At work, I am quite stoic. I block out my own personal feelings so that I can focus on my client's needs. However, behind the scenes, I am super sensitive. I cry over everything--just ask my husband! He won't even take me to the movies anymore since I end up a blubbering mess. I cried at Chef! I cried just today listening to an Invisibila podcast on the "Secret Life of Clothes". If I stare at that broken heart robot stock photo long enough, a tear will stream down my face.
I used to say I have sensitive eyes. The truth is I have a sensitive heart. And having children of my own has only magnified this character trait. When you're a mother, it's easy to see everyone as someone's child. Because of this, I was very touched by a recent booking with a new client, let's call her Madison.
After a nasty comment from a mean girl, Madison's confidence in her wardrobe and more importantly, herself, was shattered. Like any good mother, Madison's mom went into full-on Mama Bear mode to make her baby happy and whole again. She did something unexpected in this situation--she hired me to help Madison regain her confidence.
Despite the Mean Girl's comments, Madison had an amazing wardrobe (especially for a teenager). Her closet was full of great finds from everywhere, from Target to Salvatore Ferragamo. Even I was envious of a few of the fantastic pieces in this teen's wardrobe!
Fortunately, Madison had a pretty clear understanding of her style--she really only needed my help putting outfits together. What stuck out to me during her closet edit appointment was that Madison, more than anything, wanted permission to have her own style. I was able to give her that permission. The pieces she gravitated toward were flattering, age appropriate, and fun. There was no reason she needed a "cookie cutter" look.
As a fortunate side effect of Madison's styling session, I helped end the clothing battles between mother and daughter. Aside from restoring her confidence, there were also several items Mom didn't really want Madison to keep. Moms--having a neutral third party in these battles is gold! Tired of your daughter's see-through dress or ripped thrift store tee? A stylist may convince your daughter to finally toss the clothes that make you cringe.
Aside from outfit options, permission to be herself, and an end to clothing battles, the most important thing I gave Madison was confidence. A week after working together, she emailed me to tell me that her friends and family had all commented on a huge improvement in her mood and confidence. Armed with a sense of style, and killer confidence, Madison is ready to rule the world!
In recent years, personal styling has gone from an extravagant luxury to an accessible service. I believe that one day having someone help you with your wardrobe will be as common as having someone do your hair or nails. I have worked with women at various income levels in a wide array of professions--from surgeons and lawyers to students and entrepreneurs. The one common thread is that these women knew it was time to invest in themselves. They were tired of staring at a closet full of clothes and having nothing to wear. They were spending too much time stressing out about what to wear each morning, often with multiple outfit changes. They had missed out on events and professional opportunities because they didn't feel confident in their clothing. While hiring a personal stylist is not cheap, it is probably less expensive than you think.
Shopping Your Closet
Even if you don’t have the budget for new clothing, you can still hire a stylist to help you sort out your closet and create “new outfits” from what you already own. In fact, I have a few environmentally conscious, minimalist-type clients who book me specifically for closet edits and/or consignment shopping. Even when a client books a full package, we always shop her closet first.
For closet edit appointments, I help clients create "new" ensembles and gently suggest what items may need to be altered, donated, or tossed. I specify that I’m gentle during this process. Some people assume that I will come in and judge their fashion faux pas with a snark and a sneer--perhaps a side effect of too many celebrity "stylists" on TV. My intention is to make my clients feel beautiful and empowered, not defeated.
At the end of the day, it’s always the client’s decision to keep, donate, or toss her clothing. Some people keep things I don’t love. Some people toss things that are fabulous. I work more like a teacher than a drill sergeant. It’s a collaborative, fun, and friendly partnership between a stylist and client. There are no battles and no tears--unless they’re tears of joy.
I like to start with the closet edit, because it gives me a peek into what styles my client is naturally drawn to, what brands she loves, and what details she doesn’t. I have found (more than once) that the information a client gives me on her "style homework" doesn't always match the information in her closet.
Once I know what a client owns, I make a list of suggested items to complete her wardrobe. Usually clients need a lot less than they imagine. Some women think they need to throw everything out and start over. In reality, they can get more mileage out of their wardrobe by adding 5-10 new pieces. This is how a stylist saves you money. We stop you from buying things you don’t need. We also help you shop for the items you'll actually wear and love.
Personal Shopping with a Stylist
During the shopping process, I sometimes browse the racks with a client or pre-shop and have things pulled in the fitting rooms ready to try on. For my clients who don’t enjoy shopping, the pre-pull system works wonderfully. What would take a woman days on her own, we can accomplish together in the span of 2 or 3 hours.
While personal stylists aren’t cheap, our services are probably more affordable than you think. Clients typically get about 20 “new” outfits during a closet edit session for about the price of one nice dress. After a shopping session, clients don’t feel the urge to shop for quite a while, since they have a digital lookbook full of options for all their wardrobe needs. It helps you avoid the “call of the mall” if you're confident about your style.
The final part of my styling packages is an outfit creation session. Similar to the closet edit, I go through a client's wardrobe and mix her pre-owned items with the new purchases to create cohesive outfits for her. A new lookbook is created with styling notes on what can be mixed and matched for different purposes. Clients often remark that this part of the process is the most fun.
If you’re looking for a way to save time, stop spending money on clothes that you don’t wear, and own an outfit for every occasion, a personal stylist may be just what you need. Hiring a good stylist will be worth it--for the money and time you save, as well as the confidence you’ll gain.
Ready to cultivate the most stylish version of yourself? I am available for closet edits, personal shopping, and outfit creation throughout San Diego county. Send me an email if you’d like to work together.
