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Design & Style

How to Study Fashion Design

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

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Tan France Teaches Style for Everyone

You don't necessarily need a bachelor's degree in fashion design to become a successful fashion designer. But if you know that the fashion industry is where you belong, fashion design courses can be a great way to learn practical skills like pattern making, draping, fashion illustration, and the business side of fashion.

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Tan France Teaches Style for EveryoneTan France Teaches Style for Everyone

Queer Eye cohost Tan France breaks down the principles of great style, from building a capsule wardrobe to looking pulled together every day.

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What Is Fashion Design?

Fashion design is the art of creating clothing and accessories. As an academic field of study, fashion design pulls from many disciplines, including history, business, illustration, and technology. As an art practice, fashion design is intertwined with culture. Fashion designers create garments based on consumer demand or their own creative vision, and consumers respond to those designs, ushering in new trends.

How to Study Fashion Design

In the fashion world, your portfolio, skills, and passion tend to be more important than where you went to school. Majoring in fashion design, however, is a great way to master designing tools and build connections. Here's how to get started.

  1. Learn about the fashion industry. If you want to pursue an education in fashion design, the first step is to do your homework. Research fashion history and become familiar with current trends and challenges in the industry. Self-directed learning can be a great source for inspiration and will give you a head start on your education that will serve you when applying for schools.
  2. Teach yourself the basics. Learning the basics of fashion design and construction—drawing, sewing, and pattern-making—is another crucial way to prepare yourself for an education in fashion design. If you can teach yourself these basics at home (or through a low-cost program in your community), then you can quickly move on to more advanced techniques in fashion school. In addition to drawing and sewing skills, most schools also expect students to have some basic knowledge of color theory and the composition and qualities of different types of fabric.
  3. Create your own designs. One way to know whether or not fashion design is the right career path for you is to try your hand at some original designs. Sketch clothing designs in your sketchbook, then identify your favorite designs that are within your skillset. Use your sewing and design skills to create and fine-tune a few pieces. Don’t expect them to be perfect on the first try—the more you practice, the better your portfolio will be.
  4. Build a portfolio. Before applying to fashion school, you should put together a portfolio of your work—drawings of your designs or even photographs of your own clothing line. Most undergraduate fashion design programs will require a portfolio as part of your application. If you're applying for a graduate degree program, you will have to submit a research proposal along with your portfolio, so it's important to have a clear vision.
  5. Explore specialized fashion design schools. Fashion schools often offer a variety of majors and concentrations within the world of fashion. Coursework can cover everything from the history of fashion to digital design skills to the fashion business. Fashion design schools often employ industry professionals as professors, so check each school’s faculty list to see who you can learn from. When researching schools that offer fashion designing courses, check their accreditation, notable alumni, and internship opportunities to find a good fit. If you can't attend fashion school in person, online fashion design courses are a great place to start.
  6. Get hands-on experience. Many fashion schools offer (or require) an internship with a fashion house. This can be a great way to gain important design skills and build connections. Take advantage of these opportunities, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a fashion designer.
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Want to Learn More About Unleashing Your Inner Fashionista?

Get a MasterClass Annual Membership and let Tan France be your very own style spirit guide. Queer Eye’s fashion guru spills everything he knows about building a capsule collection, finding a signature look, understanding proportions, and more (including why it’s important to wear underwear to bed)—all in a soothing British accent, no less.

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