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I Want To Be A Fashion Stylist What EDUCATION Do I Need?

Master Level Training.jpg

There are many fashion, art, design, photography and film schools ready to enroll students who show an interest in learning skills to launch careers.  Choosing which one to attend can be a daunting experience.  There are many factors involved when you set out to choose a school.  We cannot possibly cover the broad range of options available to future stylists here, BUT we can give you a few pointers to help you on your way.

First, narrow down your interests.  Think about your passions and analyze the direction they have taken you.  Ask yourself questions about the jobs you have had in the past and the experiences that have come your way – what did you like or not like?  What did you like enough to want to pursue further?

Keep in mind that formal education is not a requirement for a successful fashion styling career.  Work experience, contacts, good taste and a practiced “eye” are the most important talents you need to succeed.  Combine these assets with the previously mentioned enthusiasm and reliability and the fashion world is your oyster.

To learn the basics about fashion, color and image, I would recommend taking small courses to round out specific experience or knowledge you are lacking.  Many image consultants offer courses in these subjects.  You can get a complete listing of Fashion Styling and Image Consulting courses on line at  This site is for the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI), a global organization that upholds gold-standard certifications for Image and Style professionals.

You will also want to do a fair amount of “self-education” by studying the latest fashion magazines and periodicals to educate yourself on recent style movements, current trends, updates on designers and more.  The more you know about up to the minute trends in design and style, the more inventive you can be.  You can use this information for the creative components of your projects.

Be plugged in. As a stylist, you influence trends and create new, exciting looks for fashion followers so, be plugged in to current events happening around you. Know who the hot new bands are, the latest eatery to open or who is dating whom for example. All these cultural threads can lead back to the work you do to create an exciting vision for the client.
— Gillian Armour, Master Fashion Stylist

Using Diagonal Lines in Fashion Design and Styling

Using Diagonal Lines in Fashion Design and Styling

I like to explore a variety of principles and elements of fashion design to style a client and make her look her very best. As both a stylist and teacher, I've always been interested in showing the "how" of the key components of fashion. One of the trickiest elements of fashion design is the diagonal line.

Plus Size Tips to Help Clients Look Great

Are you consulting with Plus Size clients? Here is a tip sheet for you to hand out. Often, women who are plus size feel that they simply cannot look good. Not true. While it can be difficult to find something attractive when you are larger than the average sizes, it is definitely possible to put together outfits that look fabulous every time. Being plus size does not doom you to a life of black outfits. Plus size women can look great all the time; it is just a matter of choosing to follow these ideas.

1) Start With a Strong Foundation

No matter what your outfit, be sure to start with figure-enhancing foundation garments. Bras, slips, pantyhose, and even a comfortable shaper can make a huge difference. You want smooth lines underneath your clothing so the eye goes where it should and not to a bulky undergarment pushing through.

2) Make It Fit

There is a silly myth that larger women should use loose-fitting clothes, but that is actually not a good idea. Clothes that fit your body, no matter what size, will always look better than bulky clothes that hide your assets. With a nice, fitted shirt and pants, you will always look much thinner you look than in a baggy sweater.

3) Darker Colors Are Slimming

Bright colors do make you look larger. Don’t dismiss them – balance them with a darker color as darker colors make you look slimmer. Black, navy blue and burgundy are all very classy options that will make your clothes look better on your body. Add some darker neutrals to your wardrobe to help you look great.

4) Prints Should Be Proportionate

Have you ever seen a plus size woman in a dress with a tiny print all over it? It usually results in making her look far larger than she actually is. Much like a petite woman´s body would be overwhelmed by a large print, small prints are not usually suitable for larger women. Sometimes a small print combined with a bold larger colored stripe can look great. Evaluate each print option individually knowing that the smaller the print the bigger you will look.

5) Avoid Stiff, Bulky Fabrics

There is no need to bulk yourself up by using fabrics that stand out from your skin and add visual weight. The same goes for ruffles or layers. They add unnecessary bulk to your look. Rather than going with stiffer fabrics, look for ones that are light and flow without clinging, as clingy fabric just enhances any bulges.

