What They Don’t Tell You About Working As A Stylist

"Okay. Can you please spell Gabbana?"

Style me, s'il vous plaît!

The fashion world can be quite elusive, showcasing a highlight reel of what it wants you to know, not necessarily what you need to know - quite possibly the basis for modern social media don’t you think?  

Sparked curiosity around one of the fastest-growing professions in recent years encouraged a closer look at what it is really like working as a fashion stylist. Contrary to popular belief, the glitz and glamour of the job tend to gravitate around make-up chairs, sets and events, my no means is it a constant luxury. 

Stylists are incredibly adaptable, multitalented and creative, with a mandatory natural gift for hustling in an industry where establishing your presence and showcasing your talent is key. 

Speaking with the industry’s finest, Aideen Feely and Corina Gaffey about their individual experiences as stylists to uncover the truth behind the (gorgeous) clothes. 

What surprised you the most about working as a stylist?

AIDEEN: Like many others, I became a stylist through my love of fashion. Always wanting to create and style for people and magazines. After styling my first photo shoot, I quickly learned being a stylist isn’t just about the clothes. The best part of it involves researching, planning and replying to emails constantly! Not to mention, you will have to get involved in other creative roles and will sometimes have to direct a whole team of professionals. 

This came as a surprise to me, and for a long time it was something I found quite difficult to do. After a couple more photoshoots I realized it’s all part of the job, and collaborating with other creatives is so important as well as listening to their ideas to create impressive imagery.

CORINA: I think people would be surprised to know how physically demanding working as a stylist is. When you prepare for a photoshoot there’s a lot of admin office days - casting for models, glued to your phones researching, calling in samples from around the world, booking hair and make-up, sourcing locations there’s so much preparation needed in advance. Then, there are the clothes pulling days, where you are running around all day collecting everything for the shoot. 

On an average prep-day I can do up to 20,000 steps, and that’s even before you’re carrying loads of heavy shopping bags while trying to weave through the crowded streets! Then, there’s the aftermath when you need to remember where exactly every thread of clothing and intricate piece of jewellery came from and return in perfect condition.

On a photoshoot day, it’s always a really early start transporting all the clothes to a location.  You are on your feet all day, sometimes just surviving on caffeine and battling the elements of Irish Weather! It’s hard work, but when you love what you do and see the end results it’s worth it - even if you end up with the flu or sunburn after a whole day of shooting. 

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I realize this is my pose! 

A post shared by AideenFeely (@aideenfeely) on

Follow Aideen on Instagram: @aideenfeely

Is there anything you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?

AIDEEN: I always thought to have a successful career as a stylist I needed to keep my head down, work hard and the rest would follow...but that’s not the case. For a stylist, eighty per cent of the work comes from networking. It didn’t really matter how hard I worked or how good a stylist I was if I wasn’t known by the industry, who would know to hire me? 

Making connections, building relationships and then utilizing them is just as important as styling.  So, go to the fashion shows, launch parties and events to show support for the people and brands you have met, even from your assisting days. Getting your name out there and building a great reputation is crucial!

CORINA: Not to worry as much, it doesn’t get you anywhere! It’s really difficult not to obsess about every single detail e.g. did the model made her flight? Is the client is going to book you again? etc. 

I’m getting better at it. Now, I think it's necessary to maintain a sense of humour and go with the flow to make each workday both enjoyable and energising. At the end of the day, it’s not brain surgery, it’s fashion and it should be fun, so try not to take it so seriously all the time.

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The socks were VITAL #stressedstylist

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Is the industry evolving, and do you see yourself working as a stylist in the future? 

AIDEEN: YES! It’s such a big industry and I believe, more exciting than ever before. At the beginning of my career, styling for magazines was the number one thing to do. Now, with Instagram and other social media platforms, more and more people are getting creative and looking for new ways to create content. 

I think it’s important we stay open-minded and accept new experiences or things will start to become repetitive. Every new project brings new, amazing opportunities. 

CORINA: If I’m not styling, I definitely think I will still be working within fashion or media. In Ireland, we are at an advantage in the fashion industry. Stylists are required to produce shoots, coordinate, work with social media, TV, commercials, campaigns and editorials. You don’t realize how many transferable skills you have. 

As the industry continues to evolve, I think it’s really important to continue to challenge yourself, stay inspired and keep growing, so that, in the future, you can offer clients more and are extra- prepared for the ever-changing world of fashion.

Follow Corina on Instagram: @corinagaffey

Main image @stressedstylist

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