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How to Become a Celebrity Fashion Stylist

What is a celebrity fashion stylist?

Behind all the pizzaz of red carpet glamour lies a celebrity stylist holding a lint roller, chapstick, and straightening the trains. A celebrity fashion stylist works for celebrities in all their appearances that need styling— from red carpets, editorials in magazines, to walking down the sidewalk to get Starbucks and being photographed by paparazzi.


Why are celebrity stylists so important?

Celebrity stylists hold incredible power in both fashion and entertainment industries. When stars land on the best-dressed list of editorials after a red carpet appearance, a previously unknown celebrity can rise to stardom, and even snag top fashion contracts.

It’s not unusual for a product to sell out instantly after being featured on a celebrity, from a $218 Reformation striped dress on Meghan Markle to Taylor Swift’s $2,875 Stella McCartney coat on the “Evermore” album cover. This is why celebrity stylists are the true forces behind fashion marketing, and hold tremendous selling power. The fashion items they put on celebrities can go on to dictate mainstream trends.

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A post shared by Petra Flannery (@petraflannery)

After her red carpet appearances styled by Petra Flannery, Emma Stone got a contract with Louis Vuitton valued at $16 – 20 million. Her Louis Vuitton campaign is naturally styled by Petra Flannery – the integral figure who made this lucrative brand partnership possible.


What does a celebrity fashion stylist do?

At any moment, a celebrity is promoting a brand, project, or themselves – so working with a celebrity stylist is a way to professionally design their  image. A celebrity stylist handles all the intricacies of “pulling” or borrowing clothes from top fashion shows before other stylists get them, transporting the clothes to the celebrities whether in Milan or L.A., cultivating a persona for the celebrity to step into, and even managing last minute ironing before a celebrity walks the red carpet.


How do I become a celebrity fashion stylist?

There are many steps to becoming a celebrity fashion stylist. While the career path is unique to each stylist, here are the tried and tested steps that are consistent in all of their journeys:

1. Figure out the type of stylist you want to be
2. Determine if you have the right personality for this job
3. Test and build your portfolio, look book & website
4. Land an internship with a celebrity fashion stylist
5. Define Your Core Brand
6. Hone your unique style
7. Build Your Network
8. Be prepared for all situations
9. Promote yourself
10. Get Published
11. Establish your streams of income
12. Continue to upskill and improve yourself
13. Live where the action happens

Fun Facts
How much do celebrity fashion stylists make?
Who are the top celebrity stylists now?
What is the difference between a fashion editor and a fashion stylist?



#1

Figure out the type of stylist you want to be

To start as a stylist, you need to decide what kind of stylist you want to become. Different types of stylists include: 

The different areas of styling may overlap in a stylist’s career. For example, you could start as a styling assistant for a magazine. After you have enough experience under your belt (and with the right connections), you may eventually get celebrity clients of your own.The key is to know your goal, and work hard to build your portfolio and network that can get you there. If you have your eyes set on being a celebrity stylist, working as an editorial, brand, runway, or costume stylist are all relevant experiences.


#2

Determine if you have the right personality for this job

Do you enjoy networking? Can you handle stressful situations with a lot of last-minute changes? Are you good with people of different personalities? These are all important questions to ask yourself before deciding on a career as a stylist. Being a stylist is neither always glamorous, nor as simple as looking for beautiful clothes. On one hand, stylists need to be a salesperson promoting themselves to get brand resources and celebrity clientele. On the other hand, they are also the customer success team keeping everyone happy. It requires a lot of collaborative work with styling teams, coordination to get the clothing and accessories you want, takes tremendous relationship building, and consists of long days outfitting demanding clients. It can take years of hustling just to break into the industry door. Until then, the payoff can be low. The job can be “extremely exhausting” – so weigh in advance if being a stylist is the right move for you.

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A post shared by Elizabeth Stewart 🐯🎈🈹🍸 (@elizabethstewart1)

Amanda Seyfried being styled by celebrity stylist Elizabeth Stewart for the 2021 Oscars in custom Giorgio Armani dress.


#3

Test and build your portfolio, look book & website

Test shoots – photo shoots that you do for free – are your starting point to know what it’s like to be a stylist. You can reach out to models for test shoots or message modeling agencies with new models who need photos for their portfolio to work together to better both your careers. Test shoots are primarily places of experimentation for you to practice, improve, find how you work best, and learn your favorite tools.

Your test shoots are a chance to build your portfolio, which is a collection of your best photos showing what you can do as a stylist. Your portfolio needs to show a range that prospective clients can look at and see your artistic vision as a stylist. You’ll also want to use these photos to put together a personalized website, a digital portfolio, your Instagram, and a lookbook – aka a physical version of your portfolio.

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A post shared by Law Roach (@luxurylaw)

Kerry Washington styled by top celebrity stylist Law Roach, showcased on his instagram as a sample shot of his styling skills away from the red carpet.