6) Keep Accessories Proportional

What you use to enhance your wardrobe counts too. Everything from earrings and necklaces, to belts, scarves and handbags should be scaled to your size. A tiny clutch or delicate chain will only serve to make you appear larger than you are. Make sure your jewelry and other accessories are proportionate to your size for the best results. Do not hesitate to wear bold statement pieces. Leave the dainty earrings to the petite ladies – on you they will look out of place.

7) Wear What You Feel Comfortable In

All these tips can be helpful in creating a look that makes you feel confident and look great no matter what your size. No one looks good when they feel uncomfortable, make sure you also choose clothing that makes you feel good and you are comfortable wearing. The confidence you display when you feel at ease will shine through and help enhance any outfit.

8) Time For a Closet Review

It is important that you always feel you have some great outfits to wear. If your size fluctuates, keep only a few outfits at your smaller size, not a whole closet full. If you do, you will feel like you have tons of clothes but you never have anything to wear. Go take a look at your wardrobe and do an honest assessment of what you’ve got and what you might need. Try things on, send anything to the cleaners that needs attention and send anything to the seamstress that needs mending. Invest a few hours in putting different outfits together, and deciding which accessories finish out the look.

Follow the guidelines above and then go do some shopping to fill any holes in your wardrobe. With a little attention to your look, you will feel and look great every time you get dressed.

How to Modernize Your Headshot

Are you stuck in a nineties rut with your head-shot? Is the background color of your head-shot photo blue, khaki or white? If so then it’s time to modernize. Recently I took a look at the last round of head-shots I had done 6 years ago and realized that not only had styles changed but I had changed as well. My hair is a lighter shade, my face more mature and my attitude more confident. I wanted a new image of myself that reflected these changes. Taking another “portrait studio” head-shot didn’t feel like the best option to reflect my new attitude! As image consultants it is our professional duty to present a successful and updated image but nothing says “outdated” like a headshot photo that looks last decade. Yes, I know, there is such a thing as a formal head-shot (basic black, blue or white background) and these are okay if you (or your client) need to appear “corporate”.   Image, fashion or style consultants should look modern, in style and approachable to their clients, even corporate ones. Clients look to you to set the tone for the consult and if one of the first things they see is a boring, uncreative head-shot they can  jump to the conclusion that that’s who you are. Remember, you only make a first impression once.

Many of our clients are also looking for advice on how to take a profile photo to look fashionable, to attract others or to promote their personal brand. A good headshot can do all these things. So lead by example. And keep in mind that on social media people change their profile/ head-shot images monthly, weekly, or even daily, so sticking with the same image month in month out says you aren’t keeping up with the times.

Here are a few tips for transitioning to a modern head-shot:

  • Look for and hire a good photographer using outdoor lighting, interesting props, and colorful interiors, not just solid color backdrops or green screens.
  • Arrange for the photographer to shoot in environments that reflect personality (your consulting studio, a fashion showroom, or a boutique, for example).
  • Visit Pinterest and key in “modern head-shots” – you will get lots of ideas and inspiration.
  • Don’t rely on your iPhone or amateur photography when creating a head-shot.
  • Don’t limit your creativity when composing the shot – have fun, be yourself but with the goal of creating a photo image that conveys a modern sense of style – you are, after all, an image consultant!
  • Finally - don't be too wild with color, props or poses. Be authentically you and project your personality in your photo.


Check out this site for ideas of successful head-shots taken outdoors with interesting backgrounds.

Google “cool head-shot photos” to see how others are transforming the head-shot of old!

Gillian Armour, AICI CIP

What is an Image Stylist?

An Image Stylist makes you look good!  She works closely with her clients to style favorite looks, elevate taste levels, and counsel on the elements of fashion image (taste, style, relevance) and the principles of fashion design (proportion, fit, color). In essence an Image Stylist is just that – she styles your image. Her methods are entrenched in the fashion world – not the “executive image” world. She has a passion for fashion and for the creativity involved in fashioning her clients. She is an expert on clothing silhouettes, personal color, editing a closet, clothes shopping and wardrobe management. Her modern take on style includes updating you on what’s in and what’s out. She works closely with a client on grooming style, speaking style and fashion style. She has a broad knowledge of designers, brands, trends, and styles (from couture to street) and probably has a thriving blog all about the OOTD. She has a keen eye for detail, fit, tailoring and construction along with an innate understanding on body image issues, esteem challenges and confidence factors that can be impacted by a positive image.

