What to Expect When Hiring a Personal Stylist

Earlier this year I embarked on a journey to hire a personal stylist who could help me reboot my wardrobe.  It was a fun and very educational endeavor that I’ve written extensively about in my Selecting a Personal Stylist post series, but one of my biggest take aways was simply understanding the process of how these style gurus work their magic.  Since I’ve found process mapping very helpful to my clients in my day job (as a change management consultant), I thought my audience here on the Closet Reboot blog might enjoy seeing the process map personal stylists generally follow to help you become inspired, organized, and styled.  I included a few other tidbits too like what you can expect to spend and when and how you might want to work with your stylist.  Here is my map:

Working with a Stylist Process Map

Let’s discuss the steps:

Step 1: Closet Edit

During this step, the personal stylist will dive into your closet and help you catalogue, organize, and “edit” your wardrobe. Cataloguing helps you understand what you already have and how it can be mixed and matched to make multiple outfits.   Organizing makes it easier to find and care for your clothes as well as visualize your options.  Some stylists are less excited about the organizing part and some closet organizers are mostly about that part and look on the style piece as secondary.

The “edit” term is a euphemism for “delete” as in “get rid of”, “donate”, or just plain “trash”.  One of the stylists I interviewed said that she doesn’t like to eliminate anything from her clients’ wardrobes.  her focus is instead to show the client how to wear all those things that have just been sitting unused on the rack.  Another stylist told me that she once edited 90% of one of her client’s closet.  There is definitely a philosophical difference as well as a range based on the client.  Most stylists said they are very cautious about telling their clients to get rid of things they have purchased since it can be a very sensitive subject – after all, people tend to be attached to their stuff!

This is also the step where the stylist may take your measurements and evaluate your body type for which styles will flatter you the most.  It can get pretty personal depending on your level of comfort with your body, but all stylists told me they try to be considerate of their more modest clients.

Step 2: Shopping

This is part where the stylist goes shopping either with or without you.  I used to love to shop back when everything fit me well right off the rack.  Now – not so much.  Plus, with career, kids, volunteer work and other family and friend obligations, wardrobe shopping just doesn’t seem like a priority anymore.  Personal stylists will do everything from shop with you to help you make flattering and useful selections, ensure proper fit, and find pieces to maximize your wardrobe or for a specific occasion.  Or, a personal stylist can do the shopping for you and bring back a selection for you to try in the privacy of your own closet, then return what you don’t want.  Of course, you are paying for their time to do that extra work, but if free time is a luxury for you, it may very well be worth the extra expense.

Step 3: The Look Book

Honestly, I haven’t seen one of these so I’m not sure exactly what is in it, but I’m very excited to find out!  The idea is that the stylist combines your existing clothes and whatever you purchase with them to create multiple outfits for you to wear and organizes them in a “look book”.  Some stylists will use a custom application you can download on your phone, tablet, or computer and some will actually give you a physical document/book.  I’ve seen these type applications in the Apple App store and even downloaded one or two, but I’m clueless about what to do with them.  Guess I need a professional to help me!  In all seriousness, several of the stylists mentioned that this is not only their favorite part of their job, but it’s one of the most useful tools they leave with their clients.

Other Helpful Scoop

Keep in mind that most stylists do not require you to go through all three of these steps with them and indeed, some of them preferred some steps more than others.

Regarding expense, there was a pretty wide range of fee options among the eight stylists that I interviewed.  Some work strictly by the hour while others will put together a package if you commit to use them for all three steps listed in this post.  Hourly rates ranged from $30 to $150.  A couple of the stylists had flat fees for the Closet Edit and the Look Book ranging from $250 to $500.  Typically you can expect a required 2 hour minimum per consult.  At least one stylist said that she would give a percentage discount on future consultations if you refer other clients to her.

“Future consultations!  Aren’t I done after Step 3?” Glad you asked.  That of course depends on you.  This was a simplified process map – for additional complexity, insert a season decision box at the end and an arrow looping back to Step 1.  Most stylists did report being brought back in seasonally to help refresh their clients’ wardrobes regularly.  Up North where you actually experience 4 seasons, quarterly may make more sense while down here in Houston, it may just be semi-annually.  You may also consider hiring a stylist before an event like a vacation, work conference, or life event like getting married or pregnancy (see Question #4 is my Selecting a Personal Stylist – Part 4 post).

Another important topic to discuss with your stylist is when you will meet with them, as in what time of day.  Most of the stylists preferred to work during regular office hours which may or may not be a problem if you work.  The stylist can come to your office for Step 2 or Step 3, but if you need to meet with them after hours, it’s best to confirm they are willing to work then up front.

One More Thing – Men!

Personal stylists aren’t just for women – one of my more stylish male friends reminded me that his demographic should not be ignored!  If you are a man or if you have a man in your life that you think could benefit from a little style refresh, absolutely consider hiring a personal stylist.  There are some stylists who work specifically with men or women and others that work with both.

I hope you have found this post and the rest of my Selecting a Personal Stylist series helpful!  If you are a stylist and have a different process or additional steps, if you have worked with a stylist, or if you have questions about working with a stylist, I’d love to hear feedback in a comment.  And if you are curious who I selected, check back soon or subscribe to my blog and you’ll get a notification when my final selection post goes live.

5 thoughts on “What to Expect When Hiring a Personal Stylist

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