There’s something to be said for arriving at that season of working life where one is no longer viewed as, dare I say it, a spring chicken. I’ve been in the Personal Styling industry now for nigh on fifteen years and in an industry that’s a relative newborn in Australia, that makes me a pioneer *clutches pearls and swoons*.
There are many perceptions and misconceptions about both what a personal stylist actually does, and who they do it for, and here’s where I bust one of the biggest myths about the typical personal styling client: there isn’t one!
You might imagine that the typical woman who comes to me for styling services is uber-glam, a world class shopper who loves nothing more than to hit the shops, both online and in the shiny end of Chad-vegas.
The reality is quite different.
Just as our history can now be divided into pre- and post-Sam Smith’s Brit Awards outfit.
(I am not ok btw), human beings can be divided into those who love to shop (and no, they are not all women) and those who experience clothes shopping as something close to torture (and no, they are not all men). Within these two extremes people reach out to a stylist for a whole raft of reasons and style dilemmas experienced with getting dressed.
Many women who seek my help loathe shopping. It’s not that they don’t see the day to day efficiencies that a streamlined wardrobe offers (hello Steve Jobs), but they’re not convinced that our expression of self through clothes has a significant impact on mindset, self esteem and performance. Even if they do come around to that understanding, it doesn’t necessarily translate into a ‘get me to the shops, pronto!’ attitude. Rather, they see shopping for clothes as an inconvenient necessity, thereby limiting the effort they put into it and compromising on personal style and self-expression. Yes they are efficient shoppers, but they feel bored and class their wardrobe as functional, effective, reliable, consistent and uninspired, and have a niggling feeling that they could do much better. Where’s the fireworks?
On the flipside, I also have clients who go absolutely giddy at the thought of shopping. You know that ol’ chestnut- 99 channels but nothing on TV? These women love clothes and shopping. They have a fabulous sense of what’s fashionable and on trend, but like a magpie feathering its nest, they are forever searching for the next shiny bright object, which means they compromise on building out the foundations of a versatile wardrobe. As a result, they are never really sure about what to wear together. Does this go with that? What about this and this? These combat boots with that hyper-coloured poncho? JK, I’d never suggest combat boots. Or would I?
I digress… These women are consumed with doubt when trying to pair their items and effortless style feels like a whole lot of effort. They feel overwhelmed by the amount of clothing they have in their wardrobes and just how disparate it is. These women start every day rejecting half of their clothing and experience such a stressful start to their day, simply by the sheer amount of choice taking up prime real wardrobe estate. Their wardrobe reflects oh so much- impulsivity, perfectionism, self-consciousness, uncertainty and dissatisfaction. There’s a clear (over) investment in clothes, but not a lot of strategy. There’s some expensive mistakes there, no doubt about it, resulting in what I sometimes diagnose as ‘tags on syndrome’. Essentially, these clients value and enjoy their style but need an objective eye and outside perspective to validate that they’re on the right track.
I also work with some women who are completely, utterly defeated by their wardrobe. ‘Meh’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. At one extreme, she simply doesn’t understand why people would spend their precious time and money on developing a style beyond the bare bones of a skeletal, functional wardrobe. She doesn’t particularly enjoy style, to the point of disinterest, basically, but she knows that she will miss an opportunity to increase her visibility by ignoring it completely. Feeling as though she lacks the skills and confidence to step outside her comfort zone she goes for the bare minimum. She settles for repeat pieces that work, knowing that more is possible but reluctant to try for fear of looking like they’ve tried too hard. Instead, she plays it safe while painfully knowing that she’s doing herself a disservice.
Sheesh! So, there is no ‘typical’ personal styling client for me, but what is common among my clients are some specific pain points that all come to life when a woman is standing in her wardrobe as she starts her day:
- Lack of time
- Lack of skill
- Lack of headspace and decision fatigue
- Lack of inspiration
These ‘lacks’ reflect a woman who feels:
- Limited by her wardrobe and style
- Feels a slave to her wardrobe and style
- Defeated by her wardrobe and style.
None of these give a sense of ‘up and at ‘em’, ‘let’s go take on the world’ or any of the other calls to arms that drive professional working women, do they? They’re not particularly reflective of a dynamic leader who is elevated by her style and wardrobe, are they?
It’s a relatively easy fix, though. It just takes a personal stylist with the right mix of smarts, savvy and compassion. You see, the reality is that every woman has a unique set of style challenges and so there’s no OSFA approach. Taking individual needs into account I ask considered questions, assess their existing wardrobe collections without judgment and develop a customised style solution that works best for each woman. And the result is best illustrated in the moments I witness time and time again in an emotionally-charged fitting room when a woman really sees herself again, sometimes for the first time in a long time, and she really really likes what she sees, as well as how bloody simple it is for her to achieve effortless style to elevate her presence. In that moment she sees her future state- how easy her mornings will become while no longer agonising over what to wear, actually enjoying the (simplified and guided) process of deciding what to wear and the soaring confidence on the other side.
Is personal styling right for you? Are you a candidate for personal styling? Could you be a woman who experiences the life changing magic of styling? Yes, yes and heck yes! All it takes is a, well, a heck yes! Let’s do this!
Hi, I’m Nicole, and I’m a personal stylist obsessed with helping women in business and corporate roles to experience effortless, stylish dressing, allowing them to stand out for all the right reasons. I bring strategy, solutions and expertise to my clients. I fully understand the challenges women face when trying to achieve a wardrobe that actually works and I take the pain out of shopping for clothes and deciding what to wear. I transform something that feels fraught and complex into a streamlined solution expertly tailored to you.
Cover Image credit: Fi Mims Photography