Think you are ready for this exciting new profession? If you’d like to learn how to certify and earn education credits as an Image Stylist Professional then visit our course catalog and read more here Certify Me.

Which Career Track Should I Choose?

Here at Fashion Stylist Institute we are deluged with questions when its back to school time.  This weeks post highlights one of the top questions we were asked this week - Which course should I choose?  Since we offer over 10 courses we thought it best to spell out the CAREER description of our top 3. These are Image Consultant, Fashion Stylist and Wardrobe Stylist.  It is a bit hard to distill all that these careers entail and the type of training that goes in to mastering the skills of each job so we will try to highlight what each career means to those starting out.

A Fashion Stylist works primarily with editorial, retail, photography and entertainment clients and occasionally with one-on-one celebrity clients. Their training and education is slanted toward developing a strong visual sense, an understanding of color, proportion and the principles and elements of design.  A Fashion Stylist can be a Personal Stylist to an individual.  Their strength lies in their ability to combine outfits, accessories, hair, makeup etc. into a creative style story for the client.

An Image Consultant works primarily with individual clients (private) on their appearance standards, can go into niche markets, such as consultation with corporate clients, and does personal shopping, closet edits, and wardrobe planning. Education and training slants toward understanding body shape, fit, tailoring, color, hair and personality traits.  Image Consultants are the all-around Jack’s and Jill’s of the image trades.  They can do a lot of everything related to the ‘A, B, C’s’* of image and can also specialize in niche markets.  A professionally trained Image Consultant can style for a photo shoot, analyze client body type and style personality, shop for clients, manage closet inventory, and process closet and wardrobe edits.

A Wardrobe Stylist is a professional who works with wardrobe, owned by an individual client or a corporate client, such as a movie studio, a fashion retailer, fashion designer, or photographer.  They are experts at organizing, curating and developing clothing collections.  Wardrobe Stylists are also experts on the emotional aspects of clothing collections, how to organize a closet, how to shop for (or with) a client and how to maintain collections to last a long time.

The career tracks of Fashion Styling, Image Consulting and Wardrobe Styling can, of course, have overlapping skills and techniques.  A Fashion Stylist can and does process wardrobe styling for clients and a Wardrobe Stylist can and does work with celebrity clients on their personal style or image.

Each of these consultants should be active in social media by writing articles and keeping clients up to date with original blog posts and re-posting of relevant fashion news.  To help with that we just released a new certification course for the Fashion Blogger.  (a post for next week)

*Appearance, Behavior and Communication - consulting skills and techniques learned by studying the core competencies of Image Consultant Certification.

10 Steps To Creating an Effortlessly Chic Image

By Gillian Armour Have you always secretly envied some women’s ability to look effortlessly chic? Follow these 10 simple steps to help you and your clients achieve that look effortlessly!

1. Look behind you. It is very important to review how you look before leaving your house. You never know, you might have tucked your jacket into your waistband or there is a big bleach spot on the back of those jeans. And, as happens more commonly, your clothing fit from behind looks awful. Always double check by holding a hand mirror and looking to see how good (or bad) your rear appears!

2. Color-coordinate your outfits. One of the easiest ways to color coordinate your clothing is to choose clothes in the same color family. For instance, wear a cream blouse with a cream skirt or a white blouse with cream pants. Likewise a gray jacket with black pants. Learn to work with neutrals. If you know how to use neutral colors as the base of your wardrobe you can add color via accessories, bags, scarves, jewelry etc. Experts rely on color wheels to coordinate. If you do not own a color wheel go out and buy one. They save you time and money when learning to coordinate a chic wardrobe. To use effectively - choose neighboring colors on the wheel to coordinate outfits.

