Personal styling, as a service and as a concept, is relatively new here in Australia. There are some questions that I get asked again and again – if I had a dollar for each, I’d be writing this piece from the Maldives. Alas… Maldives aside, I thought I’d share the top five questions and their answers.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
What prompted you to go from a law career to personal styling?
Basically my law career goes back to that old adage, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
I’m one of those people who achieved ‘law-worthy’ marks in ye olde HSC, which despite what my kids believe, wasn’t when one had to take a horse and cart to school and write with a plume. I completed my degree and was articled to a wonderfully dynamic and well recognised female partner in one of Australia’s leading commercial law firms. Having such incredible role models – so many hard working female lawyers who focused less on limitations and more on opportunities equipped me with valuable experience and skills and taught me so much about the commercial world. I made incredible connections and lifelong friendships. I also met my husband at the office, one of the perks I wasn’t expecting.
Alas, and despite all the wonderful relationships, my law career itself simply didn’t spark joy. Among my family and friends, I was always the go to fashion font of knowledge. Anytime someone had an event to dress for I would be chomping at the bit to talk to them about their outfit, or where they could get the perfect shoe, and I’d even been known to bring my own clothes around for them to try on. At this time, I’d also had a third baby and launched a legal consultancy in an attempt to blend my law career with the realities of three kids under six years. My style mojo? Gone! I was doing what so many of my clients did, settling, wearing the same old same old default duds. I stopped making an effort with my clothes and felt lost in the daily grind.
Then I stumbled upon a personal stylist working out of my local shopping centre. Despite feeling that it was incredibly self-indulgent, I took a deep breath and booked myself in for a styling session. And thank bloody goodness I did! It immediately brought back my lifelong love of style and creativity. I was reminded just how good it feels to make an effort with how I looked and the impact that had on me across all facets of my life. I realised that what I experienced I could offer other women – and had in fact been doing that all along for my family and friends – and so I completed a styling certification, launched a business and now my working life is as happy as the proverbial, with clients that are pretty damn happy too.
Are you judging me?
Well, technically, I don’t get asked this question straight up. But it’s usually hidden within a horrified comment like “oh my goodness, if I’d known you’d be here I’d have worn something different” or “please don’t look at what I’m wearing today, I was in such a rush to get ready this morning” or even “I made an effort because I knew I was meeting you today – what do you think?”
When people meet me, particularly if I’m dressed for work and not for camping, my other love, they appear to go straight to that place of panic. They explain away their current outfit and beg for my forgiveness. I feel terrible when this happens because I pride myself on putting people at ease and to think that I am the reason someone feels judged does not feel good for me. It’s important at that point therefore, for me to let that person know that I never judge anyone’s outfit or style. I only even offer guidance and advice around style when it is asked for. And that is in the case of my clients. And then it is a matter of observing and assessing a client’s wardrobe, image and appearance without judgement in an effort to provide the best solution for them, in a way that encourages not condemns.
How do I get that put together look?
The short answer is with a wardrobe that’s designed for effortless style against a woman’s needs, goals and desires. This short answer obviously requires a long answer which involves intentionality, knowledge and understanding about one’s style identity. What’s the message you want to send to the world and yourself through your clothes? Essentially, we’re talking personal branding and clothes are a massive part of this as they set the direction and convey a position.
Beyond this there are the practical considerations. What are the styles, cuts, colours and print patterns that elevate you? What silhouettes suit your body shape? What’s your lifestyle and do your outfits align to this? Is it easy to get dressed in the morning? Are you drowning in clothes but have ‘nothing to wear?’ Do you know how to make an outfit from all the individual pieces in your wardrobe?
Do I have to wear heels? Or pants? Or both?
Yes, we’ve all had a couple of years of working from home and enjoying the banter about not wearing pants. Thank you, Zoom for bringing the mullet philosophy to our working lives! Business up the top, party down below… I honestly believe that while in the thick of such an extreme, somewhat traumatic global experience a smidge of working in soft waists, tracks and uggies allowed us the space and nurture to breathe a little and be kind to ourselves, however we also know that dressing is an inside out/outside in experience. What we wear reveals so much about who we are and what we want for ourselves- revealing not just externally but internally as well. It impacts how we set ourselves up for the day. My ethos is make an effort as a sign of respect for yourself and the people you work with and do so knowing that it sets you up psychologically to perform well while you’re embodying your personal brand.
As for heels- that comes right down to personal choice. Some of my clients feel lost without that sense of vertigo that comes with skyscraper heels, some are equally fabulous in flats.
Will you dress me in the current trends?
Trend as a concept is a strange beast. Without a clear understanding of a style identity trends can detail and cost money and add to wardrobe woes. My preference is for a woman to become crystal clear on their style identity (supported by me, of course), and then while their focus is on their unique style and personal trends become semi-irrelevant. They become an added layer of fun and a way to elevate rather than a distraction, and a way to choose the ones that work for you, leaving the fashion trainwrecks for others. Partner with your style and play with the trends.
Do you have any burning questions about personal styling, about me as a personal stylist or about the age-old tyrannical battle between the pants/sans-pants advocates? Shall we chat in the close confines of a fitting room? Why wouldn’t we? Let’s organise a catch up here.
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