As you do test shoots, you’re also building up another important aspect of a stylist’s job: your team. You need to partner with hair stylists, makeup artists, manicurists, and photographers for your work, so it is paramount to build good relationships with them, and find out who you work best with. This will enable you to swiftly assemble a team together when work opportunities arise. Good relationships will also help you advance your career more quickly in an industry that places a lot of weight on word-of-mouth and referrals.



#4

Land an internship with a celebrity fashion stylist

You’ve got photoshoots and a shiny portfolio that shows you know what to do. Up next is the real world. Apprenticing to an established celebrity fashion stylist is one of the best ways to learn the ins and outs of a tricky career that aren’t shown the public. From needing to get credit card info to cover pulled dresses, to communicating and building relationships with fashion PR, many intricacies of celebrity styling are best learned on the job. 

Find a celebrity fashion stylist who you admire and whose storytelling for dressing aligns with the kind of work you eventually want to create. Don’t be shy to reach out and promote yourself through instagram DMs. Just like a brand reaching out to a celebrity stylist, be direct, concise, and make it easy for them to see the value of what you’ll add as an assistant. Busy eyes like short inquiries. Assistant jobs are also occasionally published online and can be found by looking up a stylist’s or stylist studio’s website. It doesn’t hurt to ask for internship opportunities.

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A post shared by Law Roach (@luxurylaw)

“Stylist of the Year of 2021” Law Roach poses for the Hollywood Reporter after having made a brand for himself, including TV appearances and top celebrity clients like Zendaya and Anya Taylor-Joy.


#5

Define Your Core Brand

Too many fish in the sea. How do you stand out as a stylist and make a name for yourself? That all starts with what the best stylists know: establishing your brand. 

A brand doesn’t mean having a perfect logo or your personal clothing line. It means telling a unified story about your styling approach. As a first step, narrow down to a one-sentence statement about who you are and what you want to achieve. If you style clients without a core brand, your portfolio will look confusing and incoherent to new clients. A stylist’s brand needs to be strong enough to be recognizable across different clients while keeping each stars’ distinct look.

The original celebrity stylist who made celebrity styling into a brand, Rachel Zoe, succeeded because she had a consistent brand story. As Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey says of Rachel Zoe and her successful brand story, “You can immediately identify a Rachel Zoe look – retro, glamorous, bohemian – but she still makes her clients look like individuals.” 

If you don’t know what your brand is yet, start with what you enjoy styling or fashion styles you like most, and use that as a launchpad. Eventually, with the right combination of clientele and experience, your brand vision will click into place.

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A post shared by Mimi Cuttrell (@mimicuttrell)

Mimi Cuttrel’s soft, femenine brand as a celebrity stylists works well with different clients, from Ariana Grande to Normani to upcoming music star Ava Max. Even across different stars, her styling is distinct enough to attract new clients.


#6

Hone your unique style

Don’t assume your branding will stay the same. As you evolve, so will your brand. Every photoshoot is a chance to play, experiment, and refine your brand. Keep up with new industry developments and fashion trends to stay relevant. Take Law Roach’s styling of Celine Dion. The singing queen wearing Vetements created a media frenzy – Celine Dion in a sweatshirt? – that was the perfect statement for a new era of Celine’s fashion and also an immaculate representation of the then starting stylist’s brand.

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A post shared by Mimi Cuttrell (@mimicuttrell)

Celine Dion wearing Vetements styled by Law Roach in the shots that made the up-and-coming brand and stylist famous with an entirely new style for the Canadian music queen.


#7

Build Your Network

It is all about who you know and are on good terms with. May it be getting new clients, putting together the right team of experts for a project, or pulling clothes from brands, you need to have a strong industry network to be successful.

Your personality and work ethics come into play as well. Since word-of-mouth is the hiring currency in the fashion industry, treat every connection with respect and kindness, maintain those relationships, and always put in your best effort.

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A post shared by Micaela Erlanger (@micaela)

Celebrity styling is a team effort – make sure you treat your fellow industry peers with respect and appreciation.


#8

Be prepared for all situations

Many successful stylists have a turning point in their career where a famous magazine or a brand PR calls them at the last minute for a job. A break is only a break if you’re prepared skills wise and have the right attitude to truly make the most of the moment.

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A post shared by Personal style coach (@basia.richard)

Opportunity comes to those who are prepared! Take it from celebrity fashion stylist turned personal style coach and entrepreneur Basia Richard, who emphasized that being a stylist requires a lot of hard work!


#9

Promote yourself

Now more than ever, social media marketing can take stylists to incredible places. Starting a personal blog or Youtube series, like fashion stylist Erica Matthews, is a way to further market yourself to a wider audience and build your reputation as an accomplished stylist. Use the internet to your full advantage with Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and your personal website. The more social media following you have, the more opportunities and resources you can attract for yourself.

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A post shared by Maeve Reilly (@stylememaeve)

A great way to flex your connections and gain followers is to share exclusive behind-the-scene photos with celebrity clients.Fashion stylist Maeve Reilly looking like a celebrity herself with current client Hailey Bieber.


