How to Become a TV Fashion Expert: A Day in the Life With Erica Wark

Erica Wark - How to Become a TV Stylist

Becoming a TV fashion expert is a dream career for many stylists and people looking to get into the fashion industry. It combines a passion for style with a platform to influence and inspire audiences with your fashion insights. 

We’re joined by a special guest to talk about this career path. You’ve seen her on The Social, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and more—we chatted with TV fashion expert and celebrity stylist, Erica Wark, who walked us through her typical day, the best (and most surprising) parts of her job, and her advice for emerging stylists. 

Follow along as we guide you through the essential steps to achieve this coveted role, from developing your portfolio to honing your must-have skills for life as a fashion expert and stylist. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to elevate your existing career, these tips will set you on the path to becoming a trusted and influential TV fashion expert and style consultant.

The Journey to Becoming a TV Fashion Expert

How do you become a fashion stylist for TV? Erica’s path as a style consultant unfolded by being open to change and new opportunities that came her way. Here, she shares her story with us. 

“I started modeling when I was 13 but if you backtrack before that I used to be obsessed with dressing my Barbie dolls and my mother taught me how to sew clothes for them; fashion has definitely been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Working in the modeling industry showed me what a stylist was and what the job entailed. At the time, I didn’t know what my career path would look like, but I knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry. Years later, my modelling agency called me and said “Hey, sometimes we get clients who reach out asking for stylists, and we know you’ve now got some experience in retail, we think you’d be really good at this. Is this something you’d be interested in?” And I was like, yeah, sign me up, that sounds amazing.” I essentially taught myself based on my experience as a model, and working in retail, and it just grew from there. 

During that time, as a postgraduate from the journalism program at Ottawa U and Algonquin College, I was doing copywriting and freelance writing. That was around the time when things began to shift heavily online and in the social media space. When I realized the traditional media industry – particularly newspapers and magazines – was quickly shifting, I launched my website and started writing my blog, which included covering fashion events, trend stories, styling tips and Fashion Weeks around the globe. 

Then an opportunity came up for me to style this ambush makeover experience with the local morning show. I was hired to makeover three candidates who were nominated by their friends and family as a thank you for all they do for their communities. At the time, I had no experience in television and I was obviously intimidated, but also incredibly excited for the opportunity. We filmed over two days, and I remember they were long, tiring days, but I left that job feeling so energized.

I remember saying to my mom” I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but this is what I want to do the rest of my life.” A few days later, I got a call from the producer who edited the videos and they asked, “Hey, we watched your clips and think you’re great. Would you be willing to come on the live show to break down these looks and why you chose them?” The rest is history.”

A Not-So-Average Career

We asked Erica about a typical day on the job, only to discover that her career as a stylist is anything but average. 

“The beautiful thing about my job is that it’s all over the place. Styling is such a broad term and can mean so many things and the best part about it is I’m able to use my talent as a stylist in so many different ways. One day I might be planning and sourcing and mood boarding for a client, another day I might be on air doing a segment or working on a photo shoot, plus I have a whole social media side of my job that all revolves around styling. 

Every day is so different, that’s one of the reasons I love what I do. I love that every day is a fresh start; working different muscles in my brain and doing a variety of things for a wide range of people.”

If you love a fast pace, helping people, and juggling multiple projects, a career as a personal stylist and TV fashion expert might be just the thing that calls to you. 

Challenges of Being a Professional Fashion Stylist

A TV fashion stylist job is often perceived as a glamorous career, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Balancing creativity with practicality, dealing with last-minute changes, and navigating the dynamic nature of the fashion world can be daunting, but a TV fashion stylist job doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. Forget the cut-throat, competitive fashion industry that we see in movies—Erica’s most challenging moments are actually something she’s grateful for. Let’s dive in. 

“I’d say one of the most challenging things is navigating people. And by that I mean every single client I have is coming to me with years of their perceived notions about their bodies. Even if I think they are beautiful and perfect in every way, they need to feel that way too. The challenge is trying to navigate their insecurities to ensure that they feel their best. 

The challenge isn’t finding the outfit—that part comes easy. It’s almost like I have to re-teach them how they look at their own bodies in the mirror. That’s probably the most challenging, and I don’t mean challenging in a negative way at all. It’s such a gift for me to be able to help people through those barriers so that they can move forward in life where getting dressed can be a little bit easier. That’s what I hope people feel after they’ve had an experience with me.”

On-the-Job Highlights

Besides navigating the tricky parts of her job, Erica has plenty to say about the best parts of her role as a TV fashion expert and style consultant. While her role isn’t without its challenges, it’s a career highlight every time she accomplishes making someone look and feel their best. 

