From wardrobe styling to image consulting, personal styling, commercial, corporate and celebrity styling and so much more, fashion styling is an incredibly diverse career path. And editorial styling is undoubtedly one of the most coveted and exciting areas.

While editorial styling does involve working for publications, there’s a lot more to succeeding in this role than reading Vogue religiously or being up with the latest trends.

An editorial stylist is responsible for sourcing garments and accessories, and putting together looks for a shoot in a way which captures the brief and is on brand for the designer or publication commissioning the shoot. However, the responsibilities of a stylist working on an editorial shoot, often transcend just styling clothing.

A stylist’s primary job is to source and style the garments, but they will often be involved in developing the concept of the shoot, briefing the creative team as well as styling and directing the entire shoot from makeup to hair and even assisting with location sourcing.

“Creativity is the most important trait an editorial stylist must have,” says freelance stylist Josie Mcmannus. 

With images gracing the cover of Marie Claire Indonesia and the pages of ELLE, Grazia and L’Officiel and working for CottonOn Body, David Jones, Qantas and OLAY,  just to name a few, Josie has cemented herself as an established editorial stylist.

Born and raised in London, Josie moved to Melbourne when she was 19 and fell in love with styling while studying visual merchandising.

“I didn’t know anything about styling until I was introduced to it as part of my visual merchandising course at RMIT,” she says. “Once I discovered it I knew it was what I wanted to do. So I got myself work experience at a magazine in Sydney and moved to pursue my career there when my course finished.”

Since making the move, she has had a whirlwind career spanning over 15 years.

“Over the course of my styling career, I have worked on various mediums. This includes fashion, interiors, still life, fashion shows, personal styling and fashion editorial. But, shooting my first international cover this year for Marie Claire Indonesia was a personal goal kicking moment for me.”

Cultivating and maintaining relationships with other creatives is also one of the most important aspects of being a successful editorial stylist.

A stylist who builds strong relationships with designers and has access to exclusive brands will be a big drawcard for publications which may not otherwise be able to access certain pieces. Having an ability to collaborate and a shared respect for photographers, models, hair and makeup artists, as well as labels is crucial in this highly competitive industry.

A stunning portfolio and a resume full of impressive names are great. But, being known as someone who is respectful, diligent and genuinely helpful is equally as important as any technical skills you may have.

Tenacity and experience are also essential to becoming a successful editorial stylist, according to Josie.

“Getting experience in the industry through work experience or assisting a freelance stylist is key,” she says. “I assisted for six years before I began my freelance career. Those years of learning on the job are invaluable to me.”

Australian Style Institute students get the opportunity to assist the likes of Josie and other styling heavyweights such as Lana Wilkinson. Sydney-based ASI student Lauren Westlake, recently assisted Josie on a shoot for Marie Claire.

Josie says working with other creatives will help develop your portfolio but also expand your skills, knowledge and creativity.

“The more you shoot and share on social media the more likely you are to get noticed,” she says. “Contact fellow creatives. Get hair and make-up artists, photographers and models and start shooting together. Test, test, test! Explore your creativity and start building your portfolio.”

It probably goes without saying that to be an accomplished stylist you must have a knack for fashion. However, this is secondary to having a great eye for detail as well as being hardworking, flexible and focused.

A professional qualification will also make you a more credible, skilled and capable editorial stylist.

If you’re curious about becoming an editorial stylist, get in touch. 

Written by Kaitlyn Wilson.