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So You Want To Be A Stylist?

Endless hours seem like minutes while you’re flipping through the pages of every fashion magazine you can get your hands on, but you stop flipping when you land on a breathtaking Vogue editorial by Grace Coddington. You’ve memorized every?one of Carrie Bradshaw’s outfits styled by Patricia Fields and you’ve seen every single episode of Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. You have a hard time going out because you’d rather be at home pinning your favorite runway looks and exploring #ootd on Instagram. You’re thinking maybe it’s time to turn this hobby obsession into your career. So you want to be a stylist, but now what?

First of all, “stylist” is a really broad term, so you should think about narrowing down to the focus that really speaks to you. You’d be amazed by the diversity in opportunities for stylists. Celebrities rely?on stylists not only to put together killer outfits but to design a cohesive personal brand. Everyday fashion consumers ask stylists to help them dress in a way that makes them feel confident and chic. Individuals in business work with stylists to create their professional wardrobe. Media of all kinds, from blogs to print magazines, hire stylists to create art in the form of fashion editorials. The market is vast with people who rely on image in one way or another, but struggle to see the vision.

Photo by Stephanie Matthews.

For this editorial, I wanted to capture something fun and whimsical, but also decadent. Photo by Stephanie Matthews.

Some people say ?Wardrobe Consultant,? some people say ?Image Consultant,? some say ?Fashion Stylist,? some even say ?Personal Shopper.? However, most people really don’t know the difference, so let’s break it down…

Wardrobe Consultants analyze their client’s closet with lifestyle in mind, focusing 100% on the wardrobe and how it supplements?their clients’ lives. They ensure the client has a full wardrobe of looks they love and all the basics, accessories, and proper undergarments to complement them. WC’s work extensively with what a client already has and guides them in adding new pieces. They are generally available to their clients for advice ranging?from the day to day to special events.

Image Consultants focus not only on wardrobe, but on the client’s full look. They advise the client on the best colors to complement?their hair and skin tone and they suggest silhouettes that work well with the client’s body type. Image consultants concentrate on a full image makeover including?first impressions, makeup selection, hairstyle, and wardrobe.

Personal Shoppers either accompany clients on shopping trips or save their clients from the hassle of shopping all together. Usually, the client will?provide the PS for shopping guidelines such as a look for a special occasion, pieces to complement their wardrobe, or a seasonal wardrobe update. The personal shopper is familiar with local and online shopping opportunities and will plan a shopping trip or purchase items, deliver them to the client to try, and return the items that didn’t work.

Fashion Stylists (or Wardrobe Stylists)?generally work with businesses rather than individuals. They are hired by media (print, online, TV, and films) to style everything from editorial photo shoots to your favorite TV characters. Fashion Stylists also work with designers and labels to style runway shows and lookbooks. Celebrity Fashion Stylists a la Rachel Zoe dress celebrities in looks that support their personal brand for day to day excursions, appearances, and red carpet events.

Photo by Nicollette Mollet

I wanted a feeling of power in this photo, so I styled the model as a strong heroine of Rock n Roll. Photo by Nicollette Mollet.

Once you do a little exploration into the different areas of styling (Google is your friend!), you’ll have a stronger?focus when starting out. Don’t be afraid to ask local stylists to meet you for coffee or answer a few questions via email to learn more about what they do! Austin is a small town and most people in the fashion industry here are very supportive.

So what next? Start meeting as many people as you can and get them familiar with your name. ?Be your own PR, because no one will sell you better than you.?There are three little?words that will go a long way in getting you started: Intern, Volunteer, and Assistant. If there’s a company or media outlet you dream of working for, ask if they have internships or volunteer positions available. Connect with established local stylists and ask if they need an assistant. Though these may be unpaid opportunities, it’s an investment in your future and you’ll be paid more down the road when?you excel at what you do.

When seeking experience, don’t turn down “small tasks” as they will eventually lead to more responsibility.?Your resume of work must show that you know the basics.?Be eager to learn, observant, and absorb what’s going on around you.?No matter which area of styling you choose, it’s imperative to know current trends and colors. Even though you’re busy, make time to explore Pinterest, browse photos from Fashion Week, and flip through fashion magazines. Ideas from last season?s collections are?not going to impress anyone.

Photo by Anthony Chiang.

This editorial was our tribute to Breast Cancer Awareness. My styling played with bold pink tones and layered texture. Photo by Anthony Chiang.

Finally, don?t forget to take a step back and pat yourself on the back for how far you’ve come. Every little stepping stone is taking you closer to your goal.