It's never too early to start planning for your future, so why not make it a fashionable one? Believe it or not, fashion doesn't only have to be a hobby, it can be a career, and one of the most popular fashion careers of the moment is that of a fashion stylist or wardrobe stylist. Keep reading to learn more about this hot fashion career and what you can do while you're still in high school to get on the fast track to being the next Rachel Zoe.
Types of Fashion Stylists
Stylists come in a lot of different forms, and function differently even though they all essentially do the same thing. The most famous stylists are celebrity wardrobe stylists like Rachel Zoe and Nicole Chavez; these stylists mainly work one on one with a performer to dress them for award shows, press conferences and red carpet events. Editorial stylists like Emmanuelle Alt and Grace Coddington (often called fashion editors or art directors) style looks for magazine photoshoots, lookbooks and advertising campaigns. Image consultants usually work with every day people, usually business people or socialites, to craft a signature look and makeover their wardrobes. Plenty of wardrobe stylists also work in the entertainment industry, on TV shows, movies and music videos.
How Much Fashion Stylists Get Paid
Freelance stylists set their day rates and half day rates, and the average varies depending on the market. Generally, in larger markets stylists charge from $400-$800 a day, with top stylists charging well above that. Rumor has it that Rachel Zoe's day rate is a whopping $6000.
How To Break Into the Business
There isn't any kind of degree or certification in wardrobe styling. Even though there are certification programs out there that will charge you to teach you the ropes (and also charge you for your first photoshoot), most of the skills of the trade can be learned through assisting an established stylist on a photo shoot, which costs nothing. The career of a wardrobe stylist is all about who you know, and you work your way up with a fashion styling internship or as a stylists assistant, the latter of which can sometimes be a paying gig, but generally isn't.
Another important factor of getting work as a wardrobe stylist is having a portfolio, which is what you will show potential clients. For new stylists and artists, a portfolio is generally built through test shooting. A test shoot is basically an exchange between a stylist, makeup artist, hair stylist, model and photographer. These professionals will trade services between each other to produce a photo shoot that each member of the team can use in their "book" (which is another word for portfolio). A good way to start testing is to start networking with local photographers; try reaching out to local photography groups on facebook, or try finding photographers on sites like ModelMayhem.com.
Ultimately, how successful you are as a wardrobe stylist depends on who you know, how well you market yourself, and how good you are at managing a business. The vast majority of styling gigs are freelance, and it will be your job to seek out each and every client. And generally clients are found through referrals, so networking and putting yourself out there is extremely important.
Thanks to the popularity of the internet, the job of a fashion stylist has become demystified in recent years as top stylists have started to share stories about their jobs and give advice to aspiring stylists. Here are a few informative interviews, videos and blogs to give you an insiders look at what it's like to be a fashion stylist:
Sally Lindley's series of interviews on Fashionista.com
Interview with Nicole Chavez
Lulu Chen talks about her job as a stylist in a series of youtube videos.
The blog of Monica Rose, who styles Kim Kardashian and her family.
The wardrobe styling thread on The Fashion Spot forums.