There is a reason so many women love black. It's flattering, doesn't show stains, wears well, and never goes out of style. As a stylist, I've worked with women who have predominantly black wardrobes and women who have no black in their closets at all. For this post, I was inspired to create a Capsule Wardrobe for the woman who loves living in black. It can be very difficult to work with an entirely black wardrobe, so I've started with black basics and built outfits from there. When working with a mostly black capsule, you will want to add in other dark neutrals like charcoal and cognac. If you still prefer to wear all black clothing, experiment with these other neutrals in your shoe and handbag collection. This capsule is double duty--meaning I've created outfits from the same pieces for both work and weekend.
For our "Woman in Black" capsule wardrobe, I've started with these six basic pieces. We are working with a black wrap top, an LBD from Theory, a black shell tank from J. Crew, leather pants, a pencil skirt, and wide leg trousers.
When you have a predominantly black closet, you can easily lighten things up and make a small wardrobe seem much larger by using complimentary neutrals for your accessories. Beige, charcoal, cognac, gold, burgundy and leopard are my favorites for black. For bags, I chose this beautiful Longchamp Hobo and the trendier Charcoal Bag from 3.1 Phillip Lim. For flats, I went with these fun leopard print shoes from Birds of Prey and my favorite loafers from Lucky. I kept jewelry to a minimum, with just two pairs of great earrings--the stone Kendra Scott danglers and the simple gold hoops.
The Other Players
As with the accessories, the completer pieces for this wardrobe are lighter, complimentary neutrals. It can be very hard (almost impossible) to match blacks, so you want to avoid looking like one piece is bluer or more faded than another. To do this successfully, we pair the black pieces with other neutrals in the wardrobe. We are using the same J.Crew shell, but in white. I've also chosen this gorgeous tan cardigan from Joseph, the Ivory top is from Banana Republic white the white blazer is by Reiss. The Chambray shirt is from J. Crew. The grey jeans shown here are out of stock, but you can find a similar version at Nordstrom.
For our first look, I've paired the black trousers with a simple shell and wrapped it up in the beige cardigan. The leopard print pumps add personality while that gorgeous Longchamp bad adds a luxe feel to the entire look
For our second look, I kept the same base pieces, but switched out the accessories and jacket. For a dressier vibe, I used the white blazer instead of the cardigan. The grey bag and nude pumps help lend a "woman in charge" feel to this ensemble.
For our third "black pants" look, we've gone classic again with a black and white pairing. In this outfit, I used the white blouse, paired with the tan loafers and the statement earrings. The simplicity of the outfit lends itself well to the use of statement jewelry.
Moving on to the black dress, for our first look I've added the beige cardigan and nude heels. You could use either earring with this look. I really like the graphic because you can see how well all the tones play with each other.
For our second LBD look, we've changed the feel completely by switching out the bag and blazer. The white blazer and grey satchel give this look a more professional, C-Level feel.
Of course, one of the glories of a dress is that you can wear it alone, without having to worry about creating an outfit. I adore this dress because it has sleeves. Many of my clients prefer to cover their arms. It can be so difficult finding stylish dresses with sleeves. Here, I've paired this fantastic dress with the statement earrings and the grey Ted Baker pumps.
Moving into more casual territory, I've paired the jeans with the white shell, the beige cardigan, and the loafers. While this outfit doesn't actually have any black in it, you could certainly use black jeans instead of grey if that is what you already own.
For our second jeans look, we've added heels and jewelry. This would make a great date night or happy hour look. The shell can be worn underneath the wrap top for more coverage, but it's not a necessity. Like with all the jeans looks, you could swap out the grey shown here for a dark blue or black denim. The key to an all-black outfit is ensuring there is a great variation among fabrics.
For our third casual option, we've paired the white blouse and tan loafer with our grey jeans. Accessories are kept simple and complimentary, with the gold hoops and cognac bag. I love this outfit for heading to the coffee shop or strolling a farmer's market. You could easily make this "evening ready" by swapping out the grey jeans for leather pants and the loafers for the grey pumps.
Heading back into the professional world, I paired the white blouse with the black pencil skirt, grey pumps, and cognac bag. Either earring would work. I like the simplicity of the gold hoops with the black and white outfit.
If you have a more casual office place, this looks is polished and professional while remaining friendly and approachable. I've paired the black skirt with the chambray top, the nude heels, and the cognac bag.
In this black skirt look, we have another business casual ensemble that feels pulled together and luxe. I've paired the skirt with the wrap cardigan, white shell, nude pumps, and cognac bag.
Heading back into our evening looks, I've paired the leather pants with the black wrap top. As mentioned earlier, it can be very difficult to match blacks. To avoid this, I recommend wearing black on black in extremely different fabrics so that there is no way to look like you were trying to match and failed. Here, this silky feminine wrap top is paired with the tough leather pants.
In the look above, I've tamped down the sexiness of the leather pants by pairing them with the chambray shirt, the leopard print flats, and the cognac bag.
The above outfit could go from work to weekend easily by switching out the suede pumps for the loafers or leopard flats. Having a versatile accessory collection is key to getting the most of out of any limited wardrobe.
As with all capsules, these sample outfits are just the starting point. There are literally dozens of combinations you can create from just a few pieces. And remember, if you're suffering from outfit overwhelm, you can reach out to me for style help. Send me an email or reach out over on Instagram or Twitter for a style consultation.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I'm a personal fashion stylist, writer, and entrepreneur in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My style blog features practical style advice for women everywhere. I've been addicted to blazers since 2004.