By:  Sofia Davis

What does a stylist really do?  What are the skills it takes to become a stylist?

I have the pleasure of knowing a fabulous fashion stylist, Boss Lady Wendy Isaac.  She heads the style team at Bergdorf Goodman.  I always marveled at what she does and how much she knows about putting an outfit together.

Let’s take a look at what it takes to be a stylists.

Fashion Stylist is one of the most popular emerging professions in the fashion world globally and is the job title of someone who selects the clothing and accessories for published editorial features, print or television advertising campaigns, music videos, concert performances, and any public appearances made by celebrities, models or other public figures.

Fashion Stylists are often part of a larger creative team assembled by the client, collaborating with the fashion designer, photographer/director, hair stylist and makeup artist to put together a particular look or theme for the specific project.

Fashion Stylists generally borrow and return clothing and accessories from fashion boutiques and directly from fashion designers.


Fashion Stylists may perform the following tasks:

  • Select items to appear in fashion magazines/media
  • Select clothing for TV personalities, celebrities or the wardrobe for film or TV characters.
  • Source fashion items and props for photographic shoots or film/tv personalities, or product placement in fashion magazines/media.
  • Advise on photographic approaches and the selection of locations, props, clothing, models, makeup artists, photographers, hair stylists and the overall look for photo shoots.
  • Advise and direct the photography of items and clothing selected for promotion.
  • Liaise with fashion designers, retailers, the media, models/model agencies, photographers, makeup artists, hairdressers, beauty therapists, personal trainers and the media.
  • Organize and compare fashion runway shows and events.
  • Write articles on the latest fashion trends.
  • Provide fashion direction to buyers, merchandisers and/or product developers/designers.
  • Speak at events about image and fashion trends.
  • Provide makeup and hair styling services to clients or complete makeup and hair styling on location for photo shoots.


Here are some additional skills that are helpful to a fashion stylists

Style Sense

Fashion stylists stay on top of the latest trends in the fashion community so that they can dress clients appropriately. Style inspiration may come from music, film and what people are wearing on the streets. A good fashion stylist is also in touch with a particular client’s style. A star who is known for being quirky would probably lose credibility by suddenly wearing business suits all the time, for instance. Creative ability and good visualization skills are key in becoming successful, for a good stylist must be able to see the final outcome before the clothes are even on the client.

Communication Skills

On a photo shoot set, the stylist must be able to communicate with the art director and others to capture the right style for the product. Good communication skills are key to making this happen. A stylist also needs to be able to communicate the fashion vision to the client in a way that is understandable and acceptable. During the course of their work day, stylists must interact with many people: photographers, stars, and magazine editors, among others. Having an overly introverted personality or not being able to talk to people will probably not get you far if this is your chosen occupation.

Organizational Skills

Fashion stylists must oversee the movement of clothing both to and from a shoot or a client’s home. They also manage huge inventories of clothing, shoes and accessories. Many of these items are on loan from designers or retail stores and must be properly inventoried and tracked so they can be returned later. There is no room for disorganization in this occupation. Fashion stylists also track the clothes that their clients are wearing to avoid any embarrassing red carpet moments, such as duplicated looks or outfits. Organization and tracking skills are almost as important as fashion sense in the world of a stylist.

Business Sense

Fashion stylists who are just starting out often work for other stylists or magazines before embarking on their own. This gives them a chance to learn the ropes of the business. Once they branch out on their own, some business knowledge is essential. Many fashion stylists are freelance, and it is important to know how to set yourself up as a business, how to file business taxes and how to calculate business expenses. Some successful stylists, such as Rachel Zoe and Andrea Lieberman, have started their own clothing lines, which takes a considerable amount of business knowledge. Their success is rare, but it is a testament to the fact that a fashion stylist with the right qualities has the potential to go far in the fashion world.


Now you can start thinking of a career as a fashion stylist.

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