3. Find a signature piece. Pearls, scarves, hats, colors etc. these details can become your “signature”. Many celebrities and style icons are memorable for their signatures and creating your own doesn't have to be difficult. You can start with something as simple as a colorful necklace. Does this signature (symbol) define your colorful personality perhaps? Do you see your “self” as romantic? Conservative? Casual? Sexy? Or dramatic? For example, Sophia Loren’s style is dramatic. Her features are very prominent, her face distinctly Roman; her hourglass figure voluptuous and her personality passionate. Her signature look “dramatic” is a true reflection of who she is. Once you define your personality it's easy to find a signature to stamp your style.

4. Tailor your clothes. To create a chic look wear clothes that fit you perfectly. This requires you pay attention to detail. Sleeves need to be long enough, pants, not too short, jackets fitted at the shoulder and waist, blouses tailored to your body shape. But be warned -when you buy off-the-rack clothing you run the risk of improper fit. I’m not saying don’t buy off-the-rack, just that you’ll need a good tailor to fit them to your shape. Make sure the clothes you’re wearing are comfortable otherwise you project discomfort and restlessness.

5. Get a stylish hairstyle - a little bit of research and consultation with a great hairstylist will lead to the perfect haircut for your facial shape. Unless you’re a quick study, you do not know your facial shape and without knowing it you’ll never know which styles are flattering for you. Consulting with a pro is free. There are also on-line sites that help you determine your facial shape. You can try on virtual hairstyles suitable to your facial shape. As in clothing, your hairstyle should reflect your personality.

6. Pay attention to details - your hair, your smile, how you feel when you wear a beautiful dress, little, but important details help you feel confident, empowered and positive. Paying attention to details is not just about whether your buttons are buttoned, your snaps are snapped, or your belt is belted, it's about the relevancy of detail: from beautiful buttons, quality belts and fabrications, to excellent tailoring and fit. And, don’t forget accessory details - socks should match your shoes and pants, your handbag style should be congruent with your clothes etc.

7. Wear good jewels. I recently reviewed an international publication's best-dressed list. What caught my eye was that each of these best-dressed women wore important jewelry. Chic jewelry does not have to be a big investment but an investment in chic-ness is always great. Three strands of pearls or a gold cable chain necklace, an elegant watch or a pair of pearl (or gold) earrings are all you actually need to look chic. Costume jewelry is rarely chic (unless it’s vintage). Stick with the classics, and you cannot go wrong.

8. Speak Chic. Many chic women I know are multilingual. When they converse in English they throw in a few native words for effect. If English is your only language it's still easy to incorporate foreign words into your conversation. This will make you seem incredibly chic, worldly and accomplished. Compare how “ I love the way you look today” sounds to “J’adore how you look” and you’ll hear what I mean!

9. Manners and etiquette. These are at the heart of what chic is. If your manners and etiquette skills are impeccable you can get by with a relaxed appearance. However, for our purposes (creating a chic look) let's decide that manners, perfect etiquette and a chic appearance add up to one very chic woman. These days there are so many etiquette professionals and classes, both in person and online that no one can use the excuse that they never learned how to be socially appropriate. To me perfect manners transcend other imperfections. If your manners are perfect you are too!

10. Be Charming. Charm is one of the most important aspects of a woman's personality and one of the greatest contributors to being chic. When you can turn on the charm and incorporate it into your overall image then you will be chic. Even in this world of “all business, all the time” don’t fear using your feminine charms. Best dressed women always rely on charm as the path to chic-ness!

And if all else fails you can consult one of our professionals or train to become a professional consultant in style, fashion, etiquette or color style. Visit our campus courses online 24/7/365

Stop Calling Men and Women These Names

by Gillian Armour

Even if no harm is meant - I have a hard time with being called an apple. Or a pear, a tomato, a strawberry or a banana. When did it become acceptable to define women like this? I am not a fruit or a vegetable! Yes I am a shape, I have a body shape but who made it a rule to define me by something I can find in the grocery section?

