THE STYLISTS BIBLE: 10 CHARACTERISTICS THAT MAKE A GOOD FASHION STYLIST!!

As a Stylist I get asked a lot of questions, but the most frequent question is how to get into fashion styling. I made this post a few years ago and felt that it could do with some updating!

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When I studied at London College of fashion LCF, my lecturer Beverly Alt taught us about what qualities a Stylist should have..

Anyone can make a cake right? but to make a great cake.. you need all the right ingredients!!

So here are (in my impression) the KEY ingredients that make a good fashion stylist!!

I want to stress that it takes ALL of these characteristics.. and many many more to be successful.. and unfortunately there is no cutting corners to success…

Good Organisation: Time management is key.. you are given deadlines constantly… some are far away and some are not.. you need to be able to manage your time well and you need to be in one piece.. nothing says professionalism LOUDER than someone who turns up to a shoot/meeting and they are completely organised!!

Hard Skin: There is going to be moments when you feel down.. as you start-up in your profession you will find you are low on money.. you may find that doors are closed in your face.. you may find your work criticised or you may even have conflicts with clients… FOR ME.. criticism is something that builds me.. I love to be told where I can improve.. you HAVE to have HARD SKIN!! no softies.. this does not mean being a b*tch.. that will not get you very far.. but it means not letting one knock keep you on the floor.. have the ability to use the window if the door is closed!!

Energy: In my impression.. people in the fashion industry could possibly have the worst eating habits.. I sometimes have gone a DAY without eating because I am so busy!! but I have learnt to keep lil snacks on me that keep my energy boosted to the MAXX!! You need to have strength and energy as It keeps you on top of your game. If you are really unhealthy and are not prepared to run to get yourself to a meeting on time.. then in my impression.. your just NOT CUT OUT!! I have ran like Usain Bolt on many occasions.. My mentor Arieta Mujay and my interns will be my witness LOL!! Try not to be naive.. Some think stylist life is all glamourous and I ask you not to be fooled. being on set is maybe 10% of the job. IN FACT, i would go as far to say, you are one of the hardest working people in the fashion industry.

Trend Awareness: It’s nice to be able to put together a good outfit and it’s sad that some think this is all a stylist does.. But being Trend Aware and knowing what is ‘in’ on the current season and seasons to come is essential!! Having a passion and responsibility to do this keeps you on your ‘A’ Game. Know what is big this season.. make it your own.. pick your favourites.. and style it with your model/client in a way that is visually appealing.. More importantly, to the CLIENT’S taste!! Your Client.. wether it be a magazine, a designer Label or a man/woman you are personally styling.. get to know them… what they LOOK for.. Trends they like! etc.

Fashion Visual Sense: This characteristic is largely based on your client. For example, if I was to style for Company Magazine, it would NOT be the same as if I was to style for ID Magazine or Instyle. This again, is knowing your client and having a good visual eye for their customer. Your role is very important on set, you need to be able to spot kinks and flaws… it’s no good doing a photo shoot and wasting a whole hour on shots with a belt twisted etc. You would be surprised how many times I see published shots and campaigns with mistakes. It takes attention to detail and unfortunately.. this is not just on the clothes, it’s the look as a WHOLE!! Unfortunately even photographers miss these simple mistakes when editing the image, remember that you are the ribbon to a package.

Versatility: Having your signature way of styling is an important thing to have, but it is also very important to be versatile.. be able to style in different ways.. for a man.. for a woman.. beauty.. hair.. the wider your versatility stretches is the more work you are able to get…

Good networking & Communication skills/Confidence: Talking to big companies or people could be daunting.. but to be honest.. you WILL get the hang of it.. my old friend Ernest Simons called me a ‘networking whore’.. lol… I like to talk to as much people as possible nowadays.. Getting to know people is important!! But most of all, its important that people get to know the great person you are. Social media makes this easy nowadays. ‘People’ skills are good tools to stay professional.. and allows you to build relationships with people.. in other words… DO NOT CALL VOGUE and speak like Vicky Pollard!!

Open Minded: For me.. this is a wide-spread characteristic. be open-minded.. you are not always in control of everything.. I have found myself in a position where a member of the team on a shoot has a strong idea about what they visualised for the hair they had done..I was open-minded and tried what they said.. in fact.. it turned out better than what I had initially planned!! Be open-minded.. you will work with people from different ages, genders, sexual preferences & races.. Be open and ready to treat everyone equally like they deserve. If you don’t have the ability to be open-minded about basic things like above… I would ask you to consider if this is really for you?

Dedication: the nuuuumber 1 characteristic a good stylist has…

‘a goal is a dream with a deadline… but what good is a dream without determination?’

– unknown

..you know where you want to be.. and unless you are REALLY bad and everyone is telling your work is absolute CR*P.. lol.. LET NO ONE tell you that you can not reach your goal.. if your dream means a lot to you.. you will take time and perfect your flaws and always work to the best of your ability.. Always be DETERMINED to be the best!! That way.. you impress everyone you work with and leave a mark wherever you pass!!!

If you know you have all of these characteristics and more.. Then I would say you are a few more steps closer to your BIG DREAM!!

Start to build up your portfolio with photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists etc. Research and shadow/assist good stylists.. More importantly, Start to build your relationships with designers and PR agencies etc. it all depends on what type of styling you want to do; print & media (magazines etc.), Music Videos, Personal Styling… and just GO FOR IT!!

I hope this helped.. if you have any further questions.. do not hesitate to ask..

xxxo

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3 Comments

  1. March 26, 2012 / 2:00 am

    I was really excited to get this book. I love the fashion industry. I’ve been reading this book slowly over the past two weeks. I was thoroughly enjoying it. I loved the informaton, the writing, style, and the ease of understanding. Then I was reading Chapter 6 page 99 about measurements and body proportion analysis. I had someone do my measurements. We took them two times to make sure we measured correctly. I’ve studied alot of Fashion/Style books, so I knew what my body type was. When I went to the charts in Chapter 9 my measurements came up with a body shape that is so far from mine, I knew the charts must be flawed. I am 5’2, bust measurement 32, waist measurement 26, and hip measurment of 31. I weigh 100 pounds. I have broad shoulders, and nonexistent hips and rear. The Chart said I was a Triangle aka the Pear. I know for a fact, I am not a pear. I have had many different weights in my lifetime. I have been an apple, a rectangle, and an inverted triangle. Never a pear. This disturbed me so greatly, I have quit reading the book. I really wanted to learn this business and make a go at it. If i made a gross miscalculation of a clients bodyshape, (by using the charts in this book) I would not be in business for long. SO beware the calculations, and possibly other mistakes made.I went to numerous websites and entered the same measurements and came up as an inveted triangle/rectangle. I don’t usually write reviews, but I felt it necessary to point out this calculation.

  2. March 26, 2012 / 5:37 pm

    I rarely write remarks, but i did a few searching and wound up here THE STYLISTS BIBLE: 10 CHARACTERISTICS THAT MAKE A GOOD FASHION STYLIST!! Erica Matthews. And I do have some questions for you if you do not mind. Is it only me or does it seem like some of these responses come across like left by brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are writing on other online sites, I’d like to follow anything new you have to post. Would you make a list of the complete urls of all your community pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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