Style Posse: What Kind Of Fashion Stylist Are You Anyway?

One of the most integral roles in the fashion industry must be the stylist. On the surface, they provide the clothes and accessories to create fashion-forward or modish looks. However, the title calls for the individual to be involved with countless aspects of the artistic process. From advising on beauty, hair and photographic direction, to selecting models and wardrobe location, they act as trusted advisor to manifest the concept. While the term ‘fashion stylist’ if often used as a blanket term for all styling in the industry, there are different job titles or genres under styling. Not sure what type of stylist you are? We’ve broken them down to help you better define your title:


Personal Stylist, also referred to as a private stylist, personal shopper, image consultant or celebrity stylist, are paid to advice or guide clients on refining their image. Whether it’s by shopping for them or escorting them on their shopping trips, personal stylists will select clothes and accessories that compliment their client’s lifestyle, as well as, their body shape and skin tone. They can be hired for occasions such as red-carpet appearances or to curate your monthly wardrobe.

[Image: Getty/George Pimentel]

Retail Fashion Stylists are hired by certain boutiques or retail stores to provide the customer with a personalised shopping experience. Equipped with a detailed understanding of the different body types, they study each new collection that comes into the store. That way, they can suggest and create ensembles that would flatter different shapes. Not to mention, steer them clear of anything unflattering.

[Still Image from Vlog by Jenny Skavlan]

Visual Merchandising oversees dressing up the mannequins in the store as well as making the window display enticing. Furthermore, this kind of stylist curates the presentation of the merchandise in the store to make it the most appealing to the store’s target demographic. In the industry, creating these products displays falls under merchandise styling.

[Image: Ludovic Bertron]

Prop Stylist, which also falls under merchandise styling, nixes the models and clothes, choosing to focus on the accessories. The stylist then must stage the products in a way that accentuates them for photographic purposes. For example, a pair of shoes or handbags that need to be shot for an advert, editorial spread or website.

[Prop Styling by Rosy Strazzeri-Fridman / Image: Cera Hensley]

Catalogue Stylists are similar to prop stylists as they are merchandise centred. The difference here is that the stylist works with a designer or business to develop promotional materials such as a catalogue or the ad photography and banners positioned within a store.

[Image: Peter Pilotto]

Fashion Show Stylist takes a designer’s collection and presents it in the best possible light to make it pop down the runway. Apart from organizing its appearance – such as the accessories and makeup that will be used –  they can also be involved in model selection, their runway order and the runway concept or fashion show location.

[Image: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for IMG]

Costume Designers work with a film or television script to create the outfits that the characters will wear. The clothes need to take into consideration the stipulations from the director, as well as, scenic, lighting, sound, hair and makeup specifications.

[Film Still Image Marvel Studios 2018. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter]

Wardrobe Stylists create looks for performances. Think along the lines of sourcing clothes for a musician and their backup dancers for a live gig. Or perhaps working in a television or film production, where the stylist will work with the costume designer to source looks for the cast. In most cases, the focus is more on creating a story as opposed to selling a specific product.

TV Show Gossip Girl [Image: The CW]

Editorial Stylists have the mandate to conceptualize and execute photo shoots for media publications such as fashion magazines. But they also work for other print assignments such as movie posters, publicity shoots or album posters. They work closely with photographers, art directors, MUAs, Hair stylists, fashion editors and artist managers to bring the look together.  Furthermore, this person has access to designers or fashion houses to help them create magazine spreads with a defined story and aesthetic.  With all that access, it’s not uncommon for them to contribute fashion articles,  as well as, generate fashion product pages for magazines.

Ainur Turisbek featured in Narcisse Magazine [Image: Christoph KÖSTLIN]

Commercial Styling is exactly as the name suggests. These stylists will dress the actors/actresses or models to be featured in an ad or commercial. Sometimes they will also be involved in location scouting, in addition to, model, MUA and photographer selection.

[Image: Truworths SA]

Part of the reason why it’s so difficult to clearly define what kind of stylist that you are, is that these roles tend to bleed into each other. Most stylist will find themselves in more than one category because the project calls for it or simply because they want a diversified portfolio. It doesn’t hurt to have experience in multiple categories.  Nevertheless, defining what your core styling skill is can be an asset to growing your career.


1 Comment
  • Kenya Universities

    May 16, 2018, 9:45 PM

    I feel that to define onself in one style is to ignore that personal style is ever evolving and is affected by the environment one resides in. Style is complex

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