I have always loved clothes, so much so that for most of my younger years I was adamant I was going to become a fashion designer. I even applied to do a Fashion Textiles degree at Leeds University at the age of 18 but at the last minute changed my mind and opted to do a Marketing degree instead. I have no regrets about the decision I made all those years back, but I still love ‘all things style and fashion’.
Until the birth of my eldest daughter (10 years ago – yikes how did that happen!), I always thought that I had a strong sense of style and an idea of what was me and what wasn’t. I love classics but was always willing to try trends and knew what would and wouldn’t work. Pastel colours for example were a definite no-no.
However after the birth of my eldest daughter I really lost the ‘fashion’ plot, my sense of identity was all over the place and quite frankly my wardrobe was a bloody mess. I was dressing 10 years older than I actually was and looked 14lbs heavier because I was constantly trying to hide my post-pregnancy body, which, whilst a little more lumpier and bumpier than usual was not a reason to wear tent shaped dresses (cringe!!)
Feeling low and desperate I decided to try and get some outside help. In all honesty I did not know what I was looking for. I was initially just going to book a personal shopper, a lot of large department stores offer a service whereby you can book a stylist to help you find the right outfit for a season or an event. The downside to a personal shopper is that they are limited to the store they work for, they will be limited to a time slot and some stores also have a minimum spend requirement.
It was whilst I was doing my on-line research (more by luck than knowledge) that I stumbled across the concept of Independent Stylists. An Independent Stylist is not tied to any one store, they don’t work on commission and you pay them a fixed price for their time.
Chet’s Top Tips when looking for a Personal Stylist
1: Relevant Experience.
I looked around and found Clare, she had worked independently for a while and had styled for magazines and brands in the past. Clare had just set up Miss Dress and offered a variety of different packages. I was one of her earlier clients however from talking to Clare I just knew she knew her stuff. I felt confident that she would help me sort out my wardrobe (and my confidence) and help me find my ‘style’ again.
2: Personality Fit
The last thing you need is a stylist that tries to dress you like someone you are not. You need to make sure they understand your needs, your lifestyle and what it is you are after. I felt like Clare ‘got me’ and my situation at the time. I explained that I had a young baby and was working and I needed something that helped me to feel like me again but still worked with my lifestyle.
3: Style Package Options
Stylists will offer different style packages and the option you pick will depend on your style needs. For my first shopping trip with Clare I booked a full day as I really felt I needed it. A few years later I booked Clare for a quick 3-hour winter wardrobe shopping trip. I have also booked a shared day with a close girlfriend to get our wardrobes ready for Summer and earlier this year I booked Clare for an online session whereby after a quick chat (I was after key trend pieces) Clare sent me a mood board of things she felt would suit me and help to ‘jazz up’ my wardrobe. By this point Clare knew me and my wardrobe so it was easy for her to suggest items she felt would look good on me and work with things I had already previously purchased.
4: The Pre-Work
Prior to going anywhere near a shop your stylist will ask you about your current lifestyle. I was a new mum with a baby and working, Clare took time to understand my lifestyle and what I was after. A stylist will also ask you your size (top and bottom) and what you already have in your wardrobe. They may ask you to take pictures of things you love and want to keep and things you’d like to get rid of. You may also be asked to list how many jeans, jumpers, dresses, shirts you have so that the stylist is aware of your existing wardrobe. A good stylist will then plan your shopping trip around this and help you buy things that work in conjunction with things you already own.
You will be paying the stylist for his or her time. This cost will vary based on the package you select and the stylist you select. Depending on your needs you will be asked to set a budget and the stylist will then keep a track of this whilst you are out and about shopping. Be realistic in your budget setting and give the Stylist something to work with. Too low a budget will just lead to frustration on both sides. A good stylist will guide you and give you parameters as to what they think you will need to spend in order to achieve your wardrobe goals.
5: Shopping Day
Clare and I met up for a quick chat prior to shopping (I also took an overly honest friend of mine with me for support).
