Working As A Fashion Stylist
Wendy Elsmore (Fashion Expert) gives expert video advice on: How do you get clients?; Is being a fashion stylist hard work?; How do you get hold of the clothes and accessories? and more...
Who needs a fashion stylist?
So when we're looking at who needs a fashion stylist, there are any number of avenues. You'd be amazed how diverse our job is. From celebrities, who are looking for fashion stylists to create images that may change from time to time, everyday people as well, including high-flying business people, to mum's at home, young people, you name it, who rely on image in one way or another or who may be looking to create a change as well and need some professional help. You've got magazines for their fashion pages. You've got stylists who not only create the look for the pages but also put the clothes together. You have got fashion shows -- the designers design the clothes but a stylist is brought in to create a look for that show that gives a feeling that the press will then write about. I mean any number of avenues. You've then, obviously, got fashion stylists as well who actually write editorial pieces, it's almost like fashion journalists. And you can also get involved in costume as well, if you want to, which is, another avenue which I've gone down which is really rewarding and really exciting.
Where does a fashion stylist work?
In regards to working as a fashion stylist, fashion stylists generally work from their own home. Most fashion stylists are actually freelance, so they work for themselves, and they have any number of clients who they look after that may be from all different areas of fashion. But predominantly, most fashion stylists are based from home.
Can fashion stylists work as freelancers?
When we talk about fashion stylists being freelancers, the majority of us are, which basically means that we work for ourselves as opposed to being employed. The beauty of that is that you've got massive flexibility and freedom. You're not just working for one client and ideally you want to have as many clients as you can in different areas. So magazines, television shows, celebrity clients, personal clients. It makes it more interesting, exciting. Also it's quite smart in a simple way because it means when one area of styling goes quiet during the year, which inevitably happens the same as any industry, you're well and truly covered because another area is going to be really, really busy. So it works well. The downside is obviously there is nobody to get you out of bed in the morning, there is nobody giving you a paycheck at the end of the month, and there is nobody giving you a quick whack when you need to work harder when you've slowed down a bit. But, you know, I'd never change it. I mean, I always say these day's I think I'm unemployable, which basically means I don't want to be told that I have to work from eight 'o clock til six 'o clock. I want to feel that if I finish my work by mid-day for that day brilliant, I've got the afternoon off. However, the flip-side is if I have to work until midnight, no problem, I do that too.
How much can a fashion stylist earn?
With fashion styling, in terms of how much you can earn, it can be from very little to enormous amounts of money. Depending on how ambitious you are as well, I mean don't forget when you work for yourself, a very important aspect of that is actually learning to be a businessman or a businesswoman. It's all very well to be creative and to be briliantly creative, but you know what there are thousands of people out there who are massively talented who never go anywhere, purely because you actually need the two things to marry together. So in terms of daily fees, you know, you can be paid anywhere from nothing, to 1,500 or 2,000 pounds a day and in excess of that, depending on who you are in the industry, and to the clients you're working with, so you know the range is enormous, don't underestimate it. You can become incredibly successful, and have a pretty good lifestyle on the back of it.
Is being a fashion stylist hard work?
When you talk about being a fashion stylist and connect it with hard work. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah it's hard work! but you know the loveliness of it is if you really are that commited to it; you never ever really feel likes it's a job and I don't know how better to describe it, I know obviously of course it is my work, but it never feels like that it just feels like a really important lovely part of my life and sometimes it drives you so crazy that you think "what on earth am I doing?" Why have I taken on this job? Particularly when your going through a creative process, where you're having to sort of create an image. Because invariably and I think most creative people will understand this; in the middle of it you get lost. You almost go into a tunnel and you think what am I doing, but you always come out of the other side and you know, I think when you turn around and sometimes see what you've created and how happy you make people feel. It's an amazing feeling, but hard work absolutely. Huge commitment, absolutely, but rewards, huge.
What hours do you work?
