Laura neilson

Laura Neilson

Laura Neilson, Fashion Journalist

A writer for the likes of T Magazine, Vogue, WSJ and many more esteemed publications, some may be surprised to hear that Laura Neilson became a freelance fashion journalist by chance. We got the inside track on her path from working in book publishing to pitching and writing stories, plus what inspired her to create two newsletters we read religiously. Read on to hear her take on freelance life, social media and her latest fashion favorites. 

How did you get your start in fashion journalism? 

In college I had an internship with Fairchild Publishing, which at the time owned WWD, DNR (the men’s equivalent of WWD), W magazine, Jane, and a few other titles. It gave me early, hands-on experience in that field, but I guess I started to tackle it in a more routine, professional way, as an editor for the surfer-fashion magazine Foam, and later on as an editor for NBC’s former fashion site, The Thread (RIP). From there I went on to freelance for sites like Refinery29, and eventually the New York Times and T Magazine. 

What led you to become a freelance writer? 

I sort of fell into it by accident. I took some time off from working a full-time job in book publishing, assuming I’d just freelance in the meantime, but I guess you could say I caught the bug. I loved making my own routine, working my own hours, and every time I got an assignment or published something, it just made me want to do it more. 

What are some of your favorite aspects of being freelance? Any pitfalls? 

Creating my own hours and rhythms, which can definitely require some serious self-discipline, but I’m pretty lucky in that I’m a creature of habit, and naturally gravitate towards routine. I’m an early riser, so that often works to my benefit when it comes to finishing up stories, sending off pitches, and getting some things off my plate before the rest of the world starts firing back. In terms of pitfalls: the constant and often maddening hustle. There’s that feeling that you’re only as good as your last story.

We’re big fans of your newsletter, A Few Good Mentions. What inspired you to create it? 

I launched it during the pandemic, while I was bunkered upstate and feeling a little distant from my friends, but also seriously fatigued from texting, Zooming, etc. During the course of any week (or even a day), I’m usually sharing little doses of things out to friends and acquaintances—new discoveries, an interesting read, a recipe, etc.—that I think they might enjoy too. I thought that by launching a newsletter, starting with just a small swathe of people I knew, it would be a manageable, more widespread way to satisfy that urge without spending all day on my devices sending out these individual recommendations to one friend at a time. So the formula for what makes the cut of five weekly “mentions” is anything that falls within that criteria: does it interest me? Do I think my peers would be into this too? 

How has the rise of social media affected your work? 

Well, it’s definitely become a major job within the job! And I have mixed feelings about it, to be honest. It’s been really helpful in terms of finding sources and contacts, zeroing in on trends, and just having a finger on the cultural pulse, but in terms of advertising or marketing myself and my work… that hasn’t always been so natural to navigate (so any/all advice welcome!). It feels like everyone needs to be their own brand these days, which comes with its own pressure to keep up. And it can be more time-consuming than I’d like.   

What’s your number-one piece of advice for PRs hoping to land their pitch with an editor? 

Don’t make it sound like a standard-issue press release. There’s really got to be a reason why the pitch is right for that publication, whether explicitly stated or it’s obvious enough.

Tell us a few of your fashion favorites at the moment.

Another Tomorrow for the gorgeous tailored pieces and the mission behind the brand—it’s proof that luxury can be sustainable, accessible, transparent… and it should be the norm; Dries Van Noten; Rachel Comey; Balenciaga; Lemaire; and Xenia Bous, an incredibly talented jewelry maker who collaborated with AREA on their recent, showgirls-inspired couture collection. Those gilded feather pieces were incredible!  

What are some of your favorite places work has taken you? Any specific spots you consider a can’t-miss? 

I've been really fortunate to have a job that allows me to travel on occasion. Two incredible otherworldly places I’ve been to recently: the Azores off the coast of Portugal, which has something like Europe's highest number of natural thermal springs—this fact was a revelation to me, but it lends itself to the low-key, under-the-radar vibe of the whole area. I also went to Costa Rica for the first time this December and stayed at AltaGracia, a new wellness-focused resort in the Talamanca mountains that doesn’t beat you over the head with the ‘wellness’ part—it’s really just intrinsic to the way of life there. I dream about going back. 

Are there any upcoming projects you’re excited about? 

Actually, I'm very excited about Dress Codes (dresscodes.substack.com), a newsletter I launched last month about formative fashion. Each dispatch is an interview with a different subject about their early style influences, what they wore growing up, any especially memorable or crystalizing fashion moments, and how their sense of personal style evolved to where they are now. Honestly, it’s been so fun to hear everyone talk about style in such a personal, revealing way. 

What’s your advice to someone starting out in the media/journalism industry? 

Have a voice or a perspective that’s your own. And when it comes to pitching, make sure you’re familiar with the publication; be sure of yourself and why the pitch is right for that outlet. And think like an editor. If you can consider your pitch from an editor’s perspective, you’re halfway there.

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