You see I am a professional image consultant, trained and certified with years of experience working with men and women on defining their body-shapes. In all my years of training I was never encouraged to call clients I am counseling by a fruit or vegetable term. In our profession we use proper geometric terms – a more respectful and empowering way to describe the human body shape. So a “pear” is actually called a triangle shape and an “apple” shape is defined to our clients as “round.”

Moreover, our male clients are never identified as eggplant, carrot or kiwi etc. Can you imagine the shocked look of a male client if I told him he measured as a tomato?

Please, all you writers and wanna-be consultants out there – pro up and call your client's body by its geometric shape please – square, inverted triangle, triangle, round, hourglass or rectangle. Your readers, clients and listeners will appreciate your show of respect. And I will like it very much!

More and More Fashion Stylist Jobs Available

by staff Last month we searched for resources to offer students seeking freelance stylist jobs. There were a few jobs posted. What a difference a month makes! Now our search yields multiple postings for fashion stylists, junior stylists, bridal stylists and more. Nordstrom, Net a Porter and Urban Outfitters, as well as many smaller businesses, are posting. Here are the sites to visit to see if you might land that new job and start a brand new path in your life. Indeed and Style Careers.

Plug for us: Fashion Stylist Institute can train you today and get you ready for any stylist job.

Hot New Career Certifications

By popular DEMAND we have released two new certification courses. Visual Branding AND Jewelry Styling - these niche markets are ready for highly trained and qualified experts.

Are you ready to help clients in desperate need of style attention and great advice? You should be since so many people get their visual styling wrong. Our courses introduce the seasoned consultant AND the novice in the components of style, image and fashion. Training with us gets you into a business of your own doing what you love to do.

Help clients in their pursuit of success by creating a Visual Brand that is unforgettable and fast tracks your clients to more success. Check out Visual Branding Certification details and for those of you eager to understand facial shape, to give hair-style advice, to select THE best jewelry and accessories for the client then the Jewelry Stylist Certification course is a must for you.

Secrets of Image Consultants

by Gillian Armour, AICI CIP

I work in a visually oriented business that requires me to pass judgment on people’s appearance. People actually pay me to judge how they look. We Image Consultants are probably the only professionals who can get away with critiquing others looks and making money at it (OK, pageant judges come to mind as well); however, the public perception is that we do it in a critical way and I want to dispel that myth.

As trained professionals we learn how to be supportive in our critiques. We hold an internal attitude of respect for our clients AND we practice constructive criticism and positive feedback (not the negative “pick-you-apart” that you see on reality shows). The professionals among us practice a sort of therapy. Our clients trust us to help them, they trust our advice; they come to us stuck in issues such as lack of self-esteem, body image challenges, and identity crises. Together we work with them to get them beyond these issues and toward greater esteem, confidence and power.

During the consulting process a powerful change occurs. Clients begin to see themselves as they truly are. They see that their unique body shape, skin-tone, height, weight, posture, mannerisms and quirky parts equal a person who is worthy of self-respect and self-love. This realization leads to change in an internal dialog that they’ve been having as long as they can remember which usually went something like this “Ugh, I am so fat, have big hips, big nose, my hair sucks, I am not tall enough, I need a boob job, I don’t know how to look good, nobody ever compliments me, I have a double chin, my hair is gray, my lips aren’t full enough”….and on and on. Men, too, have internalized this negative self-talk but their inner conversation is more like “My pecs are too small, I don’t have defined abs, I’m not tall enough, good looking enough, etc., etc.”

As you know, this negative self-talk fosters and supports many industries. For example, the cosmetic, health, surgery, diet, fashion and beauty companies thrive from women who have brainwashed themselves into thinking they are less than perfect. The truth, that each of us is beautiful, unique and perfect, stays buried as women buy into the messages these industries send our way day in, day out, year in, year out with their advertising and marketing.

With this in mind, we help the client throughout the consultation frame her self-image in a positive light and guide her toward self-acceptance. Almost immediately her internal dialog shifts simply to “I love myself.” With our help she starts the process of stopping the negative self-talk. Finally she can see her true self and not one measured by the impossible ideal that marketers have held her to.

