The Reluctant Stylista

There’s a reason why I love styling for photoshoots the best.  There’s always room to correct an error, adjust accordingly and you can easily hide imperfections with the use of clamps, double tape or ever-reliable Photoshop.

Not so when it comes to styling for TV shows and especially celebrities.  The pressure is triple because there are thousands, millions of viewers who are going to see the outcome of your decisions in the dressing room.  The audience gets a 360 view of the outfit you chose and if anything goes wrong or is noticeably out of place, it will immediately reflect on your client because that’s who the people are seeing.  You never want that.  For a stylist, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

Styling for TV

But if one really wants to learn about styling, there’s no route more perfect to discipline and focus when it comes to TV and celebrity styling.  Your aesthetics become more polished and you’re more careful when you’re dressing someone whose public image is career-making or breaking.  Sure, I can dance around my own blog or Chictopia in outfits that I constantly experiment with and I can be adventurous because I have literally nothing to lose.  But this kind of mindset spoils you in a way.  When styling for someone else, you double and triple check your fashion decisions.

What I’ve learned in the past few weeks:

1.  Be aware of your client’s brand.  Is the client currently endorsing a product or brand?  You have to take note of this.  It is absolutely essential that you steer clear from rival brands or perhaps any local product for that matter.

2.  Always bring options.  This is a given of course, as no one really goes to a shoot or taping without options.  You may not get the time to fit your client before the actual event.

Styling for TV

3.  It pays to know who else is appearing with your client.  If you know the other artists appearing alongside your client on a regular basis, you get to familiarize yourself with their own brands and position your client accordingly.  Find out if it is necessary for your client to stand out or if they should all have similar levels of sophistication but different approaches.

Styling for TV

4.  Have a fashion plan.  What the client wears is obviously vital to his/her image.  But exactly what image is he/she supposed to project?  You will constantly need to consult everyone on his/her team, especially the other stylists such as hair and make-up and his/her network management.  Sometimes, us new stylists have these high fashion aspirations that are great, but really, not all of them will fit a client.  Noel Manapat gave me a perfect example: Oprah Winfrey.  Always well-dressed and coiffed, but these elements are never overpowering.  Sometimes, it’s not about the clothes, but it’s the personality that will have to shine utmost.  Sometimes, the goal is not to create a new fashion icon for the industry.  Sometimes, simpler is better for people whose name already brings much weight into the equation.  Know what it is you’re selling and dammit, stick to it!

Noel Manapat
Celebrity stylist, Noel Manapat

Styling for TV

Pretty makeup artist Carmi, PA Puffy, and hairstylist from Symmetria

6.  In Anna Wintour’s words, “People respond well to someone who’s sure of what they want.”  That’s why you have to do your homework always days in advance so you’re more surefooted.  You can’t appear half-assed to a client or they will never trust the handling of their image to you.  Of course, you don’t need to lie and charm your client falsely–but if you have to make adjustments, do it methodically and as professionally as you can.  Do not make unnecessary comments.  At the end of the day, know that this is business.

7.  Know your audience.  Make sure you’re dressing your client appropriately for who’s watching.  Make sure his/her outfit fits the nature of the show.

Styling for TV

Styling for TV

8.  Know the set.  Make sure you’re not dressing your client in colors that will drown in a particular set.  Is the camera crew using chroma green (are there going to be graphics and animation in the scene)?  Then stay away from stripes and green-colored outfits.

styling for TV

Styling for TV

Styling for TV

9.  Be meticulous. Unlike the average person who doesn’t care about wrinkles and tucks caused by movement, it’s not that way with TV.  Always have your portable stylist kit with you (double tape, pins, thread, needles, scissors).  When it’s time for breaks or commercials, you only have a few minutes to make sure everything is perfect: tuck in whatever needs to be tucked (untucked tops add unwanted bulges which you don’t want to be mistaken for fat), check for wayward threads or fabric, straighten skirts and pants.  Make sure everything is falling correctly.

10.  Know your local designers. You cannot always dress your client in retail, and even if you have to, you always have to make sure that it’s almost unrecognizable.  Layer and CUT if you have to.  I don’t care if it costs five thousand or ten thousand, if it looks better, you do it.  The best way to go about dressing your client in one-of-a-kind outfits is to have it custom-made.  Hence, know your designers.  Study their work, review the collections paraded at Philippine Fashion Week.  Thank the heavens for Stylebible.ph’s directory–it’s how I stalk them.

Styling for TV

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