Where do you start? You like clothes, you like dressing up? Being a fashion stylist sounds like a fun job but where and how do you get started? What kind of stylists are out there? What kind of work do they do? You see stylists on TV but is that really what a fashion stylist does? What type of jobs do they really do?
Most fashion stylist all do a variety of jobs from working on campaigns, editorials, e-commerce/online, lookbooks, celebrity and music styling, catwalk shows, presentations, trunk shows, art direction, fashion editors, and shoot production.
Every stylist works to a brief. Sometimes we come up we the brief or the client does. A brief is a guideline about what the shoot is about – its purpose and the story you are telling. Think of it as a blueprint to the shoot. It can include information about the location, models, makeup, clothes, lighting, poses etc.
So let’s say you’re shooting a campaign for an online brand. The company will usually have an in-house creative director. It might be the creative director or advertising team that comes up with the brief.
The brief or moodboard is my guideline. Don’t go off track!
For a commercial shoot often my role includes selecting the clothes and doing an edit that also includes shoes and all accessories. It’s about how the items are put together, creating strong looks that fit with the brand’s image and the brief. The brand might have 20 items or 100’s of looks in the collection and my job is to choose a few of the key items. For a campaign, you’re not shooting the whole collection just some key pieces.
E-comme: If you’re shooting for online often the whole collection will need to be shot or the brand has a set number of looks that need to be shot each day. Brands will have a guideline of their style, hair and makeup looks, and even the types of poses that they like the model to do. When you’re doing E-comme shoots – you need to make sure you have the right fit and that you are featuring the hero piece. Always remember you’re part of a team.
The budgets for the team are part of the marketing budget. Fashion Styling can be very creative but it’s also about selling clothes, an idea, or a magazine or newspaper. A good stylist is creative and knows how to follows a brief.
Can you be a sustainable stylist?
That’s a big topic right now. I don’t think it’s possible (just yet) to make a living a being a 100% eco, sustainable and vegan stylist, but I do think you can incorporate these aspects into your shoots. Often if I have a commercial job or I’m working on a film I often purchase items from sustainable fashion brands, second-hand shops or Oxfam. As long as they fit the brief and the budget no one really cares where I got them – saying that – the team is usually quite happy that we are reusing and recycling items – so it’s a win-win! For editorials, there are so many sustainable and vegan designers to choose from right now and that list is growing. Ideally, you want to find everything in the city that you’re in so that you can lower your carbon footprint but not using so many couriers. You can also have vegan food for the team!
Editorials are the most fun and usually, it’s not paid unless you’re working for one of the big magazines, newspapers, or weekend magazines. Stylists do editorials because it’s fun and gives you creative freedom. The shoot and the brands still have to fit with the magazines aesthetic but there is lots of room to be creative and explore. The brief is about the whole teams’ vision. You might have a meeting with a photographer when it’s just an idea and from there you could make a moodboard. I’ll often then think of a hair and makeup artist whose style and aesthetic fits with the creative brief and them contact them. I want their ideas and feedback. It’s not about copying someone else’s work.
Every person on your team (especially when working or free) needs to get images for their own portfolio that expresses their work.
No matter what kind of stylist you want to be, you’re always part of a team. In some ways, I think that’s the most important part of my job. Respecting that each person on a shoot has something to offer. One of my favourite hashtags is #teamworkmakesthedreamwork