When I get asked to tick a box indicating what industry I’m in, the most common fit is fashion. But being a personal stylist is not all about fashion. You do need to be up with the latest fashion trends but most importantly you need to be able to listen to the needs of your individual clients. Most of the time my job is to find clothing that works for my client’s lifestyle, body type and budget.
Often when I first start working with a client, their wardrobe is disorganised and uninspiring. Clothing is mismatched, ill-fitting or dated. It’s at this point that you need to identify your client’s personal needs so that you can start to suggest styles and items that are going to give them more options, flatter their body shape and suit their lifestyle and budget.
Part of this process in addition to understanding body type, proportion, colour, fabric, construction etc, is having a strong knowledge of brands. I am able to quickly profile clients and determine what brands will work for their lifestyle, body type and budget. When I look through a clients’ wardrobe I can see if they are buying the wrong or right brand for their needs. If a client tells me they like the look of Country Road but don’t have the budget for it, I know what brands and retailers to suggest that will achieve the same look without breaking the bank.
For example, recently I worked with a new client who had a wardrobe full of designer pieces. She had many gorgeous items, but what she was lacking was some basics to help pull them all together for her day to day casual look and lifestyle. Because this client was accustomed to shopping at designer boutiques, she was unaware of the great pieces available on the high street. All it took was some specific suggestions on where to shop for the client to maximise her wardrobe and have more options up her sleeve.
Another client had a wardrobe full of cheap clothes from stores aimed at a much younger woman. She didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to shop anywhere else. After discussing her lifestyle, personal style, budget and needs I was able to take her to stores that not only better reflected her age, but suited her body shape and improved her confidence immediately. She said she finally felt comfortable in her clothes and felt like herself, not her teenage daughters.
Other examples are clients shopping in stores that are too mature for them and therefore looking much older than they are, or others who are slaves to a particular brand that is actually not suitable for their body shape and lifestyle.
In my opinion, knowing your brands is as important as knowing fit, cut, and proportion, styling and current trends. It has as much impact on whether clothes work for an individual as anything stylists in the industry already know about fashion and trends.
Here are my insider tips for where to shop for your shape, budget and lifestyle.
Jacqui E: this store is perfect for women who have a modest budget but who want pieces that are classic, feminine and actually suit a ‘typical’ body shape, i.e. not too skinny, a bit of a belly, big bust. I take clients to Jacqui E to get great value for money and to buy flattering pieces for a variety of shapes. They are perfect for a woman wanting a form fitting dress, in a sturdy fabric with some colour. Add one of their great blazers, not necessarily black, or a cropped cardy to cover the upper arms.
Portmans: young women new to the workforce can’t go past Portmans for their first suit. They not only have a good range of reasonably priced suiting and good size range (6-16) but also offer a traditional collared shirt and a variety of more modern, feminine tops to contemporise the classic corporate look.
Country Road: If you’re petite (under 5’4′) then Country Road is a very difficult place for you to shop right now. Their casual pieces like cotton and linen tees, casual pants and jackets are very oversized and swamp a petite woman. CR is great for tall women, women with broad shoulders and slim hips who carry their weight in the mid-section. Tailored pants and jeans are suitable for a petite woman or a very slim woman as they start at a size 4.
Sportscraft: Young, old and everything in between, I take all women to Sportscraft. For classic shapes, well made garments and good fabrication, Sportscraft do very well. I have 3 white Sportscraft oversized shirts and I wash and wear them over and over. But they haven’t forgotten about their mature customer who wants a basic tee and cropped pants. Their ‘Eva’ capri is a great fit, has enough stretch for comfort and as long as you’re not taller than 5’10, should finish at a modern 7/8 th length.
Veronika Maine: this brand has changed a lot over the past 2 seasons, with a new head designer and a new outlook. Cue’s older sister has come into her own with more modern and on-trend cuts and shapes. So what does this mean for the typical VM customer? It means they’ve probably not found as much to like as they previously would. But VM has attracted a new customer (like me) who is after unique and directional pieces for their wardrobe.