What is a Wardrobe Stylist and Its Fashion Roles

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What is a Wardrobe Stylist?

A wardrobe stylist is an expert in curating, mixing, and matching clothes, footwear, and accessories of similar aesthetics into outfits and attire depicting past fashion styles for movie sets, television series, opera events, and museum curations.

Compared to fashion stylists who assemble outfits from past fashion styles with contemporary fashion trends, wardrobe stylists’ work is rooted in history.

As such, wardrobe stylists have a profound understanding of fashion history, aesthetic roots, patterns, motifs, colors, cutting and sewing styles, and fashion design.

What is the Role of a Wardrobe Stylist?

Wardrobe stylists are the vital link between concept, design, presentation, and finished products in the form of outfits and accessories to be won on stage or in movies.

Compared to fashion stylists who focus on trend relevancy by scanning the current fashion trends, wardrobe stylists must ensure historical accuracy at every step that leads to the finished outfit.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Portrait of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Queen Charlotte from Bridgerton

As such, wardrobe stylists know well about past cultural and socio-economic movements, clothing and accessories design, and classic fashion styles.

What Do Wardrobe Stylists Do?

The work of a wardrobe stylist starts by understanding the client’s need, context, occasion, thematic background, and budget.

Dressing the cast for a Gothic-themed movie with the action taking place in the winter requires a different approach than creating outfits of high historical accuracy for a Preppy-themed film about a group of teenagers enjoying a summer holiday in New York.

wednesday Addams goth

Only after all the historical era, time, season, location, nr of people, social status, and other similar aspects are well defined and established the stylist start creating.

Compared to celebrity fashion stylists who work directly with high-profile clients only, wardrobe stylists work with large creative teams of fashion designers, hair and nail stylists, and makeup artists.

What is the Difference Between a Wardrobe Stylist, Fashion Stylist, and Costume Designer?

1. Scope of Work

Wardrobe Stylist specializes in curating outfits for movies and television, ensuring historical and contextual accuracy.

Fashion Stylist focuses on contemporary fashion, assembling outfits for high-profile individuals, editorial content, or public appearances.

Costume Designer designs and manufactures original costumes for theatrical, film, or television productions.

2. Historical vs. Contemporary

Wardrobe Stylist anchors in historical accuracy must recreate specific eras or movements.

Fashion Stylist orientes toward current fashion trends while rooting their work in aesthetics from classic fashion styles.

Costume Designer works in any historical or imagined period, depending on the project’s needs.

3. Clientele

Wardrobe Stylist works within the entertainment industry directly with producers and directors.

Fashion Stylist serves individuals, corporations, or publications almost always in a one-on-one setting.

Costume Designer collaborates with theatrical companies, film production teams, and TV shows.

4. Team Composition

Wardrobe Stylist is a part of a larger production team, including set designers and makeup artists.

Fashion Stylist works independently but may collaborate with photographers, makeup artists, and hair stylists.

Costume Designer leads a team of tailors, seamstresses, and artisans to execute their original clothing designs.

5. End Product

Wardrobe Stylist: Produces an outfit or series of garments coherent with the production’s storytelling needs and historically accurate.

Fashion Stylist: Assembles outfits to enhance an individual’s public persona or fulfill an editorial objective.

Costume Designer: Creates unique outfits crucial in bringing a scripted character to life.

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with the latest in fashion, beauty and style!

After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.

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