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.
Over the years, people have become frustrated with the decreasing quality of clothing. Even pieces that cost over $100 can show the telltale signs of poor craftsmanship. They fall apart in the wash. They start pilling after a few wears. They stretch out, never to return to their original size. The overwhelming demand for fast fashion has left many brands producing less than stellar products, resulting in fashion frustration.
Fortunately, there are ways we can ensure our clothing is high quality, no matter how much we're spending on it. While we'd all love a custom tailor to make our formal dresses or to get our hands on a Burberry Trench Coat, it's not within everyone's budget. Using the tips below, you can make your wardrobe look expensive, no matter how much money you're spending.
Feel the Fabric. You'll need to really FEEL the fabric, even before trying it on. Don't be shy--feel that item up to your elbow. The skin on the underside of your elbow is extremely sensitive. It will alert you if an item wouldn't be comfortable to wear. Put you whole arm through that pant leg. Is the fabric itchy or rough? Is a part that should have lining unlined? If it seems smooth and comfortable, that's a good sign.
Check the Seams. Does the item have have any visible gaps in the seams? Are the seams crooked? It the whole garment held together by only a three seams? These are telltale signs of poor craftsmanship. Quality clothing often has multiple seams close together. If you gently pull a poorly made garment in sunlight, you'll see a lot of light shine through. Quality clothing is tightly stitched. Light shouldn't shine through.
Look for Round Buttonholes. Buttonholes should have tight stitching that easily fits the button. The buttons themselves should be tightly sewn onto the piece. Loose buttons of lots of threads sticking out are warning signs.
Check for Lining. Suits, formal dresses, and jackets are items that need lining. If you're looking for a nice pair of work pants, look for lining. Not every item of clothing needs to be lined. Jeans, casual tops, and leggings, for example, will not be lined.
Test The Fabric. Quality wool should spring back if you stretch it. Cotton should not be sheer in direct sunlight (unless that is the designer's intention), Real silk should feel warm upon rubbing it. With silk, you can also try slipping it through a ring. Real silk will easily slide through a small circle. Cheap imitations will get scrunched up.
Avoid Embellishments. Even on a $500 dress, I've seen jewels missing at the neckline. Bejeweled items don't hold up. Unless it's couture or a wedding dress--don't bother with embellishments like rhinestones or sequins. Even very expensive items can look cheap with tacky embellishments. Let your jewelry be your "shine" in an outfit.
Avoid Lace. Like embellishments, high quality lace is rare. It won't be found in a department store. Unless it's a wedding dress, avoid lace. Fine mesh is a better option if you want something with a sheer, romantic feel.
Avoid Dark Colors for Cotton Knits. For your basic tees and tops, cotton knits are fantastic. However, they do tend to fade after several wears. Avoid dark colors like black and navy. Instead, opt for lighter tones of blue, beige, and grey.
Make sure prints line up. Prints need to line up at the seams. A print that doesn't line up is a dead giveaway that it's junk. It's also how you can spot knockoff handbags. The genuine articles never have prints that are out of alignment.
Armed with this information, you can avoid fashion frustration during your next shopping trip.
Let's talk resale, consignment, and thrift shopping. We're blessed to have a ton of great options when it comes to thrifting great pieces in San Diego. Sometimes though all of those choices can be overwhelming. Read on to learn about my favorite thrift and consignment stores in the region. Consider this your ultimate guide to thrifting clothes in San Diego.
American Cancer Society Discovery Shop - Rancho Bernardo
16787 Bernardo Center Dr A10B, San Diego, CA 92128
RB's Discovery shop is merchandised like a boutique. The left side of the store has women's and men's clothing. The right side is full of home goods and furniture. Designer handbags and jewelry line the cases at the check-out counter. In the back, right corner there is usually a rack of quality plus-size clothing too. This store definitely caters to the 50 and up crowd, evidenced by the amount of Chico's and Talbot's on display. They have a fantastic collection of unique costume jewelry suitable for any age.
Buffalo Exchange - Hillcrest
3862 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
If you only have time to visit one neighborhood for thrift store hunting, make it Hillcrest. Their Buffalo Exchange there has a wide variety of styles from classic and preppy to punk and rockabilly. They have a great shoe and cowboy boot selection too. It's a consignment store, so you can also bring in your previously loved clothing for cash or store credit.
