How to Become a Fashion Stylist in 4 Simple Steps

What is a Fashion Stylist

Being a fashion stylist is rapidly becoming one of the more popular professions with the new generation. It’s seen as a glamorous and fun role by many, and indeed it can be when operating at a high level.With popularity comes competitiveness however. Before we analyze how to become a fashion stylist you should keep in mind that it isn’t easy to do in the competitive and crowded world of fashion. For those who want to make it as their chosen profession, they need to put in the time and hard work to carve out their own path in this unique and exciting industry.

Degree Level




Some of the daily duties of a fashion stylist include:

  • ​Keeping up to date with all the latest fashion trends and releases
  • ​Choosing fabrics and materials to use in your own designs
  • ​Manage assistants and other helping hands
  • ​Create samples and prototypes of new designs and items
  • ​Arrange and manage models and clothing at fashion shows
  • ​Communicate with designers, retailers, and clients to achieve their fashion visions
  • plus-circle​Write articles on the latest fashion trends

The key skill that defines an excellent fashion stylist over an average one is – passion. The fashion industry is fast-paced, if you don’t have a genuine interest in the industry you can get left behind.

A lot of the top fashion stylists are people who grew up with an interest and a passion for the industry. You also need a keen eye for detail. Two different people looking at a style, or an item of fashion can see two completely different things.

Fashion Stylist Specialties

Being a fashion stylist is a broad term for a lot of different areas of fashion. Some of the more specific roles you may want to enter include:

Personal Stylist

A personal stylist works with clients on a one-to-one basis advising them on their own fashion style. These clients are most commonly the rich and famous. They care how the public perceives them on their fashion and rely on their stylist to have them looking their best at all times.

Editorial Stylist

An editorial stylist is responsible for arranging and overseeing photo shoots for magazines and online publications. This involves creating a wardrobe of clothes for the shoots and making adjustments to the models.

Commercial Stylist

This role involves being a fashion stylist to people in the public eye or spotlight. This can be for their day-to-day clothing, or for fashion shoots, TV appearances, and such like.

Catalog Stylist

A catalog stylist works businesses and catalog companies to supply and arrange the styles and clothing for their catalog models. You may have to work with other companies clothing, so an eye for detail and bringing out the best in fashion is essential.

Photographic Stylist

Styling clothes for a photo-shoot is very different to the catwalk or an event. You will often need some photographic skills to understand what the camera wants.

Some characteristics and personality traits that help make someone a good fashion stylist:

  • ​A natural talent for the creative and artistic
  • ​A good flair for fashion and materials
  • ​Able to set trends, not just follow them
  • ​A good eye for color and how to blend and mix different patterns and shades
  • ​Pleasant manner and the ability to manage and arrange others under pressure
  • ​Good networking skills

what is a fashion stylist

Step 1 High School Preparation

High School Courses for Fashion Stylists

Art and Design

While nowadays fashion stylists rely mostly on computer to design, you need to master some basic traditional fashion design skills.

You should take all art classes you can at high school like art, art history and color theory this classes will help you to build some design skills and grow your aesthetics essence.


Probably the majority of aspiring fashion stylists will have a more artistic mindset and hate the idea of taking math classes while in high school but the truth is they have to.

Taking these classes will help them meet the admission requirements of colleges and more important will help them get familiar with basic math calculations that will be needed every day at their work when taking measurements.


Fashion stylists interact with a lot of people daily from fabric suppliers to really pretentious clients, so taking English classes will help them build basic communication skills and communicate their ideas more easily.

Step 2 ​Get Professional Fashion Styling Training

Fashion Styling Certificate Program 1 year

The majority of fashion styling certificate programs are non-credit certificates consisted of about 15 courses and can be completed either on campus or online.

The admissions requirements are a high school diploma or a GED.


Required courses

  • Introduction to Fashion Styling
  • Styling Tricks of the Trade: Pinning, Taping, and Clothing Care
  • Introduction to Fashion Photography
  • Styling: Fit Fundamentals
  • The Great Designers
  • Fashion Styling for Media
  • Successful Styling for Photography: Fashion Biz and Beyond
  • Still-Life Fundamentals for Fashion Stylists
  • Everything You Need to Know About Fashion Shows, from Start-up to Runway
  • Hand Sewing, Mending, and Alteration Essentials
  • Creative Business Plans for Consulting Success
  • Social Media and Digital Best Practices for Stylists and Photographic and Visual Professionals
  • Fashion Styling for Today’s Media Workshop

Elective Courses

  • Media Makeup Knowledge for Designers, Stylists, and Consultants
  • Fashion Styling for Celebrity Images
  • Secrets from a Professional Shopper
  • Ward-robing for Theater, Film, and TV
  • Fashion Styling: Home Fashion Business
  • Learn the Top Ten Design Motifs of All Time
  • Introduction to Image Consulting
  • Fashion Styling for Men
  • Star-Quality Vintage Shopping

The cost of a Fashion Styling certificate program ranges from $750 to $4,500.

