Ever wonder what a fashion stylist really does? Think Rachel Zoe. As a celebrity fashion stylist, she’s worked with Mischa Barton, Nicole Richie, Kate Hudson and Eva Mendes. As their stylist, Rachel Zoe pretty much picks out all their outfits and dresses them to a T.
As fabulous as the job sounds, it’s actually really tough to get. The best way to become a fashion stylist? Start off as a stylist’s assistant. Which is where Ashley Roberts comes in (pictured posing with Zoe). Roberts works for Lizzie Curtis, a stylist for tons of big name clients, including Apple, Coke, Converse and GQ. We sat down with Roberts to get the juicy details of her rare job. (Don’t be surprised if you find yourself being totally jealous — because we were.)
Beauty Riot: So, you’re a stylist’s assistant. What does your job consist of?
Ashley Roberts: Despite what my title might sound like, the assistant actually gets to do some of the shopping. I pick out the clothes based on my tastes, and when we go to the shoot the main stylist chooses the outfits from my picks.
BR: What’s the hardest part about shopping for a shoot?
AR: It’s all about the client — what they emulate in life and want to be perceived as. It’s not just throwing together clothes you like. You can’t be taught style, it’s instinctual and it’s about understanding the person you are styling.
BR: What’s the best education or experience to have for this job?
AR: School for merchandizing or fashion design would be good, but it’s all relevant, even if you go to art or design school. It’s pretty applicable, because you learn about lighting, photographers, photo shoots. But lots of stylists (like Zoe) are self-taught and make their way up there by networking.
BR: What other advice do you have for girls who want to become a fashion stylist?
AR: It’s all about making contacts in the industry. Go to every single event possible. Also, a lot of department stores have a studio services department (like Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Barneys). Work there and you’ll meet a lot of stylists — it’s where we go to shop for our shoots. Another way to break in is by starting a fashion blog. A lot of fashion stylists are looking online and if they love your style, they will commission you.
BR: What made YOU want to be a fashion stylist?
AR: I didn’t know the job existed until after college, because I hadn’t been exposed to it. Like I said, it’s a rare job. Literally, I spent a year trying to find a stylist I could work for full-time. But I love working with people and I love styling. I always did it with my friends.
BR: What does it take to make it in this industry?
AR: Organization is absolutely key — if you miss a return date or lose a receipt, you could be $2000 out. It’s a cutthroat industry, so you can’t be too sensitive. Photographers can be harsh. They know what they want, and the stylist must line up with the photographer’s vision.
BR: What’s a typical day like for you?
AR: It all depends on the location. Last week we were in a pumpkin patch. Next month I’m going to Mexico for five days to shoot out on the water. But I love how fast-paced it is. You really have to think on your feet while you’re there. Sometimes the photographer will be like, "Give me jean shorts." But we don’t have them, so we have to make our own cutoffs in like, three seconds.
BR: What’s the best part of your job?
AR: I love the sporadic nature and timing of it all. You could go for 10 days straight and then get 10 days off. And of course — getting free clothes is a perk. Mostly from PR companies and people who want you to use their stuff.
BR: What’s the worst part of your job?
AR: The returns. After every shoot, I have to return the clothes we used. Imagine a huge truck full of stuff. It takes hours!
BR: What’s next for you, or do you want to stay as an assistant forever? It does sound pretty awesome …
AR: I get treated (and paid) very well as a stylist’s assistant. When you go to a shoot, everyone knows you have done a lot of the prep work for the shoot and a lot of the shopping. But I’m also trying to break into celebrity styling. I’d love to work solely for myself down the line, as a celebrity stylist.