This post is a continuation of answers to the 14 questions posed to 8 personal stylists I interviewed last summer to help me reboot my wardrobe. For an introduction to the stylists, check out Part 1 and for answers to the first 3 questions, check out Part 2. In this post, I’ll cover questions #4, #6, and #7 (#5 got answered as part of the stylist profiles in Part 1). So let’s get to it.
#4 Why do people hire a stylist?
One of the most frequent answers to this question was life changes:
- Newly married
- Newly divorced
- Newly dating
- Graduating from college
- Getting promoted / career progression / career change
- Gaining / losing weight
- Getting older*
That last one is certainly big on my list. Now that I’m in my 50s and “the change” is upon me, I realize there are just certain things I can’t pull off anymore. But who wants to become a frumpy old lady? Not me! Still, I need to change the way I look at my wardrobe and as a change management consultant, I can appreciate the new skills/ knowledge needed to make that happen.
Two stylists mentioned that their clients often feel stuck in a fashion rut. Natalie King had a particularly relevant point for us Houston, Texas ladies:
“We have a very dressy casual style in Houston and that is a hard style for many people to maintain. Houstonians like to be comfortable but put together.”
So true! This is the fourth largest city in the United States of America and yet, for years we could not claim a five start hotel because Houstonians just aren’t willing to meet the dress code.
“We have to be in touch with who we are and how we express it – asking yourself ‘Where am I in life and what do I want to communicate?'”
Jamie Meyers Bisel‘s approach is a little different:
“Just because someone hires me, it doesn’t mean you don’t dress well. It might just mean you want someone to help maximize your wardrobe.”
Probably half my closet falls in this category – things I like, but I’m not sure how to wear or what to wear them with.
#6 What differentiates you from the perspective of your clients?
I loved Natalie Weakly‘s answer to this question, because it involves a question I usually like to ask (but ironically forgot to with these interviews #KickingMyself) which is: “What are the first five words you want people to think when they see you?” The idea is that she gets a feel for what they want to communicate with their style. As a result:
“Clients say they appreciate my warmth and can relate to me because though I don’t have a typical fashion pedigree, I truly want them to look and feel their best.”
Danna Sivan said her clients comment on value:
“It’s my ability to sift through steals, be it online or in store, and create high end ensembles at the best price point.”
That is a skill I can really appreciate because I’m totally missing that gene! I am so envious of people who can go to TJ Max or other discount stores and ferret out that one gem in a rack full of, well, not gems.
For Stephinia Hobbs‘ clients, it’s more about how they feel:
“My clients say time with me is like a mini-therapy session. One even cried because she hated her body, but now she sees how the right style can help her love it.”
Talk about a way to set a positive tone for the day!
#7 How did you learn to be a stylist?
Many of the stylists have a strong fashion pedigree that cultivated their skills – particularly their mothers which I can completely appreciate (see Channeling Generational Style). Jodi Friedman Skorupski mentioned:
“Growing up my mother was a hair dresser and would point out to me how someone would look better with a different hair color or hair style.”
When Jodi found herself sketching outfit designs while sitting in political science classes, she realized she needed to change majors and subsequently studied fashion in Israel.
El Matha Wilder also grew up in a fashion family, but honed her skills further after opening and managing her boutique Etui for thirty years. Stephinia Hobbs also picked up tips from her seamstress grandmother and managing a retail women’s clothing store. Yael Trusch described her mother as:
“the most stylish elegant person with exquisite taste!”
Jamie Meyers Bisel, Jodi Friedman Skorupski, Natalie King, and Natalie Weakly have all had some form of formal training ranging from fashion merchandising degrees to etiquette training and industry certifications (such as the Association of Image Consultants International).
Honestly, all eight struck me as being extremely well qualified.