10 tips for becoming a fashion stylist

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Courtney Smith shows us how you could become a fashion stylist, just like her

Fashion stylist Courtney Smith - fashion - handbag.com
Thinking of a career change? Ever thought of becoming a fashion stylist? Courtney Smith, one of Ireland's most in-demand stylists, tells us how you could get into the industry:

1. Learn the fashion trade

You don't need to study fashion or styling to make it your career. Most well-known and respected stylists will probably tell you they fell into styling as a job and learnt the trade as they worked. However, it is important to educate yourself on the industry if you don't have the background. This might be enrolling in evening or weekend courses on different fashion subjects, or even just going into the high-end stores and looking at the designer garments and labels in detail.

2. Assist the experts in fashion

Assisting a working stylist tends to be the most common entrance into styling as a career. Work experience and internships now go a long way - for the most part, they are unpaid but this is invaluable knowledge into learning the tricks of the trade; it also gives you an introduction to the PRs for brands, the managers in the shops, the process of signing stock out for shoots and so much more.

3. Draw inspiration from fashion

Don't underestimate the knowledge you'll need as a stylist. You must immerse yourself in magazines, online websites where you can watch the fashion shows from current collections, research trends, the history of fashion over the past decades. All these things will help you grow as a stylist and give you the knowledge from which to draw inspiration.

4. Keep practicing your craft

Test shoots are one of the best ways to hone your craft as a stylist. Team up with a photographer, a make-up artist, hair stylist and an up-and-coming model - all who are in the same position as you at the beginning of their career but want to grow and build up their portfolio. Work together on ideas and concepts. You are only as good as the team of professionals you surround yourself with.

5. Network with the right people

Networking is a huge part of the fashion industry and everyone is connected. Make sure you attend the correct events to promote you and your craft and build your network and nurture your working relationships. Build up your contacts in stores, with brands and designers as well as writers and magazine editors.

6. Get Inspired from around the world

Where do you think stylists, photographers and creative directors get their inspirations from? For the most part, it's from history and travelling. Go visit museums and libraries, travel to unusual countries and get involved in the culture.

7. You need a wardrobe of practical clothes

There is a huge misconception that stylists will always be head-to-toe immaculately turned out in designer garb. This is so far from the truth… unless you are Rachel Zoe and have three assistants to do the legwork for you! But as a working editorial and commercial stylist, I am forever on my hands and knees tying shoe laces, or pinning trousers etc… I certainly wouldn't be doing that in a pair of Balenciaga wedges and mini skirt.

8. Being a stylist is not a 9 to 5 job

If you want to be a stylist, you better be prepared to invest weekends, evenings, early mornings, sacrifice holidays, friends birthdays and family gatherings. Being a stylist is a vocation but as they say, if you love your job you will never work a day in your life.

9. Always remember fashion is a business

There's lots of competition so you need to treat your career seriously and not as a fun frivolous fashionable way to live. If you are serious about making it a career and becoming a successful stylist, you need to develop your business structure; get a price plan for the different jobs you provide, figure out the type of stylist you are, get a business card, build up clientele for a steady cash-flow and it will grow from there.

10. What type of stylist are you?

It's important to figure out what kind of stylist work you love, and pursue that. Editorial stylists mainly work with magazines to create beautiful high fashion imagery and mix trends in interesting ways for the reader to be inspired by, A commercial stylist works with brands to create lookbooks and campaigns every season. There are also celebrity stylists, who work with talents like popstars and actors with their personal style, red carpet get-up, and public appearances. Then there are freelance stylists who often work across the board on everything.

Follow Courney Smith on Twitter @CocoSmithStyle and courtneysmith.ie



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