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My First Year as a Stylist

posted by LIM College staff Staff Profiles Desktops & Documents lola.rephann My Documents website BLOGS Hubspot Blogs Short Takes CaitlinMantagasBefore I began styling photo-shoots, becoming a stylist seemed like a faraway dream.  After having conducted many of my own photo-shoots, I learned that the opportunity was at my fingertips all along. You can read many books on styling, but you learn the most on actual shoots: how to edit them, communicate and successfully collaborate with all participants, and minor but crucial information. For instance, be sure to bring snacks for the famished models!

One shoot that was done with another LIM student, Amy Gaber, took many prep days and extensive planning. We created the concept “A Day in the Life,” featuring a career-obsessed woman struggling to find real happiness. The majority of the shoot took place in an office, and the photographer had to solve many lighting issues. When shoots take place in a photographer’s studio, lighting is not so staggering a challenge. Another shoot, performed while I was a student in the Applied Fashion Styling class, had the concept "Teen Vogue/Coloring Outside the Lines.” The featured model was new to that role, and proved a bit uncomfortable with many people watching her on set. Those are only a few of the minor bumps that may arise during a shoot. But in the words of Tim Gunn, one must always “Make it work!” Styling is an art form that showcases taste and vision. My perspective is that although you can learn those qualities, an affinity for images may be inborn.

Advice for prospective stylists: follow the NIKE slogan. “Just Do It." Jump into a project with friends and you will be amazed at the images that hard work, prepping and dedication can produce. Find a friend as the model, another with an interest in photography and trade ideas about a beautiful image that will make you all proud. You already have the advantage of connections with other LIM students, emerging artists and young professionals who will soon become a crucial part of the fashion industry. There are beautiful girls here that can be the models, aspiring student photographers, and ambitious stylists who wish to build portfolios. Test shots are a great way to build upon your work and continuously get better. Start gaining contacts and forming relationships with everyone you meet and work with because fashion is a word of mouth industry. Graduating with a portfolio that showcases your work is extremely impressive and sets you apart from the competition. Good luck and get to work!

-- Caitlin Mantagas 

Further Reading:

(2007) Maxwell, K. Career Diary of a Fashion Stylist. Washington, D.C. & London. Garth Gardner.

(1999)  Dingemanns, J. Mastering Fashion Styling. New York: Macmillan-Palgrave

(2007)  Wintour, A.  [Introduction]. Mower, S. Martinez, R. [Contributors]. Edited by the editors of Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion

Dr. Clark, the Director of the Writing Center, pointed out in this blog how corporate and brand-name styling can crowd out true creativity and individualism. 

Pictures from some of my shoots can be found on my blog at (Not to be confused the sites  “fashionmaniac” or “manicfashion.”)

Topics: New York City, fashion trends