How to Become a Fashion Consultant

You know those shows on reality TV where they give someone with a completely terrible sense of style a complete makeover? They throw out, cut up, or make disappear every piece of clothing they own and then go shopping to get a new wardrobe? Well, the people who pick the clothes are, of course, fashion consultants.

Having said this, a fashion consulting career does not have to mean working for reality TV. There are many paths to choose from. You can become a fashion consultant in the retail industry, working directly for clothing stores; you might want to work for a large brand in their main office or a fashion consulting firm. On the other hand, you can have a more individual career, consulting for private clients, and not always necessarily celebrities, although that’s a great source of income.

So what would your work look like? It could be anything from choosing clothing, shoes and accessories, to make-up, hair and working with your clients’ manner of carrying themselves to boost their confidence. You might be helping to create a brand, in the case of public figures or simply to improve someone’s look and style to help them get a job, enter an industry, etc.

Fashion consulting is a competitive industry, and while it can be very lucrative, it could also be unstable, unpredictable and difficult to get into. However, with the right mix of passion, skills and personality, it can be a great choice. Here is an infographic on the Fashion Consulting career.

WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING

Jason Nik

Fashion Consultant and Life Coach

Quick Look Bio

  • Name:
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  • Jason Nik
  • Palm Springs, CA
  • 11
  • Fashion Consultant & Life Coach
  • @JNikLC

I had always been intrigued by fashion. In high school, however, I was always giving relationship advice. My advice became so requested, and I became so busy that I eventually decided to start charging for my time. It was in undergrad that I discovered the career of Life Coaching, and realized that I had been doing that all along. Not only did I love helping people with fashion, relationships, confidence, and achieving their goals – I was great at it. So I stuck to it and officially became a Life Coach. I knew understanding people would be extremely beneficial to my career so I went on to earn a Masters in Psychology.

On an average day, I meet clients to find out what their specific goal is and work to achieve that goal. On rare occasion, that will consist of redoing their entire wardrobe, but mostly I will show clients what changes they can make to the wardrobe they already have and make them stylish and confident. Everybody can become confidently stylish, my job is to help them discover how.

I love helping people. That is what makes me so passionate about what I do. Opening people’s eyes to their true selves. Whether it’s in fashion, dating, or confidence.

I don’t have any dislikes, though I think it is funny when people make assumptions of what I do based on TV and film. For example, a lot of people watch these makeover reality shows and assume that’s exactly what being a fashion consultant is all about. They think I’m going to raid their closets, toss out their clothes, and then we’re going to go shopping. There’s so much more to the kind of Fashion Consulting that I do, which is part of the reason I classify what I do as a Life Coach. I’m not simply updating their wardrobe to what’s trendy; I’m working with the individual client to understand them and find a style that is authentic to them.

Advice

Why are you different?
You’re not the only Fashion Consultant out there, so ask yourself what is it about you that makes you stand out from the rest. Why do potential clients want to go to you and not someone else? Clients come to me because they know I’m a Life Coach, they know about my background in Psychology, and they know that I won’t simply follow trends with them. I will find the style that always remains true to who they are and raises their confidence to new heights. Find what makes you unique so people want to hire you.

Do some learning
A formal education in Fashion Consulting can always be a plus, but it’s not necessary. If you learn better on your own, study on your own. If you learn better in school, go to school. Whichever method best teaches you the ins and outs of being a Fashion Consultant — follow that method, because ultimately that is what will give you the best education.

Shari Barnett

Productions Plus – The Talent Shop

Quick Look Bio

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  • Shari Barnett
  • Detroit, MI
  • 27
  • Productions Plus – The Talent Shop
  • Talent Management & Event Staffing
  • @productionsplus

I graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design. As a consultant, every day is different, which makes my days exciting. On a given day I could be working on concept/story boards, researching trends, scheduling client meetings or presentations, placing store orders and working with talent to confirm accurate alterations and overall look.

I like that every day is different – it never gets monotonous. I love the development and creative input at the beginning of the season when we merge the “hard properties” of an auto show display with the soft lines of garments to meld into one cohesive look. What I dislike is that there never seems to be enough time in a day to accomplish everything I want to do.

Advice

Networking and self-promotion are key
This doesn’t always come easily for a lot of creative people, but it is a necessity in making a name for yourself. Network and get experience in any way that you can – whether you intern, volunteer or are hired on multiple jobs. Build your resume with various experiences so you completely understand every aspect of the industry. I have done everything in my career from retail, packing boxes, dressing runway shows in NY, working in a designer showroom, designing from concept through to production, worked in factories in Asia, and traveled Europe for trends. Nothing is beneath you, experience is everything!

