Seventeen again: an interview with Kelsey Stiegman
Updated: Aug 6
Image credit: Kelsey Stiegman
Seventeen Magazine’s Senior Style Editor Kelsey Stiegman is living her childhood dream, sharing “Fashion is in the pit of my soul.”
In the age of Instagram ponzi schemes and weight loss teas, not many people would respond to an arguably too-kind “Hey girl! Please check your DMs!” comment on one of their Instagram photos. But Kelsey is one of a kind, and for that, I am forever grateful.
Corresponding via email, Kelsey gave me an inside look into her pure devotion to everything fashion and how it drove her to leave the midwest and head to the east coast to accomplish a lifelong dream.
Born and raised on a farm in Gilman, Illinois, Stiegman’s upbringing was in her words the "polar opposite" of what her life is now – styling outfits at video shoots and attending NYC Fashion Week nine seasons in a row.
After graduating Illinois State University with a degree in apparel merchandising, she moved to Brooklyn in 2015 after telling her professor and peers that she’d one day move to New York and work for Seventeen, "and that’s exactly what I did."
"Instagram is a great way to show your personal style, writing style, and understanding of social media to a future employer."
Starting as an editorial intern, she made her way up the ladder until being promoted to Senior Style Editor this past January.
I can’t remember how I began following Kelsey on Instagram all those years ago, but if fashion, travel and quirky nail designs are your thing, following her is a must. With an enviable, cohesive neutral-toned Instagram feed and an obsession with Harry Potter that many of us could vibe with (she did a whole Harry Potter vacation in London), it’s a toss up between wanting to be her and wanting to be friends with her.
As more studies are proving that social media is harmful to your wellbeing, Stiegman showcases a healthy relationship with the app, thinking of it as a hobby, "I really love it and love creating content for it."
"...She moved to Brooklyn in 2015 after telling her professor and peers that she’d one day move to New York and work for Seventeen."
We’ve entered the age where what we post online does matter, especially when it could make or break our chances of getting a job at our dream company. For fashion students looking to get into the industry, Kelsey suggests, "Instagram is a great way to show your personal style, writing style, and understanding of social media to a future employer."
A typical day for Stiegman begins at 7:30. Out the door by 8:45, she hops on a train to Midtown Manhattan to start her day at Seventeen, a publication under Hearst Publications. She fills her day with meetings, video editing and writing articles focusing on entertainment, beauty and style – most recently stories involving A-list celebrities like Justin Bieber and makeup mogul Jeffree Star.
She still has time for the occasional after-work happy hour.
"I love it", admits the self-proclaimed Ravenclaw, "Working at Seventeen is more than a job, it’s really become part of my identity."
To unwind on weekends, she explores NYC, "I’ve got a long New York bucket list I’ve been working to complete for years."
The road to Senior Style Editor wasn’t an easy one. Work experience was Stiegman’s saving grace and what ultimately scored her her in at Seventeen. "Degrees are important, but work experience is what sets you apart."
Her advice? "Internships are what you make of them. Just being vocal and asking for new responsibilities can give you great opportunities that could relate to your future career."
While being an editor has its perks – including free clothes from many of our favourite brands – Kelsey "lives in jeans and sneakers" and enjoys going crazy at vintage shops throughout the city, usually leaving with a bag of clothes from L Train in Park Slope Brooklyn where "nothing is over $35."
"Working at Seventeen is more than a job, it’s really become part of my identity."
The editor owes much of her 20s and 70s style to her great aunts – who left her many of their best pieces, "I think they’d really get a kick out of knowing that their clothes are now being worn to fashion week."
Although the life of a fashion editor is anything but normal, Kelsey exudes humility and relatability. On the weekends, she’s clad in sweatpants. When she’s not re-reading the Harry Potter series, she enjoys books on serial killers and ghosts, and spending time with her husband.
With an Instagram boasting over 17,000 followers, a CV recounting experience from top publications like Cosmopolitan and Seventeen, Kelsey Stiegman lives and breathes fashion, calling it her “art”.
So, if you pass a girl donning cowboy boots and cateye sunglasses, that’s Kelsey. And she’s probably looking fabulous.