Mallory Sills is a Chicago-based personal stylist and Fashion Styling tutor at QC Makeup Academy. 

Do you want to enter the fashion industry? Okay, if you’re here, I’m going to go ahead and assume that a career in the fashion industry is on your radar. As exciting the fashion industry is, many people hesitate to take the plunge and actually enter the industry.

There’s a lot of noise around the fashion industry and whether or not it’s an industry worthy of entering, which is why we wanted to clarify a few things.

If you’ve been on-the-fence about a fashion styling career, keep reading to find out whether the fashion industry is right for you.

fashion stylist analyzing a wardrobe

Barriers of entry

There are a lot of moving parts in the fashion industry. I’ve been fashion obsessed since I was young but it wasn’t until I started taking fashion styling courses that I realized just how many different jobs are available within one industry.

At the beginning of my fashion career and still now, I’ve noticed a common theme of real barriers and perceived barriers people have when considering the industry for themselves.

Real barriers to entering the fashion styling industry

I’ll be honest, there are some real barriers to entering the fashion industry, just like with any other industry. A few of the real barriers are…

The industry is very competitive

There are a LOT of people who want to work in fashion, more than ever before. It’s great that people are choosing to follow their creative passions. But more interest comes more professional competition.

It’s not enough to just like shopping.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they’ve “thought about” working in the fashion industry because they like to shop. I love shopping just as much as the next woman. But to work in the fashion industry, you need to have more than just a desire to shop and be around pretty clothes. You need passion, drive, and skill.

love shopping passion for fashion styling

Imagined barriers to entering the fashion styling industry

I’ve also heard many perceived barriers that people have of the industry. These may be thoughts you’ve had yourself, too. While they do seem like impossible hurdles to overcome, some of these barriers are absolute myths! Some of the most common perceived barriers include…

Fashion styling not a serious career choice

So many people have told me they’ve always wanted to work in fashion, but feared it wasn’t an industry that offered serious career growth and potential. On one hand, I get it. The fashion industry is synonymous with glamour, glitz and fun. But the truth is, it’s a serious industry with a TON of room for growth in your career!

You have to be able to draw and/or design

FALSE! Like I said, there are a TON of different career paths within the fashion industry. While fashion designing is one route, you don’t have to be a skilled illustrator or designer to have a successful career in fashion.

How to start a successful career in fashion

Now that we’ve established some of the most common barriers, both real and perceived, you’re probably wondering HOW exactly to get started. Here are three tips to make the most of your time in the beginning stages of your fashion career!

1. Get educated

Knowing and following fashion trends is a part of the industry; however, it’s not enough to make it in fashion. One of the best places to get started is to gain some education in the field. Fashion-specific education will give you great insight into the industry. You’ll also have a chance to explore the many fields within fashion to discover what you actually want to do. That’s why QC’s online courses are such a fundamental starting place for many individuals.

2. Start working

I always suggest to new students and anyone who has a desire to do anything in the fashion industry to start working in the field. So many successful individuals in the fashion industry started working in retail as sales associates. Retail is a huge part of the fashion world and working in retail gives you incredible experiences to build off of as you work your way into the fashion industry.

3. Try different things

This may seem (somewhat) obvious. But as you start learning about and working in the fashion industry, try different jobs, roles, etc. When I was first getting started myself, I knew I wanted to be a fashion stylist. However, I took internships and jobs outside of styling to experience other parts of the industry, and I’m SO glad I did. It definitely helped me gain even more knowledge in fashion and lead me to the direction that was meant for me. I suggest you do the same.

runway models for a fashion designer show

While the fashion industry isn’t always as glamorous as it looks on TV, it can be an incredibly rewarding industry to be a part of. Stay patient, don’t compare yourself to others who have been in the industry for years, and follow your passion.

Are there more barriers we missed? Let us know!

“Making it” as a successful stylist requires you to earn money! Check out this guide to pricing your fashion styling services!

Celina Feng

Author Celina Feng

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