Monday, March 29, 2010

Essential Tools for Stylists

I couldn't resist purchasing this sewing kit today - with pre-threaded needles. On a recent wardrobe styling job, I needed this but didn't have it. A male executive I was styling broke a shirt sleeve button as he was getting into his executive attire. He asked, "Does anyone have a needle and thread?"

"Of course I do!" I scoffed, only to look in my kit and find a sewing kit with thread, replacement buttons, tiny scissors - and no needle! I had to resort to a strip of double-sided carpet tape. How embarrassing - I mean I work in the opera costume shop but I didn't have a needle on location.

I imagine the black and white thread in this kit will get used up faster than the colors. But in the meantime I won't have to pause to thread a needle. I will have to remember to restock the thread though.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


We are having a Toolkit Contest! A few months ago I wrote about my futile search for a fresh, new case for my styling tools, Search for a New Toolkit.

I began to wonder what other stylists are using these days. One of the best I have seen in past doubled as a step stool which the stylist could sit on while doing wall styling. But it seemed kind of heavy. Have you found the perfect box or bag? Have you made one? Show us what you are using for your styling tools.

I have this one for my product/tabletop styling tools and another for wardrobe and fashion. It would be fun to find something new though.

Read contest details at Photo Styling Workshops/Toolkit Contest. Your own photos can be uploaded at our FACEBOOK Fan Page. (You will have to be a member of Facebook to post them though. Just go to Facebook and sign up on our Fan Page.)

Winner will be picked at random and will win a FREE online class at Photo Styling Workshops (Value $265!). Deadline April 30, 2010.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

San Diego Favorites: Cuban Coffee

San Diego is a great location for photo shoots. With beautiful weather when much of the world is suffering from winter weather and its very varied locations, it has been a favorite destination for many catalog shoots. In fact that is how I got to know the city – when I was art directing fashion shoots for Norm Thompson catalog in the 90s.

There are lots of other fun spots to discover during photo shoots and prep days. Places to shop for wardrobe and props and places to visit in the process. (Gotta stop and review your lists!) Continuing my exploration into San Diego favorite spots, I visited a very cool Cuban style patisserie yesterday. I love quick little cups of Cuban coffee but you don’t often find them in San Diego. This cafe, Azucar is in Ocean Beach, locally known as OB. I had a marvelous little cup of coffee, listened to the music playing in the bright little shop, and immediately got in a very good mood. What fun!

The baker/chef is Vivian Hernandex-Jackson, raised in Miami and trained at Le Cordon Bleu. I wish she'd open Azucar cafes all over town (I'd pop in all the time) but this is the only one. So far…

Azucar's site:

Other San Diego Favorites from The Invisible Stylist:
Farkas Store Fixtures, downtown San Diego

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cleaning my Dollhouse

In the process of packing for our move to a bigger place north of San Diego, I took my dollhouse down from the high shelf where it’s been perched. The dollhouse is the identical model that I had as a child. We found it at an antique shop a number of years ago. An antique shop! Oh well.

I took the plastic furniture out of the metal rooms and dropped it in some soapy water in the kitchen sink. Wiping out the rooms with a damp rag I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if it were so easy to clean our own houses? Take everything out and wash it, wipe out the rooms and then put it back all fresh and clean.

Then it occurred to me: That’s what moving is all about. Everything is dusted off, reorganized and sorted, packed in boxes, and placed in clean, new, empty rooms. I like moving. Soon I'll be styling some big new rooms and some familiar little rooms. More about the move in the next few weeks...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bowling Shoe Fashion

I have long admired the look of multi-colored bowling shoes and thought they would make a good fashion item. When my friend Bryan showed up with his size 10 bowling shoes last week I was interested right away.

He says he got his at a thrift store but that many young people acquire a pair by wearing some old shoes to a bowling alley where they turn in one shoe and rent their bowling shoes. After the game they simply leave in them, leaving one old shoe behind. According to a 2001 article in Bowling Digest, “In the cycle of fashion trends, bowling shoes become a staple every few years or so. However, this time around the shoes are hot more because they are, literally, stolen right out of centers than because of how they look--and that trend isn't pleasing proprietors.”

There are plenty of legitimate Websites where new (unworn!) bowling shoes can be purchased but to me the whole grungy appeal of bowling shoes is that they are shared with fellow amateur bowlers.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Perfect Wardrobe Styling Job

This week I had the perfect booking, wardrobe styling for three male executives’ portraits. I was referred by my makeup artist buddy Natalie Dixon, who also worked. She says at first she thought she’d be able to do the makeup and the styling because it seemed simple – no shopping or propping, just a little steaming of their own suits. (It wasn’t that simple.)

The styling job was “perfect” because (1.) The men were bringing their own clothing, two sets of suits, shirts, ties, etc., (2.) it was to be a short day, (3.) for a full high-end day rate, (4.) we would be shooting in an office building with all the conveniences, just steaming and ironing if needed, and (5.) we would be paid the same day! Natalie said “This sets the bar for a good booking!”

Of course it wasn’t so cushy. I worked hard at watching the shots and making sure the suits did not do what suits do when men sit down or fold their arms – they pull and crinkle. Also when men sit down in a suit jacket, a ridge forms at the back, just behind the collar and it needs constant attention. I was regularly “going in” to straighten things out and, as always, non-professionals move out of position to see what you're doing when you come to make an adjustment.

I have to admit I haven’t learned how to tie a tie. But I did hold a mirror so they could tie their own (second nature for them) and placed tissues over the shirt collars so makeup wouldn’t get rubbed on the collar when they flip it up. (A TV trick.)

We wrapped after about six hours and got to eat a late lunch – delicious food was brought in by our office host. And got paid. The tiresome part is schlepping, as every stylist knows, carrying my supplies to the car: rolling rack, steamer, iron, towel, mini-ironing board, kit, swivel hangers, all the necessary items. But on this shoot I wasn’t the last to leave for once - the photo assistants were still breaking down lights and the art director was transferring files for another hour or so! Now, off to the bank.