Ask T: How Do You Get the Clothes for Magazine Pictures?
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Ask T: How Do You Get the Clothes for Magazine Pictures?


Time for another round of “Ask T”! This is not so much a styling question as it is a stylist question:

Hi Tamia,

I really like your work in A-Line magazine!  I’ve always wondered how you get the clothes for photo shoots. Do you have to buy a bunch of stuff? If so, who pays for it and where do you keep it?


Hi K,

I’m freelance, so I usually pitch an idea or concept for a shoot, then the editor suggests tweaks/adjustments according to the timing and theme of the issue. From that point, it’s my job to set up the shoot, including a date, location, photographer, models, hair and makeup artists, and of course, clothing and accessories.

The clothes are “pulled” or “sourced” from local retailers since it’s a local magazine and we’re too far away to work with showrooms and designer PRs in NY and LA.

Cincinnati Fashion Stylist

So, instead of flipping through lookbooks and picking the skirt from Look 4 and having it messengered over (apparently, even when that’s possible, it’s a hassle–hence services like The Runthrough), it’s more about researching boutiques, visiting retailers to make an introduction, and getting a feel for the type of merchandise each shop carries.

Pictures and Pick-ups

For each shoot, I pick out several looks (outfits) from local shops, including clothes, shoes, and accessories. There’s a lot of running around, jotting down notes and taking pictures of various items at each store to keep track of what’s out there and which shops have what I’m looking for!

Once I figure out which pieces will work best together, I pick them up from each store the evening before the photo shoot. The items are loaned, meaning they’re returned to the shops after each shoot. There’s a merchandise loan form that we use to keep track of the stuff we borrowed and guarantee their safe return, or payment if something happens. Nothing has ever happened, but it’s nice to have backup in place!

Cincinnati Fashion Stylist Styling for publications in a city like Cincinnati requires a slightly different process than it would in a place like NY or LA, but I’m fairly anal about the way I like things to be organized, so it all works out!

Hope I answered your question!

  • Amiee

    February 6, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Hi Tamia,

    What does a Merchandise loan form look like?


    • tamia

      February 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      Hey Amiz,

      It’s pretty basic: it contains the publication’s contact info, explains the merchandise loan process, has an area for listing the items loaned and the store they come from, and includes credit card info as insurance.

  • G.Danielle

    February 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I am so impressed with your work. I was recently introduced to A-Line during a holiday visit to Cincinnati. Being a style and fashion blogger myself, I was happy to see that Cincinnati is developing a legit fashion scene. Let me know if you ever need an assistant on set. LOL.

  • Keisha Richardson

    September 24, 2014 at 4:30 am

    I’m looking for ideas on what I need to do to borrowing clothes for fashion shows I plan to have in the future to come. I thank you for your advice, it was very helpful.

    Keisha Richardson

  • Elisfa

    August 22, 2015 at 4:33 am

    Hello T,

    I wanted to know more about how a freelancer is selling her work on a magazine. When you finish the photoshoot how do you comunicate your project on an editor?


    • tamia

      September 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      That’s a great question! For the most part, freelance stylists will pitch a concept to the style editor before the photos are actually produced. Once the editor and stylist settle on the look and direction of the shoot, the production process begins.
      On the other hand, there are many magazines–mostly digital–that actively accept and publish submissions from fashion stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and others in the fashion industry. I like ELLEments and Jute.

  • phungoti nembang

    July 19, 2016 at 3:38 am

    hello tamia! all of the info you’ve mentioned above was really helpful,i am a fashion student truly enthusiast about the styling thing and now that its time i should be preparing my styling portfolio on my own for the internship purpose. i am still in confusion about sourcing the clothes from the local retailers as you’ve mentioned above in your reply. like, how should i approach the store for the clothes?do i need to make the payment for the sourcing?will they simply be able to supply their stuffs for free? i don’t know how appropriate it was to keep my curiousity this way but i didn’t find the other way to help myself. i would be much thankful if you could answer my query in much short possible time,that would be a great help for me.

    • tamia

      July 20, 2016 at 7:34 am

      Hi Phungoti,
      Depending on the retailer, they may let you borrow the clothes and request that you put down a credit card in order to guarantee the safe return of borrowed items, or you may have to purchase them. If you’re working with a magazine, the publication will often supply a Letter of Responsibility or “pull letter” doing this on your behalf.
      I recommend starting a relationship with local boutiques before requesting to borrow anything–go in, introduce yourself, follow them on social media, etc.–get to know the owner and team. Once that relationship is established (it takes time!), then let them know about your project and ask if they’re interested in being featured. Make sure they get something out of it, too, like editorial credit or coverage on social media.