When it comes to working as a stylist, Micaela Erlanger knows a thing or two about scoring her dream job. She worked her way up from interning and assisting to styling best-dressed celebs like Lupita Nyong'o, Meryl Streep and Diane Kruger, and just recently published her first book, How to Accessorize: A Perfect Finish to Every Outfit. But while she may be at the top of her game, Erlanger isn't resting on her laurels just yet.
"It's not as glamorous as it seems; it's a lot of hard work — the hours are insane!" she told our own Maria Bobila at Fashionista's 2018 "How to Make It in Fashion" conference. "I feel like I'm still in awards season and it's June."
Of course, Erlanger worked her way up to becoming one of The Hollywood Reporter's regular top stylists in many of the traditional ways, like clocking hours in supportive roles, building trust with her clients and working hard, which are still irreplaceable pathways to success. These days, however, would-be stylists have one more tool in their box when it comes to making it: social media. Erlanger explained how invaluable it has become for working stylists to create multi-hyphenate roles for themselves beyond the red carpet.
"Social media has changed everything," she told the audience. "When I first started, Facebook existed, but social, Instagram, it didn't have the weight it carries now. It's a full-time job, and it's incredibly valuable."
Erlanger uses her own Instagram to share her work and what's inspiring her, but she also shared tips on how social media could be used to vault stylists into the next phase of their careers. Read on for her best social media secrets.
Take your networking digital.
Erlanger finds inspiration by checking out what her fellow stylists are doing on Instagram — she isn't afraid to ask about a new brand — or even just discovering new best practices. "I've discovered countless brands that way, mind you" Erlanger says of her social media surfing. If you're not based in New York or Los Angeles, social media is the best way to stay connected to the community of your fellow stylists.
Don't be afraid of a DM slide!
Surprise! Erlanger encourages a (professional!) DM slide. "I'm assuming you're on Instagram; I'm assuming you follow some stylists you admire," she told an audience member. "Reach out! I don't know about other stylists, but I check my DMs and I personally respond to everything. I'm not the only stylist who needs help! We all need help, we all want to share our knowledge, and it's mutually beneficial." Check for other traditional routes — Erlanger also recommends emailing the agencies of stylists — but if the DMs are open, hop in.
Think about your social media as your digital resume.
Instagram is especially invaluable as a visual tool for any stylist. "I think your own content is the easiest place to start," Erlanger says. "It's self-generating." Would-be clients will likely check out your profile to get an idea for your aesthetic, so that means posting everything from what's inspiring you, whether it's fashion or art, to images of your own style. Try to keep things consistent when it comes to establishing your brand on social, and above all: "Authenticity," Erlanger says. "Keep it real."
Oh, and if you submit a more traditional resume during a job hunt, be prepared to have your social media scrutinized, as well. "It's outward-facing," Erlanger explains. "I want to know who the person is that I'm going to be considering."
At the end of the day, don't forget about analog.
When it comes to following up, handwritten notes can still take you far — so put the phone down. "I think they are better than email," Erlanger says. "It's tangible, you've taken the time, there's a thoughtfulness behind them; I'm flattered, and they stay with me when I receive letters."