A Talk with the Class of 2019 Penn Grad about her Instagram, Career, and Fashion
I (virtually) sat down with Rei Fujita in her New York apartment to chat. Rei, who even in loungewear managed to look fashionable, currently works at beauty startup Il Makiage. Her fashion Instagram, @itsreireii, is full of clever, colorful, and incredibly put-together fits that are to die for.
Let’s begin by talking about your Penn days. What were you involved in on campus?
My main commitments were K-beats and KDPhi, but in my freshman and sophomore years I was actually a stylist for The Walk! It was a fun position; I loved seeing how elements that everyone pitched in ultimately came together as an outfit. My favorite memory was ubering down to Center City to pull expensive clothes from Intermix — as a freshman any excuse to go out to Center City was welcome.
Could you talk more about your career with Il Makiage?
Sure! Il Makiage is a new makeup brand that is currently working on expansion. I always knew I wanted to work in either fashion or beauty, and I ended up working at Il Makiage right out of college. My title is Influencer, Markteing, and Digital Communications Manager, so I work with influencers to get our brand out there. I’m kind of on both sides, I guess, in that, with Il Makiage, I find influencers, but as an influencer myself I also work with brands.
Let’s talk about your Instagram. What’s the story behind it?
I actually started blogging first, back in 2013. I grew up in Hawaii, and growing up in Hawaii and loving fashion, it just doesn’t work — there aren’t any seasons, and no one really dresses up. I remember if I wore a cute summer dress and heels, people would ask me “Oh my god, where are you going?” So I started fashion blogging as an outlet for my fashion interest, mostly posting outfits I took when I was in Japan.
My Instagram was originally just a channel to drive traffic to my blog (blogging was much bigger back then and most influencers were bloggers). Since I only had to post a picture as opposed to come up with new ideas for posts with a blog, Instagram was easier to maintain and I kept it up.
I only started taking my Instagram somewhat seriously in my sophomore summer of college since I was in New York. I love the New York aesthetic, and I knew if I was going to be in New York, I was going to dress up. But I would say it was only this year, especially with quarantine, that I am actually serious with it and posting consistently.
What’s the process behind the photos that end up on your feed?
Different bloggers do it differently — some will match their outfit to the background they want, but for me, I cater to my outfit. I start with what outfits I want to post and create a theme around them. Right now, I like to keep it color-coordinated, sticking to a maximum of three colors (one neutral and two pop colors), which prevents my feed from looking messy.
When it comes to shooting, neutral backgrounds tend to work the best — you know they will match your feed. Depending on the outfit and the vibe I’m going for, I’ll shoot in different areas. If I want a more Parisian vibe, I’ll head to the Upper East Side. If I want a New York vibe, I’ll probably end up in Soho. And if there isn’t a clear vibe, I’ll find a neutral wall or any kind of neutral background that will go with the outfit. Shooting usually takes one or two hours, and my boyfriend or my mom will be there to help.
After shooting and editing, I start putting the outfit photos into the planning app. After seeing the overall feel, I add in gap fillers, which are pictures of anything (jewelry, matcha lattes, the sky, etc.) that match the color scheme. Although, yes, gap fillers sometimes feel stupid, gap fillers help me have content consistently, since I wouldn’t be able to keep up with having every post be one of an outfit.
When I have the gap fillers, I arrange the photos into rows to ultimately create a section. I always like to have a section planned ahead of what I am currently posting.
Favorite recent post?
This post is my favorite because engagement was so great on it. It’s not even about the outfit, which I didn’t really care about, but the overall thing. It goes to show that the elements that made it popular don’t always align with my thinking — the post incorporated monochrome, pink, a bucket hat, and green in the background, which are all very trendy. It’s all about trends.
Any items or trends you have recently fallen in love with? Any styling tips?
I have recently been loving bustiers, especially under-bust bustiers. It’s a great versatile layering piece — you can wear it by itself if you want to, or you can edge it up with leather or make it girlier depending on how you wear it. You can layer a t-shirt, dress, or blouse under the bustier, and the bustier will act as a belt to cinch your waist and define your figure. Or you can style it with a blazer, since wearing blazers as a dress is trending. I would also suggest throwing on an oversized button-down over the bustier. Honestly, the possibilities are endless.
What are your favorite brands?
One of my favorite luxury brands has to be Dior. Not only do I love the craftsmanship and the history behind it, but my grandmother was a very fashionable woman, and she always had Dior bags, so I naturally grew up admiring the brand. Ever since my grandmother bought me my first Dior bag, the brand has been more special to me.
For shoes, Miista is a great middle-tier brand that makes high quality, comfortable, yet stylish shoes.
For clothes, I like Sororite, which sells vintage items — I love the idea of owning a one-of-a-kind piece. I also shop from Alice + Oliva, For Love and Lemons, and Chuu, which is a Korean brand that sells cute basics at great prices.
Fun question: Favorite Philly restaurant?
Definitely Osteria — their happy hour is the most “worth” thing ever. It’s one of the only few legit Italian places I’ve found in Philly.
Last Question: Keeping in theme with your Instagram bio “5ft luxury fashion while trying to look tall”, any tips for looking tall in photos?
Everyone knows that the lower angle will make you look taller, but I think the key is to stand on elevated ground. It makes it easier for the person taking the photo, and standing on elevated ground and having the camera level to you is just different from tilting the camera near the ground. In fact, in some of my photos I am standing two or three stair steps above the camera.
When I wear pants, it’s harder to look tall standing up, so I like to do sitting poses, while stretching out one leg.
In terms of styling, it’s all about proportional balance — high-waisted pieces and mini skirts always help, and if the bottom is baggy, the top should be tighter. But obviously, there are no rules, wear what you want!
I think I speak for everyone when I say Rei is an inspiration — not only is her style impeccable, but she manages to consistently post stunning content while simultaneously living out her career. I highly recommend checking out her Instagram for even more fun, classy, and edgy fits.
Cover photo courtesy of @itsreireii