(The images above are some of my student work from my course at London School Of Styling.)
So I had a Skype chat with someone I hadn’t spoken to in quite a while the other day and we got to talking about what we were doing these days. I told her what I was doing – that I’d quit my office job and was going to get my business as a stylist going – and she gave me a Look.
I returned the Look with a ‘What? You’re looking at me like I just said I was going to do something illegal.’
Friend leaned forward to me, which always looks a little creepy on webcam. ‘I didn’t think you were so shallow that you wanted to make a living from making people feel bad about themselves.’
Naturally I bristled. But I didn’t explode, I asked her what she meant and we ended up having a really interesting discussion about people’s perceptions of what personal stylists do, and I honestly didn’t realise that people had so many misconceptions about it. So with help from (and thanks to) my friend, here are the top ten myths about personal stylists that we think need to be debunked.
(The disclaimer here is that yes, you will run into people in this field who will do what I’m describing as the myths below. If you find them, flee. Flee for your life and the integrity of your wardrobe.)
Stylists want to turn you into someone you’re not.
Absolutely incorrect. A good stylist will not try and mould you into a hot stepping, Instagram-worthy fashionista straight out of L.A. when you’re a sales clerk from Langley. A good personal stylist will make you into the best version of you. This is why stylists and clients need to meet and have long, long discussions about what is wanted, and what is needed. The client needs to trust the stylist, and the stylist must respect the client. The stylist may ask the client to try something the client hadn’t previously thought about, but the stylist will never, or SHOULD never, force the client to wear or buy something they’re not happy with. Your personal style is a reflection of who you are, not what your stylist thinks you should be.
A stylist will make you throw out all your clothes.
Unless you’ve had a bad attack of the moths and your clothes are all full of holes, a good stylist won’t make you ditch your entire wardrobe. A wardrobe edit is something that will happen, as there will be clothes in there that are no longer serving you, but the chances are pretty high that you already have stuff in your wardrobe that fits you and suits you. A stylist will make you realise that yes, you can wear that blouse with that skirt – you just hadn’t thought of it before. An entirely new wardrobe can be constructed from what you already have. It’s just a question of rethinking clothing combinations and making use of everything you have available.
You have to be rich to use a personal stylist.
Not true. There are stylists available at all price points, it’s a matter of searching the local listings. Some may even offer discounts if your budget is particularly tight. Regarding buying new outfits, a good stylist will make you set a budget before you even go near a shopping centre. Never spend more than you are comfortable with!
You have to be thin to use a personal stylist.
Nope. A good stylist knows that style is about shape, not size, and everyone deserves to look amazing.
If you’re not into fashion, you don’t need a stylist.
Style does not equal fashion. Fashions are seasonal, but someone’s style can take years to evolve. It may change, yes, but not at the speed trends do. Fashion is just the clothes, style is how you pull it off.
Stylists will make you wear clothes you hate.
See the first myth. No, we won’t. We might encourage you to try something you hadn’t considered before and you might be surprised by how good you look in it, but we won’t make you buy a bright yellow jumpsuit if you don’t want it. Stylists shouldn’t ever force a client into an outfit. But I will say this, clients: make sure you stand your ground if your stylist is making you wear things that you aren’t comfortable in. Speak up. A good stylist will listen.
There’s no need for personal stylists when there are fashion magazines out there and the clothes in the shops are the current trends.
This was an interesting point. It’s certainly true – there are a wealth of resources out there for people to make their own fashion choices. The problem can be is that there is too much choice. Some people get rather bewildered walking into a department store and seeing those rails and rails of clothes. Too much choice, and not knowing what you want or what suits you, can lead to Bad Fashion Choices. Stylists can guide you through this minefield and make sure you only buy things that suit you, fit you and that you’re going to love to wear.
A stylist will make you feel bad about yourself.
This one got a raised eyebrow from me when my friend said it and I asked her to elaborate. This is what she said:
‘You’re basically paying someone to criticise you. Like, they’ll say you’ve got saggy tits or a big bum or whatever. You’ll end up feeling really sh** about yourself and wonder why you’re paying someone to make you feel crap.’
I really disagree with this one, and I think this stems from the fact that there are fashion and styling shows on television that take someone with really low self esteem and effectively strip everything back (literally) and force them to confront themselves. This is extreme, and I don’t like it.
Client and stylist should work together to ensure that at every stage of the process, the client feels good about what’s being done and happy with the decisions that are ultimately made. If your stylist says ‘your arse is massive’ and makes you feel crap about yourself, you’ve got the wrong stylist. Find another one. It’s not our job to comment on your body, apart from to advise you of the shape and what kinds of clothes will suit you.
This myth made me really cross, actually, and I could go into a massive rant but I won’t. Moving on…
If you have to use a personal stylist, everyone will think you’re an idiot who can’t dress yourself.
A-list celebrities use stylists. There’s no shame in getting someone else to pick out your clothes. If it’s good enough for *insert your favourite celebrity here*, it’s good enough for you.
All stylists are high maintenance fashionistas who want you to parade around in your pants in public.
I’m sitting typing this wearing a Transformers t-shirt and combat shorts with my hair bundled up in a bun, a cat on my lap and no makeup on. Do I sound high-maintenance? Nope. Well not today, anyway. It’s too warm! And as for making you walk around in public in your pants? I’m certain there are laws on public indecency! Don’t believe everything you see on television, people!
Hopefully that’s laid a few myths to rest! Big thanks to my friend Jenny for bouncing these ideas around with me. One thing that’s a fact and not a myth… stylists run on tea and biscuits when we’re working on your wardrobe. It’s highly recommended that you put the kettle on and have a packet of Bourbons on standby when working with a personal stylist!