A Guide to Becoming a Freelance Fashion Stylist

Fashion stylists work in an exciting world of fast-moving trends and glamorous settings. As with many occupations, you don’t necessarily need to work for a single employer. If you enjoy setting your hours and choosing your own projects, becoming a freelance fashion stylist could provide an ideal balance of autonomy and varied, enjoyable work. So what’s involved in being a fashion stylist and what kind of things will you be doing? Is it a challenging job and what qualifications do you need? We explore these questions and also offer some useful insights into how to succeed as a freelance fashion stylist. 

What do fashion stylists do? 

Fashion stylists are in charge of coordinating all aspects of an individual’s look, typically to ensure they look as on-trend, stylish, and aesthetically pleasing as possible, in order to deliver a specific visual message or to tell a story about someone. As a fashion stylist, you might work across a wide variety of industries or specialise in a few. The most in-demand, renowned stylists will work with select clients who might be celebrities or other high-profile individuals. On a day-to-day basis, a stylist might attend runway shows, brand showrooms, and fashion industry events. They’ll be busy with research on fashion trends and designing different looks for clients. Their schedules could include consultations with models, hairstylists, makeup artists, art directors, and other professionals. 

Sourcing clothing and accessories, setting up merchandise and interiors, helping clothing buyers for retailers, and working on photoshoots might be part of their schedule. In addition to fashion industry clients, they might work on advertising shoots and music videos, and for TV newsrooms, political campaigns, sporting teams, and TV shows and movies. As for different types of jobs you could be doing, you could be working in brand development, image consulting, trend forecasting, and even writing and editing for publications and blogs. Other possible career paths include personal shopper, editorial styler, corporate styler, fashion buyer and merchandiser, retailer sales, makeup artists, public relations, fashion blogging, fashion journalist, fashion editor, fashion design, and wedding and event planning.

So how much can you expect to earn as a fashion stylist? In London, fashion stylists make £26,441 a year on average. Senior stylists might earn between £23,000 and £30,000. As a freelance stylist, you could be earning more than the average depending on how much work you take on, your experience, and other factors. \

Succeeding as a fashion stylist

Fashion styling is an occupation that lends itself well to freelancing, and indeed, freelancing is very common in the industry. To succeed in this industry, you’ll likely be someone who is creative, thrives on pressure, and enjoys problem-solving and collaborating, and communicating with others. You’ll need to have a good eye for visual composition and proportion, knowledge of designers and trends, a great work ethic, and IT literacy with the relevant software systems.

So is it difficult to become a fashion stylist? The truth is it’s a competitive industry when it comes to securing styling opportunities. A good qualification and relevant work experience could help you stand out. You could set yourself up well for success with a formal qualification in fashion styling. A comprehensive course should ideally provide you with specific styling and fashion know-how as well as business skills for operating your own freelance operation. Although you don’t need a formal qualification to start working in the field, some employers might prefer you to have one. In addition, set up an online presence to showcase your work. Build a strong network with public relations professionals, brand showrooms, editors, photographers, producers, directors, and other relevant industry people, so you can tap into these networks for sourcing resources and securing jobs.

Style yourself first

To succeed as a freelance fashion stylist, you’ll likely want to accumulate some work experience before you start freelancing, so you can demonstrate a track record of success to clients. This could be through internships, volunteer projects, and formal employment. A formal qualification could also be very helpful, as it could provide you with styling skills as well as business and marketing competencies. Freelance fashion stylists also need to have an excellent network to succeed. As such, as you complete your qualifications and start accruing work experience, don’t forget to focus on building a diverse network. 

Fashion stylists are in strong demand in the UK and making yourself available as a freelancer could open up even more career and project opportunities for you. A formal qualification could help you launch this promising career pathway, so why not explore ICI UK’s fashion stylist qualifications today?

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.