What is a personal stylist?
Have you ever wondered what a personal stylist does, exactly? Or what a personal stylist is like? Mainstream culture has painted a very particular image of this person and more often than not what we see are women who appear to be untouchable. They are depicted working in positions of immense power with a worldwide fashion magazine or within celebrity culture. They are shown in designer clothing, behaving with an air of pretension and projecting an overall sense of chic-er than thou. This is why we have such deep-rooted misconceptions about personal stylists!
“Is there some reason that my coffee isn’t here?”
In fact, the first person that may to mind when you think of this role is not technically even a real person – hello, Miranda Priestly, a fictional character! Even though her character is said to be based on Vogue’s Editor-In-Chief, Anna Wintour, who knows in what ways this portrayal is based on her persona accurately or if it is an extreme exaggeration? Regardless, not very flattering.
The next most iconic personal stylist? Probably our gal Stacy London. She was the HBIC on What Not To Wear for over a decade and is a world-renowned icon in our industry. However, drama sells and her on-air persona often came across as a little catty and cold. We can see through the “entertainment value” but we’ve also read her incredibly heartwarming book, The Truth About Style.
So, when we recently had the fantastic opportunity to speak at a conference on the topic of Women in Business, we decided to see how our audience perceived the world of personal styling. During the Q&A session, Audrey posited this question: What comes to mind when you think of personal stylists?
Here are a handful of the responses:
- Stuck up
- Expensive to hire
- Only for celebrities
- They’ll only dress you in their style
Cool, right? 😂
Here are some other common (incorrect) ideas of personal stylists:
- They only shop at expensive stores
- They only dress skinny/”in-shape” people
- You can only hire a stylist if you are a fashionista
- They’ll want you to get rid of all your clothes
- They will try to sell you on all of the trends each season
To this we say – NO. Absolutely not. Hellllll no!
It’s time to flip the script
It’s time to dispel these myths because none of them apply here. Each of these points is in direct conflict with what the Flourish team stands for and the overall mission of our business.
That said, we want to take a moment before we dive in to say this – we aren’t going to pretend that some personal stylists do fall into these negative stereotypes. No matter what the industry, there will always be people who are not in alignment with your core values or standards. It’s important to acknowledge because we aren’t here to parade around in toxic positivity.
1. Personal stylists are stuck up.
What this really boils down to is the misconception that fashion and style are synonymous with superficiality and thus all stylists must be rich and focused on their outward appearance. As a team of creatives, we also consider fashion to be an art form, a way to express ourselves. We put care and thought into building a wardrobe that allows us to curate outfits that make us feel a certain way or to have a particular effect, much like a painter would paint a picture with certain feelings or intentions. It really is about challenging the belief that caring about your appearance makes you pretentious because it just isn’t true.
Personal stylists can also sometimes have a firm, directive way of coaching their clients, which can come off as condescending or snobbish. We all have different styles of supporting our clients and their success, and those methodologies have nothing to do with being a certain way. We know that no matter the field, we all have different modes of being and working styles, and that applies here too!
2. Stylists are only for celebrities.
While it is true that celebrities often hire stylists to assist them for all types of occasions, that niche of styling is incredibly small when you look at the industry as a whole. Although, it might not seem like it because that is literally what we are exposed to every time we look at a fashion magazine or watch the Met Gala.
The reality is that the world of personal styling serves all types of people for a variety of situations at varying price points. In fact, many stylists, us included, feel that styling services should be as accessible as possible to anyone who might want them. Feeling great about yourself and having a wardrobe that reflects who you are should not be an exclusive concept.
Also, the thought that personal stylists are only for skinny or “in-shape” people is devastating. Even though the fashion + retail industry is getting better slowly but surely, our societal norms have been shoved down our throats for HUNDREDS of years (yes, you heard me) and it’s just so hard to escape that. Any person of any size deserves to look and feel great in what they’re wearing, and we’re here to help with that.
3. Personal Stylists will dress you in their style only.
Personal stylists who have taken the time to educate themselves whether independently or through a certified program, know that every single person they end up working with is different. On the whole, our profession is full of people who wish to celebrate what makes you, YOU! Successful stylists come from all backgrounds and use their passion for helping others look + feel good in whatever capacity makes sense for them.
We have even curated our offerings to help you understand what makes you stand out from the crowd. Color Analysis helps us understand what colors scream your name from the rooftops and which ones drag you down. Our Style Archetype discovery allows us to create a unique combination of preferences and traits that are 100% authentic to you. It is way too easy to dress everyone like yourself, and what’s the fun in that anyway?! Sounds like a real snoozefest to us.
But this begs the question: Should you pick a stylist based on how they dress?
Yes and no. Your stylist should be able to talk the talk and walk the walk. If they are struggling to dress effectively, that might be an indicator that they still have some professional development to do.
However, the way they dress really should not have any impact on the way they help YOU dress! With that said, it can be a fun bonus to have some aesthetic overlap with your image professional! Being able to connect on that level might accelerate your wardrobe wins.
4. Dealing with Trends and Spending
All of the above is applicable to where we shop and how we deal with trends. We know that some of our clients LOVE to experiment with trends when it is in alignment with their style archetypes. Other women could care less about trends, and we know not to bother. It really boils down to the goals of the individual client.
The same goes for the projected cost of our shopping trips together. If a client wants to go ham in Saks Fifth Avenue, we are here for that. We also do not scoff at shopping at H&M or even Goodwill. (Y’all know we own a consignment store, right?) We believe that you do not have to spend an arm and a leg to feel good in your clothes. We are committed to finding ways to help folks of all backgrounds + budgets.
5. Stylists will make you get rid of all your clothes.
The majority of stylists we know (and ourselves included) want our clients to have the most versatile and sustainable wardrobe they could possibly have. For us specifically, after we perform our core services and find that there are items in our client’s closet that fit the bill and that are loved, we keep them! It is important that we only find a new home for items that no longer serve our clients, or are in poor condition beyond repair. (Remember when we mentioned our consignment store? The items that do leave and are in good condition get consigned at our shop, Found, so that they can be discovered by someone new.)
It is NEVER our goal to get you to spend money on a whole new wardrobe. If that is your goal, however, that decision will always be yours. Any stylist you work with that encourages you to get rid of your entire wardrobe and start from scratch is not worth working with. Period. Throwing away clothes ‘just because’ is wasteful and just plain unnecessary. The only situation we can think of where that is okay is if literally every item in a closet is damaged beyond repair or truly doesn’t fit anymore.
Hiring a personal stylist is life-changing.
Deciding to hire a personal stylist can feel like a very big, life-changing decision. And that’s because it is! To us, styling is not just about picking out items to buy and putting outfits together. That is certainly part of it and a lot of fun, too! Changing your approach to your appearance means letting go of your comfort zone, of what doesn’t seem to work, of what feels like a safety blanket. It takes courage to build confidence in yourself and to change the narrative! You want to put your trust in someone who is genuinely trustworthy, and we get that 100%. We are always here to be a resource, a support system, and a guiding light. Let’s chat ♥