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stylist Q&A

stylist Q&A

Test Shoots

January 10, 2016

So what is a test shoot? Why as a stylist would you do a test shoot? These are questions that I had myself when I started working and thought they were worth answering. I will always reiterate that being a fashion stylist is a lot of work. I’m saying it again, but this time about the necessity of doing a test shoot.

Essentially, a test shoot is a collaboration of several artists (hair and makeup artists, photographers, etc.) working together for the sole purpose of developing a piece for your portfolio. Which is a really lovely way of saying that you aren’t getting paid. You may, in fact, have to fork out a little bit of cash to do the shoot at all, depending on the location and your wardrobe situation. I have damaged clothing on a test shoot and have to eat the cost. Which is never fun.

Despite the fact that your not getting paid to work a full day, test shoots are a really great way to network and build up a portfolio that reflects your own style. Since you aren’t being hired by anybody, you can take full control of the look and feel of the shoot. Have you had an idea floating around your brain for months? Find some like minded artists to work with and bring it to life—make your portfolio represent YOU.

Test shoots are also a good way to work out any kinks you might have in your technique. Anyone that has worked on a set knows the array of troubles that can arise at any given moment, and dealing with those trials is much less stressful when it’s not in front of the client. We all have our own way of doing things, and test shoots provide a space where you can learn and find the way you work best.

This test shoot wasn't my favorite. I should of mapped out how I wanted the hair & makeup to look. If I could go back I would of had the models hair messy and textured and more natural makeup. Her makeup looks beautiful but is too much for this causal beach view

This is from a test shoot that I did many many moons ago and I never used in my book. I should of mapped out how I wanted the hair & makeup to look. If I could go back I would of had the models hair messy and textured and more natural makeup. The brows are too penciled in perfect for me. Her makeup looks beautiful but is too much for this causal beach view. At the time I was focused on making sure the photographer liked the wardrobe verses the story as a hole. From this I also like testing when an art director is involved. That way I only have to focus on the wardrobe verses everything including the layout

Test shoots may feel like a lot to take on and personally I think they are. Producing has it’s challenges.. at least for me. Everyone on your team has to be on point. The model needs to know how to move, photographer needs to know how to shoot it (lighting), hair and makeup needs to be there the whole time. The wardrobe can be great but if someone on your team is lacking hopefully it won’t come through in your photo’s. The goal should be to have a beautiful picture… period. If the wardrobe looks amazing but the rest of the picture doesn’t work together don’t put it in your book. The producer, creative director, art director, who ever will be hiring will be looking at it and they will look at the total picture, not how you styled the look. So make sure you and your team are all on the same page.

I have learned a lot from testing. It can be a lot of fun to see your vision come to life. I would just make sure you have a solid team. I have had to nag a photographer before for pictures which was not fun. Have any more questions about testing? Comment or email me

stylist Q&A

Do fashion stylist need an education?

November 1, 2015

One of the biggest questions that anyone pursuing a career in fashion asks is there any formal training or education. Do fashion stylist need an education? The answer isn’t so clear-cut, because while no formal education is required, having a degree can set you apart from other candidates (of course).

There are several degree paths that can help to provide you with some necessary critical thinking skills for this type of job, ranging from fashion to marketing, merchandising, and maybe even a business degree. Essentially, you are running your own business and for the creative types that isn’t always the easiest thing to be great at. I myself find my retail experience extremely helpful in what I do. Which is threw my personal experience verses college education.

But learning the tricks of the trade are learned on the job not in text books or classrooms—getting hands on training through internships or entry-level positions can really boost your skill set. Getting ahead in this industry is all about making connections and building a solid portfolio that reflects your style.

The only one direct path usually every fashion stylist takes is assisting with another stylist. Besides that there really isn’t one, direct path that every fashion or wardrobe stylist follows to reach their goals. Taking some basic business, marketing, fashion design or merchandising classes is a great way to dip your feet into the industry.

I have a bachelors degree in communication. I would say my four year college degree doesn’t really help me in my styling career. But with that said having a degree means I can actually follow threw and finish something. Which hopefully means something to someone. If I could go back I would of picked up sewing. I have not got in jobs before because I can’t sew.

stylist Q&A

whats in a wardrobe stylist kit

August 25, 2015

The question that all young, blossoming fashion stylists always ask is “Whats in a wardrobe stylist kit, anyway?” Many stylists aren’t so eager to share what items help them best because the market is competitive and they’ve likely compiled their kit through years of trial and error. Though, with the quick-paced and constantly changing nature of a styling gig, compiling the perfect kit is essential if you want to be able to work fast and keep up with adaptations throughout the job.

