ed serif;”>Orla Barrett

When you hear of ‘Stylists’ your mind conjures up images of putting together fabulous outfits; a fashion-filled lifestyle, sitting front row at Fashion Week and getting sent free stuff. Not quite the reality, as I discovered working as Fashion Assistant at Stellar magazine. Yes, there are great clothes, fashion shows and a very limited amount of free stuff but the job involves a serious amount of hard graft. Constant creativity, energy, patience, compassion, up-to-date knowledge of fashion and contacts are just a few things a Stylist needs in their arsenal to be successful.


There are three main categories of Stylists: editorial who work for magazines, TV and advertising, brand consultants who work for fashion houses and PR companies and literally “pull it all together” and personal Stylists who can be employed by an individual looking for guidance in the wardrobe department. Editorial styling is arguably the job most aspiring Stylists aim for. The Stylist will normally be the person who comes up with the concept (unless the publication has its own Art Director, which is rare in Ireland) and will pitch it to their Editor. From there, if the Editor is happy the Stylist will work closely with the Photographer choosing a location and booking the model.


Of course the clothes are the fun part. Established Stylists borrow clothing from designers and high-street retailers. This is where good manners and courtesy play a big part, Stylists rely heavily on PRs to loan them the latest clothes, shoes and accessories and in turn the brand will receive credits in the editorial. Care of clothing is imperative, particularly where expensive pieces are concerned. All Stylists work differently, some will pack huge cases full of clothes “just in case”, others will only bring a set number of looks with them. Somebody breaking into styling will usually start by using pieces from their own and their friends’ wardrobes. 


The biggest challenge a Stylist faces is inspiration. Blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, reading magazines and following the designers’ latest collections all play a part. In Stellar we had our concept before we went to pull clothes in the shops for editorials, we always chose a style that was on-trend to ensure we could find a broad selection of looks to suit the readers vast demographics, after all it’s the reader’s opinion that matters most.


For anybody considering Styling as a career choice, the most important thing is getting your name out there. Use Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook to interact with photographers and un-signed models and work together to build up your portfolios. Educate yourself in as much fashion knowledge as possible: trends, designers, sizing etc. Experience is key so volunteer to help out at events such as the UCD Fashion Show and offer to assist well-known Stylists on shoots and look out for internships in fashion magazines. The main thing is that you love fashion. As Philosopher Confucius said, “work a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”.