we differ a little bit is—and where people say I’m a little more realistic is—when I wear not all high-end stuff. Of course, she and I both have built good relationships with the brand Manolo, but I will also shop second-hand and in thrift stores and I love mixing high and low. Creating that little bit more of an attainable person for my followers, I think they really love it. So they’ll be able to say, “Wow, she’s just like Carrie Bradshaw, but she’s wearing something from Ann Taylor or Forever 21 and I can afford that too.” So trying to be as relatable as possible is so important to me because I want everyone to feel like my brand is for everyone.
Stay tuned for part two of this exclusive interview, where Vazzana tells us about fashion week, her inspirations for writing Making It In Manhattan, and her goals for the future.