From years of experience and impromptu fashion miracles, here are whats in my wardrobe stylist kit. My must-have items that ensure that you’re ready to combat any curveballs while on the job:

  • whats in a wardrobe stylist kitTopstick is a double-sided tape that is used to secure hairpieces to the scalp. I recommend the white/clear tape with 1-2 day bonding ability, because it’s cheaper, gets the job done, and will be easy to remove.
  • Glue Dots are adhesive dots that are great for small, quick touch-ups. Do the same job as top stick but are smaller, easier to take off of the sticky back. Do not get extra strength. These are more helpful working in studio than location for me
  • Zip-ties– good for tying shoes back together, keeping things together
  • Tagging Gun– for reattaching tags
  • Clear Garment Bags-it is really helpful seeing what it in your garment bags. Other wise I use tape and write what’s in each bag
  • Clamps, Clothespins, and Safety Pins are essential for getting the clothing to fit the model. Clamps and clothespins can be applied to the model on the side that is opposite from the camera, and for modifications on the front—safety pins! Black safety pins are great when working with dark colored fabrics, but beware of pinholes in the merchandise!
  • Lint Roller– hair, lint, and fuzz—be gone! And always have extra tape rolls ready
  • Tape/Duck Tape– eliminates the need to use pins (and puncture a hole in any merchandise), but it also serves as a great tool for marking your rolling racks and hangers. Tape is also handy for whatever bizarre, impossible to foresee issues that can (and usually do) arise. Masking Tape, gaffers tape… you will use it all over time.
  • Nude Bras/ Underwear– a fashion shoot is constantly evolving, so it is best to keep undergarments a nude color in case any translucent clothing is suddenly used for a photo. It’s your job to be prepared, even when the model isn’t. In my kit I have a couple strapless, as well as regular, bras in a range of sizes just in case a model shows up unprepared.
  • Boobs and Nipple Covers– seem like something that should be left up to the model, but in the end, not all models remember to bring the right gear, so having boobs and bras in all difference sizes (along with their companion, the nipple cover) you should be set! Some clients want more cleavage than others, or sometimes a garment looks better filled out
  • Needles & Thread– work great for on-the-spot alterations like buttons. PRO TIP: fishing wire makes for a great clear thread. I also buy the pre-threaded needles.
  • Scissors– a good pair to cut heavy-duty fabric and small ones to cut little threads
  • Stain Remover – shout wipes are the easiest for me to transport but getting stains out of stuff is part of the job
  • Lint Rollers– you should have a lint roller and refills at all time in your kit
  • Camera– to take pictures of all your outfits, I use my IPhone but when your IPhone goes dead it’s a problem. A cordless charger is something I have considered
  • Measuring tape
  • Hangers– both pants and shirt
  • Steamer
  • Beauty kit– filled with Band-Aids, deodorant; polish remover, toothbrush & paste, sunscreen, maxi-pad products
  • Rolling Racks– they sell lots of different versions, but I would recommend buying the commercial ones that are around $80 bucks. (you will need to get these from a display store)
  • Glam Bags-are awesome for prepping what the model will be wearing throughout the shoot. Loose tags, accessories, and any other stray items that can get caught up in the frenzy that is a photo shoot now have a home in their glam bag. Keeping these items together are not only important to the outfit and photo, but they are critical when you are ready to return the clothes you borrowed. (I have also used zip-lock bags for when I run out of glam bags)
  • Ikea Blue bags– great for lunging lots of stuff (especially shoes)
  • Face Mask– to cover the model’s face and preserve make-up while taking clothes on and off, plus it helps from getting on your wardrobe.
  • Super Glue is great for speedy repairs that cannot be sewn
  • Office Supplies– sounds a little strange for this post, but half of what makes a good stylist is being organized. I use note cards to tape shoes and write models down, post-it-notes for who is wearing what, paper clips to hold receipts together, a stapler to staple my return receipt to the bag, and a highlighter to cross off items that we have already shot. Notebook for taking notes and making lists, hole puncher to put copies in binders, binders to keep all your information together for the particular job your on…etc etc
  • Rubber bands– adjusting belts, and clothing, and grouping things together
  • Rain Poncho– cause you never know when it’s going to rain and when it hits you want to be prepared
  • Sharpies– great for labeling, and works wonders on dark denim stains and black jeans
  • Jewelry Shine Cloth– I can’t remember the last time I used mine…. But I have one just in case
  • Jewelry Hanger– I do a lot of lifestyle shoots and keeping my jewelry together nicely makes my life so much easier. Getting the jewelry hangers with zippers are a must since you will likely take them for location to location, and without zippers stuff will fall out
  • Water bottle– to spray clothes before you steam them (helps get really hard wrinkles out), or mix water and vodka to get smells out of clothes
  • Different color camisoles for women
  • Blow dryer– from leaky steamers… wet spots suck (another tip is to put a socks over the steamer if it is spouting)
  • Robes/ Slippers– So models don’t eat lunch in your wardrobe…. Truth be told I rarely have this on hand because it is so bulky compared to everything I have to bring. But depending on the job you are doing it’s something to consider
  • Wardrobe Changing Tent– I have used my changing tent so many times, really comes in handy on location. I do have trouble breaking my down… so it is currently laying down flat in the trunk of my car. Just want to warn ya…folding it down to fit in the bag is impossible for me personally.

