Despite the fact that fashion stylists and personal stylists both work with clothing and visual appearance, there is quite a big difference in their job descriptions. The terms ‘personal stylist’ and ‘fashion stylist’ are sometimes used interchangeably and this has created some confusion surrounding the roles of these people in the fashion world which is why we feel it necessary to attempt to differentiate between the two.
For starters, fashion stylists and personal stylists, or ‘image consultants’ as they are often called, operate in different spheres. The former normally works in the fashion industry proper, frequently styling photographic shoots for fashion spreads that will later appear in glossy magazines, whilst the latter work privately on a personal level with clients. Fashion stylists also work with clothing designers, helping to create a particular ‘look’ for their runway shows and advertising brochures and may even work in the film industry in collaboration with the wardrobe department to ‘style’ the costumes the various actors will wear.
An offshoot of the conventional type of fashion stylist is the celebrity stylist. These people mostly work with celebrities specifically, often determining what they will wear on the red carpets of awards ceremonies and movie premieres, for instance. They sometimes act like image consultants, giving their celebrity clients personal advice as to what they should wear on an everyday basis but the primary role of the celebrity stylist is to style celebs for formal public appearances.
Some celebrity consultants have become well-known in their own right due to the high-profile work they do which is unusual for stylists in general as is this very much a behind-the-scenes sort of job, despite its glamorous connotations. Rachel Zoe is one such example, and she is often watched by the style media as much for her own style choices as for her styling of celebrity clients.
Image consultants, on the other hand, work primarily on a personal level with people wanting to improve their personal appearance and how they are visually perceived by others. It is common for image consultants to use clothing accessories, hairstyle, and make-up to help their clients to look better. Some image consultants even go so far as to include posture, speech and body language as part of visual appearance, working on the premise that anything that relates to visual appearance has an influence on it.
As can be seen from the above, fashion stylists and image consultants both work with clothing and appearance but this is where the similarity ends as the roles they fulfil on a daily basis are somewhat different.