A day in the life of a stylist

Stylist Lulu Wilcox. Image supplied.

Today, we delve behind the scenes into a day in the life of celebrity stylist Lulu Wilcox and what is involved in producing an entire editorial shoot from  sourcing the perfect garments to the final magazine cover.

A stylist’s duties

A wide range of people, from celebrities to the general public, may need the services of a fashion stylist.

For example, some celebrities or people in the public eye need a fashion stylist to create an image that may need changing from time to time.

On the other hand, the general public can include anyone from high-flying business people, to mums at home, young women starting careers and even children.

You name it and I can be sure anyone who relies on projecting their image will need professional help at some stage especially when effecting change.

When it comes to magazine fashion pages, there are stylists who not only create the look for those pages but who also bring together the clothes.

Designers design the clothes for fashion shows but stylists help create that certain look the press will want to photograph and write about.

What is a day in the life of a fashion stylist like?

It can be very varied especially when one has a diverse clientele and numerous projects on the go. Fashion shoots require an early morning start with fashion stylists responsible for getting clothes to the studio well ahead of the shoot.

They also set up the clothes in order to create the image clients want. Stylists work with the photographer leading a shoot and it the stylist’s job to dress the models, get the brief right and to alter garments where required.

Specific jobs, such as magazine shoots, often begin with a design brief.

A stylist could be on location one day; the next he or she could be needed in a television studio to help prepare for a programme going out live that morning.

Furthermore, a working fashion stylist may be required to write an editorial piece for a magazine!


The first step in any shoot is a briefing with the magazine art director. Details as to who is being styled, the overall ‘theme’ and how to incorporate current seasonal trends to suit the client are discussed. Importantly, we focus on what the photo shoot aims to achieve.

A lot of brainstorming and planning is involved as well as flicking through countless fashion images in magazines. Online sources such as pinterest and fashion look books are also consulted. All this speeds up the process of deciding which garments to choose. I then form an idea in my head of colour palettes and outfits for each individual client.

A stylist must also work with other industry professionals, such as photographers, hair stylists and makeup artists.

Specific jobs, such as magazine shoots, often begin with a design brief including the concept and idea to be created and executed. The fashion stylist must also work with other industry professionals, such as photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, lighting designers, set builders, fashion designers and the art director.

He or she must have open lines of communication with these departments in order to locate the wardrobe and accessories for the shoot and to style the ensembles according to the art director’s vision.

Day before photo shoot

-Gather all relevant information about each client being photographed, and the demographics – every photo shoot is different.

-Check clothing and shoe sizes, of each individual being photographed.

-Outsourcing products. This process is the fun part and may involve going from shop to shop, picking the right pieces with matching shoes and accessories for each individual being photographed.

Co-ordinating then with current trends may be required. Hiring garments is another aspect and going through PR agencies and Apo is helpful in sourcing clothing and accessories.

Outsourcing products is the fun part and may involve going from shop to shop

Stylists need to ensure there are PLENTY of outfit combinations available, in case of colour mismatches with skin tone, hair colour and shape. It is always a good idea to have a backup plan and extra selection on the day of the shoot.

Preparation of all garments involves steaming and/or pressing of all shirts, pants and other garments the day before the shoot (and sometimes on the day). The soles of shoes as also duct taped to keep them in prime condition when outdoor shoots are involved.

Garment checks and count ensure all items are ready to go on the day and all should be neatly organised for easy transportation and access. Correct storage is a must i.e. suit bags, jewellery pouches.

Fashion stylists are creative people with excellent personal style, but it is important for them to get to know clients and remember their likes and needs. Once you have a feel for type of look clients favour you can then gauge how daring a sense of style they possess.

It should be a stylist’s mission to make clients feel their absolute best in an outfit and this can’t be done without taking every aspect of the client into consideration during the styling process.

Ensure garments fit properly and are modelled in the best possible light.

Day of the shoot

-Meet with clients on site. It is vital to be 30 minutes ahead of the photographer.

-Set up of the styling area including all garments, clothes rack, garment steamer, accessories, shoes. Everything should be neatly laid out and visually and physically accessible.

– Liaise with the hair/make-up crew/ photographer as per brief about the overall ‘look’ and to co-ordinate with individuals regarding background environment, lighting etc.

– Composition is paramount. As the shoot goes ahead, ensure garments fit properly and are modelled in the best possible light.

-Finish all looks, tidy up and pack clothing ready for returns in original condition.

Day after the shoot

Depending on the condition of the garments borrowed, dry cleaning or mending may be necessary. It is important to take care of each item so it is returned to the store or agency in its original condition.

Fashion is a fast-moving industry, so it is crucial for stylists to stay abreast of current and projected trends so clients are kept informed. This requires constant vigilance, monitoring of fashion magazines, websites, blogs and fashion shows, observing trends in everyday life and watching the direction of new season styles.

There are always new trends to spot, so a fashion stylist is always on the job.



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