“The best part of my job is when a client has had their experience with me and they’ve found that perfect outfit for an occasion, or perhaps we’ve gone through a closet overhaul and they’re now able to wear their pieces feeling so much more comfortable and confident. When I get DMs on social media or emails from people who have watched segments of mine and say how much it has helped them—it’s just my greatest joy.”

Erica also shared how a common fashion misconception is also one of her favourite things about her styling career: the myth that working in fashion is all glamour. Erica tells us, “It’s 95% not glamorous. Ha ha! The 5% of the glamour is when I have my hair and makeup done and my cute outfit on and I get to go on TV or do a photoshoot, or when my clients are all done up for an event or red carpet. All the hours put in leading up to that however are NOT glamorous. I’m usually in a sweatshirt, leggings, and sneakers. I’m sweating, running around, and working HARD. Then I’m putting my daughter to bed and working more after that. It’s a hustle some days, it’s a lot of work. BUT it’s REWARDING work.”

Unglamorous as each day can be, Erica finds the hard work worth it. “Most of it is not very glamorous, but I also love that part of it. I like getting into the nitty-gritty of things. The small details. I like getting my hands dirty. I like sitting on the floor and taping shoes and applying boob tape, ha ha.”

As much as the daily grind is a busy hustle, Erica notes the importance of not taking things too seriously. “I say this all the time—we’re not doing open heart surgery. We’re putting outfits together. It is not meant to be serious. It’s meant to be fun, so in moments where I feel a little bit stressed, I always remind myself of that and it really helps center me. I’m so, so, so grateful that I’m able to make a career out of this. It does not get past me that there are few of us who get to do what we love for a living. So I say, bring on ALL of it.”

Key Skills of a TV Fashion Expert

To thrive as a fashion stylist, mastering key skills is essential. From a keen eye for detail, to the ability to predict and interpret trends, to great communication, these skills form the backbone of a successful styling career. Erica shares her experience with the abilities needed to make it as a stylist, especially when it comes to working as your own business entity and creating a personal brand as a freelancer. 


With a constantly changing schedule and no such thing as a typical workday, it’s important to stay on top of your tasks as a stylist and Erica shares her perspective on organizational skills. 

“Given how fluid my job is and how it’s ever-changing and every day and week is different, being organized is so important. The reason I’m able to juggle so many things is because I am hyper-organized. And that’s not just a skill in the fashion industry—that’s also being a self-employed person or entrepreneur. It’s incredibly important to be organized so you know exactly what needs to happen, where you’re supposed to be, and what the timelines are.”


The ability to listen well is a skill that will take you far in a styling career. Not only do you need to listen so you can understand and execute ideas, but you’re also involved in managing expectations and establishing a great rapport with your clients. 

Erica emphasizes the importance of strong listening skills, saying “I always joke that my job is also part therapist, much like a hairstylist. I think working with clothing and people and their bodies, there are so many layers there. So I think first and foremost is being a good listener and coming in with a warm heart, empathy, and grace for people.” 

Attention to Detail

Being a stylist for TV means having a lot of eyes on your work at once, so everything needs to be just right and it’s Erica’s job to make sure that happens. She tells us about all the moving parts to navigate and why having strong attention to detail is so important—literally and figuratively. 

“Attention to detail is key in every way. If a button is loose, you need to sew it before you go on camera. If there are threads hanging from somewhere, you need to cut them before your client goes on the red carpet. If undergarments aren’t exactly right, it’s all about getting the right pieces and fit so the look falls the way it should. 

You are the eyes for that person whether they’re getting ready for a red carpet or you’re getting a look ready for a TV segment. It’s ensuring that everything is the best it can possibly be. You have to make sure that they feel the absolute best to do their job, whether they’re a model, a television personality, or an actor on a red carpet. You need to set up your clients for success so they can do what they do best.” 

Business and Communication

Working as a self-employed stylist means that you are a business and taking that responsibility seriously is a core characteristic needed for success. Some business and administrative tasks might not be the most exciting parts of the job, but they’re just as important. 

“In addition to the styling and the on-air side of things is the business side, the accounting side, and managing the receipts. There’s also communicating with brands and the PR agencies and ensuring things are back in the way that you borrowed them to show respect for their work and making sure you keep a good relationship with them. Communication is such a pillar for being a stylist and I think that’s true for any career.”

Actionable Advice for Getting Into Styling

For emerging stylists eager to break into the industry, the journey is both exciting and challenging. From building a strong portfolio and gaining experience through internships to networking and the value of working retail, Erica’s experience provides a roadmap to success. 

Build Your Portfolio

A strong portfolio is critical to any creative role in fashion and styling is no exception. No experience? No problem. With hard work, you can create a portfolio that showcases your talent, even if you haven’t booked any paying jobs yet. Erica shares her tips for putting together a great portfolio, even if you’re short on experience. 

