Rifling through clothes, matching shoes with accessories and hanging out with children sounds more like a day at the mall than a career, but that's what child wardrobe stylists do. Also called fashion stylists, they create "looks" either for private clients who have a thing for dressing their children perfectly or behind the scenes at photo shoots, TV commercials and movie productions. As fun as it sounds, it can also be quite hard work with long hours and a crazy schedule that changes from day to day. But if you're passionate about children's fashion, the hard work will be worth it for the rewards you'll enjoy.
Go to School (or Not)
You don't need to go to school to become a successful fashion stylist. Famous stylist Rachel Zoe, renowned for her work with celebrities such as Anne Hathaway and Nicole Richie, never had formal training; in fact, she studied psychology and sociology before embarking on her fashion career. That said, going to school certainly isn't the wrong way to start. Many schools offer courses in fashion styling that will teach you about clothing, style, accessorizing and creating visually striking sets for photo shoots. School can also encourage you to explore your own creativity and discover what your own sense of style is.
Get Your Toes Wet
Whether you forgo school or not, working with an experienced professional is an effective way to get your foot in the door. Search out stylists in your area of interest. Thumb through children's magazines to find the names of the stylists who worked on the photo stories within it. Contact local stylists, become a member of a professional group and get in touch with children's clothing retailers. You may have to begin by interning or simply shadowing a stylist, studying what she does and soaking up all the knowledge you can. You may be able to step straight into paid assisting. The hands-on experience you'll gain as an assistant will be invaluable to your career.
Building a solid reputation is essential to making it in fashion. Not only do you want clients to hire you, but also you want retailers and designers to love you so much they eagerly let you use their clothing in your work. While you're learning the craft itself, get yourself known as hard-working, reliable and unflappable. If you're shy, break out of that shell. People skills are going to be the foundation of your success. The stronger the relationships you build with clients, retailers, public relations staff and other stylists, the more work you'll get.
In fashion, no two days are alike. Working a regular 9-to-5 schedule is a rarity. One day you may be working sun-up to sun-down on a photo spread and the next have no assignment at all. Maybe for weeks. If this is what you truly want, you've got to be flexible and roll with the punches. Growing a thick skin isn't a bad idea, either, because your work will inevitably come under the gun from time to time. If you work in a highly public niche such as magazines, for example, you're going to face the day when a critic hates your sense of style. Remember, though, that style is highly subjective. Keep your chin up and keep moving forward.
- Cal State LA: College of Extended Studies and International Programs: Fashion Styling Program
- Mama's a Rolling Stone Magazine: Become a Fashion Stylist, Pt. 1
- YouTube: How to Become a Professional Stylist
- Cosmopolitan: Careers Advice by Karl Willett: How to Become a Celebrity Fashion Stylist
- Elite Daily: Powerful Women: Rachel Zoe
- Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images