Most people have the idea that being a stylist is just shopping, picking out clothes and dressing people. They think it's a glamorous job, and anyone and everyone wants to do it because you're basically getting paid to shop. TRUTH: It's actually only about 20% glamorous and the rest is physical, emotional and mental labor.
When someone seeks out a stylist for a personal shopping job they are in a moment of dissatisfaction with their wardrobe. BUT usually the culprit is much deeper - the dissatisfaction often comes from feeling like they don't fit in, feeling fat and lacking confidence. Personal styling is mostly a counseling job. You're usually meeting a person for the first time, quickly discerning their likes and dislikes all while reading in between the lines of what they want and what their insecurities are dictating. Of course, the wonderful reward is getting to encourage those people, lifting their spirits, and seeing their faces light up when we find the perfect clothes that complement their bodies and personalities. But again, that's only 20% of the job. It can be emotionally draining, and of course, physically draining as you spend hours walking from store to store.
As for styling for commercial and fashion shoots, it's first hearing the client, reading between the lines of what they want, and then story boarding everything out. From there, we sometimes have to find makeup artists, hair stylists, locations and models. A lot of the time I do all of those things. Once I have measurements, I have to go hunting for clothes, which takes a full day (8 hours) because you not only have to find what you need, but you often need to pitch the ideas to get stores to lend to you. Once you find 8 full looks at least, you have to steam and prep all of the clothing for the shoot. (Last week, I spent FIVE HOURS steaming wardrobe on my knees for a cast of 24 people).
The day of the shoot you have to have fittings, adjust the clothes with clamps and pins, and of course be there for every second of the shoot to keep an eye on the clothes, placement of the jewelry, etc. After it's all over, sometimes you have to re-tag everything, fold things, and then drive all around returning the clothes.
This whole entire process takes about 25 hours of work.
The reward is seeing the finished product in a photo and a happy client.
For me, even though the glamorous moments are only 20% of the job, they weigh far more than all of the time put in doing everything else.
I say all of this for those thinking about being a stylist, for those that know nothing about the job, and for those that work with stylists all of the time. It's a serious job and art form. I can only hope that one day it's valued more than it is now!