Recently I have had some questions about how I started in Fashion Styling and how to break into that career path. Styling is a really incredible career and, for those who succeed it will provide an amazing lifestyle of travel, fun and excitement – alongside a lot of hard work. After two inspirational years of working as a Styling Assistant, in July I decided to take the next step and set up on my own as a Freelance Fashion Stylist. Still in my first six months, this journey has been exciting and exhilarating and branching out on my own has been one of the most motivating things I have ever done.
But I am still growing, and I wouldn’t have started in Styling at all if it wasn’t for the amazing guidance and mentoring from the Fashion Stylist I assisted. There is a lot to learn about this area of the industry and I thought it might be helpful if I started sharing some of the things I am learning along my way. I have decided to start a new feature on my blog called ‘Becoming a Fashion Stylist’ which I will include on a weekly to fortnightly basis. I hope I can share with you some of the knowledge I have started picking up on my way and, if you are considering becoming a Fashion Stylist, help inspire you to follow your dream. If there is something specific you would like me to cover in the following features, please let me know in the comments at the bottom of the page and I will endeavor to answer your questions in my future posts.
To kick it all off I thought I’d start right at the beginning – What to Really Expect When Becoming a Stylist. Here are five truths about Fashion Styling you need to know before you considering this as a career choice.
Fashion Styling is not a glamorous job.
When I tell people I am a Fashion Stylist they immediately imagine I spend my time strolling around shops, picking out pretty dresses, getting lots of free stuff and going to celebrities parties. My job has some of that, but in reality Fashion Styling is a really tough job! Actually I spend most of my time running around the city collecting items for shoots, carrying really heavy bags of clothes around or crawling on the floor helping the models get their shoes on.
Be Prepared to Pay your Dues.
If you want to make it to the top of Fashion Styling you need to be prepared to work for it. Everyone at the top started out as an Intern or Assistant and everyone has worked their way through the ranks to get where they are today. To become a successful Stylist you have a lot to learn and the best way to do that is become the Assistant to an established Stylist. You will get to go with them to incredible shoots, work alongside talented teams and see how things are done. But starting at the bottom also means a lot of manual work before you even get the chance to think about how you would style an outfit. Think packing suitcases, carrying bags, running errands, getting coffee and organising clothing returns. It’s not always fun but you just have to suck it up and get on with it with a smile on your face. I can guarantee you the person you are assisting has been in your position at some point too and will not appreciate a moaning Assistant. You just have to get on with it and know in a few years your responsibilities will widen.
Expect to Work Long Hours.
Fashion Styling isn’t your regular nice-to-five job. If a big shoot is coming up or an important client needs dresses for a big event you will be working in overdrive to get everything done in time and to make sure everything is at the highest standard it could be. That means working till late at night and even during weekends and holidays! Sometimes its very tiring and it means you miss out on a big social life. I don’t mind that because I think I am really lucky to be working in an amazing industry like fashion, but if you are the kind of person who needs that nine-to-five routine then Styling really isn’t for you.
You Need to Have Incredible Problem Solving Skills.
What do you do when the heel breaks off a pair of shoes right before you give them to the model to wear and the photographer and all the team are waiting for you onset? What do you do when the model spills some coffee on the designer dress loaned under your name and you need to return it to the brand tomorrow spotless or you will be charged for it? What do you do when the looks being sent to you for a shoot get held up in the post and don’t arrive in time for the shoot day? In Styling you will be faced with these kind of problems on a regular basis and you need to be able to find solutions quickly and without a drama. This involves being quick thinking, creative and keeping a cool head.
You Need to Have Very Thick Skin.
Sometimes it really is like ‘The Devil Wear Prada’ in this industry. People are really busy and they don’t always have time to sugar coat things and be nice. Learn early on that you should never take this personally, have a thick skin, let the negative things pass over you and just get on with your job.
There you have it, my five truths about Fashion Styling. It is a lot of hard work and energy and you need to be prepared to work for it, but being a Fashion Stylist also has some really amazing parts to it too and I feel really lucky I get to do such an interesting job everyday. If after reading all that you still feel excited about starting out in Styling then it is definitely the career for you.
Have a question about breaking into Fashion Styling? Let me know in the comments below and I will try to answer it next time…