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.
Resale, consignment, and thrift shopping have recently become my preferred avenues for selling and purchasing new pieces.
On a recent trip to La Femme Chic in Solana Beach, I overheard the salesperson and a customer having a conversation about her purchases. The customer was thrilled that she was able to pick up a Fendi handbag, Louboutin Pumps, and an Hermes scarf for under $700 total. That's less than the price of one of those items at full retail.
The saleswoman commented that she hasn't purchased anything new since she began working at LFC. She called it "smart girl shopping". She also mentioned that nothing comes in the store unless it's something one of the owners would wear or give to a friend. That's exactly how I feel about resale shopping in San Diego! It's simply the smartest way to shop--it's affordable, environmentally friendly and helps support our local businesses.
Since I reside in North County, I have a wonderful selection of resale shops to choose from. Below are some of my favorites around town.
La Femme Chic
La Femme Chic is one my favorites. It's the best if you want couture, designer or gowns at an amazing price. Now, it's not exactly cheap, but I saw a Jovani dress there for $149 when I know I purchased a similar one for $599 at Mia Bella. Yes, $149 is pricey for a pre-owned dress, but it's a whole lot less than $599. This is where you go if you want flawless Dior, Prada, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, etc.
My Sister's Closet in La Jolla and Encinitas
If LFC is the Neiman Marcus of resale in San Diego, My Sister's Closet is the Macy's. 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. The Encinitas location offers men's consignments as well--which is a great option for men who've outgrown Buffalo Exchange.
Orphaned Objects in Rancho Santa Fe
Orphaned Objects is not actually a consignment store, it's a thrift store that benefits Helen Woodward Animal Center. I will caution you, despite it being a thrift store, it's prices are closer to La Femme Chic 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 month 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...
Throughout San Diego, you'll find other fabulous resale shop chains like Buffalo Exchange which caters to a youthful crown, Flashbacks that has all your more theatrical desires covered.
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.