your local community college theater will usually rent the pieces out, but for the historical pieces try your local shakespeare fesitval group, as they have such the thing on hand and rent them out, maybe they'll do it for photos
about sizes..keep your clamps and pins on hand, don't buy tooo small either.
drama departments at your church will usually have a small wardrobe for their plays, check them out too!
keep yourself organized, or you'll be in lots of trouble spending $ on stuff you already have. a journal with preprinted dates will work wonders because you can track items bought under the dates you purchase so in case you need to return an item you can jot down the day you buy it and quickly jot down the day it needs to be returned by (or you'll be buying your rentals) use a general entry order so you can read your stuff at a glance. keep the name of the job under every entry so when your working a few gig's at once you'll know where everything belongs. keep your head up girl!!!
Anna Marie- "I believe fashion is a canvas for all self expression"
I hope that you aren't biting off more than you can chew here ... this seems like a major undertaking ... if it were me, I'd have an assistant on this broad a scope (12 looks ... and a historical theme). I don't do "historical" or "retro" themes ... but I will do an homage to a past era, if I think that today's fashions will yeild a lot of wardrobe that has the right look. I'ts just too hard to source, unless you specialize in costuming. I don't ... I work in Los Angeles and commercial and catalog work is my focus. (I like to get paid.) But that is just me.
When you start pulling from proper sources ... designers, etc., you usually must do your pulls only one or two days before the shoot. They want the garments back very quickly, so that they can lend them out to the next stylist. You often won't have a confirmed model untill then, anyway.
So learn to research (source) in the weeks before the shoot ... making a file for the shoot, with models stats, as you get them, making notes and sometimes using picutres to illustrate what types of looks needed, make lists of specific items you're looking for and alternatives if you can't find your first choices, who's got what you want, set appointments to pull, map out driving routes, etc. You should start approaching styling like this so that you can manage the final push of the actual pulls in one or two days.
For a shoot, I tend to pull about double what will be needed with things that might mix together well to exptend my choices. I pull mostly a size 6 unless I know the model's size. Even then I usually pull a size larger ... eg; if she says she's a 2, I get 4's and if she's a 4 i get 6's if at all possible. Better to have to clamp than to have it too small. Often they have gained a bit of weight and "forgot" to tell you ... sometimes they need extra room in the hips and sometimes they are buying their own clothes too small by getting stretchy stuff and really don't know their real size. For guys, usually jackets 42 long are big enough, and pants about 32 waist and 34 length will be good generic sizing ... shirt 16 with long sleeves. These might all be a bit big ... but sometimes not ... if the guy is really buff.
Shoe sizes are the problem ... they can be anywhere from a size 7 to as size 12! Most can wear shoes up to a full size larger of smaller than thier own size ... so getting size 9's work for size 8 to 10's ... which covers most models, I find. For guys ... about a size 11 often works. If the shoes are bought and are being returned, you must protect the bottom of the shoes ... especially if you are on location. There was another thread here about fashion styling that has that info ... so look for that.
Take time, at home and before the shoot, to inventory what you have pulled, set receipts in a file that will not be taken to the shoot, tape shoes, steam and prep the garments and hang them up in order of each look, putting your first choices together on single or hooked hangars. Then right behind each individual look, hang the alternate looks to be used in fittings, if the first outfit doesn't work. When you are doing this many looks in one day, you won't have time to fuss with preping the looks. You'll be extremely busy with fittings then being on set to clamp and arrange the garments.
This is where an assistant would come in ... helping you prep, steaming last minute wrinkles at the shoot, helping the model undress and rehanging the garments after fittings and after the shoot, inspecting them for damage, getting them ready to be re-inventoried, putting accessories away. That will free you up to make final decisions at the fittings, to make sure that everything looks like you want it to and to be on set with the photographer.
Then after the shoot, if you don't have an assistant, you'll need a day to put it all back together ... checking condition of the wardrobe, removing tape and pins, if any, checking the inventory and replacing the garments in the bags they came in. Returns on the day after that should then be a snap.
Oh, and I notice that you asked about how to set up pulls with stores. Really ... it's not totally ethical (although not illegal) to buy and return ... and if they know you are a stylist, they may charge you a "restocking fee" ... 15% to about 30% of whatever you pulled. Most stores usually track returns nowawdays so too much of that and you could end up owning the wardrobe when they refuse your returns. Even Nordstoms tracks returns.
To be totally honest, you would have to negotate something with them, and as I've said in other posts (which I hope you have read) you need to have something that they want ... images or credits or exposure in the media. It's something that takes time to develop.
It's probably the hardest obstacle to overcome for a beginning stylist. It's a viscious cycle ....y ou have to have the right gigs to be able to offer them what they want in exchange for the clothes and you can't get the good gigs (magazines and celebs) until you've tested like crazy and have a lot of great images under your belt and you need good clothes to get good images.
I assisted on my first styling job as work experience when I was 16 and worked with a boyband and Tatler mag, two years on I've got quite a few contacts and have worked on many commercials-some mediocre but all good experience! I would recommend getting as much experience as poss. even though i intend to finish my degree(foundation at LCF at the mo.) numerous people in the styling industry have told me experience is what matters. not letters after your name! hope this helps!
Most stylists are freelance ... we have to find every gig that we do, a few days here and there. Most of us do not have "jobs" per se. However, in some magagzines the fashion editor is the stylist (an employee) but more often than not, the stylist is a freelancer ... and does occasional gigs. To see what I mean, read the credits of magazine editorials ... you'll see an assortment on names in each issue. At the higher level fashion magazines, they usually use stylists from the top artist agencies. You must have lots of experience under your belt and have a superior portfolio to be able to get representation at the top agencies in order to work at the better fashion magazines.
Magazine work, on the average, does not pay very well ... we do it because we need the tears, which we can use to show (and hopefully impress) prospective commercial clients (ads, promotional materials, catalogs, etc.) who do pay well.
I've been reading the forum for quite some time now, and I don't think anyone really said anything on "how to become a stylist", it's all about oh yeah this what I do for this magazine here, and editorial here...I have to do this and that, which is all very interesting, helpful and insightful.
How do you start in the styling business though?...
know your craft of course...and meet as many people in the industry?....get some volunteer work...then assist a stylist, get your own look book/portfolio and venture on by yourself??
You should do all of that, not necessarily in that order. Do whatever you can put together to advance your knowledge, increase your contacts and build your book. Getting paid is mainly about who you know (who likes you)and a having a great portfolio (or "reel" if you are working in film, TV or video) to proove what you can do, when something does come up. You will be competing against other stylists on most gigs, so the better the portfolio and the better the recommendation the more likely you are to get the gig.
So in the beginning, just as you said, you volunteer, test for free, assist other stylists for free and if you are very lucky, assist for pay. Once you have a strong portfolio with a few unpaid editorials under your belt you can start to approach artist agencies asking to be placed on the list to assist their senior stylists (for pay) as needed. Eventually, you may get representation with one of these agencies which can lead to the well paid gigs ... for major advertisers and clients.
In the mean time you can occasionally pick up small paid gigs for models portfolios or musicians, perhaps some catalog work for small designers and even some personal styling from time to time. To do this, you work your contacts, and start marketing yourself with comp cards, a web site, promotional materials and follow up calls. These small time gigs can sometimes lead to referrals to other clients and you begin to build a resume and a reputation.
As you can imagine- living in Kansas City, Kansas and wanting to be a fashion/photography stylist leaves me a bit lost. I am wondering what is the best path to take to become successful.-is there a certain kind of degree should I be looking at?