My Stylist Toolkit unboxed.
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The items below are linked to my recommendations, whilst I trust the products from my experience - I'd suggest thoroughly checking the market and understanding how much you are willing to invest prior to making any purchases. Hope you enjoy!
When conducting a fitting or on a location set it’s important to have a fold away clothing rack that is easy to transport and fairly easy to manoeuvre once it’s assembled as perhaps you’ll be needing to move it mid-shoot.
I prefer using cloth garment bags for my Personal Clients, however, often due to the volume of samples PRs send out it is likely you’ll receive clothing in plastic bags which is OK since you will reuse the bag upon returning the samples. Either way, garment bags protect the delicate and often expensive designer clothing during transport.
These are important for tying around clothing bundles once they’re already inside the garment bags. Without elastic bands the hangers can slip into the garment bags making it difficult to carry and can result in damage being caused to the clothing. You may have other uses for elastic bands such as holding up ruched sleeves on a worn jacket. I prefer the thicker elastic bands as the thin ones have a tendency to snap.
I try to call ahead to the studio to see if they provide hangers, often they do. Some studios offer hangers for a hire fee in which case it is best to run this fee past the shoot producer / photographer / director. I find it best to always bring Clip and Top hangers that way if you’re on location or at a studio where they don’t have hangers / hire hangers you are ahead. I buy supermarket / cheaper high street store hangers as lightweight hangers make transporting clothes much easier - and no doubt a lot of the hangers will end up going missing and need replacing. For my Personal Client fittings I prefer using more expensive heavy hangers that make the clothes have better hanger appeal.
Perhaps the most important single piece of equipment is a steamer, everything needs to be crease free or it will really show up in the images and you won’t be very popular with the retouch team! I opt for the Russel Hobbs Handheld Steamer because it's powerful yet easy to transport and the fill tank is slightly bigger than other handhelds meaning less refills.
An optional extra (especially if you already have a steamer), though it’s great for Menswear shoots as there’s often a lot of shirts and suiting which can be tricky to press using the steamer alone. I avoid bringing the iron and board to outdoor locations unless there is a definite power socket I will have access to. If you are established and want to get something to last I'd recommend spending that bit more and investing in the Laurastar Iron and Steamer. However, if you are just starting, I recommend searching for a cheaper alternative as you may only use it infrequently.
Socks & Underwear
Socks, C-strings (for swimwear and lingerie shoots), thongs, women's large briefs (incase outer garments are see through), Bras (with detachable straps, the size varies depending on the model but I always carry a large and smaller size incase) and mens boxers. I always carry underwear in nude, but black and white are great to have as extra, other colours will depend on your Client brief. Sizing can be tricky, I carry model sample sizes and then refer to my Client brief to see if the model or talent needs me to bring different size. I go for reasonably priced kit underwear rather than expensive because I often re-buy items, for obvious hygiene reasons.
It’s great to have on hand if a garment is ultra sheer or if I'm shooting e-commerce pants and bottoms. I have them in nude, black and white.
I honestly don’t use these often, however sometimes if the model is wearing a bra with straps and changes into a racer back top it’s much quicker to pop on the bra adjusters rather than change bras. Bra adjusters can also be handy if you are shooting someone with a broader back.
Covers come in a lot of shapes and variations, I prefer the matt nude tape rather than the silicone or shaped stickers because they can be shiny or show up in the stark photography lighting. Also, the tape can be cut to size more easily.
All and every kind will come in handy at some stage depending on the shoot but my every day shoot tapes are: Regular cello tape, Hollywood clear tape for keeping garments in place on the skin, Double sided for sticking clothing down such as blazer and coat lapels (that move around with the model and with the hair artist using a wind blower!) and Masking for protecting shoe soles.
A must have. I often carry 4 / 5 different pairs: small thread scissors, everyday scissors x 2 (for anything and everything, 2 pairs because you will lose one for most of the day), tape scissors (which will get sticky so can’t be used for anything else), fabric scissors (don’t use for anything else) and pinking sheers (optional extra).
In a still image it can be tricky to show the true shape of certain clothing, I use bulldog clips to cinch in certain areas so that customers can see the body shape and fit of each piece better. I prefer the assorted clip sizes as heavy knits, suits and blazers require bigger clips and other lighter weight fabrics such as silk may be clipped with small bulldog clips.
Similarly use for cinching in fabric so the image will show the true garment shape. Also handy for quick hemming up solutions.
Tags are removed from garments prior to shooting if they are visible and cannot be concealed. A lot of high end editorial shoots use sample stock that is already prepped and ready to shoot, but there are times when garments loaned are direct from store or have not been de-tagged. Once these items are shot they need to be retagged using a tagging gun.
Including; Needles, Threads (black & white a must and colours great to have), stitch ripper. This is incase there are any last minute mishaps with a garment.
It is amazing how much detail you see in an photograph on screen, that’s why this is such an important piece of equipment - every fleck of dust / fabric fibre and hair / will show up on the frame, a roller will remove most of this. Darker items tend to be the worse culprits for showing up dust.
I have only had to use my belt hole punch while Event Dressing because in Editorial shoots you have the luxury of clipping at the back which won’t be seen in shot. I include in my editorial kit only as a “just in case”, but to use on a loaned belt you would need to have approval from the brand or PR before making any irreversible alterations.
Mainly used for creating labels whilst on set which could be: Look running order, Shot List or PR return addresses.
Ideally bamboo or a lightweight breathable fabric, models can wear over their hair and face to protect the clothes from getting makeup damaged and the hair and makeup from being messed up or smudged. I use a makeup scarf that wasn't specifically designed for purpose so there may be better options available on the market.
Makeup wipes would also work, I prefer using baby wipes as I find they're more gentle with less chemicals. Great for removing makeup and tan / moisturiser stains (I use in conjunction with the steamer for better results), also to remove any accidental coffee spills on set.
Great for removing tape marks and shoe stains.
I use this for attaching mood and story boards to the wall as well as daily run sheets if it’s a big job. Also comes in handy for when the double tape isn’t peeling quick enough or when you want to discreetly prop Still Life Editorial items up in shot.
These are for the model or talent to wear in between shots.
Great for carrying a lot of pieces when moving back and forth between sets.
I only use on location shoots, e.g. at the beach, when I need to put items somewhere more protected.
I only use on location shoots, when the model may be changing on the floor to protect their feet and the clothes.
This has never been more important (amid Covid-19). Sanitise, sanitise, sanitise.
Mask & Gloves
These are a new addition to the kit, due to the nature of the role of working in close proximity to the model and talent it’s important to try and protect yourself and colleagues as much as possible.
First aid kit
I just carry the basics for safety and hygiene reasons including band aids (plasters), alcohol / antiseptic wipes, cold & heat packs, scissors and tweezers.
Personal Kit Items:
Whether it is at a studio or location it’s best to bring your own water bottle. Some studio’s may only offer plastic water bottles or not be well stocked with clean glasses (if they’re smaller). If it’s location you don’t want to be caught out in the middle of nowhere not having access to a corner shop that sells water bottles.
Whatever the weather, you can’t do the best styling job if you are getting heat stroke / sun burned.
Purely for freshness on set.
What pieces are in your Styling kit? Leave a comment below
Thanks so much for reading!