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Become a Fashion Stylist: What you Need to Know!


Do you dream about becoming a fashion stylist? Confused about where to start? We spoke to Wendy Elsmore, celeb stylist and founder of the London College of Style about what it takes to break into the glamorous world of styling.

"We started The London College of Style in 2010 as there was a lack of top quality education in the styling industry. Offering a blend of taught subjects plus direct access to industry professionals and job opportunities, the college was designed to give students a kick-start to new careers."

"Since then, the college has quickly become a source of some impressive UK styling talent, with students having worked with the likes of Adidas, Vidal Sassoon, London Fashion Week, and Arcadia. It's also recently gained accreditation by the British Accreditation Council, which sets the standards within the independent education sector."

 Top 5 tips for success

Many people with a flair for fashion think they could make it as a stylist but often don’t realise what goes into creating a successful career. It’s not just about having a strong sense of style and a love of fashion.

There are so many different jobs for stylists, from editorial shoots for magazines to TV, film and celebrity styling, from catwalk shows to retailers and brands.

Trying to break into any of these areas can be hard and here are Wendy’s tips for getting a foot in the door…

1. Have the right attitude – First, you need the right attitude and drive to become skilful at what you do – it takes determination, focus and patience to build a reputation in the styling industry. Approach everything you do with passion and stand out from the competition by going just that little bit further. Be a team player – there’s no room for divas.

2. Apply for work experience/internships Experience goes a long way and stylists need to build a working portfolio. Many brands and media offer work experience or internships to aspiring stylists, so keep an eye on the press for opportunities and make it known you’re looking to gain experience.

3. Don’t underestimate the knowledge you’ll need – Immerse yourself in current trends but also look back over the decades and learn about the history of fashion so you can set today’s looks in context and have the knowledge from which to draw inspiration.

4. Networking – The styling industry thrives on building the right contacts book. Network at any given opportunity and don’t be afraid to be the first to make the moves. Contact key retailers and fashion/art colleges and ask if you can be added to their list for press days and end-of-term show invites. Develop a resilient skin and introduce yourself at these events to anyone who seems friendly. You never know who you might meet so hand out business cards and ask for them in return.

Create contacts with established and emerging fashion photographers, make-up artists and hairdressers with a view to working together even in a ‘test’ environment, where you all come together to create images for your portfolio.

A first and second meeting may be free, but you never know where it might lead. Communicate with your contacts on an ongoing basis and never take no to mean 'no’' take it as 'just not right now'. Leave it a while and re-contact. Keep your happy, smiley face with every contact you make. Friendly determination will pay dividends in the end if you’re a winner at what you do.

5. Don’t just go for the glamour keep open minded as to what type of work you want to do. Often it’s the less glamorous jobs that help pay the bills and lead to meeting great new contacts, which open up further opportunities and more exciting projects.


Becoming a Personal Stylist – what you need to know

"One area of styling which is growing in popularity as a career choice is Personal Styling. Women who want to be their own boss see it as a flexible career option and can fit work in around other commitments like perhaps starting a family. On the flipside is the rising demand from busy men and women who need help in looking great and don’t have time to trawl the shops. It’s not just the celebs and red carpet stars that use personal stylists."

Wendy gives the low-down on some of the ‘tricks of the trade’ a successful Personal Stylist has to master:

 Wardrobe management

Great Personal Stylists wave their styling wands and create wardrobes to die for that are superbly organised. They clearly show their clients’ clothes in glorious outfit options and flattering combos that work a like dream every time.

 Understanding clients

Personal Stylists are often part therapist/part friend so you need to be a people person and adaptable with how you communicate and work with clients. You need to get under the skin of their different personalities and understand how to make someone look fabulous in a way they’re also comfortable with.

 Getting your business up and running

Business skills are often under-estimated by stylists on the road to success. Successful stylists need a website, price structure, business cards, as well as understanding budgets, cash-flow and knowing the legal considerations when setting up a business.

A great marketing strategy is essential to the success of even the smallest of businesses. People need to know about you and how good you are if you want them to buy into your services.

 Building a client base

When starting off, approach your local paper with ideas for a weekly/monthly personal styling column (perhaps for free initially) that will reach out to all people, promote local retailers and give you the opportunity to talk about your business. Print exciting flyers that look enticing and offer a 10% discount to all new clients. Approach local gyms and boutiques and ask them if you can leave your leaflet for client interest.

Make contact with local slimming groups and ask if you can appear as a guest speaker, chatting to men and women about how to create great personal style as you lose weight. Ask all attendees to complete a feedback form with their details. Create special offers for the class to sign-up to and follow-up all leads promptly. Be prepared to give away a few golden tips to gain interest wherever you go.

Most importantly, don’t wait for people to find you, sing from the rooftops about your exciting business and how good you are. And always follow through on everything you promise to do. Business will not just automatically fall in your lap, you need to create it.


For more information on all the different courses offered by The London College of Style check out or call 0844 879 7435.

Before starting the London College of Style, Wendy’s varied career in styling saw her become the fashion expert for ITV’s This Morning and GMTV, head-up costume and styling for L’Oreal and Trevor Sorbie, work with celebrity clients such as Catherine Zeta Jones and Kevin Spacey and style numerous editorials for top fashion magazines.

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