A good stylist will guide you throughout the day and tell you what works for your body-shape and why. What cuts and shapes flatter you and what you should be looking to buy in future. I learnt so much about myself (my body is short, my legs long), not to be scared of colour and to try on things outside my comfort zone.
Another thing a good stylist will do is stop you buying something they don’t feel you need, that is not part of the original brief and that you already have in your wardrobe. Clare has stopped me from buying shoes and clothes that weren’t needed and she quite rightly pointed out that I had similar stuff already in my wardrobe!
Your stylist will have planned the day and have outfits in mind for you to try on. When I went on my first shopping trip with Clare I didn’t have to think about anything. There was no trawling through rails or wandering what would go with what and which accessories to buy. All I had to do was get naked, try on clothes and say yes or no. Clare was great at making sure I didn’t buy anything that didn’t fit my brief or things that looked ok but not fantastic!
In every store I’d have a quick look to see if anything ‘jumped’ off the rails! I’d then go and relax whilst Clare went and pulled out all the clothes that she felt would suit me and met the brief. She would get the right sizes, change anything that didn’t work, speak to the assistants about getting things out of the back, put things back onto hangers, help carry the growing number of bags and generally run around making me feel like a superstar.
I tried on things I would never have considered on my own, I went into shops that I don’t normally shop in and I bought some amazing pieces that totally fitted my brief. 90% of the pieces I purchased with Clare I still wear to this day.
My new wardrobe instantly made me look and feel more confident, younger and slimmer. I left feeling I knew what to buy moving forward to suit my body shape, I also learnt to stop hiding behind clothes and that having a baby didn’t mean dressing like a frump.
6: Post Shopping Trip
Clare listed all the items we had bought and she then wrote out what clothes would go together and what would go with things I already had in my wardrobe. I had about 30 new different outfit choices by the time she had finished.
So for those of you thinking about refreshing your look or getting out of a fashion rut or looking for inspiration I highly recommend getting yourself a personal stylist. In my opinion it is a worthwhile investment.
Independent stylists I can recommend
Clare launched her business Miss Dress in 2009, she has 13 years experience of being a personal stylist and throughout her career has styled both models and celebrities for a variety of magazines, newspapers and television shows.
Clare has an amazing ability to combine her experience and styling know-how to help make women, no matter what size, shape or age to look and feel amazing
Clare is the creator of ‘The Style Reboot’, an 8 week online personal styling programme that helps women transform their current clothes into a signature style and a new look capsule wardrobe.
Victoria has always been passionate about style. A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Victoria has been a personal stylist for over 13 years and launched ‘Victoria Genevive Styling’ in 2004.
Victoria is a fashion writer for Kent Life Magazine and guest blogger for Mum’s the Word Online. She also collaborates on a regular basis with brands, and blogs about them.
Victoria is a mum of two and so it is safe to say that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to fashion and the changes that motherhood bring. Victoria will not only help you to find a look that really suits you but more importantly will help you to understand the Psychological need to change your life through retail therapy.
Karen is new to the Personal Style scene and made a recent career change. A nurse with a keen eye for style and a life long passion for fashion, Karen retrained as a fashion stylist and image consultant at both the London College of fashion and the London College of Contemporary Arts.
Karen continues to help people, just in a slightly different way, she is passionate about encouraging her clients to feel good about themselves, look good, feel good is her motto to live by!
Karen provides a wide range of styling services tailor made to suit your needs. She will help you create your signature style, one that works for your personality, lifestyle and budget. Karen is based in Hertfordshire and works in London and the Home Counties.
Lucy Eastment is a Personal Stylist who lives in Bristol and runs her own business Styled By Lucy. Lucy trained with Style Me Training Academy and following that she became the Bristol based Personal Stylist for Style Me.
Lucy works with men and women of all sizes, shapes, ages and lifestyles using colour analysis, wardrobe consultation and personal shopping.
Lucy offers simple solutions for everyday style problems and inspires her clients to look good and feel good, even when juggling family, work and social life.
As well as bespoke personal styling, Lucy works with businesses in Bristol and the South West for group workshops, photoshoot styling, guest blog posts, business styling and events.