Being a fashion and wardrobe stylist is not easy, but it's one of the most glamorized behind-the-scenes jobs around. Lots of young, aspiring people ask me how they can "become a stylist", like it's as simple as choosing to bob their hair or eat a burrito for lunch. They see stylists depicted in the media as getting to attend the hottest parties, being gifted items all the time, and getting to "shop for a living". This then makes them think "OMG, that would be so fun to get paid to do!"
What most of these people don't realize is that even Rachel Zoe worked very hard to get to where she is, and any of us actively in this career have dedicated years and lots of money (stocking our extensive kits, throwing freebies to potential clients/traveling distances to build our books, attending fashion/business school, agent fees) to get to where we are.
They happen to be meeting Zoe's public persona after she's been in it for over 20 years, and this perception is a bit damning to we who are still in our sophomore years, since it seems to be inviting in lots of untrained people to oversaturate the market and skew the professional perception of our industry. Rachel Zoe has described many times all the hard work she put in, and she is no stranger to the on-set abuse seasoned stylists endure. She's paid her dues and deserves her success. (Go you, Rachel!) However, the stuff that happens off-camera... I'm sure Zoe still has plenty of challenges, just slightly different from the ones from her days of doing low-budget music videos and indie films.
Personally, I spend about 50%-60% of my time running around/sending emails/updating my website/hunting down my content (this is the hardest thing: retreiving your work from productions in order to prove it happened), 20% of my time on set, and another 10%-15% either invoicing clients or emailing to let people know I am still alive. The final 5%-10% is when I go out and attend events/get to "shop" for myself (even then, though, I have to always look put together because I never know who I am going to run into).
Ultimately, I do love my job passionately, but it's still a job. Most of the people I work with are wonderful, but when it's stressful, it's VERY stressful. Like many professions from the outside, it seems saccharine sweet. Just know that there are sour times, too, and when you ask us stylists that golden question, maybe it should change to "How unbelievably hard will I need to work in order to become a stylist? Would you recommend it?" (Offering to rub our feet would also be welcome; sometimes, we are on them for 12-18 hours straight!)