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How to Become a Stylist: Insider Tips and Tactics

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Do you dream of dressing celebrities and models? Are you the one who’s always giving fashion tips to your friends and family?

Then, why not learn how to become a stylist for real?

The good news is that you don’t need a bunch of degrees and diplomas to become a fashion stylist. All you need is a keen eye for the latest trends, effective communication skills, and a willingness to learn.

In this post, we analyze the fascinating world of fashion to give you some insider tips that can help you break into the industry.

An Overview of a Stylist: A Primer

Fashion stylists are image consultants for celebrities, models, and other in-demand clients. They choose the celebrity’s wardrobe and advise them on clothing items, shoes, and accessories to wear to various events.

Their job description includes dressing, styling, and fitting private and public figures for various events. These can include everything from private dinner parties and advertising campaigns to music videos and film productions.

They choose outfits that complement a celebrity’s image, personality, hair, and makeup to grab the attention of news publications and, of course, their fans.

As such, part of their job is to work closely with fashion designers, freelance hair stylists, and makeup artists to make sure that the celebrity’s outfit matches all the other elements for an elegant, cohesive look.

How Much Do Stylists Make?

Recent surveys show that fashion stylists make about $18 per hour on average. This makes their annual income fall between $52,000 and $60,500.

Yet, becoming a personal stylist online or in person depends on several significant factors, such as:

  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Years of experience
  • Additional skills

What You’ll Need to Become a Stylist (& Associated Costs)

To get your start as a stylist, you need certain skills and preferably a degree of some sort. You’ll also need a few tools of the trade so that clients get a sense of who you are and what you can offer.

A fashion stylist choosing a fashionable dress for her client in the showroom

Here’s a rough estimate of what you need to become a stylist and how much it’ll cost you.

  • Education costs: The average tuition of colleges offering a bachelor’s degree program in fashion ranges between $10,000 and $35,000, depending on which state you’re in and whether you take the program online. Additional certifications cost much less, averaging between $500–$3,000.
  • Startup costs: Estimated startup costs can run from as little as $500 to as much as $40,000. This includes getting the necessary permits and licenses, opening a business bank account, applying for business insurance, and registering for taxes.
  • Marketing: Getting people familiar with your name is your biggest job as a stylist, which is why you should never skimp out on marketing services. Expect to pay around $500–$2,000, depending on how specialized you want your marketing to be.
  • Products: All you need to get started as a stylist is a smartphone and a laptop. You also need a portfolio, which can be digital or physical. Depending on the price of the photographer, models, clothes, and makeup, this can cost you anywhere between $500 and $2,000.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Stylist?

We’ve outlined what it takes to become a stylist. Now, let’s add up the costs to get a general idea of how much you’ll need to get started.

Gathering from the information above, a rough estimate of how much it would cost to become a style falls in the range of $12,000 and $82,000.

Is It Hard to Become a Stylist?

Do you enjoy dressing up others and giving them styling advice? Are you constantly staying up-to-date with the latest trends and love putting together different looks?

Then becoming a stylist won’t be hard.

The difficult part, however, is selling it as a service because this is one of those highly collaborative jobs impossible to do on your own.

To make it as a stylist, you need a team of freelance makeup artists, traveling hair stylists, photographers, and clients.

Another tricky aspect of the job is marketing and advertising yourself as a winning fashion stylist.

Once you’ve landed some clients, the responsibilities of the job can be demanding. It requires constant research, inspiration, and creativity.

While that can be glamorous at times, it’s also high-maintenance with an impressive list of tasks and duties.

Some of these responsibilities include:

  • Always follow current fashion trends by attending various brand showrooms, fashion industry events, and runway shows
  • Meet with clients to understand the project
  • Prepare a brief with initial costs according to the client’s budget
  • Source clothes, products, and props from a wide range of brands
  • Create images and concepts to capture the client’s personal visual aesthetic and meet their approval
  • Consult with team members involved in the photo shoot or event like brand creative directors, costume designers, makeup artists, hair stylists, photographers, models, art directors, magazine editors, and more.
  • Prepare items ahead of time for the photo shoot or event
  • Build and maintain a positive relationship with clients, suppliers, and vendors

How Long Does It Take to Become a Stylist?

It takes about four years to complete a bachelor’s degree program in fashion, which is the minimum requirement for working as a stylist.

Then, you can take a few more certifications and diplomas, which will take you 1-2 years to complete.

After that, you’ll need around three years of practical experience to become a professional fashion stylist.

A male fashion stylist working in his studio

How to Become a Stylist in 5 Simple Steps

Here’s how you can become a fashion stylist in five easy steps.