#10

Get Published

Working with a magazine can be the fastest way to build credibility. Celebrities will only work with people they trust, and the backing of a reputable magazine can get you access to celebrity clientele and strengthen your portfolio. The relationships you build in these important partnerships can launch your career to the next level. 

Being featured in a magazine gives you major publicity, so add them to your portfolio and social media right away! You’ll also get to work with renowned photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, manicurists, fashion PR teams, and editors who could potentially introduce you to  new gigs if they like your work and enjoy working with you.

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A post shared by i-D (@i_d)

Working with editorial photoshoots help stylists gain valuable work experience, build industry network and credibility.


#11

Establish your streams of income

Styling is not a steady paycheck unless you have clients lined out the door. Even then, payment is dependent on gigs, which are seasonal. As celebrity stylist Erica Matthews says, “Creativity will only get you so far when you’re not getting a check.” From branding, personal styling, editorial styling, commercial styling, to working freelance, styling checks are not regular, so you’ll need to set up different income streams to support yourself.

Thankfully, there are many opportunities available now that were previously not accessible to celebrity stylists. Instagram and social media are great platforms to grow your influence and monetize it. You can get personal styling jobs, brand sponsorships, and other work to fill the downtime.

Even for established stylists, “fashion collaborations, instagram sponsorships, brand relationships are incredibly important in order to earn a living,” according to top celebrity stylist Elizabeth Stewart. So build your audience and brand early for greater leverage later in your career

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A post shared by Jen Rade (@stylistjenrade)

Celebrity fashion stylist Jen Rade partnering with Glamhive to advertise their personal styling services.


#12

Continue to upskill and improve yourself

You’re only as relevant as your last client in an industry that changes every season. Continuous improvement is key. You can read fashion magazines, follow social media, and even get additional qualifications. While there’s no requirement for a fashion degree to work as a stylist, many colleges and universities offer courses that can add to your knowledge. Learning about the history of fashion and new industry developments can help you better understand brand developments and trends. After all, fashion trends repeat themselves every 20 to 30 years. So anticipating those trend comebacks, and knowing how to update them, will give you an edge when styling celebrity clients. 

Last but not least, remember to keep your digital portfolio and IG feed up-to-date to show your followers that you aren’t lost in last season’s trends!

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A post shared by Megan Thee Stallion (@theestallion)

Meghan thee Stallion styled by Eric Archibald for the Grammys shows a stylistic reference to Marilyn Monroe’s famous Gentleman Prefer Blondes dress. The reference is a subtle way for Meghan and King to establish her spot in fashion history.


#13

Live where the action happens

Working with a magazine can be the fastest way to build credibility. Celebrities will only work with people they trust, and the backing of a reputable magazine can get you access to celebrity clientele and strengthen your portfolio. The relationships you build in these important partnerships can launch your career to the next level. 

Being featured in a magazine gives you major publicity, so add them to your portfolio and social media right away! You’ll also get to work with renowned photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, manicurists, fashion PR teams, and editors who could potentially introduce you to new gigs if they like your work and enjoy working with you.

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A post shared by molly dickson (@mollyddickson)

Many celebrity stylists are based in Los Angeles and New York, like bi-coastal stylist Molly Dickson.


Fun Facts


How much do celebrity fashion stylists make?

Top celebrity stylists like Rachel Zoe who literally made the field can make up to $4,000 to $6,000 a day, including the cost of assistants. However, most stylists are paid $1,000 per look, which can factor very low for covering overhead costs without brand partnerships or other sponsorships. A stylist needs to be brand-savvy and have multiple income sources in a field that is saturated with many incoming stylists. 

For beginning stylists, working in the $100 per day pay range is average. This can gradually increase to $500 per look. The more exposure and more high profile clientele you have, the more you can charge.


Who are the top celebrity stylists now?

It’s a different game today than the heyday of Rachel Zoe’s 2000s reign. Law Roach has been named the most powerful celebrity stylist of 2021 by Hollywood Reporter with A-list clients like Zendaya and Anya Taylor-Joy. Other influential stylists worth following on Instagram right now include Elizabeth Stewart, Kate Young, Sandra Amador and Tom Erebout.

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A post shared by Elizabeth Stewart 🐯🎈🈹🍸 (@elizabethstewart1)

In addition to Law Roach, celebrity fashion stylist Elizabeth Stewart also fronted the cover of The Hollywood Reporter Stylists issue with current client Viola Davis.


What is the difference between a fashion editor and a fashion stylist?

Think of the difference between distilling water into a purified drink and taking a glass of the purified water to sip. Fashion editors take the world of fashion, survey it, and then put out the trends of what’s happening, making the large field of fashion into accessible knowledge and trends. Fashion stylists take those trends and make a complete look to showcase a client and their own trends. Each has their own important role in the fashion ecosystem, separate but intertwined. 

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A post shared by Making it in Manhattan (@makingitinmanhattan)

An editorial fashion shoot is styled by trends picked up by fashion editors. Fashion stylists then translate these trends to their celebrity and real-world clients. Know the difference between fashion roles to network within your industry.