Fashion Design Associate’s Degree Program 2 years

While there are no fashion stylist associate degree programs you can complete a fashion design associate’s degree program.

They are 60-70 semester credit hour programs and can be completed either online or on campus.

The admission requirements are the same as the certificate programs and all you will need is a high school diploma or a GED.


​General Education Requirements (23 credits)

  • Intermediate Algebra
  • The Art of Geometry
  • Math Applications for Living
  • Environmental Science
  • The Art of Physics
  • Technical Writing
  • Business Writing
  • Fashion Special Topics
  • Survey of Textiles
  • Fashion Illustration
  • Digital Photography I
  • Stage Make-up

Core Courses (23-35 credits)

  • Figure Drawing
  • Color
  • Art History from the Renaissance
  • Fashion Sketching
  • Fundamentals for Fashion
  • Fashion Computer
  • Aided Design
  • Intro to the Fashion Industry
  • Apparel Analysis/Specification
  • Fashion Design Process
  • Fashion History
  • Fashion Internship
  • Fashion Portfolio
  • Manage Your Professional Image

The cost of a Fashion Styling associate’s degree program ranges from $12,445 to $50,100.

Fashion Design Bachelor’s Degree Program 4 years

Fashion design bachelor’s degree programs are 120 to 180 semester credit hour programs that can be completed either online or on campus.

The admission requirements are a high school diploma and in some cases a SAT score of over 1.000.


General Education Requirements (48 credits)

  • Writing 1
  • Writing 2
  • Introduction to the Arts: Antiquity to Early Modern
  • Introduction to the Modern Arts
  • Foundation in Critical Studies
  • Media History: History of Fashion Design
  • Literary & Performing Arts Studies
  • Philosophy & Critical Theory
  • Social Science/History
  • Sustainability Seminar
  • Visual Studies
  • Humanities & Science
  • WRD: Writing for Fashion Designers
  • Diversity Studies Seminar
  • Humanities and Science Electives

Core Courses (72 credits)

  • Drawing 1
  • 2D, 3D & 4D
  • Fashion Illustration 1
  • Fashion Illustration 2
  • Fashion Illustration 3
  • Fashion Illustration 4
  • Fashion Studios 1
  • Fashion Studios 2
  • Fashion Studios 3
  • Fashion Studios 4
  • Fashion Studios 5
  • Fashion Design 1
  • Fashion Design 2
  • Fashion Design 3
  • Fashion Design 4
  • Fashion Design 5
  • Investigative Studio
  • Portfolio Review
  • Additional Studio Requirements
  • Interdisciplinary Studio
  • Diversity Studies Studio
  • Studio Electives

The cost of a Fashion Design Bachelor’s Degree Program ranges from $100,200 to $137,880.

Howlong does it take to become a fashion stylist

Step 3 Do an Apprenticeship or an internship​


Being an apprentice in this field is imperative. You must be learning about new trends and styles at all times. It is very important to dig deep into the fashion business as this industry is ever-changing. This could involve research and various other activities such as experiential work, interacting with fashion businesses and organizing portfolios.

Getting a good degree in the field would provide a platform for allthese activities. The more you learn the more experience you gain, whichis something essential.


An internship is a very good place to begin your career. Fashion houses or agencies are going to be your top targets.

In the fashion industry, recommendations are very important. Interning for a stylish and becoming an assistant is going to take you places in terms of experience, knowledge, and exposure. Moreover, it is important to form healthy professional relationships in order to increase your chances of a recommendation.

Internships provide the skills and experience you would not gain otherwise. The experience and knowledge you acquire by being mentored second to none.


This is also a very important step in starting your career as a fashion stylist.

As a stylist, you need to be well informed about the current trendsand looks. Joining a fashion organization such as the Association ofImage Consultants International (AICI) or the International FashionStylists Association (IFSA) would be the right thing to do. They wouldprovide opportunities for skill development, resources, and news. Lectures and workshops also take place, making it all the more importantto join.

Step ​4 Get Certified

While getting certified is not obligatory for fashion stylists it is a good way to show to your potential employers the skills you possess.

