When you are walking down the street, in the mall, at work, or at a family gathering – there will be that one person who makes you think to yourself, “I wish I could make them over!” If this has happened to you a few times before, you might just be a natural-born stylist. Now, you might think being a stylist is all about shopping with your friends and picking out things to wear. While, yes, it may encompass selecting certain outfits, there is much more to a stylist than a few trips to the mall. A stylist does not simply tell you what to wear or give suggestions; a stylist will assess, visualize, plan, and execute the ideal look that they perceive for you. Before you start picking out clothes off the rack, let us help you take a look at the different facets of styling career options that there are. Remember—there is much more to style than just clothing.
Aside from fashion stylists, there are hairstylists, and you have probably been to one before. If you love playing around with your own hair, as well as others, you might consider a career as a hairstylist. We are going to go some basics about becoming a fashion, or, a hair stylist. Let’s start with hair, since it’s one of the most defined parts of our appearance.
Being a hair stylist has more to it than simply cutting. Like any job or craft, there are techniques, guidelines, and forms to following when creating something ideal.
- Training or Education: Hair stylists have specific skills that they need to master before they apply their craft. Because of this, it is essential, at least within the United States, that a stylist attends a barber or cosmetology program. Make sure that you look into what your state requires, as different states adhere to different guidelines.
- Cosmetology Schools: Vocational schools or private schools are usually a good place to take the classes you need to get a certificate. For people who are working or handling a second job, these schools often offer night or weekend classes to make it their program more accessible.
Regardless of where you decide to go for school or training, you will need to make sure you have courses covering:
- Hair Shaping
- Hair Texturizing
- Hair Extensions
- Hair Coloring
- Hair Shaping
Once you have taken your required courses, you will be ready to get licensed and begin your hair styling career! Here are some of the things you will have to do in order to obtain a hairstylist license to work in the United States:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Completed an approved cosmetology program
- Take a written exam
- Take a practical exam (depending on the state)
Now you are on your way to a career as a hairstylist. As you start searching for your first job or client, keep in mind the skills that employers look for when choosing to hire a hairstylist:
- Personable: Being a hairstylist involves working with people all day and every day, and these people are your clients and your main source of work. Naturally, you are going to want to give your clients what they want; especially if you want them to come back to you. You need to have an engaging, helpful, and friendly attitude. Make sure that your customers know that this time is about them and that you are here to make them look the best that they can.
- Listening Skills: Before, during, and after you are cutting a client’s hair, you will be listening to their needs. This requires communication between both parties. You will not be able to know what they want unless they tell you and you listen attentively.
- Trendy: As with any stylist, you will need to be up-to-date on the latest trends, colors, and textures of hairstyling. You have to know how to be able to work with different varieties and types of hair throughout the day. Keep yourself on top of things by reading magazines, celebrity style books, and staying current online.
- Detail: Cutting, coloring, and styling all require immense detail; especially when you are working to meet someone else’s visual needs. Hairdressers need to know they can be held responsible in case anything goes wrong with their client’s looks. Attention to detail requires good patience and excellent listening to be able to meet your client’s needs.
We might think that we have fashion down. We know what we like, and we stick with it. The thing with fashion, however, is that it is always changing. This means that we have to change with it; or at least tinker with aspects of our style to fit current trends if we want to stay in “the know”. Turning to the internet or magazines are an option, but we need to know how to fit the latest trends into our individual style. How do we do this? With a fashion stylist, of course!
If you find yourself on top of current trends with the ability to work creatively and artistically to put together a unique and personal look, a career as a fashion stylist may be right for you. If you are thinking about heading down that runway, here are some things you need to keep in mind as you style yourself into your new career.
To become a fashion stylist, there is not a requirement to go to school. However, if you want to master the skill of fashion stylist, you are going to need to learn, or teach yourself, the very basics of the components of fashion:
- Know different types of garments and their construction.
- Fabric types.
- Fit and cuts for different shapes.
- Designs and how they can work for or against a person.
- The difference between fit and fabric in high and low-end clothing.
Being a fashion stylist has a lot to do with knowing the latest styles and trends in the industry. You can stay in the inner circle by:
- Attending fashion events. If you are having trouble getting in, offer to volunteer as backstage help or in any way that you can. You will meet people and get a feel for the overall vibe and scene.
- Stay on top of runway and marketplace trends. Have an idea of what your client base is going to look like. Clearly, if you are styling a college student or working mom, you probably will not be referencing looks from the latest Paris Fashion Week.
- Social media is a great way to communicate with other fashion stylists and get an idea of what people are looking for. Social media is a tool that you can use to your advantage by staying engaged and up-to-date with celebrities, trends, and changing looks.
Unless your mom is Anna Wintour, chances are your first job or client is not going to be easy to come by, let alone glamorous. Instead, you are probably going to have to pay your dues. Do this through:
- Volunteering with anyone and at any place you can that focuses on fashion, styling, or trends.
- Intern as much as you can. Even if it is unpaid, you will gain priceless experience and make some wonderful connections.
- Network with people already in the industry. It will probably take awhile to build relationships, but as long as you are determined and know where your strong points are, there is no reason why you will not shine.
Lastly, here are some skills and attributes that people look for in a stylist that will help get you employed in the fashion industry:
- Personal style: It is hard to be a fashion stylist or enjoy fashion without having a unique style of your own.
- Organizational Skills: Styling requires a lot of trial and error with all different types, colors, and textures of clothes are garments. You are going to be dealing with a lot of different things in large amounts. Being organized is essential in keeping track of inventory and to not let things look like a dorm room closet broke loose.
- Communication Skills: Communicating between you and your client will be vital to knowing what they want your help with. If you are working as a stylist for a video or photo shoot, you will have to communicate with a camera man or other on-set photographers to channel what they want out of a particular look as well.
- Business Skills: It is very likely that, as a fashion stylist, you will be your own boss. You will need to know how to market yourself, engage with clients, do paperwork, and work with expenses.
Ready to Rock
The road to becoming a stylist may seem a bit overwhelming, but with a little help from some of our very handy online classes and tutorials, you will be on the fast-track to helping people strut their stuff. Remember that there are many different categories and compartments to styling, and once you know that you want to style, all you need to do is figure out which works best for you.