Fashion Stylist Training and Degree Program Information

Fashion stylists help to create trends by working with designers, merchandisers, and retailers through marketing campaigns. Fashion styling, design, and merchandising programs teach budding stylists how to construct a complete image.

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Essential Information

Certificates and bachelor's degrees in relevant fields of fashion styling are commonly found at the undergraduate level. In addition to classroom teachings, students are exposed to opportunities to learn fashion styling hands-on. Certificate programs take about six months. Bachelor's degrees take about four years of full-time study. Bachelor's programs may require specific coursework to be completed ahead of time. Internships with retail or fashion organizations are often available in bachelor's programs.

Certificate in Fashion Styling

Stylists create a cohesive look for advertising campaigns or individual clients. Academic preparation involves learning how retailers communicate to customers using visual cues. Certificate programs in fashion styling, merchandising and retail cover the basics of how to select and alter clothes for clients, as well as the evolution of fashion trends in history. Certificate programs can be taken separately or within the context of a degree program.

Fashion styling involves creating a striking image that takes several aspects into account, such as lighting, location and make-up. Classes cover designs for different body types, fashion trends over time, and tailoring. Topics of study might include:

  • Alterations
  • Clothing construction
  • Clothing selection
  • Color theory
  • Fashion history

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Bachelor's Degree in Merchandising

Bachelor's degree programs in visual merchandising and fashion design teach students how to aesthetically communicate fashion trends to customers. Applicants typically need a high school diploma or GED to enter the program, and specific coursework must be completed before participating in field work.

Merchandising and fashion design programs teach students to produce visual images that make an impact in order to communicate and sell products such as jewelry and clothes to customers. Goals of merchandising professionals include enticing customers to enter a particular store, reinforcing branding, and selling fashions by encouraging mental associations between products and certain lifestyle choices. Depending on the specific major, coursework might include:

  • Apparel design
  • Drawing techniques
  • Marketing
  • Merchandising theory

Popular Careers

Stylist jobs are well-suited to people who pay attention to fashion news, enjoy coordinating outfits and make a statement through their clothes and accessories. Graduates of certificate and degree programs could find work in entry-level jobs as assistants or trainees to designers, marketing specialists or advertisers.

With on-the-job experience and industry training, graduates with a bachelor's degree might find higher-level or more prestigious work with well-known designers, manufacturers or photographers. Volunteer positions are an accepted way for novice stylists to make contacts and develop their own portfolio. In addition to working as fashion stylists or assistants, individuals might find work as one of the following:

  • Assistant buyer
  • Merchandise buyer
  • Textile designer
  • Visual merchandising consultant
  • Wardrobe consultant
  • Fashion writer

Salary Information

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median salary for fashion designers was $63,670 per year, and often depended on the designers' experience. The highest-paying states included Georgia and Massachusetts.

Certificate and bachelor's degree programs train aspiring fashion stylists on topics such as clothing selection, color theory, and fashion history to prepare them for careers working with photography, hair, make-up, and modeling professionals. A certificate may be earned within a degree program, and both options include practical fieldwork.

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