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Being A Stylist

Kendibone Sapepa

In my ongoing quest to unpick the fashion industry along with its various career options, I explored a little into the Styling career option.

First things first, I see style as; being a distinctive way or method that a particular item is worn, and as the life would have it, not all of us are great at style, which is when stylists come to the rescue.

Being a stylist is fast-becoming one of the quickest emerging of the fashion professions. Stylist generally source, borrow and return clothing (if not bought) for various jobs, but most importantly are there to show HOW the clothes should be worn, meaning they decide on;

  • having a shirt being tucked in or not,
  • socks folded or scrunched,
  • a top falling off the should or not,
  • which turquoise clutch suits the look better etc.

Their jobs vary, from styling photo-shoots, events, TV-shows, music videos and celebrity appearance, just to mention a few. On these projects / jobs, they often work hand-in-hand with hair-stylists, make-up artists and designers to put together complete looks.

How it works, is that a stylist will decide on a style or theme for the specific job then start sourcing items for it. While sourcing, there may be some boutiques or clothing stores that require a deposit to hold, as a form of security, should the clothes not be returned or come back damaged or dirty, others may require a payment and refund when clothes are returned, while other boutiques and stores may loan clothes free of charge. Once everything has been collected for the job, the stylist will ensure that they get to the client on time, in good shape (ironed, clean, no missing buttons etc) and are ready to be used. The stylist will also source shoes and other accessories to complement the looks. There are other types of styling jobs that stylists can go into, and a few are explained below;

  • Stylists can also work in various publications such as magazines, on a permanent or freelance basis, where they source items for editorial photo-shoots or write articles on latest trends, personal style, do designer features and so forth.
  • Some stylists work with models and actors on set when recording films, soapies, adverts and so forth. They co-ordinate the clothes worn and may help with props as well.
  • Wardrobe styling is another option, where stylists work one-on-one with the client in order to get rid of clothes that are no longer worn, source new ones and arrange them in such a way that everyday dressing becomes easier for the client.
  • Show styling is another option, where the stylist will dress all the people going on stage, for example, the hosts and award announcers will be styled by the stylist.
  • One very popular profession would be celebrity styling, which is done by stylist who dress celebrities for all their appearances.
  • Another interesting career option is Brand Consulting, where a stylist can be hired to style a collection by showing the client how it can be put together to achieve various looks for the advertising campaigns, websites and all other media.

So how does one become a stylist? Having a fashion related degree would a great start, but if you’ve studied something else and wish to start a career in styling, you could easily;

  •  Start off with trial shoots, where you work with a team that is shooting, by helping around. This will be the start of you building your portfolio. Although some companies may not want to pay, due to little or no experience, you could work for free or reach a compromise with them and request that the company at least cover your petrol/transport expenses.
  • Build a contact book by build relationships; this will go a long way especially with referrals and Word-Of-Mouth being such an effective marketing tool.
  • Lastly, advertise yourself and services that you offer. Have what you do in you your social media bio’s along with an email address or phone number that you check regularly.

These few points could go a long way, but there are some skills that you would definitely need as well, such as;

  • Having an eye for detail really goes a long way.
  • Being organised will help with deadlines or when you’re working on more than one project.
  • Being prepared, but doing your research, when meeting with clients. Be it for a certain era, colour or mood, you will need to be well-prepared.
  • Being aware of latest trends and styles, but also knowing when and how to use them and also, when not to.
  • Knowing how to conceal body flaws (should the client wish to do so), or how to accentuate them, should the client want to.
  • Having patience for when business is quiet and when clients keep sending thing back and are not happy.
  • Being well presented, in dress, speech and how you are in general, as you are a walking portfolio.




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