These days anyone who can zip up a pair of jeans is a stylist. Bloggers wake up, work on a cute outfit and have their boyfriend take a photo. Pose, post…. perfect, you’re a stylist. In fashion the word blogger has become synonymous with stylist, with brands hiring them to curate collections, style fashion shows, model their clothing; all to get a slice of their tremendous following. The paradigm has changed and clothing on a “real” person, in contrast to a model who has been polished by the services of hair stylists, make up artists and photo shop is what people trust.
Linked-in is crawling with stylists. There are so many that I have come to accept a definition change. It is true that the jobs that I am hired to do as a “stylist” or “fashion editor” are very different than the strictly photo shoot related styling jobs I was hired for in the past. I thought it would be interesting to hear some rules that used to govern my understanding of the profession. Stylists and stylist assistants are the hardest working jobs on a crew but they are a passionate and creative group. The payoff of seeing your work in print is worth all the shopping, hauling, and begging. Here are some of my rules for being a stylist, most still apply.
#1- Learn how to pack a box. I would tell prospective assistants this at the outset to separate the workers from the posers. Merchandise comes in and must go back from whence it came and clients depend on stylists to do this.
#2- Get used to early call times and late finishes. Whether you are on location or setting up at a studio before a big day it will be an early call. It could be as early as a 5am for sunrise shot and if it is summer and you are shooting in Europe it could go as late as 10pm when the photographer will grab the last gasp of sunset.
#3 –Putting looks together as your heart desires is the cherry on top. Most of the time clients are paying you to get into the head of their customer /reader and you have to style for that women or man. You’re not a blogger, you are a stylist.
#4. Have lots of options. You may be styling one page ad but the client wants to see 3 great looks. And if they don’t like those you better have 5 or 6 more options to show. Clients have no idea how you have to run around hauling clothes from here to there. They want to see you are worth the day rate. They want to be dazzled so have lots of choices.
#5- Get used to standing a lot. In the hot sun on a beach, on the rocky coast of a lake or at a studio, you have to stand there even if the photographer is torturing the model with click after click. You have to be there to fix a wrinkle or make sure the earring shows–all day-long.
#6 – Get clothes by any means necessary. Maybe you are styling a celebrity and all of the Gucci collection is in Europe at sales. Or Vogue has the look you want. Or you are styling a spring campaign with a small budget and spring is not in stores yet; the rental place has nothing. You will have to get clothing by “BBS”. That is beg borrow or steal. Not actual stealing but maybe taking from editorial shoot and bringing it to the advertising client. There is never a perfect time to secure the items you need.
#7- There is no such thing as an easy photo shoot. Photographers and agents will try to tell you this but for sure that is the kiss of death. There are meetings in which clients want to see the actual clothing, or they want to see photos of all the clothing– difficult. Maybe the client didn’t want to book you, the art director won that fight so daggers are thrown with their eyes. Not easy to win that one over. There can be up to 5 people you have to please, from to the agency, to the photographer, to the people at the brand: you’ll be the scapegoat for those battles. Or you have a tiny motor home in which 5 trunks of clothing and accessories need to find a home. Styling a photo shoot is rarely easy but always worth it.