If you are a new stylist don’t feel the need to buy everything on this list. Really it is trail and error. I would hate for you buy all this stuff and not use it since if you don’t get the opportunity to work a certain type job. For example, when I got hired to work on a rain shoot (they brought in a rain pump…ekk) I realized I needed a really good raincoat as part of my kit or else I was going to freeze and be drenched for 10 hours. I also bought giant zip-lock bags to pack the clothes in since it was waterproof, which worked great for putting the wet clothes in. My point being you don’t know what your going to need until a certain job arises.

stylist Q&A

What is the difference between a costume designer and a fashion wardrobe stylist?

August 18, 2015

Within the fashion industry, there are a few job titles that are often incorrectly used interchangeably, spurring the need for clarification on what is the difference between a costume designer and a fashion wardrobe stylist.

A costume designer is the easiest to distinguish from the others because the personality that they are dressing is fictitious, and the wardrobe is all original material specially designed for the character. As the job title suggests, this role is in charge of designing a full wardrobe for each character. A costume designer’s work is usually limited to films and plays, making it essential that the clothing not only fits well, but is durable.

difference between a costume designer and a fashion/ wardrobe stylist?

Differentiating between a wardrobe stylist and fashion stylist is a little bit trickier, but to me they basically are the same thing. Both jobs require carefully piecing together looks that embody hopefully what the client’s in visioning. I have met other fashion stylists who have never had to provide head to toe looks because they are working with clothing brands that provide the wardrobe for them. In that type of role they get to show up and style (create looks)… these by the way are super fun jobs if you ever get the opportunity to work for a brand.

When I show up to certain jobs I am creating the entire wardrobe for the talent. This includes socks, watches, accessories, basically every single item the person is wearing. A wardrobe stylist creates the look and feel of the character.

The term “wardrobe stylist” or “fashion stylist” can be applied to someone working in high fashion, celebrity or public figure’s personal image,  print editorial work, commercials or music videos.

Despite their differences, each of these jobs requires a keen eye and the ability to utilize color and texture in order to provide a stunning and fluid final result.

stylist Q&A

How much do fashion stylists make annually?

August 11, 2015

So you’ve decided you want to pursue the glamorous career of a fashion stylist, and you’re ready to talk numbers. How much do fashion stylists make annually? How much should I expect to make? How does pay-day work? Can this be a consistent paying career? While these questions have answers, they really depend on a plethora of factors: location, experience, competition, the client, the job, etc. So I’ll do my best to clear up the opaque nature of the job and send you off into the world of styling!
For starters, most fashion stylists work on a day rate, ranging from $500-$3,000/day (this range is where the numerous factors come in). Some gigs are only half-days, while others can have you on set for a painstaking 16 hours. As for location, in my experience I know that Los Angeles rates are a lot higher than somewhere like Las Vegas… but with more money comes more competition.
Ultimately, the money made from one gig doesn’t matter if you can’t continue to market yourself and get more jobs. There can be a lot of downtime spent job hunting in this field. I have had streaks where the jobs seem to be coming to me, and other times where there isn’t a job to be found for weeks. In the end, building a solid base of clients that love your work is really where the money is at—the money you can count on. So how much does the average fashion stylist make annually… in my case it varies from year-to-year. Keep in mind there are stylist like Rachel Zoe , Brad Goreski, Olori Swank who get contracts with brands or partner with clothing lines or create there own line, or open there own store. (think Patricia Field). Also note that stylist who have full-time help are kinda of on another level, for they are responsible for paying someone whether or not their check comes in.

stylist Q&A

Are there Full-time jobs for fashion stylist?

