How to find a Personal Stylist
How to find a professional Stylist who will fix your wardrobe needs
What are your needs?
It all starts with you: be clear on your needs. What is it YOU want your stylist to do? When you are ready to invest in a Stylist, you normally have a good reason to do so. Of course, everyone plays with the idea of a makeover, or would love to have someone come and organise their closet for them. However, when a person actually picks up the phone and hires me it’s for more than just a “wow, this will be fun” reason. There is usually something at stake: people realise that their style and image play a key role in achieving particular goals, or they realise how much time and money their lack of style costs them, or they are after a specific job or a partner. What is your reason for inviting a specialist? A good stylist should and will find it out.
Look at your Stylist’s work ethics
This is a business and you have to make sure your stylist handles themselves in this way. Whether they are just starting their career (we all started somewhere) or are “booked for months ahead” market leaders you have to feel comfortable, listened to and heard, and you have to get worth for your money (and time!).
Did you ever give a free pass to creatives types out there who do not handle their work in professional way? Do insist on a professional approach from the very start, you are paying big money after all, and do not settle for less. If a stylist does not have a clear system, professional materials and does not communicate in a professional way think twice before hiring them. Most people only see the public side of a stylist’s profession, which looks fun. However, for every hour that a stylist is working with a client is an hour spent doing follow-up, administrative work, record keeping and other less “sexy” tasks.
When I am hired by a client they enter into my system, get clear directions from the start, including an intake telephone call, a very detailed intro email of what to expect, how to prepare, as well as questionnaires to fill out. Clients on retainer receive regular “checking-in” from me. You should expect this level of professionalism from any stylist that you hire.
How to tell whether your stylist is qualified?
You have no idea how often people decide to become a stylist because people told them they always dress well, that all their friends ask them for fashion advice, or because they have had a passion for fashion their whole life and that becoming a stylist seemed like the best way to gain entrance into this profession. It takes a whole lot more skill than being a well dressed person to be qualified to style others.
This does not mean that you should only look at stylists with years of education. First of all, just like with other professions, not all “education” is created equal and not all credentials have the same value. Secondly, this profession is mastered with practice (the more talent the less practice).
This means, that a good stylist will want to learn more than just the basics of a good taste. Look for a one with image consulting certificate, at least. (This also shows how professional they are, no “professional” can call themselves one without at least some level of education in the sector). In addition, please be very cautious of any stylist who merely has a media presence and no qualifications beyond that. Just because a stylist creates a pretty blog of outfit photos or gets sponsors to make them look qualified does not mean that they have any experience (See our other post why Bloggers are not Stylists). In this day and age it is very easy to pull the wool over the eyes of many consumers. A good stylist often has a media presence, but not all do. This brings us to the next point.
It is all about you, not the stylist.
Stylists have to earn a living and can do it in many ways. All true professionals try to grow their businesses and create multiple income streams. It is normal. Online presence does help to attract media and sponsored opportunities. Think about “famous” stylists or Bloggers on Instagram. However, I have met so many “style experts” out there who are all flash and absolutely no substance. Here they are giving style advice having never once zipped a woman into the back of a dress. Just be careful. While media and stylist work can go hand-in-hand, a good stylist may not necessarily always the one who is constantly on TV or on top of your Google or Instagram search.
A stylist should not only work hard for you, but should take their profession and commitment to you seriously. Again, don’t accept a flighty, half-committed stylist simply because you assume this is how people in fashion behave.
Watch out for backdoor schemes.
First of all, make sure your stylist does not work for a retailer or gets a percentage from shopping in certain stores (a good stylist will recommend stores but not insist on them). Do not be afraid to ask. I want a client to trust me, so I do not accept commissions, ever.
What you may benefit from are good relationships the stylist may have with retailers: no waiting for a fitting room, extra attention, discount coupons, after-hours service – all these benefit you, not the stylist.
Second, make sure your stylist does not use your name or photo’s for his or her online promotion without your permission. I handle my client’s privacy with utmost caution. It goes without saying that no one gets the details of our relationship, and no one includes friends and family. Whatever we discuss and do during our sessions stays between the two of us.
Third, a good stylist will always listen. A good stylist helps you create a personal style that is reflective of you, not what is getting thrown down the runway. And while all stylists have a certain aesthetic, they should be able to create an individual look that is reflective of who YOU are.
It is important to have that “click”
It is important for me, and it should be important to you - make sure you “click” with the stylist of your choosing. You do not have to be best friends, but you must feel comfortable.
Every stylist has a different philosophy on style and getting dressed. Check their website, look at their social media page (remember, the number of followers is NOT an indication of qualifications), see how they are dressed during your first meeting. Ask them which style they prefer personally and whether they insist on it for their clients.
If you regularly find yourself staring at your closet and not finding anything to wear, if you are worried that your professional image is not getting you where you want in your career or if you are in transition and feel that your look needs an upgrade, it might be the right time to hire a personal stylist. Yes, it can be an investment, but never once has a client told me it was a waste of money. In fact, in the end, they usually wind up saving because of the style direction they have received.
Always remember, a good stylist will respect you and their profession.