Welcome back to Shanahan Studio Session. This week we have another fashion stylist based here in the UK, Megan Smales. Megan has worked with high profile individuals and has been published in publications such as Vogue Italia and Civilian Magazine. Megan has also worked with brands including Parka London and assisted for large brands including Hello Fresh and Stylist. We talk about everything fashion, styling and career advice.
Describe growing up for you Megan, did you have an interest in fashion from an early age and what was your earliest fashion memory?
I have always loved Fashion. I used to get changed every hour throughout the day and I remember dressing my brother up and swapping clothes ha! I used to have felt dress up dolls and they were my pride and joy. Clothes have always been a very big part of my life
Do any of your family members work in fashion?
No just me, although they do not understand it everyone in my family is very supportive. I love showing my nan garments I’ve pulled for shoots. Her reaction is priceless.
Was it difficult for you starting off in the fashion industry?
I was incredibly lucky, I studied at The Fashion Retail Academy and they are very keen on getting their students industry experience. Because of the internships I achieved a Visual Merchandising role in New Look Oxford Circus Flagship store at 18. It was an overwhelming experience with lots of ups and downs but it has really helped me.
Describe your style in 5 words.
Classic with a boho twist
Who are your style icons?
Mary- Kate & Ashley Olson, Lauren Conrad & Lucy Meck
Hats & sunglasses. I’m obsessed!
One piece you're buying for spring to update your look?
Anything sage green. I don’t really become obsessed with a particular piece but I go through phases of colours .
If you could only wear one designer the rest of your life who would it be?
Chloe… Chanel is a close second.
What would you never wear?
I really don’t like wearing black and blue. I see plenty of people pulling it off but it’s not for me.
Do you wear a favorite piece to death?
Leather jackets. I love them!
Are you a closet editor or a builder?
Definitely an editor. I never buy anything unless it can be worn three ways. My mum taught me that skill very early. I’m the same when pulling looks for shoots. I’ll never pull more than I need. I can very easily visualise what I have and will the additional piece work or not.
How did you get your start in styling?
My position at New Look definitely helped but most of my styling jobs have come from networking. Instagram is a fantastic tool for anyone starting out.
Who are some of your go-to designers for styling now?
I actually love using less known brands. Uooyaa are one of my favourites. Their colours and prints always photograph well and I always want to keep the pieces.
What's the most fun part of your job?
Creating a moodboard. I love the process of coming up with an idea and then trying to get that from your own head onto a piece of paper so the team understands what you mean. There is no better feeling than seeing an image exactly how you imagined it in your head.
Expectation, unfortunately the industry has got into the habit of not paying creatives for their time or if they do pay it can take up to 90 days in some cases. I think this needs to be spoken about more often because it’s something we all suffer with in silence.
Favorite look that you've styled to date?
I did a swimwear shoot last year. It was such a short notice and we only had a few pieces of swimwear from one designer but they are still my favourite looks.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Styling Davido. I did not realise how big that actually was until he left. I was so unprepared but I think it worked in my favour because I didn’t have any nerves.
What advice would you give anyone pursuing a career as a stylist?
Be realistic and find a mentor. I have been incredibly lucky with the people I have worked with. Everyone has been ridiculously supportive and honest in guiding me through. Styling is not glam. It’s hard work, long hours and for little money in the beginning so make sure you are prepared for that. The positives outway the negatives though and the industry is small so you make the best friends for life.
What is something that you wish you knew before pursuing a career as a stylist?
How much people hate paying you haha. I know i’ve said it a lot but it is something people need to know. It’s an addictive career though so I’d never give it up.
What is one no-fail styling trick you have?
Personally take away one piece but aim for at least 5 garments e.g. top, trousers, shoes etc etc. Commercially or editorial add a headwear. It changes a look.
What's your philosophy on the high low-mix? What are some of your go-to approachable brands?
When choosing clothes I personally don’t go for the brand I go for the shape and style. I really dislike following trends in my personal wardrobe. I much prefer buying sustainable pieces that will last season after season.
I love designer pieces and I really do not like places like Primark. For me it’s quality over quantity. If I was to choose brands I like, it would be Zara, River Island, Ralph Lauren, Chloe & Chanel but I wouldn’t buy something just because it came from those brands.
How do you like to use color?
I LOVE colour. I genuinely can not understand how people only wear black. For me it is a reflection of my personality. I often get told ‘only you could get away wearing that’.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Know your fashion history and designers. I’ve always been fascinated with fashion history but being a stylist it is vital.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I will be styling well known faces on red carpets and promotional material. I’d also love to style a TV show like X Factor or The Voice. I love creating wearable looks that people love.
Where can people find you online?
I am on IG @styled_by_meg__
Thank you Megan for your time and the helpful styling and career advice! I wish you all the best for your future. Hannah x