Ah, this must be the life, right? Playing dress-up in designer duds, and rubbing elbows with celebrities and rich people. Fashion after parties, free clothes, champagne and hashtags– fashion styling is a dream job to many, if only it were that magical.
I have been interviewed tonnes of times, and have popped several bubbles. Yes, fashion is definitely glamorous and fun, but trust me when I say that all the work that goes on behind the scenes, does not glitter. I have been staying with my friend (new friends are awesome btw. Make some.) Merideth Morgan; a well established Stylist & Blogger (and model and photographer and soul sister etc) and aside from all the other million things we have in common, our jobs have really given us content for late night convos, early morning convos, and while-she-puts-on-her-makeup convos too. I came out to New York thinking I had so much to learn before I officially delve into work here, but by the looks of it, the industry is pretty similar no matter where you go. Merideth works on some super amazing projects with celebrities and brands we all know and wear daily, yet we relate so much over the challenges that come with making style. We will be sitting down today (July 16th) to answer your questions live on Instagram, but before we do, I thought I would get to some frequently asked advice about Styling and the world of Fashion behind the glossy pages.
What does a Fashion Stylist actually do?
Ah, so many things. The stylist’s job is often overlooked and thought of to be something that anyone on set can stand in to do. The truth is, stylists must be super detail oriented and have a trained eye to notice things that a photographer would miss, and they must be quick on their feet to make necessary adjustments to the model, clothing and background. That is one thing. People think styling is mostly putting looks together, and while that is of course part of the job, you might be surprised to find out what a small part of the job that is. Before the clothes get to the model, stylists need to do a lot of on-the-ground research, have a good idea about what is currently in store at every retailer, set up contracts for borrowing and returning, be running around from place to place picking up stuff and dropping it off, prepping a kit with every possible thing that would be needed on set from panty liners to chicken wire- we need to think of EVERYTHING. Our work does not end when they call it a wrap, returns and garment care can be exhausting. So much of styling is management and service. You have to know how to communicate effectively with models, so they know how to move to best show off the wardrobe, as well as the client and the photographer. You have to deal with other people’s sweat and other stuff (Many a time I have had to take chewing gum out of the model’s mouth)– you can’t be squeamish. You have to steam everything. You have to lay out everything and then pack it up. Some shoots can have up to a thousand pieces when you count up shoes, accessories, clothing and props. You have to have your eyes peeled to all this stuff too, because God forbid something breaks/goes missing/is soiled, guess who is responsible.
Do I need to go to school to be a stylist?
I guess not, but there is no way I personally could have done this without formal training. I studied Fashion design at CAFD, Styling at LCF and interned as an assistant to Stylist/Designer Babatu Sparrow before I went out on my own. Merideth went to school for photography and the to grad school at Parsons for fashion. You need to know so much about textiles, construction, proportion, colour theory, garment care, art history and a bunch of other invaluable information before you can do this work effectively. I would also recommend a job in fashion retail so you get experience with different types of client personalities and body types. Working with a photographer is also something I think that would be helpful, so you can understand how things look on camera and how it is different from lifestyle styling.
What is the one thing you cannot do without in your kit?
Double sided tape. My kit MUST have tape. (Merideth said clips.)
What does a new stylist need to know before working on their first shoot?
Wear comfortable shoes and clothes that breathe. The stylist, contrary to the name, is usually the least fashionable person on set, unless you think frizzy hair, sweat and clips stuck all over you is fashionable. Wear non-transferable makeup, or no makeup (cuz guess who has to clean that ish off the clothes if it gets on something) and pack food and water. And pain killers.
What is the best and worst thing about the job?
The best thing is that feeling you get when a client tells you how amazing they feel in their new look, or when the photographer nails that perfect shot where the model looks great, the lighting is from God and the clothes are doing exactly what you dreamed they should. This is a labour of love. It’s all about the feelings.
The worst thing is the prep and travel. Toting several pounds of clothes and shoes and a rack and a steamer and a kit all over the country, steaming and setting up and then taking it down and having to do it all over again to return… bruh.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from another stylist?
He would be surprised how powerful his words were to me, but Mikiel Benyamin in one word, gave me the push I needed to keep pursuing my mission to come to New York and work in fashion. I said to him, when talking about finding an agency to sign with, “Who’s going to want to hire me when I come from small place like Trinidad and have no experience in New York?” With conviction he replied “EVERYONE!” Being different and having a foreign perspective is actually my strength, not my weakness. (Thanks so much for that pep talk Mikiel!)
What would be your dream gig?
Best Style Tip?
I hate this question but I get it all the time! Style is personal so what I recommend to one person, I probably would not recommend to another. The one universal rule I use is to wear what makes you feel truly good about yourself.
There you have it! Stay tuned to my IG today (July 16th 2017) @StephanieRamlogan to chat live with Merideth and me about any questions you have regarding your personal style, or possibly joining us in this crazy world as fashion makers! Leave a comment with any questions you have and we shall discuss it over some wine and wifi.