Fashion stylists work with photographers to create the desired look in a wide range of commercial and editorial applications. Fashion styling is a career path that allows students to combine fashion knowledge with organizational skills. Stylists may select clothes, dress models on set, as well as a range of other activities related to the planning, organization, and production of a photographed or videoed fashion piece.
Final products range from catalogs, to websites, to editorial fashion magazine stories. Even if students are not interested in a fashion styling career, it is a helpful skill set to use in documenting their work. Students can use photographs from a fashion styling course in portfolios and personal marketing materials.
I’d like to share some of the resources I’ve found with you.
These two books give an overview of the basic career of fashion styling. Both cover a wide range of types of styling; however, none are recent enough to cover styling for web.
- 1. Mastering Fashion Styling, J. Dingemanns (1999)
- 2. Photo Styling: How to Build Your Career and Succeed, S. L. Cox (2006)
Career Diary of a Fashion Stylist: Gardner’s Guide Series, by K. Maxwell (2007) is a good secondary resource. The author is a practicing stylist. The book chronicles her day-to-day activities. Applicable pages can be assigned as reading by topic.
Aspiring student stylists will also need a book with pointers on best selections for various body types. There are MANY such books in the marketplace. Try The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look,by K. Farr (2004). Any text that accomplishes the same purpose will work.
If you would like to study experienced fashion styling “stars” see: Stylemakers: Inside Fashion, by M. Sherrill and C. A. Karmel (2001), Chapter: The Stylists, pgs. 92 – 109. Many more stylists careers are described through articles and websites.
Suggested Course Topics
Here are some of the major fashion styling topics . More or fewer may be covered depending on the interests of your students and length of the course.
- 1. Introduction: What Is A Stylist? What Do Stylists Do? Who Do Stylists Work With?
- 2. Styling Basics
- 3. Celebrity / Personal Styling / Makeovers:
- Suggested Guest Speaker: a local image consultant
- Student Activity:Work in pairs to take each other on a shopping trip to style each other for an imaginary event. It is good practice in interviewing a client and clearly understanding their wants and needs.
- 4. Commercial & Advertising Styling
- 5. Stock Photo & Lifestyle Styling
- 6. Catalog Styling –On Figure, Off-Figure, & Product:
- Suggested Guest Speaker: a photo shoot coordinator for a retailer that has web and catalog components. The pace and photographic quality required for the two differ.
- 7. Editorial Styling
- 8. Testing & The Photo Shoot
- 9. Business For Photo Stylists:
- Suggested Guest Speaker: a stylist’s representative from a local agency. She or he can give a realistic picture of a styling career.
Here are some additional ideas for course assignments and activities:
1. Photo shoots. If there is a photography major at the school, students from both departments can work together on assignments. Even if there is not, students should still take photographs of their styling work.
- a. Practice assignments can be easily done in the classroom. Students can create an assigned look (flower child, biker chic, etc.) in pairs from garments and accessories brought to class.
- b. Another in class assignment can be for students to practice flat styling or wall styling of garments.
- c. On a grander scale, students can work in teams to plan and produce an editorial fashion spread. This task can include planning the story, obtaining location, garments, models, and accessories, and actively styling during the shoot. This is good practice in working cooperatively with a fashion photographer.
2. Analyze an editorial fashion story. Who were all the professionals involved? How many garments, accessories, props, etc. were used in the photo shoot? Where did they all come from? It can be eye opening to realize how much coordination is required for one fashion story.
Fashion styling skills are a benefit to any fashion student, whether for self promotion or a career path. I hope these resources are helpful to you and your students. Worn Through’s own Monica Sklar did styling for years and is friends with many stylists who are very accomplished on both coasts. Contact her for even more resources.