When a man or a woman can see themselves for who they are, can accept all their perceived flaws as unique qualifiers of individual beauty and attraction, can change their perspective of self to a healthy one, then they can stop spending time, money and energy on the external fixes of surgery, diet fads and trendy fashion to “fix” themselves. Helping each client to recognize that they have a beauty inside waiting to be expressed on the outside is what successful “image” consultants do. We don’t criticize, we don’t judge negatively, and we don’t feed negative self-talk. We help reveal the natural beauty that is already there.

©2013 All Rights Reserved Gillian Armour

Online Shopping Versus Personal Shopping A Primer for Personal Shoppers

by Gillian Armour, Certified Elite Personal Shopper

Recently there has been an uptick in students certifying with us as Professional Personal Shoppers. It’s my unscientific opinion that the trend goes hand in hand with the rise in spending online. Women (and men), feeling comfortable with the online experience, are shopping more and more with their digits and devices. The smart ones, recognizing that there are pitfalls, are turning to image consultants BEFORE they make the common shopping mistakes (some discussed below) - hence our enrollment goes up!

I got to thinking about the technology shift in shopping when I was interviewed by a fashion writer for input about the differences between online shopping and the in-person Personal Shopper experience. The following is my take on the trends happening in online shopping and what this means for...

Online Shopping V Personal Shopping by Gillian Armour PDF

Looking Bad to Feel Bad?

© by Gillian Armour, AICI CIP Recently I Googled “fashion tips” and 10,000,000 links came up. That’s TEN MILLION! I did this to see how much fashion information was readily accessible on the internet by just typing in 11 letters!!

Why is it, considering that how we look and dress is the most important visual message we give to others, there are still women and men who dress horribly? Is it really a modern truism that most of us prefer to send the message that we don’t care enough about ourselves to bother looking nice? There is a very thin line between casual and careless. I personally think society is screaming for a fashion intervention!

It’s super scary to think that “sweatshirts” are now the fashion designers’ basic line item. Have you searched for “sweatshirt” on Saks Fifth Avenue’s or Neiman Marcus’ site lately? I just did and found couture designers Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Jason Wu, Lanvin and more offering SWEATSHIRTS! Some made out of chiffon, leather, silk and even rabbit skin! This, I think, is a direct consequence of the laid back casual lifestyle driven by the technophiles and their hoodie wearing founders! But is this where we as women who do care about how we look want to go?

Screen Grab:

For too long women have been on the receiving end of fashion design trends and fads (less so for men who have their own dress codes) attempting to brainwash them into thinking that fast and casual fashion is fashion. It’s not fashion. It’s just cheap clothing. And cheap clothing does not fit well, does not flatter, does nothing for your style personality. Sweatshirts with a fancy name attached are still sweatshirts. They are still shapeless and send casual (careless?) messages of sport not beauty. Do we always have to follow ‘fashion’ rather than learning what truly flatters our unique, individual shape and style?

These days true fashion statements are about as rare as the Papuan Bird of Paradise and when we do see them (fashion week, Harajuku, celebrities) we ‘oooh’ and ‘aaaw’. And the reason we respond so well to these fashion peacocks is because they remind us of beauty, of attraction, of our basic human goodness. We like to see men and women looking good; deep down all of us want to send positive visual messages to others. We just don’t know how and yet, and yet it is really as simple as typing in those 11 letters!

Learning, as always, is the key, learning how to sort through the ten million “fashion tips” links to find true fashion for you rather than the casual/careless ‘filler’. And of course this is where an image consultant comes in.

About that intervention – I think it’s time we rallied and started a new trend and call it DRESSING UP. I, for one, am in the mood these days to welcome the chance to look great, and in fact, I encourage it in my clients. I love to get them in the dress up mode and watch as their self-esteem rockets. That’s what clothes and appearance are all about – looking good to feel good not looking bad to feel bad.

Fashion Design Essay

With very little effort, say a new pair of dark wash jeans for a guy or a simple dress for a lady can easily help someone stand out from the sea of yoga pants and bike shorts.