FAQ: What Is a Fashion Stylist?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 13, 2022

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.

Working as a stylist can be a highly fulfilling venture for creative professionals who are interested in the fashion industry. These roles are often competitive, but once candidates establish themselves, they may be able to work with high-profile clients and achieve professional satisfaction. If you're interested in becoming a fashion stylist, it may be worthwhile for you to learn more about this role and its requirements.

In this article, we answer various frequently asked questions about this career path, including what a fashion stylist is, what they do, where they work and how much they earn on average.

What is a fashion stylist?

Stylists are professionals who curate outfits for various purposes in the fashion industry. They commonly work in retail, commercial or high fashion roles, in addition to consulting with private clients, depending on their particular interests and the opportunities available to them. Regardless of their exact role, fashion stylists generally work toward the goal of selecting clothing and accessories that are on-trend for a given season while ensuring that all selections complement a model or client's body type, lifestyle and aesthetic profile.

Related: 15 Popular Careers in the Fashion Industry

What does a fashion stylist do?

Fashion stylists have a wide array of responsibilities, and their exact duties may differ depending on the capacity in which they work. With this potential for variation in mind, here are a few of the duties a fashion stylist might assume on a day-to-day basis:

  • Maintain a working knowledge of fashion trends

  • Attending runway shows and visiting brand showrooms

  • Researching historical fashion trends

  • Sourcing fashion items from different brands and designers

  • Curating clothing and accessories to compile outfits

  • Consulting with other fashion professionals to determine a creative vision

  • Working on-set for photo shoots, music videos and television advertisements

  • Advising costume designers as needed in film media

  • Communicating with clients and assessing their needs

  • Personal shopping for high-profile clients like celebrities and politicians

  • Following detailed instructions and meeting deadlines

  • Providing customer service to clients who experience issues

Related: Professional Clothier vs. Personal Stylist (With Definitions)

What are the requirements for becoming a fashion stylist?

To be eligible for a career as a fashion stylist, candidates typically need to earn particular educational credentials and build a portfolio of experience. If you're interested in becoming a stylist, it may be helpful for you to pursue the following qualifications:

  • Education: Many stylists earn a minimum of a two-year associate's degree in a discipline like fashion merchandising or design through which they can build a foundation of knowledge regarding clothing trends, the history of fashion, visual design and retail buying processes. In addition, through their education, candidates typically participate in internships and build portfolios of work they can use when applying for professional roles.

  • Experience: Commonly, to be successful in their careers, stylists need to gain a certain level of experience and foster valuable relationships with other professionals in the fashion industry, as many roles in this field require a minimum of four to five years of experience. Therefore, candidates for these roles may first pursue entry-level retail jobs and join professional organizations to establish a basis for future roles.

  • Certification: Some stylists pursue certification to legitimize their skills to potential employers and clients. For instance, the Association of Image Consultants (AICI) offers certifications that can help stylist hone their expertise and access a wider set of professional opportunities.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Related: How To Become a Stylist for a Celebrity

What skills do fashion stylists need?

Fashion stylists typically employ a combination of soft skills and technical knowledge in their roles. Here are a few of the skills that these professionals might focus on developing in order to have a successful career:

  • Creativity

  • Attention to detail

  • Communication

  • Interpersonal

  • Problem-solving

  • Time management

What is the work environment of a fashion stylist?

Fashion stylists may work in a variety of environments depending on the exact capacity of their work. As mentioned above, stylists can work in commercial fashion, personal styling, high fashion or editorial styling, and therefore, these professionals' work environments can differ.

For instance, some fashion stylists work in retail stores, while others might work under contract with fashion agencies, styling models for photo shoots and runway shows. Even more, stylists who work in personal styling may be self-employed and work with their own clients, traveling to different destinations to perform their duties depending on client preferences.

In addition, it's important to note that, as the digital market for clothing has expanded with innovations in technology and the rise in popularity of social media, many fashion stylists have found success working part time as influencers. Stylists who perform this type of work may have a higher level of flexibility in their careers and work from home, compared to those who find employment with organizations in the fashion industry. The work environment of a fashion stylist can be fast-paced and multifaceted, involving travel or temporary relocation depending on a professional's particular role.

Related: How To Write a Fashion Stylist Resume (With Template and Example)

What is the salary of a fashion stylist?

The national average salary of a fashion stylist is $62,186 per year. This salary figure may fluctuate depending on a professional's level of experience, location, place of employment and notoriety in their field.

For instance, if a stylist is well known in their field and works with high-profile celebrities, they may earn more than their counterparts with limited experience. Further, stylists are also commonly eligible to earn additional compensation in the form of a commission, at an average of $7,500 per year, and this supplemental income can account for variations in earnings among these professionals.

Stylists may also earn various employer-sponsored benefits as a part of their compensation packages. For instance, these professionals may have access to benefits like health, dental and vision insurance, paid time off (PTO), retirement planning options, professional development assistance, work from home and flexible scheduling options and retail discounts via their employment agreements.

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