“If you’re trying to build a portfolio, I think it’s really important to ask friends and family to help you get started. Go through their closets; style them for a photo shoot or event; create projects that you can start building experience and a point of view so that you can get paid jobs down the road.” 

How exactly do you format and display your portfolio? It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, but you do need to put yourself out there. Erica tells us, “The benefit of the internet is you can build your brand at virtually no cost. You can create a website or portfolio platform; populate your social media with content that speaks to you and your brand; and you can start small – even styling looks on yourself in the beginning, and sharing them on your social media platforms. There are lots of ways to build your portfolio and develop your styling skills for little to no cost, which I think is fantastic.”

A portfolio is a valuable tool in landing paying jobs as you gain experience in styling. Erica shares her perspective, saying, “I think people are more inclined to give you opportunities if you show that you’re already putting the work in. I think it’s so important for clients and potential employers to see you out there working hard and putting in the effort—that tells them so much about you before even meeting you. It shows that you’ve got an excellent work ethic. You’re a hard worker. You are passionate. It’s all of those things without having to say it.” 

Embrace Retail Jobs

You don’t need to wait until you’re a professional stylist to start gaining experience in dressing people, understanding what looks good, and putting looks together. When you’re starting out, consider a job working retail for a fashion brand. Whether you’re a sales associate, a store manager, or any role in retail, you’re exposed to plenty of opportunities to flex your creative styling muscles. Erica credits her early retail experience with helping to kickstart her styling career. 

“I worked in retail for two different companies that were mid-range fashion brands and I learned so much from those experiences. I think a job in retail can teach you so much because you’re ultimately helping people find that thing they’re looking for to make them feel great in, or helping them find the perfect outfit for an occasion. A retail job offers so much styling and customer service experience, plus it ultimately helps you learn how to create relationships, develop networking skills, and develop on-the-fly problem solving. I learned so much through those experiences, which then helped shape the rest of my career.” 

Join Forces With Other Industry Professionals

Getting started on your fashion career journey doesn’t have to be a solo effort. Erica recommends connecting and collaborating with other up-and-coming professionals in the industry. 

“It’s important to do your research and connect with local photographers, models, hair stylists and makeup artists who are also starting out and need the experience to get started. I also often suggest reaching out to local modeling agencies to see if they have any new models on their roster who are looking to build their portfolios. From there, you can set up what are called creatives, which are photo or video shoots where everyone is collaborating and donating their talents to create something that you can all use to build your respective portfolios. I remember doing that very early on in my career as well, and it’s so valuable because not only are you getting all these images/video content to add to your portfolio, you’re also connecting to other industry people,” she says. 

Volunteer and Get Out There

With the world reopening after the pandemic and the rise of events comes great opportunities for anyone aspiring to get into the fashion industry. Attending events allows you to make in-person connections, learn about new brands and organizations, and gain exposure to the industry. 

Besides going to events as a guest, consider the value of volunteering. Erica speaks highly of the value of offering your time and energy behind the scenes, saying, “In Toronto, for example, there are a lot of fashion events, especially runway shows where they’re always looking for volunteers to help and support the designers and the show production. It’s a really great way to meet people in the industry and to have something to put on your resume. It’s all about putting yourself out there, having conversations, and getting involved in the industry in any way you can.”

Staying Current on Fashion 

Staying current on fashion trends is vital for TV fashion stylists, ensuring their styling choices resonate with contemporary audiences. In the fast-paced world of television, a stylist’s relevance depends on their ability to provide fresh, on-trend looks that captivate viewers and reflect current fashion dynamics. By continuously researching and adapting to evolving styles, TV fashion stylists can maintain their credibility, inspire their audience, and keep their content engaging and influential in an ever-changing industry.

“Thanks to the internet, everything is at our fingertips,” Erica says. She shares her go-to sources for staying current, saying, “Whenever there are fashion weeks, I’m always paying attention to see what the latest trends will be. Since fashion always works ahead, it’s a great opportunity to timeline trends out. For example, in February’s New York Fashion Week, they’re showing what’s coming up for the following Fall, so I’ll already start thinking about what my clients might need and what segment ideas we can start planning out for the next season.

Social media is a great tool to stay on top of fashion. I follow all of the major fashion magazines and a ton of celebrity stylists, tastemakers, and the people who are influencing the space. I do it for my career and I do it because I love fashion. I also try to work with and support local designers and boutiques as much as I can so it’s also staying on top of those things that are ever changing.”

