Should I Become a Fashion Consultant?
Fashion consultants, often called personal stylists or image consultants, help clients develop and enhance their professional and/or personal images. They help clients choose clothes for a variety of occasions and help them decide which styles are flattering and communicate the appropriate message. Consultants often travel and may need to work holidays, evenings, and weekends. They need good communication skills to interact with clients, who may sometimes be difficult or demanding. In January 2016, PayScale.com reported a median annual salary of $50,346 for stylists.
|Degree Level||High school diploma; some employers require a bachelor's degree; professional training programs also available|
|Degree Fields||Fashion merchandising or marketing|
|Experience||1-3 years of experience in retail or a fashion-related position|
|Certification||Optional professional certification available|
|Key Skills||Communication, networking, customer service, sales, organizational, basic computer knowledge, and social media skills; understanding of fashion trends; knowledge of fashion designers and brands|
Sources: November 2012 employer job postings, Fashion Institute of Technology; Glassdoor.com, May 2015
Steps to Become a Fashion Consultant
Step 1: Complete a Fashion Program
At minimum, a high school diploma is typically needed to become a fashion consultant, but a sampling of open job postings from November 2012 showed that experience in personal shopping, retail sales, or fashion styling was most important. Some positions call for a bachelor's degree.
Fashion consultants who want to advance in their career may choose to pursue formal training. A variety of options exist for consultants, from certificate courses in fashion or image consulting to associate's or bachelor's degree programs. Fashion consulting courses may teach students how to understand the basics of clothing design, analyze body types and facial features, evaluate wardrobes, and market their services. Degree programs in fashion merchandising or marketing typically also cover topics such as textiles and trend prediction.
Cultivate a Professional Image
Fashion consultants must pay attention to their personal appearance and develop a signature style. Their look may reflect their area of specialization, whether they style clients for corporate, entertainment, or everyday settings.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
Fashion consultants may start their careers in retail, where they can learn about styles, brands, and fit. They might work as salespeople in a department or specialty store and advance to a position as a stylist or personal shopper, where they can develop a client base. Another option is to serve as a stylist's assistant or work for a media consulting firm that can teach them how to work with designers, distributors, and public relations professionals.
With experience, fashion consultants may be able to branch out and style clothing for magazines, catalogs, television shows, and other outlets. They might also choose to start their own business and market their services directly to clients.
Step 3: Consider Certification
Opting for industry certification helps aspiring fashion consultants stand out. Groups such as the Association of Image Consultants International provide professional certification for fashion consultants. Applicants may be required to submit a portfolio of work and pass a written exam. Consultants will need to complete continuing education courses every three years to maintain their certification.
To become a fashion consultant, you'll need to gain experience in personal shopping, retail sales, or fashion styling through training or working.