Open yourself up to various avenues
Learn about other industries and be inspired by them (even something like architecture can inspire fashion and shouldn’t be ignored). Know what is trending in the world as this will influence fashion as well. Meet and listen to people in all walks of life and various careers as you never know what link will help you on your path.

Educate yourself
Whether it’s a formal education or on your own, learn every aspect of fashion. Even if you don’t sew, know how a garment is constructed, finished and how it wears. Know your fabrications inside and out. Learn and know the importance of good tailoring and what an impact this can make on a single garment or look. Always read about what is current in fashion. I am grateful to have had such a strong foundation with my education, and it has served me well. However, if you supply yourself with the information that you need and never stop learning, you can be successful.

Vincent Dolliole Jr.

StyleBadassChick

Quick Look Bio

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  • Vincent Dolliole Jr.
  • Vancouver, WA
  • 1
  • StyleBadassChick
  • Fashion Consulting
  • @sbcfashion

I graduated from the Aveda Institute and am currently going for an AA in Business Administration. Today, I am a fashion consultant and blogger. The average workday for me is spending a few hours researching and roaming sites, such as Pinterest. Then I will usually head to the mall with a client or have a Skype session.

What I like most is seeing that giant grin on the face of a client who can’t stop smiling due to how amazing I just made them look. As for dislikes, it would probably have to be when a person isn’t wanting to be cooperative or step out of their comfort zone by trying something new. I also wish I had known from the beginning just how much self-promotion it would take to get a decent amount of business.

Advice

Look around you
Start taking notice of the people around you and how they’re dressing. Get into the habit of seeing someone and thinking about what you would do to improve their outfit.

Get the knowledge
A high school diploma is probably the bare minimum. A degree in fashion marketing or design would be nice. It also helps to have some experience in retail. If only everyone knew what working retail is like…

Get word out
Maybe start off by offering someone, such as a friend, fashion consulting free of charge. Find a way to start getting the word out about it. Use your connections, or start making some if you don’t have any. Another option could be to write a book; having written one instantly adds more credibility to you as a professional.

What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become a Fashion Consultant?


The fashion industry isn’t necessarily one that relies entirely on your credentials. What it looks for is your portfolio, fashion sense and ability to network. That’s on the one hand. On the other, there are many people graduating with fashion degrees and making competition fiercer for those who have not earned one.

So while a high school diploma is the bare minimum you’ll need to become a fashion consultant, getting a degree might be a good idea to help you get into the industry and have credibility. Not only that, you will also learn the technical skills you need to be a great fashion consultant.

You have the option of getting a Bachelor or an Associate level degree in Fashion, Fashion Design, or Fashion Merchandising. You can also take related courses such as accessory design, jewelry design, fashion business, etc. Another path can be to get a certificate or diploma from an accredited institution. Finally, you can choose to self-teach through online courses and networking, although it might be the more difficult path.

WHAT IF I WANT TO GET A DEGREE TO BECOME A FASHION CONSULTANT?

  • Fashion Institute of Technology
    Part of the State University of New York, the FIT is located in a prime fashion location. This college offers a very wide range of programs, starting with the classic Fashion Design or Merchandising degree, but it also includes subjects such as International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries, Fabric Styling, Technical Design, and Advertising and Marketing Communications. In-state tuition averages $5,200, while out-of-state tuition is around $27,362.
  • Drexel University
    Located in Philadelphia, Drexel University is well-known for many programs, and its Westphal College of Media Arts & Design offers a great Fashion Design program. An advantage here is that you have the option of taking a Marketing or Communications minor at the same time, which is a great path for Fashion Consultants. Average tuition with no co-op is $46,386 per year.
  • Kent State University
    This college in Ohio has 3 programs that you can choose from if you are interested in studying fashion. You can focus your studies on Design, Merchandising, or Media, selecting from BA, BFA, or minor options. Tuition here costs $10,012 for in-state students and $17,972 out-of-state students.
  • Otis College of Art and Design
    Another fashion capital, Los Angeles, is home to the Otis College of Art and Design, a school completely focused on creative and design programs. Here you study Fashion Design and focus your schooling on sustainability if you choose. Tuition is an average of $38,290.
  • Columbus College of Art and Design
    Another Ohio college on our list is the Columbus College of Art and Design, once again with a specific focus on creative and design programs. Prospective Fashion Consultants can take a major in Fashion Design but also a minor in Business to complement their education. BFA tuition is $28,872 per year.

GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR

Like all jobs in the fashion industry, one of the main aspects to work on in order to get your foot in the door is networking. This is absolutely essential for a fashion consultant, since in order to get hired, your potential clients need to know who you are. Whether you meet people through completing your degree, going to industry events, completing an internship, LinkedIn, etc. doesn’t really make a difference. But you do need to make a lot of connections and begin to build your brand early.