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How do I become a Fashion Stylist?  

Fashion styling  is one of the most popular emerging professions in the fashion world globally. However finding work as a fashion stylist is very competitive and one has to work very hard to gain consistent employment in this field. Unfortunately there are several misconceptions about how to obtain a career as a fashion stylist -  for example:

  • A Fashion Stylist  job is easy to get and can be done by anybody
  • One can lead a comfortable life after getting a job as a Fashion Stylist
  • One doesn't have to work very hard to get ahead in this field

Below are the essential skills you will need to gain and keep a career as a successful fashion stylist:

  • It goes without saying that any good fashion stylist must have a a passion for fashion and a keen eye for detail. In addition you must be constantly researching the most recent trends and colour schemes, be on the lookout  for emerging fashion trends and be in the know about fashion labels. It will help if you watch fashion shows on websites like Vogue, and Fashion TV, read fashion magazines, fashion blogs and regularly look at top fashion sites like Fashionising. Please see the Links page for more suggestions.
  • Undertake some professional training. While this is not essential it will not only greatly improve your credibility, but it will give you a good grounding in understanding how the industry works and will definitely open up more doors for you than if you tried to break into the industry on your own. A good course should teach you essentials such as fashion history, cycles and trends, the importance of colour, sourcing locations, props and outfits, and building your business amongst other things. There are many certified courses available today, both online and in classrooms, that can help you become a professional fashion stylist. Many of them are quite expensive so please see the Courses page to help find the right one for you.
  • Get hands on experience. The best way to do this is to find and internship with a fashion magazine or an already established and experienced fashion stylist who is looking for an assistant.  Websites like The Loop, Free Fashion Internships, Fashion Jobs and Fashionista are great places to find internships all over the world. You can also call up established fashion stylists in your area and ask them if they need an assistant. Either way you need to be prepared to work long and hard for free.  An assistants' responsibilities can vary greatly depending on the stylist and the assignment. Some are hired only to perform physical labour, such as setting up for a client fitting or returning samples to a press showroom; others may help the stylist with selecting wardrobe options, preparing clients for public events, or any other task  needed to complete an assignment.
  • In addition you will need excellent interpersonal skills, flexibility when it comes to dealing with different types of clients, a sense of humour, a professional attitude, creativity and the ability to think outside the box, the ability to work to deadlines, the ability to work in a team, punctuality, motivation and the ability to work long hours under pressure.

Styling by Elizabeth Sulcer 

How much money can I earn?

Fashion Stylists are usually are self-employed, which not only means they can set their own rates, they can also be paid in several different ways: 

  • Some are paid an hourly wage and some are paid by the day, which is called a day rate. However start small and work your way up. An entry-level fashion stylist can expect to earn around  $20 per hour or  $150 - $200 a day. More experienced stylists may make between $500 and $5,000 daily, while those who work for the elite, such as celebrities and super-models, may earn over $5,000 a day or $100,000 annually.
  • Stylist assistants are typically hired by the day at a rate between $150 to $350 a day.
  • Some freelance Fashion Editors (Stylists who work exclusively in producing editorial content) may receive a rate per page in a given publication; fashion editors typically negotiate this rate on a yearly basis, during which time the publication will assign a certain number of project pages to be completed.
  • Stylists may also be paid a flat fee for the length of a project. This procedure is often called a buy out. Some stylists can be put on a monthly retainer, in which they are paid a set fee for a period of time and are on call for the entire time period.
  • Editorial assignments tend to pay less money, while advertising campaigns and commercials tend to pay the most.

How do I find employment as a Fashion Stylist?  

  • Once you have some hands on styling experience it's time to create a portfolio of your work so you can find some work. Websites like Websites like The Loop,  DripbookStyle Portfolios and Behance are not only a great way to see examples of other fashion stylist's portfolios, but they are great places to add your own online portfolio so others can find you. Please click HERE for tips on how to create a fashion styling portfolio. A professional looking website will also help you gain employment.
  • Network with fashion designers, photographers, make up artists, hair stylists and other like minded people to find work. Websites like Model Mayhem are great for networking and finding both paid and unpaid styling work. 
NB: But while there is virtually no limit in terms of what a fashion stylist can earn, and six-figure salaries are possible, a fashion stylist usually don't start off immediately charging $100 an hour or more - this kind of income only comes after years of hard work.


Styling Agencies from around the World

If your work is particularly outstanding you may want to approach an agency that specializes in representing fashion stylists, hair stylists and makeup artists. When a Fashion Stylist is represented by an agency, the agency usually books all of their work or assignments for a fee, usually ranging between 10 and 20% of the stylist's fee. The agency ensures that the Stylist's needs are met, typically guaranteeing that transportation, travel, and accommodations are all handled before the Stylist takes an assignment.


How to become a Stylist - June Ambrose 

How to make it as a Stylist - Alexandra Fullerton


Sources: e-how,Ezine