Yeah. Pretty much. I am, by trade, considered a wardrobe stylist…since the majority of my career has dealt with designer fashions and samples, I could refer to myself as a fashion stylist. But what exactly does that mean?
My career is always a talking point in social settings, and I am constantly getting emails and calls from people looking to break into the industry. While I do not consider myself a phenomenally established stylist, I have had the opportunity to work with those that I would classify as such.
This career is one that has exploded over the last 5 years, especially thanks to celebrity stylists like Rachel Zoe and Monica Rose, and I almost always have to clarify what it is that I do. Many people think I just help individuals find their perfect outfit—that would actually be what is referred to as a wardrobe consultant. A wardrobe stylist can be defined “ [as] someone who selects the clothing for published editorial features, print or television advertising campaigns, music videos, concert performances, and any public appearances made by celebrities, models or other public figures. Stylists are often part of a larger creative team assembled by the client, collaborating with the fashion designer, photographer/director, hair stylist and makeup artist to put together a particular look or theme for the specific project. A wardrobe stylist can also be referred to as a fashion stylist, fashion editor, or celebrity stylist.” (Excerpt taken from Wikipedia.com)
The second most common question I receive, ‘how do you get that job?‘ Well, it wasn’t until recently that schools like Parsons and FIT started offering styling majors, when I was in school the only options were fashion merchandising and fashion design. The most common way to break into this career is thru connections and experience. As I alluded earlier, this job is a trade. It is a learned skill paired with a developed eye for style and fashion. The skills can be taught, but some would argue that the inherit eye for style is innate–you either have it or you don’t. To become a fashion stylist/editor, you most definitely should plan to apprentice as a styling assistant. Most high level stylists are always in need of extra hands. In fact, there has become such demand for styling assistants, that you could just make a career out of assisting.
I started in the industry offering my services for free to local bands and musicians who were making videos and promotional photo shoots. I’d also spent a good 5+ years working in the retail level of merchandising and knew that was not the direction I wanted to go. As I built my portfolio, I was able to do more unique jobs and eventually made some fantastic connections. Another common way is to start as an intern at a fashion publication, and eventually go out on your own as a fashion editor. Getting agency representation is a huge part of making this a steady gig. Most production companies reach out to agencies and not necessarily individuals, until a solid relationship has been established. Agents will solicit and book work for you, but of course that means they get a percentage of your pay. If you don’t have an agent, that’s fine–it just means you need to hustle–HARD.
So what exactly do I do? Well, at this point in my career since I’m focused on being home with my littlest, I do not have an agent. Will I get one? Maybe, depends on how hardcore I want to resume styling. I’m thankful I’ve been able to keep my hands busy while laying low with a project or two here and there. Usually I get a call/email/text asking if I’d be interested in styling for Project XYZ, and then from there we move into concept and logistics. I also do my part of staying fresh in the industry by reaching out to photographers, models + designers soliciting creative projects that I may want to be involved with.
Once the project idea has come together, I start making calls/emails to pull the samples/wardrobe items I need for the shoot. Sometimes I get items on loan, and sometimes I rent them, and sometimes I buy them outright. It all depends on what I need and my relationship with where the samples are coming from. It also depends on the project and budget. Typically, while I’m pulling samples and planning for a fitting, the rest of the production team is booking models, hair + make up (MUA) artists, locations, etc. Then, once all the pieces are somewhat confirmed in place–the team meets for a pre-production meeting or fitting. This is where everyone will discuss the details and logistics of what’s about to happen, and as the stylist–I make sure what we’ve pulled for the model to wear is what the client envisioned and that it properly fits. *Tip number one for any successful stylist, you need a firm understanding in garment construction, fabrication, and tailoring!
After that it’s time to party, I mean–it’s time for the shoot! All the moving pieces are put into motion and ta-da! You get some really awesome results. While I absolutely LOVE styling, especially when its for fun, creative purposes, I have realized how much I equally love helping small businesses and boutiques get the images they need to help build their brands. On a side note, if you are a small shop, independent designer, etc and would like to work with me, shoot me an email!
Here’s a few snaps from my portfolio, which you can view in its entirety here. Check back next week for styling kit 101. All the essentials you need in your bag of tricks. Happy Styling.