Building a Styling Portfolio While Studying
- BY: SARAH SWIFT
- Oct. 9, 2017
Whether it’s your dream to be stylist to the stars, create cover-worthy editorial looks or help everyday people discover themselves through clothing, you’ll need a killer portfolio to promote your styling skills. Ahead, we look some tips and tricks for kickstarting your portfolio while you’re still studying.
Define your inspiration...You know you’re interested in styling, but can you hone in on what exactly draws you to it? Is it a professional stylist whose work you admire? New media that changes the way we consume fashion? A particularly inspiring place that’s brimming with interesting street style? Creating moodboards - think platforms like Pinterest, Polyvore or Tumblr - allows you to collate a visual representation of your aesthetic and helps you hone your eye for style. Whether you choose to keep them for personal reference, or share them with the world, one thing’s certain - keeping them fresh and up-to-date is key.
Shadow a stylist...While studying fashion styling is great, nothing compares to the hands-on experience you’ll get from shadowing a stylist. Look for internships and volunteer opportunities that will put you in the direct space of styling - think the fashion cupboard of a magazine, runway events, photography studios or fashion consultancies that work with everyday shoppers. While your tasks may not be glamorous (taping shoes and steaming are rites of passage!), you’ll be able to witness the action firsthand and gain invaluable knowledge into the realities of the job. Don’t be afraid to take on extra tasks and responsibilities if they arise - stylists are always on the lookout for an extra pair of hands, and developing good relationships can open many doors.
Network with peers...Those students you sit next to in class, or work alongside at your internship? Get to know them! Building a solid network of likeminded peers will serve you well both now and in the future - you never know if someone will know which magazine is looking for new interns, or if someone wants to collaborate on a styling project for school. It’s a small world, and even smaller in the industry - every connection you make helps to expand your network, and will prove useful when starting out.
Test your skills...It’s a fact that most creative jobs will want to see a body of work from potential candidates, and styling is no different. To start building your portfolio, you’ll need to take part in a test shoot. A test shoot occurs when one or more creatives get together to produce content for their respective portfolios, and is typically unpaid. It’s a great way for young photographers, stylists and other creatives to develop their skills without the pressure of paying clients looming over you. Put feelers out in your network to see who’s keen, and start shooting - the more you can add to your portfolio earlier, the better. Be mindful that your portfolio is a visual representation of your brand - keep it diverse, sharp and professional, and be sure to only include content you’d be proud to promote in a professional setting.
Find your medium...Once you’ve started to build a portfolio, you’ll need a platform to showcase your hard work. There’s a never-ending list of online platforms creatives can use to get their work out there - sites like Wix, Squarespace and Portfoliobox allow you to create beautiful online portfolios, while more mainstream platforms like Tumblr and Wordpress can be a great way to collate your content when just starting out. Visual-based social media apps like Instagram are a quick and easy way to showcase your work on the go - make sure you set up a separate account to use as your professional channel, and save the Friday night selfies and Sunday brunch shots for your personal account.