Styling for commercial footage: What to wear

The best commercial lifestyle footage reflects current trends in fashion without falling into the trap of fads. We’ve told you what not to wear if you want to shoot commercially usable footage. So how do you create scenes that have an authentic, contemporary style but can be used for years?
That’s where a stylist comes in. If you’ve never worked with one, you’re in luck – we’ve borrowed one for you. Hero Images stylist Ghyslaine shares tips on how you can create on-trend looks that stand the test of time.

Layer it on

“Layers.” Ghyslaine doesn’t have to stop to think about what her most essential styling tip to filmmakers would be. “Layering is everything. It makes the look more individual, more real, and more versatile.”

Layering is also key to avoiding branding issues. You can cover up graphics on a T-shirt by layering a plain hoodie over it or disguise jean logos by tying a shirt around the model’s waist. The layers of color and texture add the visual variety lost when you avoid patterns and graphics.

Color is key

When creating a timely look, there is a lot you can do with color. “You don’t want to buy trendy brands or expensive clothes for a shoot, but you should look at them to see what colors are in fashion,” advises Ghyslaine. “Shop the colors, not the brands.” Once you’ve decided on a palette that works with your theme and location, finding the right clothes is easier. Look for plain, unbranded pieces in the shades you need and start building outfits.

A well-chosen palette will have a long shelf life — every year has a trendy color that flits in and out of fashion, but the same tones tend to remain in style for years. Think of earth tones in the 1970s and pastels in the ’80s. As long as you stay within the general trend for colors, your footage will look current and be commercially viable for years.

If you do want to capitalize on the latest color craze, Ghyslaine suggests getting accessories in trendy colors. “You can get the look without it being too much. You can also remove or hide accessories, so not every shot has the same colors. The shots with a trendy color might sell really well for a year, and the rest will sell for longer.”

Putting it all together

This clip shows these tips in action:

Ten young models are outfitted for a skate park–themed shoot. The outfits complement each other in style and color, so the overall look is cohesive. However, each outfit is distinct. There’s a mix of jeans, shorts, and skirts, and the lengths and fabrics are different. That’s especially important for a shot like this, where everyone passes by the camera. If they were all wearing the same kind of thing, it would look like a uniform. The key to an authentic feel — especially with teenagers — is to create individuality in each outfit while maintaining an overall theme.

Many models, one scene

Of course, doing this with 10 models is a huge challenge, even for a professional stylist. Ghyslaine’s advice for styling several models in the same scene is to get the clothes from different sources. “One store per model. That way, all the clothes for one model will be easy to mix and match for assorted looks, but they won’t look too similar to the other models.” She starts by asking the models where they shop and what clothes they like to wear. “That helps me find clothes that will work with their body shapes and look natural on them.”

And — apart from avoiding logos and other brand elements — that’s the best thing to remember when it comes to shooting commercial footage: everything should look natural. Fashion is ever-changing, but a natural, authentic, and contemporary look is always in style.


See all the well-styled footage from Hero Images.

For tips on what to avoid when styling for commercial shoots, read What not to wear.

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