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How to Become a Fashion Stylist

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Fashion Styling: Helping Others Dress for Success

If your friends and family constantly compliment you on your outfits and you spend all your spare time reading fashion magazines, you may be thinking about a career in fashion. Fashion stylists help their clients put together outfits for special occasions, photo shoots, entertainment productions or everyday wear. Because fashion stylists can be self-employed, mothers may find professional fashion stylist a career that’s compatible with home and family life.

Job Description

A fashion stylist is a personal appearance professional who specializes in dressing clients appropriately. A stylist’s services may be required in a variety of contexts:

  • Fashion shoots for magazine layouts and advertising
  • A client’s public appearances at special events
  • Dressing actors for entertainment productions * Advising private clients and store customers on how to dress in appropriate and flattering ways

Educational Requirements

No specific education is required to become a fashion stylist. However, some fashion merchandising schools offer fashion stylist coursework or certificate programs. Experienced fashion stylists frequently recommend that anyone entering this field first try to get an internship at a fashion magazine or in a design house. Working in the fashion industry will help you stay up-to-date on fashion trends, develop your knowledge of styles and help you build a professional network that can eventually help you build a client base.

According to, the median annual salary for fashion stylists is $49,723, though respondents to their survey reported incomes as high as $109,665 and as low as $29,000.


Fashion stylists usually work indoors, sometimes in stores or boutiques, in photography studios, or on the sets of movie or television productions. In addition, a stylist also may have his or her own office for meeting with clients or may work with a client in his or her own home.

Depending on your career path, you may be expected to work nights or weekends. You may also have to travel to work with clients, particularly if you are dressing models for print or advertising work.

Years of Experience

According to a survey by, you can expect your earnings to increase as you gain more experience a stylist. The survey also indicated that stylists who have more than 20 years’ experience have a drop in income, which may be due to highly experienced stylists moving into other careers:

  • 0–5 years: $39,000 
  • 5–10 years: $48,000 
  • 10–20 years: $60,000 
  • 20+ years: $36,000 

Job Growth Trend

The United States Department of Labor Statistics does not track fashion styling as a profession, which makes it difficult to predict job growth in this industry. However, it is clear that people living in the U.S. are concerned about their appearance and are willing to pay others to assist them in looking their best. The BLS reports that personal appearance workers, including cosmetologists, can expect to see industry job growth increase by 19 percent between 2020 and 2030.

In addition, new trends in selling fashion, including providing online personal styling services, may open up new opportunities for stylists who are interested in working from home.

The BLS also notes that while job growth for retail salespeople is expected to be slow between 2020 and 2030, retailers are also focusing more on customer service and experience. This emphasis may inspire clothing retailers to hire personal stylists or salespeople who provide styling services.


Lainie Petersen is a full-time freelance writer living in Chicago. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Dominican University and spent many years working in the publishing, media and education industries. Her writing focuses on business, career and personal finance issues. Her work appears on a variety of sites, including MoneyCrashers, Chron, GoBankingRates and 8th & Walton News Now.

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