The association of image consultants international offers 3 levels of certification:

First Level Certification


  • Complete the AICI FLC portfolio.
  • Pass the AICI Portfolio Review


  • Internet based exam

Cost: $375 (members) $1490 (non-members)

AICI Certified Image Professional


  • Have the first level certification for at least a year
  • 2 years of working experience
  • Complete the AICI FLC portfolio.
  • Pass the AICI Portfolio Review


  • Internet based exam

Cost: $1,235 (members) $2,150 (non-members)

AICI Certified Image Professional


  • Have the first level certification for at least a year
  • 2 years of working experience
  • Complete the AICI FLC portfolio.
  • Pass the AICI Portfolio Review


  • Internet based exam

Cost: $1,235 (members) $2,150 (non-members)

Certified Image Master


  • Have the AICI Certified Image Professional for at least 4 years
  • Have completed at least 50 hours of training within the last 5 years
  • 5 years of working experience
  • 500-word essay
  • Complete the AICI FLC portfolio.
  • Pass the AICI Portfolio Review


  • Internet based exam

Cost: $935 (members) $1,500 (non-members)

Overview of ​Fashion Styling Degrees

​There are a number of degrees you can earn to become a fashion stylist. A few of the important ones have been discussed below.

​Associate’s Degree Program

An associate degree program involves courses revolving around a specific major. They can be completed in up to two years and provide students with the skills and knowledge to help incorporate themselves in the fashion industry.

After earning an associate’s degree, you will be controlling the creative processes that go beyond the design, choice, and selection of garments. Business skills and critical thinking are some of the other perks of this program. It can lead you to excel as a fashion designer as well as make you aware of the ins and outs of the fashion industry.

Fashion Design Bachelor’s Degree Program

A Bachelor’s degree in Fashion usually takes four years to complete. Some of the courses you may find will be along the lines of art and design, computer-aided design, draping, and business in the fashion industry.

Outcomes of attaining a bachelor’s degree involve skills such as creating garments, designing, sketching, sewing, manufacturing, etc. You will also learn about marketing and will have to prepare a senior thesis project. Experimental workshops are also conducted as well as the knowledge of production technologies.

All these skills and gain knowledge are essential in order to compete in the ever-growing fashion industry.

Why we propose an Associate’s Degree Program

An associate degree will help you develop the right creativity and technicalities that the fashion industry demands. Moreover, it will help you work closely with the industry, helping you apply your practical skills and blending them with theory.

As soon as you graduate, you will be industry ready. You will have a clear idea about the jobs in your sector and a thorough know-how of how the industry works. You will be adept at computer-aided design (CAD), patternmaking, sustainability, and management. The program also helps students to perceive fashion from a cultural and historical background. A lot of international universities and institutes offer this program.

It also teaches students to manage inventory and enhances leadership skills. Visual merchandising, sales management, and retail operations are also taught. An associate degree is the best as it will propel you into the world of fashion. It also sets you on the path of success as a fashion stylist, from local businesses to global brands.

This degree is shorter than the others are; however it helps you unlock your maximum creative potential. This can lead you to work as a fashion stylist, or even set up your own business.

Fashion Stylist Job Growth, Salary, and Outlook


Job Growth

If your content is unique, fashion stylist can be a very rewarding job. Job growth is predicted to go up to from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is slower than the average for all other occupations. However, uniqueness and experience are two factors that will make a fashion stylist stand out.

The number of jobs in 2016 was estimated at around 23,800 opportunities. For the year 2018, however, the demand for fashion stylists is set to go up, with a projected 7,840 jobs filling up. This demonstrates a projected increase of 6.51% over the next five years.

Job Outlook

Fashion stylists incorporate contemporary fashion trends and select designs to be sold according to public demand among other things.It has been predicted that the apparel manufacturing industry will experience a fall in the employment of fashion stylists due to the fact that most productions happen internationally. For this reason, the overall employment rate for fashion designers has decreased.

Since retailers sell more fashion-oriented apparel, a growth of about 22% has been deemed a possibility in the employment of fashion stylists in the retail trade sector. The demand for everyday use accessories and clothes for the mass market is on the rise. Therefore, opportunities for fashion stylists are increasing.


According Glassdoor, the median wage for workers in this industry was annually.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Fashion Stylist and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1: Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 6 months to 18 months $750 – $4,500
Certification 1 month$935 – $2,150
Total 6 months to 18 months$1,685- $6,650

Option 2: Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$12,445 – $50,100
Certification 1 month$935 – $2,150
Total 2 years & 1 month $13,380 – $52,250

Option 3: Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$100,200 to $137,880
Certification 1 month $935 – $2,150
Total 4 years & 1 month$101,135 – $140,030

Fashion Stylist Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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