Styled to Perfection: The History of Fashion Consulting

by Alexis Ansley

a beautiful stylist posing in a wardrobe full of clothes

When you open your favorite fashion magazine and admire the clothing that drape the most beautiful models’ bodies, chances are an A-list Fashion Stylist put that eye-catching look together.


The Stylist’s History

The title Fashion Stylist (also known as wardrobe stylist, or just stylist) is commonplace in today’s fashion world and even in pop culture. These fashion forward individuals can create a look that projects whatever image you want to the world.

Beginning in the 1970’s and really taking root in the early 1980’s, “image consulting” made its way into mainstream culture. Prior to this time the idea of image consulting or fashion styling was a foreign concept. Fashion etiquette was exclusively taught in modeling and finishing schools. The only individuals who indulged in image consulting were celebrities, politicians and public personalities.

Starting in the late 70’s the public gained a fascination with high fashion and obtainable style. Everyday people were looking to acquire their favorite public figures’ looks. The need for public image consulting was now apparent and style entrepreneurs such as John Molloy took advantage of this need in the market. Molloy wrote the popular book “Dress for Success”, a book focusing on seasonal appropriate looks and color theories.

This style guide gained international success during a time when women were becoming more aware of fashion and were seeking guidance for everyday style. More and more people were beginning to see that the way they dressed affected how they were perceived. And in a world were who you are often over shadows what you have to offer, “looking the part” was the key to success.


The Business Blows Up

Image consulting firms began to pop up in the late 80’s offering the average individual the opportunity to have a star-like image. These firms were scarce so they were able to monopolize a fairly new market. Similarly, celebrities began hiring image consultants for not just events and public appearances, but for their day to day style choices as well. This surge in obtainable fashion created what we now know to be the modern day “Fashion Stylist”; an individual with extensive knowledge of current fashion and trends that helps to create complete fashion looks per client needs.

The demand for quality fashion stylists has risen tremendously in more recent years. This once exclusive sect of the fashion world is now populated with amazing talent! Some of the most noted stylists, including Rachel Zoe (below), June Ambrose, Kate Young, and Petra Flannery have risen to star status by styling popular culture personalities and creating a business around their styling skills. As fashion becomes more accessible, the business of styling fashion for clients has become more profitable. Rachel Zoe, for example, has become a fashion icon, even earning herself the title of “reality star” with her popular television show “The Rachel Zoe Project.”

Rachel Zoe sitting in a full closet of clothes and shoes

Celebrity stylist and reality show superstar Rachel Zoe

Today, the definition of fashion consulting has expanded beyond fashion and now encompasses social etiquette, interview skills and personal branding. This all-inclusive spin on traditional image consulting has made way for fashion entrepreneurs worldwide.

Stylists are fashion visionaries. They bring fashion ideas to life! So, while designing and modeling may not be for everyone, the world of fashion consulting is all-inclusive and has made way for young, style-savvy talent to earn a fabulous living.

Editor’s note: You don’t have to take our word for it. For a great example, check out’s featured stylists. There are sixty stylists there!



Rachel Zoe photo courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Wardrobe stylist photo at top: source



Alexis AnsleyAbout the Author:
Alexis Ansley is a Central Florida fashion blogger, fashion consultant and co-founder of Lex&Pooch Styling Co. An avid enthusiast for all things vintage, Alexis has made a name for herself by uniquely combining vintage and contemporary styles within her personal fashion choices and while styling clients. Alexis is a member of the Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) community and work towards bringing fresh and unique fashions to the forefront of all her style ventures.



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