Caroline Vazzana wears many hats: blogger, influencer, mentor, and author, to name a few. She’s also the founder of Making It in Manhattan, a massively popular website that’s about all things career advice and how to, yes, make it in New York’s fashion industry. And she also wrote a book by the same name. It all started when she landed her dream job at Teen Vogue, assisting the magazine's editors before making the move to InStyle’s digital team where she proved her chops as a writer.
Fast forward to today, she is widely known as “a modern-day Carrie Bradshaw,” and she has the enviable closet to match. “I'm very visual when I'm putting all of my looks together,” she says. “It's artwork: You're pulling different pieces out and experimenting with color and trying things on. My closet is like my happy place.” It’s all in a days’ work for Vazzana, who has amassed a 243k Instagram following of aspiring fashionistas that look to her for guidance on working in the industry.
Here, Vazzana took a beat to talk about her road to success, including working with Sex and the City’s Patricia Field and the importance of taking style risks.
What is your first fashion memory and when did you know it was your passion?
I grew up going to a private school where I had to wear a uniform every day, so I wasn't given much freedom with fashion—or even thought about expressing myself in that way—until I was a bit older. Getting dressed for school dances was such a big thing for me. I can remember going shopping with my mom and me getting so excited and into it—I would just try on everything. My mom was always one for letting me pick out whatever I loved—there were no rules. I think school uniforms breed fashion people in a way, because you are not given that outlet for creativity. So, when you do have those moments, like a school dance, you go all out.
Did you always have dreams of working in the magazine industry?
No, not always. When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be an artist, because I loved to draw and paint. When I got a little bit older, I started sketching clothing, and so then I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. Once I went to college, I started doing internships and it was through my internships that I discovered my love for magazines. My first internship was with Anna Sui. From there, I interned at Marie Claire, and that was my first taste of magazines. I immediately fell in love and after that, I knew I wanted to work in the industry. It was the ultimate goal.
What inspired you to launch your website, Making It in Manhattan?
The idea was to start writing down stories from my professional life—things I had learned and that had happened to me along the way. At the time, I was working at all of these cool places, and I didn’t want to forget all of the cool things that I was doing or all of the cool people I was interviewing. So that’s where I got the idea to write about my work life and the idea for a beginner’s guidebook originally stemmed from. When the book came out, I had already made a name for myself as a career coach as well as amassed a following who was looking to me for advice.
You’ve marketed yourself as a modern-day Carrie Bradshaw. How did that come to be?
The modern-day Carrie thing started while I was working at InStyle. I just always really liked Manolos and dressed very eclectically. After work, I'd go to events wearing Manolos with something colorful. People started introducing me by saying, "She's like a modern-day Carrie. She works at InStyle and she wears Manolos." Then, someone interviewed me for an article and said the same thing, so there was a little comparison starting to happen. I like to say that I’m a modern-day and more relatable Carrie Bradshaw.
Let’s talk about working with [Sex and the City costume designer] Patricia Field.
Last spring I was featured in a campaign for Patricia Field where she styled me up as Carrie Bradshaw. She was launching a new necklace called the Carrie 2.0., and her team chose me to be the face of the campaign. When the news came out, Women's Wear Daily had the exclusive and they described me as a "modern-day Carrie Bradshaw." After that, it really started to stick.
How did Patricia Field find you?
My first-ever connection with Pat and her team was when I had started my website. I reached out to them to see if I could interview her for the website and they said yes, and so I did an interview with her for the website. It was a very big win for me early on. Being able to work with Pat for the second time was literally a dream come true.
Working with Pat must have been a natural fit because her style is so ‘everything-goes’ and yours is very much in that same vein. How would you describe your style?
Fun, eclectic, ever-changing, colorful. I'm not afraid to take risks or try something new. I love shopping vintage, and just like my glasses, there's usually a nod to a retro feel.
I’ve also noticed that Sarah Jessica Parker has liked photos on your Instagram…
We’ve met in person a few times. The fact that she's even acknowledged me and has liked my posts is something I am so humbled by, because she is the icon of all icons.
What has been the reaction from people trying to make it in Manhattan. As a mentor for aspiring fashionistas, you’re a role model in addition to being an icon.
It's been so rewarding to have people reach out to me and say that they read the book or read the website, and that it has helped them or impacted them in some way: they landed an internship or dream job or they're taking the plunge and moving to New York. I have people reaching out daily, sharing their stories and asking for advice. It’s super humbling to have people say they want to be me when they grow up, and I'm so thankful to get to be a positive influence for the next generation.
A goal with Making It in Manhattan was to be a mentor and someone people could look up to. Being on the younger side, it's easier for them to say, "I could be like her in a few years, and this isn't totally out of reach for me.” Sometimes, when you look at someone's career that you admire who is so much older than you, it's easy to feel like that will never be able to achieve that. But when you look at someone who is only a few years older than you, it doesn't feel quite so out of reach.
What's next for Caroline Vazzana?
Continuing to build the Making It in Manhattan brand. There is always room to grow and improve the digital presence of the website, and I want to establish it as a go-to source in the industry that people look to and love. I would also like to write a second book. But in the meantime, I’m collaborating with more brands and sharing my own eclectic sense of style. These days, it can feel like everyone is wearing the same thing. I want to show people that it’s OK to be yourself, and I encourage them to stand out from the crowd and embrace their own colorful quirkiness.