CAREER: WHAT MAKES A GOOD FASHION STYLIST?

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Olav styling Diana Opoti at a past shoot. Photograph by Victor Peace
So I promised you guys that I'd do a follow up of the post 'Make your fashion stylist cover letter stand out!'. Sorry I took too long to come up with this follow up, but it needed a bit of research. If you haven't already checked out the previous post about this topic just click on this link http://www.lifestylespread.com/2014/08/career-make-your-fashion-stylist-cover.html

Okay, so you now have a contract with a leading fashion house or magazine or any other relevant industry that requires a fashion stylist. Yes your résumé and skills wowed the hiring team, but you're still lacking one thing - character. 

Various characteristics define a fashion stylist and help them remain relevant in the industry and they also help one survive the hardships that come with the industry. Through the years I have witnessed my co-blogger, Olav Arthur Mburu who happens to be a stylist, work in various photo/video shoots and even fashion events. It hasn't always been a walk in the park and you always need a couple of traits in you to help you be the best stylist there can be. 

I have been able to observe Olav for some time and came up with the following characteristics that you need to have in you to be a good fashion stylist:
  1. Determination - This is the number one characteristic that should be in every stylist. If being a stylist means a lot to you, take your time and perfect your flaws and always work to the best of your ability. Always be determined to be the best; that way you impress everyone you work with and leave a mark wherever you pass.
  2. Good communication skills - Always be clear on what you want/need as a stylist. Talking to strangers or big people especially in a shoot could be a little bit intimidating but you will soon get used to it. Getting to know people is important and most of all, it is important that people get to know the great person you are. Good ‘people’ skills are good tools to stay professional and allows you to build relationships with people.
  3. Trend awareness - Being Trend Aware and knowing what is ‘in’ on the current season and seasons to come is essential because it keeps you on your ‘A’ Game. Know what is big this season, make it your own, pick your favourites and style it with your model/client in a way that is visually appealing especially to the client. Your client, whether it be a magazine, a designer label or a man/woman you are personally styling, get to know them, what they look for and trends they like.
  4. Good organisation - As a stylist, you will constantly be given deadlines and therefore you need to be able to manage your time well. You also need to be in one piece because nothing says professionalism louder than someone who turns up to a shoot/meeting and they are completely organised.
  5. Hard skin - There are going to be moments when you feel down, where you will find you are low on money, you may find that doors are closed in your face, you may find your work criticized or you may even have conflicts with clients. But as Olav says, "Criticism is something that builds me.. I love to be told where I can improve...you have to have hard skin! This however does not mean being a b*tch as that will not get you very far, but it means not letting one knock keep you on the floor."
  6. Energy - You could say that people in the fashion industry could possibly have the worst eating habits. Olav and I have sometimes gone for hours without eating especially at shoots because of how tedious and time engrossing they are. But we have learnt to keep little snacks on us that keep our energy levels boosted to the maximum. You need to have energy because it keeps you on top of your game. 
  7. Fashion visual sense -  This is about knowing your client. The way one would style for a television show is not the same way one would style for a runway event. It is also about having a good visual eye for the client by spotting errors and flaws in a look.
  8. Versatility - It is very important to be versatile. To be able to style in different ways, for a man, a woman, beauty, hair etc. The wider your versatility stretches, the more work you are able to get.
  9. Open mindedness - You are not in control of everything, therefore try to be as open-minded as possible. The people you get to work with may possible have different ideas on what should go where and how it should be done. Try to blend in the ideas with yours even if you don't agree with them, you could also tell them the reason why things can't be done the way they want. You will also work with people from different ages, genders, sexual preferences & races, be open and ready to treat everyone equally.
  10. Confidence - People who feel good about themselves and have high self esteem generally succeed in this industry. So try to be as confident as you can, ask questions, give instructions and avoid feeling intimidated. Also be confident about the look you have chosen or the style you want without feeling like it might fail.
Start to build up your portfolio with photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists etc. Start to build your relationships with designers and PR agencies. It all depends on what type of styling you want to do: print & media, music videos, personal styling, runway… just go for it.

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