- Zainab Irfan on the life of a fashion stylist
Clothing gives an idea of your character and even boosts your confidence when you feel good about what you wear. It is essential how you feel in your clothes because this feeling can make or break an outfit. Using one’s style as a tool to stand out and be noticed and to reinforce oneself as a professional person is Zainab Irfan, who is following her passion as a fashion stylist.
Ifran has made quite an impressive name for herself in the world of fashion in her early 20s. She has worked with big brand names such as Jezza Fashion, who she kick-started her career with, Shay Int., Lovi Sarongs and Bollywood Boutique, garnering over five years of experience in the industry.
In conversation with The Morning Brunch, Zainab described her personal style as modest fashion. “I love bringing together current trends and styles and putting them together in a very modest fashion.” She also added that her biggest fashion no-no would be bright colours, “I’m more of a nude and dark undertones kind of girl. I can work with them, but I’m pretty averse to putting it on myself.”
When talking about inspirations and idols, she told us that she doesn’t have someone she’d name as such, although she does have many people that she looks up to and gains inspiration from, “I want to have my own inspiration as to who I want to be like, I don’t want to look at someone else and be like them.”
The requirement of a stylist is to put together an outfit in an attractive way; while it may sound simple enough, Zainab sheds light on this common misconception. “Back when I first started, Sri Lanka didn’t really grasp the concept of a stylist; they assumed my job consisted of pairing clothes and brushed it off as no big deal.”
While she conceded that people are now more accepting of stylists as a career and Sri Lanka has grown in its ways of thinking, she also emphasised that being a stylist comes with a lot of thought process. “Mainly when it comes to conducting photoshoots, I need to figure out which model is great, which outfit matches them, which shoes or jewellery to pair with.”
She rebuked another misconception many people have when it comes to fashion: “people tend to believe that only if they have expensive, branded outfits can they be fashionable. Personally, I think that ‘poorer’ shops have some gems of designs and you can always style it brilliantly. It’s all in how you put together your outfit, not specific items of clothing or brand names.”
When asked how her career began, she explained that she started an Instagram page four years ago, and then was approached by a clothing brand. “When I started working with them, I slowly got into handling photoshoots and experimenting with designs in styling. That’s when I realised my passion lay in styling,” she added.
Talking about the intricacies of her job, Zainab told us: “I take different pieces of outfits from different brands and put it together to provide all the ladies with the opportunity to experiment with their style and express themselves. Be it modest, goth, ethnic wear; whatever the style, my job is to help them show off their personality through clothes.”
Taking us through her process of styling, she said: “If a client wants me to style for a photoshoot, first and foremost I look at their Instagram page to familiarise myself with the items they have. Next, I inquire about a basic concept sketch that they have in mind. After that has been decided, I take a day to brainstorm ideas on how the items I have at my disposal can be styled accordingly. After that has been decided, I visit their store, pick out the outfits, including shoes and jewellery, and then decide on the models.”
Once all of the initial steps are finalised, she decides which hairstyle and makeup would suit the model in order to complete the entire look. She elaborated that the main factors she takes into consideration when styling, since she focuses mostly on modest fashion, is that clothes don’t necessarily have to be long-sleeves and baggy. “It all depends on how you put it together, modest fashion is basically a three-layer outfit. So I look into what I can wear inside, outside, and what I wear on my legs.”
Sharing a useful titbit of advice to any that wish to follow in her footsteps, she stated: “You should create your own style to match your personality so that when people see a certain item of clothing, it reminds them of you,” talking about how to stand out in a crowd. On a concluding note, she said: “I want to see more girls conquer the fashion industry in the world, and I hope that one day I can make a name for myself in this industry.”