03/02/2016
Help, pls?

Words by

Vivian Troy

With a career in fashion, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I really just don’t get what stylists do.

I mean, we all get up and get dressed in the morning. Some mornings are harder than others, but we manage to do it every day. And yet celebs need stylists. So do magazines, cooking shows, news reporters, bloggers, even reality TV contestants. And why does Blake Lively get so much goddam praise for not having a stylist? Where’s my praise?

So I went on a hunt to find out what the big deal is. Are stylists a waste of cash or is it like modern art and I just don’t ‘get’ it? 

I sat down with founder of Australian Style Institute, Lauren Di Bartolo, to stop embarrassing myself and find out what a stylist actually does. Here’s everything I learnt, in listicle form. Because who doesn’t love a list?

1. Stylists do more than help us find clothing

This was the first thing Lauren told me after I had vented all my beliefs about styling. Turns out they were all (unsurprisingly) common misconceptions.

“Stylists are not just there to help us find clothing. Although it’s still a very important part of the job, given that our clients lead busy lives and don’t need to deal with scanning the shops for days,” said Lauren. 

“Going to an expert not only saves us time and money (avoiding the hoards of people and ill-advised purchases), but more importantly helps us to understand ourselves and our style even more. As humans, we often distort 30-40% to the negative, which means we’re often looking at ourselves with critical eyes, without having a better solution in place.”

2. Having an eye for style is not enough

Pity, I would have made a great stylist. But Lauren told me it takes a lot more to cut the mustard. She also threw a little shade at bloggers, which I kind of liked.

“Stylists should understand that great style isn’t just a reflection of their own style. It’s about understanding the needs of a client, and having the ability to source a wide range of different looks, depending on those needs. 

“Let’s be clear – this is not fashion blogging, it’s about building relationships with clients to help them succeed in life, both personally and professionally.” 

3. Yep, it’s absolutely glamorous. At least sometimes.

If The Devil Wears Prada (and my own experience at Fashion Journal) has taught me anything, it’s that deadlines are the devil and that styling is super glam. I thought I’d best clarify this with Lauren though. The styling part, not the deadlines.

“Yes! What’s not glamorous about viewing new season collections and collaborating with other brilliant creatives? That said, other times it is just as un-glamorous as returning clothes to stores. But every job has its highlights and its pitfalls. One not often shared highlight is how rewarding the gratitude is. Clients become fans and best friends. It is what makes a stylist get out of bed every day and what makes it so easy to want to get up.”

4. It can be hard but the good outweighs the bad

As Lauren says: “it is long hours, but who really cares when working with a Balmain jacket and Giuseppe Zanotti shoes from the latest collections?”

Ummm, or in my case, Zara and COS.

“Also, just wait for the barrage of emails from clients, thanking you for all the compliments they now get in their daily lives, the jobs they secured and the date they went on.”

5. Despite what anyone says, it’s not ‘just fashion’

As anyone who works in fashion knows, we constantly have to defend our career choices. I asked Lauren what she says to all the h8ers.

“There is nothing superficial about something that makes others feel better about themselves while also looking better. It makes us better, nicer and kinder people to be around. Hate to sound all pageant-y but that’s world peace right there.” 

6. It’s not that scary to get started

For many, styling falls under the category of ‘dream career’ and is never actually considered a viable option. For all y’all ‘one day’ people, Lauren had some sage words.

“Get past the fear and start taking action. Stop finding all of the reasons why you can’t do it and find that one reason why you can. A conversation is the perfect place to start and our team is more than happy to chat any time.” 

We have never seen an industry grow in professional opportunities like we are seeing now, so join Lauren for an introduction to what it’s like to be a stylist, on these dates near you. 

20-21 Feb in Melbourne 
27-28 Feb in Sydney
12-13 Mar in Brisbane
19-20 Mar in Perth. 

Learn more at becomeastylist.com.au

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