Buffalo Exchange - Pacific Beach
1079 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Like their sister location in Hillcrest, the PB location allows you to sell, buy, and trade your clothing. In Pacific Beach, the styles offered lean more trendy and sexy. It's also a lot busier on weekends. If you can, stop by in the middle of the week when the inventory is less picked over and the buying lines aren't too long.
Double Take - Solana Beach
731 Hwy 101 #1b, Solana Beach, CA 92075
A long-standing consignment shop in Solana Beach, Double Take sells mall and high-end brands. They have a special rack devoted to all the items that are from Antropologie. Over the years, I've purchased Parker dresses, a Dolce & Gabbana jacket, and a pair of Michael Kors flats from this location. For a high-end consignment store, their merchandising and displays could use some TLC. It feels like you're shopping a real housewife's bankruptcy-mandated garage sale in there.
Frock You! Vintage Boutique- Hillcrest
4121 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103
If you're looking for authentic vintage clothing, check out Frock You! The staff is extremely friendly and helpful. You can find new items regularly posted to their Facebook page.
Goodwill - Hillcrest
1219 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Hillcrest has the best Goodwill in San Diego. The store is merchandised well, organized, and clean. They have carts too, so you can fill 'em up. I once spent over $200 here on bags, dresses, shoes, and gifts. I must have bought over 30 pieces. Like RB's Discovery Shop, I can usually score a few nice plus-size items here too.
Goodwill - La Jolla
7631 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
As one may suspect, La Jolla has a pretty nice Goodwill store too. Unfortunately, it's small and busy so it gets cramped in there. Like Buffalo Exchange, I recommend going in the middle of the week. I've spotted Lululemon and Free People clothing there. The men's section seems to have higher-end items like Tom Ford and Versace.
Goodwill- Rancho Bernardo
15703 Bernardo Heights Pkwy, San Diego, CA 92128
Meld - Solana Beach
435 S Cedros Ave #104, Solana Beach, CA 92075
Meld is a luxury consignment store located in the Cedros Design District of Solana Beach. They offer a mix of gently used clothing, designer handbags, and brand new items. They specialize in high-end handbags from the likes of Christian Dior and Prada.
My Sister's Closet - UTC La Jolla
8610 Genesee Ave, San Diego, CA 92122
My Sister's Closet is the Macy's of consignment shops. They offer a ton of inventory ranging in quality from Forever 21 to Chanel. I prefer their UTC location even though Encinitas is technically closer to me. Tip: Browse the racks at MSC before heading to the UTC Mall across the street. You might find you save yourself a trip and a lot of cash. The Encinitas location offers men's consignments as well--which is a great option for men who've outgrown Buffalo Exchange.
Orphaned Objects - Rancho Santa Fe
6265 Helen Woodward Way STE B, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Orphaned Objects is a thrift store that benefits the Helen Woodward Animal Center. I will caution you, despite it being a thrift store, it's prices are closer to My Sister's Closet than Goodwill. This is where Rancho Santa Fe residents donate their gently used (or sometimes never used) clothing and furnishings. I like to stop in a few times each quarter to make sure I'm not missing any fantastic finds. Throughout the years, I've scored an Armani Collezoni Cashmere Sweater, LK Bennett Pumps, a Burberry Belt, a Tadashi Shoji dress and a pair of Madewell sandals.
Rancho Coastal Humane Society Thrift Shop - Cardiff
120 Aberdeen Dr, Cardiff, CA 92007
The RCHS Thrift Shop in Cardiff is a clean, organized thrift store where the proceeds benefit its namesake. Like a few of the other charity shops on this list, their prices are a bit higher than standard thrift stores. You may be spending $20 on a pair of jeans or $15 on a sweater. Tip: go to VG Donut & Bakery next door.
Throughout San Diego, you'll find other fabulous resale shop chains like Plato's Closet, which caters to a teenagers and Flashbacks that has all your more theatrical desires covered.
Where is your favorite thrift store in San Diego? Did I leave out any hidden gems? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.
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 fashion advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.