10 Things Every Great Fashion Stylist Should Have in Their Kit

After interning in New York City for one of the most influential fashion stylists of the past 30 years and Fashion Editor at Large at ELLE Magazine, I have been humbled. I was instructed to "blow apart" her styling kit piece by piece and check to see what was missing, and what was ready for her next shoot (that shoot happened to be the Saks Fifth Avenue September Catalogue) which I also assisted on set. It was completely daunting and her kit was HUGE. It takes a lot of time and money to build up a successful and diverse fashion stylist's kit and a stylist is only as good as her tools and ideas. Some of my best ideas have been literally made on the set of a photo shoot and the fact that I was prepared made the difference between me executing my idea and "saving" the idea for another day. Of course I'll never share all of the secrets I learned interning in the studio, but I can take her kit into consideration when designing my own. I am  certainly not on her level and I'm self-taught. Here are the things I believe to be important when preparing to style a professional photo shoot. Just to clarify, I've never had a hair, make-up or creative director on set with me. It's all up to me, so I over compensate a bit.
1. Wooden Clothes Pins, Safety Pins, Hair Pins: I used to think these were annoying and tried to do without them. Now I'm glad I've learned the wonders they can produce in a pinch when clothing or hair just isn't sitting correctly.
2. Insect Repellant, Sunscreen, Sunhat, Umbrellas, Thermal Blanket, Allergy Medication: (for outdoor shoots): You never know what you'll be dealing with on an outdoor shoot, and it's best to be prepared for your models with these things in case if anything goes wrong. You need to be able to tend to their needs at a moment's notice... it's your job as a fashion stylist. Make sure to ask previous to the shoot if they have allergies or any complications that you need to prepare for.
3. Chicken Cutlets, Breast Tape, Pasties, Pedicure Sandles, Strapless Bras (in each model's size in black & skin tone), Back-up Tights, Socks, Nude & Black Thong Underwear: So here's the deal with tights and socks and shoes... I always have extras and I always let my models wear my tights, socks, and shoes. I always try to make sure they're in good condition and clean, and sometimes I cut full tights into knee socks when I can't salvage the whole tight. In the professional world- there are tights galore, but I am not rich. Be resourceful and think. How can you get the most out of your product? Write your ideas down. It's also important to learn about "chicken cutlets"... no, these are not food for your models, they are plastic breast enhancers that work kind of like a push up bra when the model cannot wear a bra due to the garment's structure. Ask the models to bring their flat shoes to walk to the location if it's outside. never take a chance to ruin heels while walking to the location.
4. Robes and Slippers for each model, Slips in black and nude: This really applies with studio shoots. Your models need to be able to eat and drink and walk on their breaks and you cannot be worrying about them spilling something on their garments. That is something you do NOT have time to be worrying about. If it's an outdoor shoot and it's cold, ask them to bring along their favorite coat, gloves, ear muffs (less likely to mess up their hair), etc. Slips are important, too. The model may not always have a slip on hand- it's your job to provide one that fits them.
5. Garment Steamer & Access to Water (or a jug of water): This is SO incredibly important to have a garment steamer on hand at all times. A photograph can pick up the smallest wrinkle and photoshop can do amazing things, but you cannot rely on that fact. Be professional. Steam your garments before the model wears them. NEVER steam a garment on a person!!! Make sure you have access to water to refill your steamer or bring a jug of water. If you don't have electricity, you'll have to do without and steam before you bring the garments to set. Here's hoping your garments won't get too mangled!
6. Organic deodorant & clear deodorant, Tissues, Tooth Brush and Tooth Paste: You need to have extra for your models and you need to consider that they may only wear the fancy organic deodorant. Also consider bringing a new tooth brush and tooth paste for each model. Tissues are great, too... you must always be prepared!
7. Clothing Racks, Hangers & Garment Bags with Labels, String, Tags: You need some sort of contraption to hang your client's clothing on, you'll need hangers, and garment bags to keep the clothes clean and tidy when traveling to and from the location. Make sure you label each bag because when it's returned to the client- it needs to hair their name and a list of the contents. If you're lucky, an intern of yours will return the garments after the shoot. If not, you'll be prepared either way! 
8. Tylenol & Advil (Ibuprofen): No one wants to deal with YOU if you have a headache and the model certainly doesn't want to have pain on the shoot. Be prepared with both types. 
9. Stain Remover & Static Guard: Shout Pens, Shout Wipes and Tide to Go are great and don't rely on photoshop to "shop out" the stains that might occur. Be professional and make sure they don't appear. Make-up remover is important, too! Static Guard is your BFF!
10. Snacks and water: If a model faints because you were neglecting them... well, that's your fault. Make sure you ask your models and crew before the shoot if they fancy any particular healthy snacks you can bring for them. Always bring WATER. Keeping hydrated is pivotal!
Disclaimer: If you're touching up make-up yourself, I recommend bringing q-tips. extra make-up you'll need, clean brushes and powder with clean sponges for application.
If you're also bringing props and decorating the set, don't forget scissors, tape, and try to think ahead of time if your models will be sitting down on a crochet blanket. If the ground is not dry, bring an extra blanket to place under the crochet blanket to absorb any residue. Don't let the ground ruin your model's clothing! As always, take behind the scenes photos and try to have a good time! XO


Naomi Jonker said...

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Im following your blog now in bloglovin,
wanna check my blog?
Lots of love,

Naomi Jonker said...

Love the article!
Im following your blog now in bloglovin,
wanna check my blog?
Lots of love,

irene wibowo said...

Cool! :) Irene Wibowo

Helen Mae said...

I'm not a fashion stylist, nor am I likely to ever become one, but this was a really interesting read! I hadn't thought about how much kit you would actually need for your styling but having seen it laid out like this, it all makes sense.

Dus of Cuddly Cacti said...

i found this really intersting. i've never done a big photoshoot, just one friend at a time, and often I'm still my own model, but i still loved these tips, so so much goes into it & it's awesome how you're so professional w/ everything looking perfectly beautiful.

~K said...

wow, this looks like some serious hard work! I'm amazed at how much you have to put into this kind of thing.

~ K

Crissy (Dainty Fawn) said...

I found out how important insect repellant was for my shoots. So many bug bites on everyone but the model luckily, now I bring a spray can for sunset photos! I don't have any stylists for my team yet so I'm thinking I need to bring all of this myself.. to be extra prepared.

Peter Kim said...