July 28, 2015

One thing that can be a drag for aspiring fashion stylists to understand is the inconsistency of the career: some weeks are full and others are void of jobs to be done and money to be made.

A common question can be “Are there full-time jobs for fashion stylist?” And there totally is! The sad part is that they are few and far between. Most fashion-oriented corporations have some type of stylist position if they have a strong web presence. Other will likely hire freelancers for photoshoots. For example, Zappos has a photo studio based in Las Vegas that shoots both product and on-figure clothing. Because the shoot Monday-Friday, their studio consists of  full-time stylist & photographers. (I know this because I tried to get in there as a freelance stylist which they never hire for) I have worked in many photo-studios that house both full-time and freelance stylists.

So if the freelance lifestyle isn’t for you and consistency is what you crave, start looking up retail companies based in your city. You might be surprised once you start digging which companies actually started in your city. Once you find the company than I would start looking creative directors, styling mangers to try and show you book to.  It should be noted, though, that oodles of experience is required to even be considered for a full-time lead stylist job in businesses like these. If your heart is set on it, find some internships and part-time work, and start your way up the ladder that is the fashion stylist career. The bigger the company the longer it will take to work your way up. Hopefully you know what your getting yourself into. Being a fashion stylist is not easy, so be prepared to put your time in!

stylist Q&A

Becoming a great assistant stylist

July 11, 2015

As the old saying goes… behind every great fashion stylist is a kick-ass assistant (or something like that), and it’s true! Having a great assistant that understands what you need help with is really important for your shoot to go smoothly, with as little hair pulling as possible. Here is my Do’s and Don’ts of becoming a great assistant stylist.

Let’s start with the facts: Assistants typically make $100-$400 a day depending on the job and client. This could be for quick returns or a 14-hour day, again, depending on the job.

So what qualities make a good assistant stylist? There are the basics like being on time, managing time well, getting work done rather than chatting, and so on… but what really separates an ok assistant from a great one is their ability to anticipate the stylist’s needs. Understanding the kind of job and knowing what to do without being told is priceless.

A great assistant will:

Know where all of the merchandise is all of the time. Losing merchandise is one of the biggest no-no’s!
Be able to set up and break down the wardrobe room efficiently.
Take pictures of all talent, and write down each look
Be working to repair clothes or clean up on down time.
Always ask questions when things are unclear.
Constantly be checking in with the stylist, and making sure that all of their needs are met. This can include little things like getting food and water.
Open communication… If a problem occurs that you can’t fix, communication is key to get it fixed ASAP
Have your own kit available if needed. (rolling racks, steamer, tagging gun, felt, hangers, etc.)

With all of the things that an assistant can do right, there is also a

“What Not To Do” list

• As an assistant, you should not try and hustle yourself a job; it makes the person who hired you look bad (and you as well). Trying to steal you stylist’s clients is not cool, and nobody in the industry respects that kind of work. With that said, if you have a good relationship with you stylist, you could talk to them about referrals or ask advice on how to go about getting new clients.
Complaining. This should go without saying, but complaining while on the job is draining for everyone there. We are all going through the same 10-14 hour day with you, so keep an upbeat spirit so everyone doesn’t have to suffer as well.
Don’t take short cuts… an assistant is needed because the stylist can’t do it all by themselves. Do it the right way first, so your boss doesn’t have to redo your work
• Social media sharing: do not post photos & information from a shoot/ or fitting before it is released to the public. Big NO…NO… If you’d really like to take a picture, ask for permission first, presumably at an appropriate time- NOT while you are supposed to be working.

Don’t be loud and draw extra attention to yourself: Even after you are done with your job and are waiting around on set, it is not the time to mingle with the crew. Other people are still working and you could miss something important or make someone else slack in the process of conversation.