The Importance of Networking in Fashion

Networking is a key to success in the fashion industry, crucial for anyone aspiring to make a mark as a stylist. Effective networking opens doors to new opportunities, provides insights into industry trends, and fosters collaborations that can elevate a stylist’s career. By attending events, engaging on social media, and connecting online, stylists can create a strong network that supports their growth and enhances their visibility for new opportunities. 

Erica shares her insights on why networking is so critical for stylists. Almost weekly, I talk to people who are trying to come up in the industry and who are looking to break in, whether it’s to be a stylist or in another capacity. It’s such a great approach to reach out to people you are inspired by. More often than not, they’ll get back to you and maybe they’ll be able to offer some ideas, suggestions, and other people to connect with. Don’t be intimidated—what’s the worst that can happen? They don’t write back? Well, then you go to the next person and the next person and eventually somebody will. That’s been my experience and I know that’s been an experience for a lot of other people trying to break into the fashion industry. I think ultimately, people want to help other people. Paying it forward. Supporting the next generation.”

Professional organizations can also offer a great networking opportunity and the potential to open doors. Erica says, “The other thing I suggest is looking at organizations like CAFA, the FGI Toronto etc. They do so much for people looking to get into the industry whether it’s designers, stylists, or other fashion-related career prospects. It’s a whole network of people and they’ve had such an impact on the industry.”

It all comes down to putting yourself out there and continually making connections. “There’s so much out there. It’s really just about doing a little bit of research—sending out a few emails, a few DMs on Instagram, or even picking up the phone and calling. I think that can go such a long way,” Erica shares.

Attracting New Opportunities in Styling

Identifying and attracting new career opportunities is a must for fashion stylists aiming to grow their professional footprint and build up a repertoire of paying clients. There are a variety of ways to do this and gaining referrals through networking and promoting yourself are two essential practices to adopt.

“Networking is so valuable and it’s been my experience that a referral is still incredibly impactful,” Erica shares, “I think I get the most jobs by referrals and I think referral-based opportunities are by far the most successful. Build your network because they’re the ones who are going to refer you. I even think about my private clients and doing closet consultations, personal shopping, closet organizing, and wardrobing—that’s not even on my website or social media. I don’t promote it—it’s all referral-based and I like it that way. 

I like creating connections, and I think it’s so much stronger to have someone say “I experienced this and it had this effect on my life and I’m recommending it to you because I think it will have a big impact on you.” There’s so much out there – it can be overwhelming – and a referral says so much. That’s been my entire career quite honestly. I do one job and it leads me to another and so on.” 

Referrals aside, there are plenty of other ways to attract opportunities as you grow your career, and having a strong online presence is a top tactic that any aspiring stylist or TV fashion expert should use. For Erica, being present online is non-negotiable. She tells us, “It’s essential to have a voice online. By that I mean if you want to be a stylist or TV fashion personality, you have to be present online in some capacity. Whether that’s having a website, a YouTube channel, or an Instagram account, just so people can find you, connect with you, and see what you’re doing. Your online presence is all about sharing what it is that you do and what makes you uniquely YOU. There’s a lot out there, now more than ever, and you have to find your space and your voice on those platforms.” 

Erica’s seen the results of online content creation firsthand. “My first U.S. TV job was on Access Hollywood in 2021 and the client found me on Instagram. She lives in LA but she found me on social media. It’s so important to be in the space and show your unique perspective and what makes you stand out. You never know who’s watching.

And listen, I’m here to say it is a lot of work. It’s not easy to maintain your online presence while also doing your full-time job, but it’s also essential in today’s climate. It’s all about carving that time out, even once a week, to dedicate to those online components that help brand you so people can find you, connect with who you are, and what you do.” 

The Bottom Line

Becoming a stylist is a journey that requires dedication, creativity, and a strategic approach. Developing your fashion knowledge, gaining client experience, and building a strong network will help set you up and kickstart your career. Staying current with fashion trends and continuously refining your skills are crucial to maintaining relevance and appeal. With perseverance and passion, you can transform your love for fashion into a dynamic career, influencing and inspiring audiences as a trusted TV fashion expert and stylist. 

Along with arming yourself with these tips, authenticity is key. Erica perfectly sums up the key to a successful styling career, saying, At the end of the day it’s really about trusting your gut, listening to your instincts, and taking calculated risks. That’s what I’ve done my entire career and that’s what’s led me to the success I’ve had.” 

Special thanks to Erica Wark for sharing her expertise with us! Follow her on Instagram for all her styling adventures! #warkit

Are you considering a career change or working on getting into the fashion industry? Book a Career Meeting with Style Nine to Five’s Founder, Christie Lohr. She’ll offer her insider advice on how to pursue your dream career in fashion. 

Jeanine Gordon is a freelance content marketer with a passion for creating stellar strategies for global brands and small businesses alike, specializing in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.