Marie Claire editor Trish Halpin’s top 10 tips

By Alison Feeney-Hart
BBC News

  • Published
Trish Halpin

Trish Halpin is the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire and the former editor of In Style and Red.

Formerly deputy editor of New Woman and More, she has twice won the British Society of Magazine Editors' editor of the year award.

Here she gives her top 10 tips on how to succeed as a magazine editor

1. Work your way up the ladder

My first job in publishing was an administration job doing classified ads. I didn't have any formal experience at all; I did an English and Media degree, but no specific training.

Women's magazines to me seemed so exciting, I couldn't believe it was a job! I managed to work my way up the ladder to a deputy editor position and eventually became editor of Marie Claire five years ago.

Sometimes you feel like you've got to go for the job, and it's a very good experience to put yourself in an uncomfortable place and just try out for things.

I get to the office for 09:30, but I quite often have breakfast meetings with PRs or advertisers in town before then. I leave at six and I do a nine-day fortnight, which allows me to catch up on my life and take the kids to school.

My marriage has played a huge part in my success. My husband is a photographer and we met at Brighton Polytechnic a very long time ago in 1986.

He is a very outgoing, confident, fun guy and I'm a more quiet, calm person and that seems to work together quite well. I think he has given me a lot of the confidence and bravado to just go out there and do it.

My life can sometimes feel like being a character in The Devil Wears Prada. Twice a year I get driven around fashion shows in Milan, Paris and New York. I sit in the front row with people like Kate Moss and Rihanna and I get to enjoy some incredible moments.

So yes, there is that glamorous side but the salary isn't the same! Neither are the glamorous wardrobes and we're just not that bitchy.

I did watch the first series of Ugly Betty and I enjoyed it, even if I did sit there thinking that would never happen! It's a fantasy world that isn't really realistic.

It is a lot of hard work. The idea that assistants are running around wearing designer clothes is just not true. Even as the editor you can barely just afford to buy some designer clothes!

Image caption,
Trish Halpin (far right) attends such events as the Women's Aid Empowering Women Awards in her role as editor

I'm a very organised, calm person. I don't get stressed very often. When I face a situation now that makes me feel nervous or stressed I just say to myself, "it will be fine, you will do it, you always do."

Once I've calmed myself down, I seem to find the time to just get on with it.

I'm quite good at switching off at the end of the day and that's hugely important. On days off you'll find me wearing jeans, trainers, my parka coat - that sort of thing.

A lot of people I meet in my personal life, like other parents at the school gate, can be all sort of, "Gosh, I can't believe you're the editor of a glossy magazine because you're so normal." It's funny, the expectation of what a glossy magazine editor should be.

I don't have it in my nature to be scary, it's just not me. A fashion director from a previous magazine said the only time they knew that things were really bad was when I went quiet. Apparently I get a certain look on my face and that's when people know something is going on.

I don't think you need to scream and shout, throw things or have a big hissy fit. It's frustrating when things don't go according to plan, but it's not the end of the world and it forces you to think laterally about a problem.

If something is really no good, then I'll bin it. If it's not good enough, it's not going in.

I do think how you look is important; you are the public face of your brand. The pressure is on during fashion weeks when you are supposed to be wearing the latest outfits.

My fail safe is a nice handbag and [I] always wear a great pair of shoes. Most fashion editors mainly wear a lot of clothes from the high street, it's all about how you put it together.

I always hope that nobody sees me on the way into work. I wear my trainers into the office because I can't walk in heels!

In this business I do think you want to make an effort. You've got to go to the hairdressers, get your roots done, have a facial when you can, in my case twice a year if I'm lucky. I do think it's important to make that effort for yourself, not necessarily for anyone else.

For me the gym is important because if I feel healthy and strong it helps you deal with anything. I try to do that in my lunch hour, when I get a lunch hour.

I do a Pilates class for my back, Yoga and Spinning. You will look better and feel better and you just need to do a little bit of grooming on top.

I'm quite healthy with what I eat but I do have a sweet tooth. I usually have chocolate twice a day. My favourite is Marks and Spencer's Swiss chocolate, I keep a stash in my drawer.

If somebody wants to get into magazines, I think they have to buy magazines for a start.

It's kind of understandable because this generation has grown up with social media, but I have met a lot of young people who are not reading magazines or newspapers and yet they all want to be journalists.

It is possible to have it all. There are always compromises. I am my own compromise, I am the bottom of my "to do" list. It's the children, it's work, your home life, your family, your social life and then your husband somewhere, hopefully!

I have no hobbies. Friends unfortunately take a bit of a back seat too and that's possibly a mistake. It's really important to keep that network of friends going and make the effort to go out every week or every other week.

I do a cinema club with some of my girlfriends and it's just a really refreshing, nice thing to do.

You have to believe in yourself. Don't worry about knock-backs. I think you've just got to keep trying, keep trying, keep trying.

I'm a real believer in networking and just knowing as many people as you can and taking opportunities when they come. I feel like I've fallen into a lot of the jobs that I've had and so many were a result of people I knew or people I met.

If I hadn't gone to that particular pub on that particular night I might not be sitting here now. So my advice is, go to the pub!