I was a celebrity stylist for over 10 years. Here are 7 surprising things about the job.

  • I used to work as a celebrity stylist, and there are several surprising things about the job.
  • The budget determined ahead of time is rarely ever enough to cover the expenses of a shoot.

I’ve styled amazing clients around the world, from athletes and entrepreneurs to musicians and actors. And there’s a lot that goes into achieving those show-stopping looks.

The behind-the-scenes stress is high, but seeing the final results on a red carpet or set is worth it.

Here are seven surprising things about the job:

The original budget is rarely enough

When you’re hired for a job, someone in production goes over the budget with you and highlights what they’re looking to achieve.

Let’s say you’re given a $10,000 budget to style a music video for a three-day shoot. First, you have to consider who the talent is and how many additional performers there are. Then you break down the number of scenes and outfit changes.

Pretty soon, that $10,000 starts to feel like $100.

I’ve had to ask for more funding or submit receipts for money I spent out of pocket.

Sizing clients can be hard when they have busy schedules

© Sandra Okerulu

The talent often has a busy schedule, so you’re left to correspond with managers, publicists, and assistants in the hopes of receiving proper sizing.

This is especially challenging with first-time clients. It’s difficult to determine the perfect fit from social media and press-package photos alone.

It’s always better to pull a few sizing options to help with this.

The turnaround to produce the perfect look can be quick

As a stylist for high-profile clients, I sometimes had to pull looks for last-minute appearances or red-carpet events with a 24-hour notice.

I once had a client who decided to attend the Emmy’s two days before the event, so I had to pull every option available and secure an on-demand tailor for alterations.

Relationships with brands and agencies are key

© Sandra Okerulu

My key to success has been brand partnerships.

Brands can be reluctant to allow stylists to pull from their showrooms, and designers sometimes shy away from lending their clothes for several days at a time.

But once you’ve built a great rapport, fashion houses will usually give you first dibs on new looks and trends that hit their showrooms.

I’ve discovered some unique items to keep in my styling kit

I always brought sewing essentials, like tape, buttons, and scissors, and it’s important to have undershirts, underwear, boxers, and deodorant available when needed.

But I also kept a menstrual kit on hand. Sanitary napkins are good replacements for shoe insoles, providing some cushion while also absorbing sweat during long days on set.

A glue gun has saved my life on several occasions, and clamps are great for gathering excess fabric to create the perfect fit during a photoshoot.

I learned the hard way how to keep my accounts in the positive

After every shoot, the staff is required to submit receipts and invoices to ensure everyone gets refunds for production expenses.

But with a 30-day pay cycle, it’s not uncommon to have a negative balance in your account.

After many hard lessons, I learned to add any foreseen expenses at the top of a funding request. That way, if I have to dip into my account, I don’t fall too short.

Early call times are impossible to get used to

© Sandra Okerulu

Every job I’ve done has started before the sun’s out so the crews have time to prepare before the talent arrives.

Early call times are great for organization, but I pulled many all-nighters so my assistants could be prepared on the day of.

As the head costume designer or stylist, my eyes had to be on every area of the set.

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