In popular culture, the celebrity and fashion stylist has become as influential and well known as the A-list movie stars and name-brand clientele that employ them. From Rachel Zoe to celebrity favorite Petra Flannery, the newfound spotlight on stylists has inspired a new generation of young people to pursue the highly creative career. While it may seem easy to coordinate an outfit for a living, breaking into the industry can be difficult for just-graduated students with big dreams. Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer for a Teen Vogue Homecoming event partnered with Macy’s, where I was introduced to freelance stylist Tavaris Neal. He allowed me to get the inside scoop about internships, career advice and his favorite trends for winter.
Growing up in Fairfax, Va., Neal became involved with fashion in his high school construction and home arts class while learning to sew and construct his own designs. He then attended Virginia State University, where he received a degree in business management and later got his degree in fashion merchandising from the Art Institute of Washington in order to learn more about the highly competitive fashion industry in which he wished to work. Neal highly suggested that those who are adamant about working their way up in the business should take advantage of internships. He said, “All internships pertaining fashion should be taken serious. I strongly recommend them, paid or unpaid. I did internships in PR, production, marketing and events management, as well as model casting.” By doing a variety of interning, he was able to network and eventually branch out as a freelance stylist for magazines, fashion houses and public relations companies.
Students who wish to become successful stylists one day should and could learn from Neal’s experiences. He emphasized that “the best advice that I can give to aspiring fashion stylists is that you stay involved in events, internships and new future trends. Constantly be active in blogs and social networks like Instagram and Tumblr to be knowledgeable about the industry.” On career advice in general, he advised students to “stay positive, never give up, have great work ethic, network as often as possible, and always remain friendly. No one wants to work with a grudge.”
As for his favorite styling job so far, he said the Puma Preview Spring 2013 Fashion Show was an amazing experience and an overall successful job. Curious as to how he creates the looks for unique situations, I asked him what inspires him while putting looks together. “What influences me on a look is the theme that I need to portray to the audience. I am also constantly inspired by the type of audience I have.” And the student audience here at Drexel can also take a tip from Neal’s style notes this winter. “Leathers, tweeds, sneakers with dress pants, and black dark colors” are all winter trends he would love students to incorporate into their closets and rock around campus.
Want to follow Neal? His Instagram handle is @ITSHYM.