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How do I Become a Clothing Stylist?

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  • Written By: Mandi R. Hall
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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Anyone who wants to become a clothing stylist — often called a fashion stylist or a wardrobe or image consultant — likely wishes to work in the heart of the fashion industry. While job descriptions vary, a wardrobe stylist generally assembles outfits for celebrities, models, and other public figures. Formal training is not necessary to become a clothing stylist, but passion for the industry is. Fashion styling is a competitive industry, and one best left to those with a natural knack for fashion.

While there is no right or wrong way to become a clothing stylist, there are paths that could lead a prospective stylist in the right direction. In order to be a successful stylist, a student might consider attending a university with a reputable fashion or textile program. While earning such degrees, students often learn about the building blocks of the fashion industry, including its history and future. Practical tools — such as learning how to market oneself and use on-the-job materials — may also be learned. Those with a degree in fashion marketing or textile management might get put to the head of the line during fashion internship season.

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To become a clothing stylist, one might first gain an internship — during school or after graduation — with a magazine, clothing designer, or studio. Here, students will become acquainted with fabrics and styles utilized by top designers. Students learn how to catalog and properly care for clothing. While these students should already have a knack for fashion, they will learn how seasoned professionals decide what accessories and props to use for photo shoots. Because both print and TV/movie spots are often shot months ahead of time, stylists learn to stay ahead of the current trends.

Having a degree and internship under one's belt doesn't automatically mean a student will get to become a clothing stylist. An aspiring stylist should think outside of the box in order to gain some impressive bonus materials for her resume. She should try her hand at freelance writing for some local fashion magazines. Stylists often improve if they get together with a student photographer and do some fashion-centric photo shoots to build a portfolio. It also helps to do some pro-bono or low-priced work to build a clientele base.

Aspiring clothing stylists should be motivated. It’s a competitive business, and one that easily weeds out those who just can’t cut it. During an internship, students should ask questions and stay ahead of the game by asking for additional responsibility. More importantly, they should build strong relationships with the designers and fashion editors with whom they work. Stylists may need to use these mentors' expertise — or borrow garments from them — later in their careers.

Clothing stylists should always keep up to date on trends. They must continue to study color and pattern relationships, and how they look on people of different ethnicities and shapes. A successful stylist knows how to conceal body flaws and use accessories and props to her advantage. A beginning stylist should consider working for a department store as a personal shopper or storefront designer early in her career. Stylists must learn when to push the envelope and when to be safe.

Lastly, clothing stylists may need to consider relocating to a big city. New York City and Los Angeles are two potential hotspots for the fashion industry. Big-name magazines and studios are a great place to learn and move up the career ladder.

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