Fashion Consultant

What Is Fashion Consulting?

Fashion consultants (often intermixed with the terms image consultants or personal stylists) are artistic individuals who offer expert advice and make recommendations to people or companies about how to expand and develop a wardrobe that promotes their social and public image.  By assessing a person’s personality, career goals, and body type, a fashion consultant can recommend clothing and accessory choices that will enhance their appearance and boost their confidence.  Fashion consultants are typically self-employed and work on a contract basis, or they may assemble clothing and accessories for print and television programs, ad campaigns, editorial features, celebrities, models, and other public figures, or work for fashion companies, or in a retail environment. 

The range of duties a fashion consultant performs can be quite diverse, ranging from providing fashion advice and recommendations on entire outfits, individual pieces, styles, fabrics, or color, to increasing merchandise sales for a company or store by providing assistance to customers in the selection of attire.  And, although some individuals may set out to become a fashion consultant only to find they are not well-equipped to handle the day-to-day duties or they are not prepared to respond to client’s questions and requests, many fashion consultants are highly successful in the field. 

To stay ahead of the game as a fashion consultant, individuals must have a number of qualities and core skills, including excellent communication and interpersonal skills.  They must be friendly and outgoing, and able to gain customers’ trust and loyalty quickly, and maintain that trust overtime.  They must be willing and able to generate and pursue leads and follow up with current client’s requests and questions in a timely manner. They must be good multi-taskers, have great time management skills, and be highly organized in order to place orders for customers and schedule clients.  Successful fashion consultants are great listeners who are able to actualize a client’s personality and fashion taste right down to the smallest detail. 

As professionals, they also help companies increase their sales through building strong relationships with customers.  For instance, a label that focuses on appropriate attire for the office environment might bring in a fashion consultant to advise them on ways to reach college graduates. Or, if a public relations firm acquires a beauty client, they might pay a fashion consultant with connections to the beauty industry to hook them up with beauty editors.  More often, however, companies are looking for fashion consultants to advise them on long-term projects, which increasingly have to do with social media; that sometimes means providing advice through blogs and tweets.  Above all, however, a fashion consultant must demonstrate an up-to-the-minute knowledge of current trends in fashion and the fashion industry, maintain a professional demeanor, and demonstrate a personal (and professional) sense of style.

Fashion Consultant Education & Training Requirements

Although a formal education or degree is not necessary to become a fashion consultant, if you wish to advance in the field, gain clients, and secure a reputation in the industry, many individuals will choose to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in fashion design or merchandising or image consulting.  Individuals wishing to enter this field can also earn a degree in Fashion Technology, or certification in Image Styling and Fashion Consulting.  Some jobs require a bachelor’s degree.  Fashion consulting courses teach students the basics of the clothing industry, how to evaluate wardrobes, analyze body types and facial features, color theory, merchandising, marketing and retail, textiles, and trend predictions. 

Besides gaining a much broader knowledge of the fashion industry, a degree also shows employers or clients that you are dedicated to the field, and to the fashion industry.  A degree will also often include opportunities to intern in a retail store, or design studio. Internships are invaluable to gain hands-on experience and network with industry professionals. Most degree programs also offer portfolio class, which helps students put together a showing of their best work, including examples of their design skills, color harmonization and expertise, and fashion sense. 

If students choose to opt for industry certification, associations such as the Association of Image Consultants International provide professional certification for aspiring fashion consultants. Certification helps consultants stand out in this competitive field, and proves an individual’s dedication to the industry.  Most certification programs require applicants submit a portfolio of work and pass an exam. In order to maintain certification, consultants will also need to complete continuing education classes. 

Aspiring fashion consultants are also advised to attend workshops, take online courses, gain experience in retail establishments, network by joining associations and clubs, and staying up-to-date on the industry and fashion trends.

Fashion Consultant Work Environment & Job Description

Fashion consultants assemble clothes and accessories for print and television programs, editorial features, ad campaigns, retail stores, personal clients, and for celebrities, models and other public figures. They may be employed by leading fashion brands, or work freelance as an independent fashion consultant. 

Fashion consultants work in the following areas:

  • Personal fashion consulting, providing fashion advise to clients
  • Personal shopper
  • Wardrobe or show styling
  • Editorial styling
  • Commercial styling
  • Corporate styling
  • Photography studio styling 

Fashion consultants can find work in a number of areas, such as:

  • Make-up artist
  • Fashion merchandiser
  • Public relations
  • Fashion blogger
  • Fashion designer
  • Photographer
  • Wedding planner
  • Retail fashion store owner
  • Model
  • Talent agent
  • Event management 

Graduates with a degree in fashion design or merchandising may find work as a fashion or image consultant, fashion journalist, fashion editor, fashion buyer, fashion merchandiser, in fashion marketing, as a manager in a retail store, or in film and TV wardrobe.  Fashion consultants might also have the opportunity to work independently specializing in fashion makeovers, styling people for jobs, or advising employees in the corporate world.

Fashion Consultant Salary & Job Outlook

There are an abundance of fashion consultant opportunities for skilled and knowledgeable individuals with talent and personal style. However, the field is competitive.  And, although the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect data about fashion consultants, it does collect data on fashion designers.  (Obviously, a fashion designer is not a fashion consultant, so wage data and job outlook statistics are only estimates). 

The BLS lists a median annual salary for fashion designers of just over $67,420 in 2017.  Wages for freelance fashion consultants can be much, much higher, with hourly wages between $50 and $500. But, wages for self-employed fashion consultants will typically depend on network connections, years of experience, happy client’s, and a stellar reputation in the industry. 

The BLS also projects employment to grow only three percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much slower than average for all career fields.  However, fashion has always been and continues to be an integral part of our society and our culture.  Fashion is one of the primary modes of expressing a person’s personality and has been shown to boost creativity.  The fashion world has generated millions of dollars in revenue for our economy, as well as boosted the economies of many other nations. It can foster self-confidence and can tell a lot about a person’s personality. Because it plays such an important role, employment for fashion consultants is sure to expand and strengthen over time. 

Helpful Resources

Fashion Consultant Jobs