With the rise of the internet, street style and other forms of fashion blogs, styling has become one of the most desirable professions in the industry. Yet, despite the general opinion, styling is a nurtured skill, one that many people do not have, even when working in the fashion industry. It differs from garment design, but it also implies knowledge from all related fields. Moreover, a perfectly crafted style affects and shapes the first impression. This is exactly why a professional stylist must possess a broad knowledge of design, fashion, and art, and above all, an impeccable taste in fashion.
There is one quote by Anna Wintour in The September Issue where she describes the beloved Vogue stylist Grace Coddington, stating: “There’s no one who can make any photographer take more beautiful, more interesting, more romantic, more just stunningly realized pictures than Grace… She comes from the idea that fashion is this world of play and make believe. It’s as if someone’s gone to the dressing up box and found the most wonderful, personal things, and put them together. But it’s beautiful.”
What a wonderful description of the craft, don’t you think? With this in mind, here are 5 basic tips on how to become a prominent professional stylist.
1. Form your own style and taste in fashion
This might seem like obvious advice, but actually, many beginners tend to skip this very important step. This basically means: absorb fashion influences around you and cherish the ones you like the most, then find your own voice and stick to it! But also keep in mind that styles evolve and that your own preferences might change over time. Most professional stylists do have their own authentic approach that differentiates them from others, but this skill is also built over time, it cannot be embedded in someone’s portfolio.
2. Build your own portfolio early on
If you are truly interested in becoming a fashion professional, there is a strong chance that you already run your own fashion blog, a styling diary on Instagram, or an inspirational page on Pinterest and Flickr. Yet, if you aspire to become a professional stylist, start using these channels as your own professional portfolio early on. Act as your own model or ask a friend if you could experiment on them and organize an amateur photo-shoot. Running a blog or any kind of social media page dedicated to style is a great way to develop discipline and gain some experience.
3. Cherish all connections you make along the way
Although the first two tips are indeed important, it should be noted that this DIY approach is just one small aspect of the big picture. For instance, even though many popular fashionistas like The Glamourai or The Blond Salad actually started as independent bloggers, their later success as authors and stylists (even sculptors!) could not be possible without the strong network of fashion professionals they have built over time. So, keep in mind to always answer back and return the favour, even the smallest one.
4. Educate yourself
Fashion is one of the most complex and fastest-changing industries in the world. To become a true expert in fashion, you must truly immerse yourself on the matters of fashion history, product design, branding, and marketing. Regardless of your individual effort and approach, the value of a comprehensive education cannot be overestimated. Luckily, nowadays there is an ample choice of diverse programmes to choose from, and the great thing about them is that they not only offer a wealth of theoretical knowledge, but also allow the students to apply it in practical settings. Quality courses, such as the Master in fashion design at Raffles Milan, aim at doing real work on real projects for real clients, and their unconventional learning methods are designed to boost creativity.
5. Enroll in an internship programme
There is no better way to gain priceless experience in fashion styling than jumping head-first into this wonderful, crazy industry. The fastest way to get a first-hand account on the lay of the land is to grab an intern position in a fashion company. But remember, not every internship is a blissful one (most of them are not) and you must be prepared to work hard, beyond work hours and on a tight schedule. The most valuable lessons in the fashion industry are usually the ones you learn on the go, so make sure to keep your ears and eyes open throughout the entire length of the internship. Combined with your own DIY experience and formal education in fashion, your internship period should provide you with new skills, experience, and contacts.
In a world that highlights individuality and creativity, finding your own voice is absolutely essential. Still, nothing happens in a bubble, and you must first create an environment for your creativity to flourish and for your individuality to shine in the brightest light.