The hours that I work as fashion stylist vary greatly depending on the number of projects that I have taken on. I have a tendency to always take on too much work which I think is sort of a healthy thing. Maybe, I'm bordering workaholic but that's probably because I have a passion for what I do. It varies from day to day, from week to week depending on the projects you're working on. However, from time to time, I'm absolutely known for taking a sneaky day off or a sneaky half a day and it feels just divine to know that you can and nobody can say, "Where are you?" I just think the pluses and minuses are amazing.
What is a day in the life of a fashion stylist like?
A day in the life of a working fashion stylist can be very varied if you've set your working life up in a way that has a variety of clients and different projects going on as well. So, perhaps if you're working on a fashion shoot, then it could be an early morning start, fashion stylists are responsible for making sure the clothes get to the studio well ahead of the shoot beginning, setting up the clothes, making sure you're creating the image the clients ask for very closely in conjunction with the photographer leading the shoot. It's the fashion stylists' job not only to dress the models and to get the brief right, but also you also to alter clothes, which is another aspect to the day in a life of fashion stylist. So that could be one working day, another day I may work in television as well so there again, our program goes out live in the morning so all our rehearsals are done upfront very, very early- again, morning starts. When we get to the studio, again as fashion stylists we have got huge selections of clothes that have to be tried on by different models. As a team we agree what goes out live, and then we go through a full rehearsal of our item before we go live on show. Additionally in the day of a working fashion stylists life may involve writing an editorial piece for a magazine so that means sitting at home over a cup of coffee with a laptop, watching a bit of morning television before you get started. Therefore, overall really, really varied and all over the place. You may be spending a mad day on Oxford Street in London, which if you're shopping for yourself probably sounds idyllic, but when you're on a mission to find clothes with a deadline, it's hard work and invariably, you can never ever find exactly what you're looking for when you want it. So, a day in the life of a fashion stylist really changes day to day at a moments notice.
Do all fashion stylists work with magazines and TV?
Do all fashion stylists work with magazines and TV? No, they don't. There are many different job roles for a fashion stylist and there are those stylists, for instance, that say, who work as image consultants, which you may have heard of before, who work one-to-one with people, or in small groups, creating an image or a look for them, who never, ever get involved in the editorial, which is the magazine side, or the television side. There are also stylists who work predominantly, in film as well. So, there are those stylists who specialize in one area, and there are those who overlap into different areas. I'd say, though, in the early days, it's quite important to decide which area you want to break into, 'cause once you start to move up the ladder, if you haven't addressed a certain area, it's very difficult, say, for instance, if you're doing really well in TV but you've got no editorial experience and you want to get involved in magazines, you then have to go right down to the bottom of the ladder when you may be doing very well in another area. So decide early on exactly where you're going.
What is the best freebie you have received?
When working as a fashion stylist the best freebies I have received I think are probably vintage clothes because you just know that they're like one offs. Nobody else is ever going to have them again and they're exquisite, they're like works of art. These freebies as a fashion stylist I have to say excite me more than anything. However, some of those mystery goodie bags are incredible, and I will say; I went to the Primark launch, opened on Oxford Street in London that was divine because their freebies and giveaways were cashmere and I was dead impressed as a fashion stylist. There you go, Primark cashmere, can't beat it, its gorgeous, you should go and but it now.
Do you get to keep any of the clothes and accessories?
Whether a fashion stylist keeps any clothes and accessories depends on the client. It depends on how helpful you are to the PR whose clothes you've been borrowing. For instance, if you work on a television show, or you work regularly on a magazine, where you're showing retailers' clothes, you're effectively promoting and selling them for them. When we show clothes on various television shows, like This Morning, for instance, the number of people who then go and buy not only single items, but outfits that they've seen, is high. So the power of television advertising for clothes and accessories is enormous. In return, from time to time, we are allowed to keep clothes, which is great. It's always exciting though. You never get bored with getting to keep clothes and accessories. I've never said “No.”