Who’d be a stylist? While the clothes horse gets the plaudits, it’s the hands off-camera that actually pick out what they wear. The same people who tweak a jacket to fit perfectly, or spot fix coffee stains caused by shaky, hungover hands. A stylist’s trade is to make messy reality look perfect; for that, they need some serious tricks.
Great stylists are masters of deception – just ask Natalia Keet, the hands behind shoots for Elle, Marie Claire and Wanted, who once turned up on set to find an underwear model’s entire back puffy from fresh ink. “We couldn’t do makeup because the tattoo was so swollen,” she says. Strategic placement of clothes and limbs kept the red, raw skin out of shot.
While you’ll hopefully never get a neck piece the day before a job interview, these pro tips will save your look on days that would otherwise be stymied by stains, rips, or clothes that just don’t fit. So you can at least pretend to always be put together.
Safety Pins Can Replace A Tailor
Daisy Deane, a fashion stylist and creative consultant who’s worked with Rollacoaster, Men’s Health and Adidas, has one golden rule: always carry safety pins. “If you pop a button, rip your jeans, or have a hole in a really inappropriate place, they come in handy,” she says. Just pin from the inside, so your fix is invisible. Unless you want to channel this season’s punk trend.
If your jacket is too big and you’re heading straight from the office to an event, pins are a DIY tailor. “Turn the jacket inside out and pin excess fabric inside, along the seam. That way there is no weird fold and you can’t see the pin. Keep going until it fits properly.”
Clothes Can Be Stretched
Snug fits aren’t final. “Shoes often don’t fit on shoots,” says Deane. “But if you take the branded insert out, they instantly go up a size.” For sweatshirts, T-shirts or jackets, take advantage of the fabric’s natural give.
“Get someone else to hold one end and stretch at the seams together, pulling from both ends so it keeps its shape but expands in size. Another trick is to steam or iron a cotton T-shirt; the fibres expand in the heat and will mould onto to your body shape.”
Do Away With Stains
Foundation, red wine and coffee are the three most dangerous things next to a crisp white shirt. But with these tricks, you don’t need to stay away from affectionate girls and vino.
For foundation: “Foundation is a nightmare,” says Deane. “There’s no way of preventing it, but there are ways to deal with it, and it only takes five minutes. Instantly scrub the shirt with baby wipes – they have a chemical that gets rid of everything.
“Alternatively, go to the bathroom straight away and scrub it with soap, using a paper towel or another part of your shirt. The chemicals in the soap dissolve the oil and the grease within the makeup and start to get rid of it. Once you can see it fading, use water to wash off the soap and use the hand dryer to dry it clean.
“Make sure you wash off the soap to avoid a dry soap ring and do not scrub with toilet roll, because it sheds fibres. Which is a whole other nightmare.”
For red wine: the old wive’s tale works – counter with white wine, or anything vinegar based, and the colour will instantly fade.
For coffee: Your biggest weapon is time. “Coffee is really hard,” says Deane. “Use soap or detergent like with foundation and deal with it as quickly as you can. If it starts to set, that’s when you get a bad stain.”
Refresh Your Wardrobe In 10 Minutes
Refresh a piece that’s been kicking around your wardrobe for a long time by customising it. “Cut jeans into frayed shorts with pinking shears,” says fashion stylist Kitty Cowell, whose work has appeared in Fucking Young! and Metro. “The same can be done with collars of jackets or shirts.” Just be sure you actually want to bid a permanent adieu to wearing them with a tie.
If you aren’t, then try a temporary update. “Patches and pin badges are the ultimate way to customise anything and they can be removed,” says Cowell. It’s a move approved by everyone from Kanye to Vetements and Gucci; grab iron-on patches from somewhere like eBay or Rebel’s Market to give an ordinary denim jacket or bomber a one-of-a-kind overhaul. Just don’t be tempted to break out the diamante.
Mix Sporty With Smart
Uninspired by your wardrobe? Think outside the penalty box. “Use sportswear in a way other than it would be styled for sports,” says Cowell.
“Mix sporty with smart and high street with high end. Balance a tracksuit with premium sneakers, or boots like Timberlands to bring another dimension to the look.
“You can even take sportswear elements, like tapered tracksuit bottoms, and pair them with Dr. Martens, a longline tee and a leather bomber. That’s an easy way to look sporty but with a smart, rock ‘n’ roll edge.”
Cheat The Perfect Arm & Leg Length
You left it too late to buy a suit for that upcoming wedding and your tailor’s fully booked. No stress, says menswear image consultant (and the man behind David Gandy’s impeccable street style) Joe Ottaway.
“If your blazer arm length is too short, choose a similar coloured roll neck or chambray shirt to wear underneath, giving the illusion of a correct sleeve length. At a later date you can have it tailored correctly.”
For puddling trousers, fold the extra cloth inside the leg and place a strip of wonder webbing in the fold. Iron the cuff – on a low heat, to avoid damaging the fabric – to cement the perfect break.
Hemming Web, available at Tesco, priced £2.
Nonchalance Works The Camera
Instagram-happy friends mean you can’t always prepare for the camera – but you can learn these hacks to come away unscathed. “The best way to pull off a great pose is to look natural,” says Ottaway, a street style legend himself. “Act like you are not even aware of the camera; hands in pocket, with a natural ease whilst strolling gives a timelessly stylish image.”
To highlight your suit’s silhouette – and the suppressed waist it creates – try the ‘teapot’. “When being photographed, arch your arm at a soft right angle,” he says. “This helps showcase and accentuate the sharp lines of a suit.”
Fake A Fit Body
If you’re lagging at the gym, don’t sweat it. “It’s about creating a silhouette and flow,” says Keet. “Work with your body, not against it. Layering breaks up your frame, so try a jacket with a waistcoat. Make sure it’s a good fit with no bulging buttons. A scarf or slim tie is another trick to slim down your look.”
To shed more pounds, find your best side. “Stand at an angle to the camera, so the width of your body looks slimmer,” says Alexis Knox, who’s dressed the likes Bruno Mars and Miguel. “Put one leg out in front of you, as it lengthens that leg, making you appear taller.”
Skin Tone Hacks
Wearing colours that complement your complexion brightens your skin. If you don’t have a colour wheel to hand, go with your gut.
“Usually we are drawn to colours that suit us, but a little trick is to drape the colour just under your chin,” says Kett. “You will instantly see if your skin looks bright or dull, if the bags under your eyes look deeper or not, and if your lines or wrinkles are more accentuated.”
Step Out Sharp
Before you leave the house, make this your new fix up, to always look sharp. “When you put trousers on, shove your hands into your pockets and spread them out so they aren’t all bunched,” says Deane.
“If you put a T-shirt or shirt on under a jacket, always tug the underneath layer into the shoulder and down the sleeve to stop the jacket bringing your top up at the front.
“If you’re wearing socks, make sure the seam or ribbing is going straight. Tug them round a bit.
“These are the little secrets that make you look well put together. And always use a lint roller. If you don’t have one, then turn sellotape backwards to get rid of scruff.”