If the Fashion Industry Gave a Commencement Speech

Graduates, parents, faculty, friends: Welcome.

The beginning of summer is a special time for both endings and beginnings. You’ve no doubt been surrounded by packaged wisdom lately: greeting cards; career advice via Dr. Seuss books; the words of famous dead people quoted back to you in stale coffee breath by old people. But let’s get real, darlings. None of it means a thing.

All you need to know to win at adult life can be found on the glossy pages of your favorite magazines. Specifically, in the ads. That’s where the fashion industry conveys essential truths. Behold the 10 key pieces of stylish wisdom you need to succeed:

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1. Always Act Swiftly & Boldly bold Let’s talk about where shy little mush-mouthed baby-people get in life: nowhere. You want success? You gotta grab every opportunity. Don’t sit there listing pros and cons; don’t get down on your knees and ask the cosmos what to do; don’t line up the pencils on your desk in neat rows before you begin. Just GO. Do. In professional terms, this trait is known as “bias for action.” Like this gal here – see? Someone told her there was a 2-for-1 crabcake happy hour special on the next island starting in 10 minutes. Did she call a water taxi? No. She didn’t even change clothes. She waded right out into the sea in the snappy pants outfit she wore to a networking lunch earlier. And you know who’s going to get all the crabcakes? She is.

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2. Attitude Is Everything wheee bikes are fun Can you guess what’ll really set you apart from all the other wide-eyed newbies out there? That’s right. Confidence. Hold your head high and take pride in your work. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. We all do. But don’t cower in shame about it when it happens – get up and show everyone what you’ve learned. Take Michelle and her bold choices, for instance. Could you tuck a cocktail top into some high-waisted briefs, hop on a bike you borrowed from Ann of Green Gables, and take your grandmother’s train case on a ride? YES, you could. You just have to believe in yourself. No shoes. No helmet. No fear. All confidence and a baller haircut.

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3. New Trumps Old look out olds The blossoming of summer signals fresh growth. In the fashion world, a new season also means it’s time to replace what you’ve been wearing with new outfits that are better, more current, and more expensive. This is not only a style fact, but also a professional metaphor. You see, this time next year, you could be replaced in that (practically unpaid) internship by someone younger, cheaper, and more naïve. So work your hardest, do your best, and always have something new to bring to the table – or before you know it, those juicy youngsters will be coming for your job, and you’ll be left sitting on your desk, all wan and confused, wondering what the hell just happened.

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4. Do Everything 100% robocop At this stage of life, it’s natural not to be totally sure who you are. Are you kind of artsy? Sort of corporate? Lots of fun but sometimes serious? No. Forget that “everything in moderation” bullshit. Whatever you are, be ALL that. Like Kate Moss here. She could have dipped a toe into futuristic fashion with just a touch of metallic eyeshadow and maybe a single titanium bicep cuff. But no. She went full LEATHER ROBOT WARRIOR in all f’ing caps. And who do you think is going to get picked for the space army when the time comes? She is. Because she and her magical babydoll totally own that look.

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5. Remember: You Are a Precious Gift giftwrap THIS One of the bummer things about going out into the big world from your safe little cocoon is that humanity at large hasn’t been vetted by an admissions committee. Unfortunately, there are assholes and psychos mixed in with regular people everywhere you go, and they’re not labeled as such, so you can’t identify them by sight. Want to be sure you’re sharing your heart and mind with only the most truly awesome people? Take a tip from this look: Draw ribbons all over your naked body and rest a giant bottle of perfume on your crotch, then hang onto your face until someone comes along who says, “Hey, I love presents. I think you’re the greatest gift ever!” That’s probably a quality person – or at least someone as crazy as you are, which is just as good. The point is: Don’t waste time on people who don’t value you for who you really are.

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6. Be Different unique snowflakes It’s easy to get sucked into mob mentality, especially when you’re always hanging out with people who are at your same life-stage. You know, how everybody’s got to hang out at the same bar, and everybody’s got to do their hair the same way, and everybody’s got to carry this purse with a face on it. Be the one who stands out. Like these ladies, for example – four distinct individuals, each with her own vibe. Look how different each of them is. NONE of them are wearing the same color glasses. So bold.

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7. Openly Express Your Emotions meh In this age of emojis and hashtags, the art of communicating feelings has been reduced to electronic symbols, and that’s a real shame. Let your generation be the one that reconnects with the people around you through authentic gestures and expressions. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re angry, throw a glass of wine at the wall. And if you’re tired of applying sea kelp lotion to your neck and your heavy designer bracelets are making your arms tired and some dumbass wiped their inky blue hands all over your nice ecru smock and you don’t even feel like putting on your Adele wig even though you already slicked your real hair back into a nice tight pre-wig bun, go ahead and make your sad face for all to see. Slouch it out, girl. Your feelings are real.

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8. Never Let Down Your Guard bang Look, this is a sad fact, but it’s a fact of life nonetheless: Danger is everywhere. Do you have to be on edge all the time? No. But you should keep your eyes open, be aware of your surroundings, and know a few basic self-defense moves. No one wants to think it could happen to them, but the truth is that finger-gun purse snatchers are out there, and the tattooed ones are really bold. Don’t be a victim.

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9. Sisters, Have Each Other’s Backs this beach is sad This advice is especially for the ladies: Support one another. Don’t let competition for work, status, or dudes pit you against each other and drain all your smarts and energy into petty woman-vs-woman wars. To illustrate how that kind of behavior turns out, these ladies have acted out a scene in which Miley Cyrus gets super-mad at Dakota Fanning for wearing strappy athletic sandals to a formal bonfire, so she kills her and then props her up on a sand dune to look like she’s just napping with her eyes open. But as you can see, that sort of lady-warfare doesn’t work out for either party. Everyone ends up sad. Or dead.

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10. Don’t Forget What Really Counts skipping en francais So to sum up, remember what the fashion industry has taught you as you go, oh, the places you’ll go: Your degree matters some. Your professional performance matters more. Your outfit matters the most.

Go forth and dress like you mean it, kids.

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In other news: Enormous gratitude to BlogHer for naming I Miss You When I Blink a Humor Voice of the Year for the second year in a row, and also to WordPress for featuring this site again on Freshly Pressed. Holy smokes. Thank you!

(More fashion posts here.)


  1. I was reading this early this morning on my phone as I waited for my running partner to show up, and I was laughing to loud that I woke up the kids. Congrats on being Humor Voice of the Year. You earned it!

  2. Sea kelp lotion made me choke – and I’m supposed to be looking dignified at work. That’s one of the annoying things about the modern world – there’s a lotion for everything. There’s rose scented hand cream for throughout the day, lip balm for windy days, rejuvenating body cream for your stomach, Smooth Natural Tan for your legs and Body Glimmer for your back. Sometimes I feel so slippery I feel like it would be easier to just slide to work. I wonder if any of these models have reclined on a slide instead of a sofa?

  3. […] funny blog called I Miss You When I Blink. This blog really made me laugh, particularly the riffs  on fashion catalogues. After reading a few posts, I learned that the author, Mary Laura Philpott, was also spearheading a […]

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