Written by my client & friend Amy.
There comes a time in every woman’s life when she craves a style of her own, to know what she is doing when putting on clothes or choosing a new outfit. After spending hours upon hours of my precious youth staring blankly into my wardrobe, trying to create interesting outfit combinations from my same old stuff, I became one of them. The women that doesn’t know what suits her, which colours she should wear, or what she should be wearing at all!
My typical process for getting ready is probably familiar to most: I wear about 20% of my clothes, in go-to outfits that I recycle regularly. Every two or three months—sick of the outfits that have shown up in every recent photo taken of me—I rush off to the shops to find something that will finally, maybe “pull my wardrobe together.” Instead, more of the same is purchased, black tops (black is classy, right?) and skinny jeans (can’t go wrong with skinny jeans!) find their way into my small untidy wardrobe in Ascot, along with at least one special, novelty item like a frilly skirt or trendy blouse that I saw in a celebrity photo. Unfortunately, some pieces only make sense on Kendall Jenner.
Two months later the cycle begins again. I am woman enough to admit that while there are a lot of things I’m good at in life, style is not one of them. It just doesn’t come naturally. And as a freelancer who works from home, I don’t even have an office or coworkers to dictate an acceptable dress code. So jeans it is. On the nights I have dinner plans or a party, I might resemble Kate Middleton one day, Bet Lynch the next. But I don’t want costumes anymore I want to know my own style.
If you have plumbing problems, you hire a plumber, right? So I decided to hire a personal stylist. Who to choose was the next decision.
There are approximately 20 personal stylists listed in my area, or at least that’s what it felt like while trying to pick one out. Some stylists have listings on Yell, some on Facebook while others work exclusively with celebrities or people with oodles of money. I developed a checklist for my ideal candidate: a portfolio of normal-looking people she’s styled (essential, as you want a true stylist who can style anybody); no glaring spelling errors or poorly designed websites, since I was paying someone for their taste; and a rate I could afford. I wanted to keep the styling fees near £600—a solid chunk of change, yes, but not an outrageous splurge when you consider the painful cost of my bought-and-unworn clothing purchases every single year.
“I found her, she looked stylish, middle aged – in a good way, friendly and yes she had pictures of clients and great testimonials” I booked the Ultimate package that consisted of a Image consultation, Colour Analysis, Wardrobe Detox and then 4 hours of shopping.”
Natasha Edge of Appearance & Attitude checked all my boxes. We had a brief phone consultation, where she gave me a polished pitch on her services. She seemed friendly, but clearly in charge. Though her rates were very affordable, there was no doubt that this was her business, not a fashionista’s hobby. So I booked! I suddenly became excited, and looked forward to our first session.
Natasha came over on a cold Monday in October. She was fully adorned in jewelry, a great handbag and perfectly styled hair. This was someone who clearly cared about what she wore, right down to her nails. Meanwhile, I was wearing a black T-shirt dusted in white sweater lint. We were off to a great start.
The two of us sat down at my kitchen table and discussed my measurements, style goals, and favorite brands. (“Uh…I guess I saw a shirt at this store once that I really liked,” I said, eloquently.) All I knew, besides my shirt and trouser sizes, was that I wanted clothes that were sophisticated enough to wear to a nice dinner in town, yet comfortable enough that I would realistically sit in them all day at work in the privacy of my own home. (Where they would no doubt be combined with a cozy pair of slippers.)
Next, we trudged upstairs to my bedroom closet. My thin, felt hangers got a nod of approval since they were not only space saving but gentle on clothing too (yay!). The piles of wrinkled shirts stuffed onto my shelves received a brief-yet-professional grimace (oops). With the exception of socks and underwear, Natasha and I looked at every item of clothing I owned, one at a time. There was plenty to cringe over. I had a floral, almost Hawaiian, silk shirt that I’d saved since eighth grade just because I was so proud to still fit into it. Nataha said she could immediately tell how old it was because the clothing company didn’t use this sizing system anymore, and hadn’t “in a very long time.” I had a ruffled skirt with something resembling a petticoat underneath it—an attempt at professional wear during my college days. There was an old prom dress I was holding onto just in case I ever needed a fairy-princess costume in a pinch. Natasha allowed me to keep it, but only for costumes, please.
First came those rejects, then clothes that could be salvaged with some accessorizing or other styling TLC. For my many loose, comfortable shirts, Natasha suggested a belt around the waist to accentuate my curves. Other clothing went to the dry-cleaners. “It really brightens them up,” Natasha said, and once they were wrinkle-free, they’d actually be desirable picks again.
Finally, there was the clothing that needed to be tailored. At 5’10, many of my nice skirts and dresses hit me unflatteringly at mid-calf. I’d accepted that most things were either too long or too short for me, and I’d just have to deal. Apparently you can pay people to customize your clothes. Magic! A beloved gold dress that belonged to my mother in the early ’90s was a favorite, but I didn’t love the very dated mermaid hem, which once again cut me off at the calf. We decided to give it a modern makeover by cutting it off at the knee.
The jumble of clothing on my bed was intimidating, but a pattern emerged. I really like the colours blue and black. I prefer solids to patterns. I enjoy well-made, minimalist piece with small details like lace or studs to make them interesting.
With these clues in mind, Natasha and I headed out for part two: shopping at a department store. Natasha whizzed round the shop with ease, selecting pieces I would have ignored. Most of the pieces she picked out for me were items just to round out the wardrobe I already had, and ever-so-slightly step it up—so tan boots instead of my usual sneakers, skinny black trousers that were essentially dressy leggings, the all-important blazer to make an outfit dinner-appropriate. It was a shopping spree straight out of a movie montage.
Like those rom-com heroines, I left the revolving doors feeling strangely at peace. I had hired Natasha expecting a process that was half psychic reading, half extreme makeover. But a personal stylist—or a good one, at least—doesn’t dress you up in trendy costumes or make you over into someone you’re not. She gives you the tools you need (like conviction) to stop searching for the better, chicer version of yourself. I could take who I was, tie a belt around it, and step outside.
I was so excited to go home lay out my new purchases and show my husband, it was so nice to be excited about clothes again, and realise that I can actually look rather stylish. It’s a process I would go through again, definatley the shopping side. It sped up a normally very frustrating experience and at the end of it I was left energized rather than angry and disheartened.
Highly Recommended to anyone who is unsure of their style or whats suits them, and needs some help.