As Fashion Featured Editor and Wardrobe Mistress at The Sunday Times Style, as well as running her own blog and working as a stylist, Pandora Sykes has some pretty serious style credentials.
We chatted to Pandora about workwear style, pursuing a career in journalism and making your blog count.
1. How did you start out in your career having finished university?
I actually struggled a fair bit at the beginning. I couldn’t find an internship, so I worked as a PA to a screenwriter called Christopher Hampton who has written some incredible things – the script for Atonement, Dangerous Liaisons, A Dangerous Method. I was there for a year, scribbling away on my hideous looking blog (just social commentary back then, not fashion) whenever I could and then started a series of internships.
2. What advice do you have for recent graduates looking to pursue a career in journalism?
I wish I had some iron-clad advice. But a lot of it is luck – bolstered by hard work and determination. Read everything out there, hone your USP (what do you like writing about and more importantly, what are you good at writing about?), pitch constantly to all mags. But make sure your pitches are succinct, perfectly spelt and haven’t been featured anywhere else. Do your research and don’t give up!
3. What tips do you have for freelance writers in terms of pitching, staying determined, or even with regards to working from home?
I find working at home very difficult, although I love it as I love being on my own. I am mainly motivated by guilt. I write my blog before work, so at 7am and it’s very difficult to haul myself out of bed, but I know if I don’t I will feel crappy. So I do it and feel satisfied. Sometimes, you just have to make yourself. It’s not all fun, it’s work.
4. The Internet is crowded with such an overwhelming number of blogs, particularly fashion blogs – how do you think someone can make their blog stand out/become successful?
It is a seriously saturated industry. Some of the biggest bloggers in the world are ones I’ve never heard of – it depends what you want from a blog. I like unique fashion and great writing, whereas a lot of blogs are limited on content unless it is visual. There’s an audience for every type of blog, whether it be word-heavy, picture-heavy, or just a Tumblr. it’s about identifying your core audience and maintaining their interest, I guess. I still stay true to what I want to write, or put out there, though. I deliberately don’t look at my stats, because I don’t want it to affect what I write. I like to keep it as organic as possible; because I also have a full-time job, I don’t have to make it commercial as it’s not my only source of revenue. Of course, that said, I still consider it a business, because I wouldn’t work this hard on something that’s just a hobby. Be realistic about your goals and what you want from it, and the rest falls into place.
5. We love Wardrobe Mistress in Style, so we thought we would pose one question to you. In terms of a workwear or interview wardrobe, what are some staples that you can advise for people to both show their personal style but maintain a professional edge?
I like the recently launched Atterley.com‘s own Atterley line. They have some great work dresses – pop a polo neck or shirt underneath. I don’t have a work dress code at ALL in my workplace (I am wearing a frayed denim mini skirt and gold lame shirt as I type) but if you want to play it safe for an interview, I’d recommend what I wore to my first interview with Style: a striped man’s cotton shirt, with navy culottes and some pointed black lace up flats. Inoffensive, but quietly chic, I thought!