Day in the Life of a Wardrobe Stylist
Tucked along the shores of Santa Monica, California, you’ll find a breathtaking stretch of Pacific Coast. That’s where the sweet Los Angeles stylist, Jill McFadden, likes to ride her bicycle on her day off. While she may ride to the local coffee shops and boutiques on those days off, there’s no such thing as an average workday for Jill McFadden, whose niche lies in styling editorial, commercial and print pieces.
Sure, many people may head elsewhere for a career in fashion, like the Big Apple. After all, Jill spent a summer in NY before trekking to the west coast. But to her, there was something special about LA… probably the fantastic beach vibe as well as an ocean of opportunity for any aspiring stylist.
“There are so many different ways to go here and so many people to work with. If something doesn’t work out, something else will that may be a better fit for you. Just keep on going.”
While many fashion enthusiasts work best in the light that this major fashion hub brings, Jill’s love for style started with more humble beginnings. Growing up in a woodsy town near Erie, Pennsylvania, Jill always took an interest in fashion. She studied communications at Edinboro University while working in retail and boutiques, a testament that not all stylists necessarily come from design or visual backgrounds.
But she knew that she was just scratching the surface of a career as a stylist, a career she really wanted to pursue deep in her heart. All on her own, Jill packed her bags as well as her courage and moved to Orange County, California.
To start, Jill reached out to LA stylists and asked to assist them. Always persistent, always gracious, she continued to ask for opportunities. She never backed down, and her hard work began to pay off as she began working as an assistant stylist.
“That’s definitely how you have to do it in LA. If you don’t know someone or have someone to help you get in, you just have to email and call as many people to learn the ropes.”
We at YCB are huge fans of Jill’s work. Though she most definitely has a creative eye and a heaping sense of style, it is her work ethic that is pretty much, well, rockstar status.
Like most millennials, Jill uses Instagram and Pinterest to get inspired and connected. She finds these ways of communication are major sources for networking in the digital age.
Jill explains the web of people who get connected based on who they worked with previously, and that creates new opportunities for gigs and shoots. And whichever path you take as a stylist, know that there is more than just one.
“If you’re really hard working and just be yourself, you can do it. You really have to have a good work ethic and know who you are.”
Jill’s work certainly isn’t limited to the city lights of LA. Her work takes her many places. On the road, in the desert, to the beach. You name it, she has styled there.
While one might imagine the many perks and cool parts of being a stylist in California’s fashion mecca, Jill admits not everything is always as glamorous as outsiders might think. (After all, it’s still a J-O-B.)
“People get an idea of a “Rachel Zoe” as what all stylists are. It is fun and cool, and I love it. But you’re moving around a lot. Packing trucks, unpacking, dressing 50 people for a commercial… getting up at 5 in the morning, working 12-hour days in the middle of the desert. Yeah, not always glamorous.”
Jill points out that being a stylist is a physically demanding job. Most of what she does is hard, as she’s on her feet moving around for long hours.
To that, Jill again adds just how much she loves it.
Sure, Jill works with mostly females in the wardrobe department, which she admits can sound a bit scary. But she sees it as a wonderful opportunity to support each other as women and a time to build professional relationships.
“I have found that it is pretty close-knit. Everybody seems to have each other’s backs because we’re all working for ourselves. So, we’re all just trying to help each other out. I feel that way about LA in general.”
While being a stylist is different from your 8 to 5, it does offer a time for one to get to know herself very well. Every day is different, and Jill’s experience solidified that an office job just wasn’t for her.
“I am good with doing something different every day. There are things that I knew about myself, and knew this would be a good fit.”
Creative by nature, Jill opens herself to all inspirations and influences for her work as a stylist. Although she admits, she doesn’t identify to any one particular style for herself, personally.
“That’s because I love all different styles. I can’t have just one. I’m inspired by all.”
However, there is one person she seeks a great deal of inspiration from.
“I love Olivia Palermo. She’s amazing. There are so many people I love, but if you ask me the first person I follow, it’s her.”
Just like every person’s path to a style career is different, so are job practices. Jill notes that every stylist shops differently, organizes wardrobes and fittings for models and actors differently.
“You figure out how you want to work, so there’s no one routine to what I do every day.”
More than a website, more than a brand, more than anything, it’s all about making personal connections in the industry for Jill. Going out on a limb many times when others may have quit, she never gave up on pursuing her passion and showing her willingness to work.
Thinking about becoming a stylist? Jill has a special word of encouragement for you:
“If a door closes, another door will open. Just don’t give up. And be yourself! It will happen…It will fall into place for your niche.”
Jill’s work can be found on jillmcfaddenstylist.com. She can also be found on Instagram (@jillreneemcfadden), where you can check out some of her portfolio pieces.
And, more than likely, you’ll find there too a photo of that beautiful Santa Monica coast.
Photo courtesy of: Jessica Castro
Hair and Make up: Gabriela Banda