Breaking into the fashion industry can be a challenge. Although the fashion landscape has opened over the past decade, it is hard work to make a name for yourself in this competitive field.
Yet, even with the setbacks – working in fashion is truly rewarding. If you are passionate about how what we wear affects our every day lives, shapes our personalities and provides both societal and cultural commentary – then a career as a fashion stylist may be the perfect fit for you.
In fact, you can start working toward becoming a fashion stylist right now. On your own time, you can determine your style, tastes and preferences that will define your overall aesthetic as an artist of the fashion industry.
If you’re interested in this career path, but not quite sure where to begin – this is the piece for you. Let’s talk about several ways you can become a fashion stylist.
Develop Your Style And Portfolio
You may be asking yourself,
“Do I need to go to school to become a fashion stylist?”
And the answer is: not necessarily.
In fact, many individuals who start off in the fashion industry choose the freelance, gig workforce over attending traditional education. Let’s face it – school is expensive. And, if you already have the visual eye and talent, you can skip a few steps and start pursuing this career without a diploma.
But, before you jump into booking jobs – you will need to develop a style and portfolio that reflects your vision. You can begin by pulling your own clothes either by purchasing them, shopping vintage or thrifting.
Once you have a wardrobe of pieces that you feel are representative of your work as stylist, you need to style them. You can dress them on yourself, on a friend or a professional model.
Now, the most important part of all of this is to create images that reflect your styling. You could learn how to take the images yourself and create a visual display of your work. Or, you can find a growing photographer to collaborate with on projects.
We recommend collaborating with a photographer to build your portfolio. Not only is this good practice for future jobs, but allows you to build a team you can grow with for the future.
It is also important to learn how to take your own photos, so be sure to do this as well. Then, you will have the option to update your portfolio if the photographers you work with aren’t available.
Once you have developed your style and overall vision of fashion, you can take the next step to becoming a fashion stylist.
Land An Internship or Assisting Position
The second step to becoming a fashion stylist is to land an internship or assisting position.
Once you have a portfolio of your work, you can use this to land you a job.
Internships are usually the first step to breaking into the fashion world. You can seek out opportunities at fashion magazines and brands that offer training to amateur stylists.
The internship world will allow you to work on large scale projects and oversee every aspect that goes into developing a creative project. You will have access to the latest trends and be able to develop an opinion on what items are popular and desirable among the industry.
An internship is a truly valuable experience that will most likely teach you everything you need to know about fashion styling.
Assist a Senior Stylist
In addition to an internship, you should seek out an assisting position with a senior fashion stylist. Since, your internship may not be paid or result in little compensation – having a side job in the industry is beneficial.
You should seek out stylists whose work you admire and see if they are looking for an assistant. You can do this by reaching out by email, mentioning your experience, internship (if you have one) and send them a link to your portfolio.
Landing an assistant position is one of the best steps you can take to becoming a fashion stylist. For, this will open up opportunities and allow you to witness the day to day life of a stylist.
You will see how they work on set and understand how to interact with clients. Plus, you will be networking and meeting people in the industry who may share and offer new opportunities with you in the future.
Being an assistant is essentially a mentorship experience. Your boss will offer you advice, give you plenty of tangible work and even offer opinion and critique to help you grow your style for your own career.
Continue To Collaborate, Shoot and Network
The final step to becoming a fashion stylist is to continue to collaborate, produce shoots and network with everyone around you.
If you have effectively followed the steps above, you may already find that professional opportunities have been revealed to you. Maybe, you were offered your own styling gig or met someone who offered to connect you with more industry professionals. These are great steps to building your career.
Yet, even if you have experienced some success – the career of a fashion stylist is all about the hustle.
You need to continue to collaborate with other creatives such as photographers and makeup artists. And, together you need to produce shoots that will benefit your portfolio. This will include creating fashion editorials, small look books and tests with agency models.
Finally, you will always need to be networking and building connections. The fashion world is really about who you know and the more people know you – the better chance you have of landing the projects you have always wanted.
In all, working in fashion is a competitive field. Yet, it is truly rewarding if you are willing to put in the drive, effort and passion.
So, to become a fashion stylist, you need to develop your style, land valuable job opportunities and continue to collaborate with other creatives. If you truly want to make it in this industry, you need to have the heart and dedication to making you creative career a reality.
If you’re a growing fashion stylist, be sure to check out our creator platform to collaborate with artists in your area. You can apply to join our network here.