How To Become a Fashion Consultant in 5 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The fashion and clothing design industries are constantly changing with new trends, styles and aesthetics. Fashion consultants are the professionals responsible for helping clients develop and adapt personal and professional styles. If you have passion for clothing design and want to pursue a career where you can apply your creativity, fashion consulting can be an excellent career path to consider. In this article, we explore what fashion consultants do, how to become a fashion consultant and what you need to know about your salary potential and what you need to succeed in the role.

What is a fashion consultant?

A fashion consultant or image consultant is a professional stylist who helps clients improve or develop a personal or professional image with fashion and clothing styles. Fashion consultants are style experts who assist clients in choosing clothing and accessories for various occasions and events. These professionals work with a variety of clients in business, entertainment and other industries.

What does a fashion consultant do?

Fashion consultants serve as professional stylists for clients who want to enhance or develop an individual, unique style. Consultants in fashion collaborate with clients to get an idea of the types of clothing items that fit with clients' ideal images. Many fashion consultants work with celebrities, influencers and entrepreneurs to help create a timeless style that sets the right tone and message about the individual. Fashion consultants work with many diverse clients throughout their careers, and some of the responsibilities of the job include:

  • Providing fashion advice and recommending single pieces, outfits, styles, patterns, colors and fabrics

  • Collaborating with clients to understand their needs and tailoring styles and aesthetics to each individual's preferences

  • Recommending clothing items and assisting customers with their purchases in retail settings to support sales goals

  • Ensuring customer satisfaction by providing support and helping clients solve challenges in assembling professional or personal attire

  • Staying updated on industry products, new clothing arrivals and seasonal trends to better help clients choose outfits and individual items to develop their personal or professional style

  • Networking with fashion experts and building relationships with clientele to increase business

  • Organizing and scheduling appointments with clients, making phone calls and reaching out to business leads online

Related: 15 Careers in the Fashion Industry

How to become a fashion consultant

While it's not a requirement for fashion consultants to have college degrees, many employers, business prospects and potential clients may prefer to see these credentials as evidence of your expertise and skills. The following steps provide some insight into how to become a fashion consultant and develop in your career:

1. Consider a degree program

You can enter your career as a fashion consultant without a degree, however, many employers prefer consultants to hold at least an associate's degree in fashion design, fashion merchandising, art and textile design or other fashion-related field. Many fashion professionals may complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or technical college, where coursework can focus on fashion design, brand development, garment and retail merchandising, textile research, fabric production and color theory.

2. Obtain professional certification

While it's not a requirement, a professional certification can help you demonstrate your expertise and qualifications and advance in the fashion industry. The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) offers three levels of certification for consultants who choose to advance in their career. The Certified Image Consultant (CIC) credential demonstrates your knowledge and credibility in the industry.

The next level of certification the AICI offers is the Certified Image Professional (CIP) credential that focuses on networking and building a professional consulting business. The highest level of certification that the AICI offers professional consultants is the Certified Image Master (CIM) credential, which signifies your depth of knowledge in the industry and shows your continuing education and development in fashion and style concepts.

3. Complete an internship

As you complete your training or educational program, consider building your work experience through an internship. Many fashion students take part in internship programs in retail and design, where employers help interns develop their skills for success in their fashion consulting careers. Participating in an internship can also help you meet other industry professionals and create relationships that can help you support your career growth.

4. Gain experience in retail

Consider job opportunities in retail merchandising to build your background in processing materials, creating seasonal displays and working with diverse customers. This type of work experience can help you develop your customer service and communication skills, and developing your ability to sell merchandise and meet sales goals can boost your employment potential and business sense.

5. Build your professional network

As you gain work experience, connect with experts in the fashion industry and learn from experienced professionals. Ask questions that help you improve your attention to detail, ability to relate to customers and better fulfill clients' needs with your fashion advise and suggestions. Building your professional network can also be an advantage for meeting potential business clients and finding job opportunities.

Related: How To Become a Fashion Designer

Salary and job outlook

According to Indeed's salary data, consultants across all industries can expect to earn an average income of about $73,106 per year, while fashion designers can enjoy an average income of $50,334 per year. Design consultants average about $65,904 per year, which means fashion consultants can enjoy a substantial salary. Your average income can vary, though, depending on your experience, your location and the clients you work with.

Fashion consultants may expect job prospects to remain the same between 2019 and 2029, with fashion designers showing a 4% decline in the career outlook, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Related career fields such as interior design, fabric and apparel and craft and fine art professions may experience little to no change in job outlook.

Related: 15 Highest Paying Fashion Jobs

Skills to help you succeed as a fashion consultant

Consider developing the following skill sets to increase your success and advance in your career:

Customer service skills

Fashion consultants work with many diverse clients and must have strong customer service skills. This means you need to develop your ability to build rapport and trust with your clients to better help them decide on and adapt their personal or professional style. Additionally, it's important to develop your ability to identify and meet customer needs and help clients solve challenges.

Technical skills

The fashion industry is constantly changing and may require you to have proficiency with computer and mobile devices to keep track of client information, appointments, industry updates and business data. Technology skills are also beneficial for marketing your consulting services, connecting with fashion experts and building your client network.

Sales techniques

Fashion consultants rely on their knowledge of sales techniques to assist customers in choosing outfits, clothing pieces and other fashion accessories and closing sales. Sales techniques and the ability to lead clients to make purchases is essential in retail settings. Even in private consulting businesses, fashion consultants apply sales techniques to build customer relationships that help achieve profit goals.

Related: A Complete Guide To Effective Sales Techniques

Attention to detail

Fashion consultants frequently adapt to different clients' needs to develop fashion solutions that are personal and unique to each customer. Your attention to detail and ability to find color palettes, textures, patterns and styles that fulfill your clients' preferences are critical to maintaining your client base and advancing in your career.

Creativity and planning

As a fashion consultant, clients may expect you to assist in planning and assembling clothing items, entire outfits and fashion accessories in order to create a personal or professional image. Your creativity can help your clients identify new and appealing styles that compliment their unique appearances, aesthetics and style preferences.

Interpersonal skills

Fashion consultants work with diverse people from different backgrounds and must develop exceptional interpersonal skills that help them communicate with and relate to others. Active listening, collaboration and interacting with colleagues and clients compassionately are all examples of the types of interpersonal skills fashion consultants develop throughout their careers.

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