Private: Stylist

Stylists express concepts through combinations and arrangements of clothing and accessories.

Part of the appeal of fashion is that it never looks quite the same; as trends emerge, vanish, and reappear, it becomes possible to trace influences on style and culture. Stylists are curators of clothing and accessories who use their knowledge of fashion's rules and history to create looks for clients. Many public figures known for their fashion choices are the product of professional styling, which can help them to cultivate a certain image or connect better with their intended audience.

In fashion, stylists are responsible for making the bold, exciting choices that get people talking. From the runway to the studio, stylists use every tool at their disposal to transform ordinary people into trendsetters and style icons. They may work alongside creative directors, hair and makeup artists, models, and actors to achieve a certain visual aesthetic.

Work as a stylist may include...

  • Selecting pieces that go together
  • Creating innovative style concepts for clients
  • Keeping up with market trends and new styles
  • Maintaining a portfolio of styling work
  • Keeping up with industry contacts and clients

Stylists can work in all kinds of environments, depending on their skills and interests. Some are employed by fashion or lifestyle publications, where they put together looks for photoshoots; others work in TV, putting together looks for on-screen personalities.

Some work in retail environments, helping customers combine pieces in unexpected ways; others are personal shoppers dedicated to building a particular client's wardrobe or finding a look for a special event. Some stylists work for fashion subscription companies, where they select items for customers based on their tastes. A stylist's schedule depends heavily on their job's requirements, with work ranging from occasional gigs to full time industry jobs.

The only way to become a stylist is to start calling yourself a stylist and find some people to style. Any formal education or training a stylist has is secondary to their eye for composition and ability to keep up with trends; however, many stylists have degrees in some area of fashion, which can demonstrate commitment and experience to prospective employers. Though many stylists can do it all, it's important to have a consistent visual aesthetic that differentiates one stylist from another. An employer seeking a certain vibe, such as "playful", "all natural" or "elegant", is more likely to select a stylist whose portfolio reflects that vibe as a whole than one who seems to jump around a lot. Networking is essential for finding clients, gigs, and photographers, and social media can be a great tool for showcasing a stylist's work.

If you have strong visual instincts and always know what goes with what, you may have a long career as a stylist ahead of you.

The International Association of Style Coaches™ is a membership association that provides tailored business support and accreditation to Style Coaches, personal stylists, and other image professionals.

The Fashion Industry Association is an organization devoted to helping fashion industry professionals to network and work together towards success.