Step 1: Obtain a Fashion Degree or an Equivalent Qualification

While fashion styling requires multiple learned skills, you don’t need any real formal qualification to become one.

That said, a bachelor’s degree program in fashion and completing a course or two will certainly help get you in the right doors and meet the right people.

Having an edge in a market as competitive as the fashion industry can help you gain a clearer understanding of the history of fashion and art.

You’ll also learn about hair and skin care, which is also a big part of being a fashion stylist. It can also help you learn about the various stylist positions available, such as:

  • Personal styling
  • Editorial styling
  • Celebrity styling
  • Wardrobe/show styling
  • Commercial styling
  • Personal shopping

Step 2: Put Together a Lookbook

Early on, you need to put together a lookbook or portfolio that showcases your work as an up-and-coming stylist.

It’s the best way for potential clients, employers, and companies like Glamsquad to see for themselves what you’ve got to offer as a stylist.

A good portfolio makes it easier to build a more high-profile client base and a more extensive professional network.

Step 3: Apply to an Internship Program

Internships are a sure way to develop your professional network, build your resume, and jumpstart your career.

Remember that the fashion industry mainly works based on recommendations. So, during your education, make sure to establish ties with your teachers and ask them to help you find suitable internship programs.

Once you settle on one, take the time to research various looks and styles to stay on top of current and upcoming trends.

After a while, you’ll find it easy to anticipate your client’s needs for future photoshoots and other events while working under the guidance of a mentor.

Step 4: Build Your Professional Network

Use your time as an intern or assistant to begin building a network base. Connecting with fellow stylists and other professionals in the industry is guaranteed to earn a loyal clientele.

The fashion industry relies heavily on word-of-mouth.

Making a good impression with your fashion sense and strong communication skills will help you create a name for yourself. As your reputation as a fashion stylist grows, so will your network.

Step 5: Apply to an Entry-Level Position

Seek out career sites and job boards for entry-level fashion stylist positions. These job opportunities will allow you to work under the supervision of a skilled professional.

You’ll learn about the basic aspects of the job, from finding and styling outfits to researching current fashion trends, and work your way up.

You can also consider freelance projects styling low-profile clients. It’s a great way to get some hands-on experience while waiting for a full-time opportunity to come in.

Freelancing can also connect you with more people in the industry and further expand your professional network.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Stylist

A young smiling blonde sitting on a chair watching her stylist cutting her hair

Stylists play a huge role in how successful a photo shoot, campaign ad, or fashion show turns out. There are plenty of niche jobs with a stylist’s skill set in mind.

If you’re still on the fence, check out some of the top reasons why you should consider becoming a stylist:

  • Find an outlet for your creativity: By putting together different styles and looks, you can channel your sense of expression and find inspiration.
  • Meet new people: You get to socialize with fellow stylists, artists, photographers, and clients, and maybe even meet a celebrity or two.
  • Work in non-permanent settings: This is a big advantage for people who can’t handle working a steady 9-to-5 job in a traditional office setting.
  • Keep up with the latest clothing trends: Because you have to always stay updated on the latest colors and textures, this job feeds directly into your passion for fashion and aesthetics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Career Is a Stylist?

Stylists are professional image consultants in the fashion industry. They can work in retail or commercial jobs.

Some even take on high-fashion roles, and maybe even consult with private clients looking to employ a fashion stylist to create a look that fits their personalities and image.

Can I Make a Career of Being a Stylist?

Yes, you can as long as you have the skills needed. If you have good communication skills, are confident in your sense of style, and love fashion, then working as a stylist may be an ideal career path.

Yet, keep in mind that it can also be demanding, so you have to be willing to put up with working long hours.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

  • How to Become a Barber: Barbers can make good money depending on where they set up their shop. To start, you need to attend Barber School for two years, take the state board exam to earn your license, then start your hands-on training.
  • How to Become a Massage Therapist: There are different diplomas for different areas of massage therapy, including sports and complimentary. So, first find out which area, if any, you want to specialize in.
  • How to Become an Esthetician: Estheticians are known by many names, including skin care therapists, facial specialists, and spa technicians. Most states require between 150 and 1200 hours at an accredited training program to qualify for a license and apply for the State Board exam. 

Wrapping Up

Learning how to become a stylist can set you up on a rewarding career path. All you need is a passion for clothes, a keen eye for style, and a deep knowledge of how colors work together.

Then, slowly but surely, you can build a network of talented professionals. With their help, you can kickstart your career and become the next big thing in the fashion industry.

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