Shoes and Twos

Style Bites

Easy-peasy...styling with borrowed shoes

Let's talk about shoes, borrowing shoes and shoe on a shoot. One of the most stressful parts of pulling clothes (borrowing them from a shop for a photo shoot) is finding the shoes. If you are lucky, you're working in a major fashion capital and have good working relationships with designer showrooms. In that case you've got to check and see if the model you're using will fit the sample shoes you're able to secure. A good model shouldn't fuss about squeezing into a shoe 1-1 1/2 sizes smaller than her normal size. Be careful with boots though, which can be more of a problem if too small. If the shoes are too big for the model, try stuffing the toes with a little bit of tissue paper. The more open the shoe (open toe, strappy, etc.) the harder it will be to hide the fact that they don't fit the model. You've seen this in magazines before. (...and here on the red carpet.)

If you're not in a city with good showrooms or you can't get the shoes you want from the supplier, you may be able to borrow shoes from retail stores. This is great because you can choose the size you need. The downside is that you need to be super careful on the shoot. Check the soles of the shoes first. If they're soft leather you're in trouble, as even the slightest bump on the floor will leave an impression. For most other soles, a few layers of gaffer's tape (or masking's cheaper) will do. Put the model into a pair of your heels--simillar height--and wait for the photographer to get the model into position first. When the photo is set up, only then bring the shoes to the model and have her slip them on. Then immediately after the shot is done have her remove them. Nail polish remover will help you remove any tape residue from the bottom of the soles. Make sure that the shoes are 100% clean again before you return them or be ready to pay full price!

Maxi pads are good for our soles

There's been a lot of talk about why I stock maxi pads and tampons in my kit. In the end, I realized that the tampons are just for the normal emergencies. After all, if you're in the middle of a shoot and someone needs one, she'll be your best friend forever if you've got a supply.

Other than that they work great for most anything you'd normally need a cotton ball for and they don't fall apart like cotton does.

Maxi pads are far more diverse in their possible uses. They can be used to protect the crotch of swimwear or underwear. Trim them so they don't show. If using a thong that's only been borrowed, not bought or from a showroom, please wrap the entire "thong" section in a thin pantyliner. I don't know a better way, aside from actually washing it afterwards, to keep it clean. (Friendly mother-like tip: Always wash your clothes and underwear after you buy them, even if you think you're the first person who's tried it on.)

The other key use for maxi pads is to protect the soles of your shoes. To prepare the shoes you will need: scissors, masking tape and a maxi pad. First check to see if the tape damages the sole of the shoe. Test it in an inconspicuous area, like near where the sole meets the heel. If the tape is okay, apply one layer, trimming the edges afterwards, to the entire area that will come in contact with the ground. Snip the maxi pad in half and apply one section to the tape covered sole, at the point which will take the most pressure when the model is walking. Cover this again with masking tape and smooth down completely until secure. Add masking tape to the heel as well. Although I didn't do this in the photo above, if you expect the heel will get an extra beating, apply a felt "coaster" to the bottom of the heel, trim to fit and then tape twice over the top.

Two's a Crowd

There's nothing more distracting on set than two people hired to do the same job. Normally this isn't a problem on small jobs but on something big, expensive or important, sometimes the team will be doubled up. Two hairstylists or two make up artists or, as was the case the other day for me, two fashion stylists.

I can't complain really because the other stylist is a friend of mine but the job was just weird. Normally for a fashion shoot a stylist will "call in" clothes from designer showrooms as needed, take the pieces to the shoot and have the model dressed accordingly. On this shoot both my friend and I seperately called in the clothing according to what we thought might work for the feel which the photographer wished to achieve.

Of course, come the day of the shoot, things didn't go so smoothly. My friend is a lovely person but we both have our own methods and our own vision of fashion. She tends to be more commercial and straight-forward, using each piece for it's normal purpose. I try to be more experimental, treating the model and the clothing as a complete artistic unit.

Each outfit was a pain to figure out. So much of what a fashion stylist does is about adding and taking away (a necklace works with that look but not with the next, or why not layer two pairs of stockings for a different look, etc.). With two different sets of "eyes" there was an immediate conflict of style. I never thought that blood pressures could be raised so quickly about whether or not to tuck in the shirt or how full the handbag should be stuffed with paper to fill it out.

We also had duplicates of a lot of items (black pants, white tops, coats, etc.) which irritated me because it was a waste of time for both of us to track them down.

A lot of cigarettes were smoked, a lot of coffee was consumed and I eventually just relented, thinking, "Who the hell cares in the end as long as I get paid."

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Style Bites your monthly insight to the fashion world, is written by a freelance stylist and fashion journalist.