From the outside, a job as a fashion stylist can seem like a ticket to non-stop parties and champagne on tap. The reality looks more like long days in the office, and schlepping around town with heavy boxes and a car full of borrowed clothing.
The truth is, there are few occupations that mystify people as much as styling. I'm certain my mum thinks all I do is borrow clothes and play dress ups. Sadly, that’s just not the case.
Here are the most common things people assume about my job:
Myth: Working in fashion is glamorous, and everyone wears designer clothing
Truth: I wish it were true, but to be brutally honest, you spend a lot of the time wearing black tees and leggings. Stylists wear black not because it’s fashionable, but because it doesn’t show the dust, dirt, pen marks and that Krispy Kreme you ate at 3pm for a much-needed sugar hit.
A stylist spends the majority of their time unpacking, checking off stock and lugging boxes and suit bags from the car boot up six flights of stairs to the studio. Then at the conclusion of a job, you have to repack everything on the EXACT hangers they came on (yes, designers want the hangers back), cross-check no samples are missing and then drive around to return it all. So sneakers are our best friends, not stilettos.
And if you’re shooting back-to-back in a studio, say goodbye to daylight and vitamin D. *Cue Simon and Garfunkel* 'Hello darkness my old friend....'
Myth: It’s all about parties and events
Truth: Ermm yeah… NAH! Working in fashion involves very long hours and deadlines. A shoot might be scheduled for eight hours, but for the most part, there will be delays, and it'll end up taking 10 hours – not including travelling time. That also doesn’t take into account the hours of pre-production that’s involved in planning and sourcing for a shoot. Yes, there are fun events and fashion weeks to attend, but these come about seasonally. Also remember, these shows and parties mainly happen in the evening,s so you’ll work all day and go to said events in your Kmart and Zara activewear. You’ll be so tired from working, all you’ll really be thinking about is PJs, Netflix and Aldi bubbles.
Myth: Stylists get a lot a free stuff
Truth: Yes, but in most cases, things we don't need or not in our size *sad face*. On the upside, your friends will love you as you end up giving everything away. I repackage everything and regift it to my family and friends. One way to save money.
Myth: As long as you have amazing fashion sense, you can get a job in fashion
Truth: Hell no! Yes, having an eye for fashion is part of the job, but you also have to be passionate and have the ability to work with a diverse group of people. Plus be willing to put in the long hours, while also being open to learning new things.
Myth: Studying fashion or styling is a ticket to your dream job in the industry
Truth: While education is an important foundation, just because you’ve studied fashion doesn't mean you'll fall straight into a head designer role or be a creative director for a leading fashion house. It's likely you'll spend the first five years plus hustling and starting at the bottom – most likely in retail – then work your way up. If you want to pursue a career in styling, find yourself a mentor and assist.
Myth: Experience is enough
Truth: Experience is essential and will get you far, but it’s also about who you know in the industry. On top of experience, building relationships, networking and having a good reputation is the key combination to success.
Myth: There are no set hours/regular work day
Truth: This will vary on the type of 'stylist' you are. Personal shoppers/stylists will work different hours, including evenings to cater for their clients. As for myself, I work relatively standard Monday to Friday hours and maybe an occasional weekend.
Myth: People in fashion are rude and bitchy
Truth: Kind of true, but it depends on who you meet. It’s mainly the ‘wannabes' who are rude. Experienced and veteran fashion people (and usually the talented ones) are kind and have time for other creatives and newcomers. At the end of the day, we all have resting bitch faces because we’re tired and need coffee.
Illustration by Twylamae.