3 year old daughter to daddy: “Why does Mommy need a stylist?”
Daddy: “Because she wants to feel better about herself.”
Mommy: “No, because I want to look on the outside as confident as I feel on the inside.”
I am fancy – I have an Image Consultant who Styles. For simplicity, I’ll just call her a Stylist or Traci throughout this blogpost. Working with Traci is something I have been thinking about for well over a year, actually more like 15 months (since I delivered my twins). My good friend worked with Traci and I loved seeing her awesome outfits and thought – this would be really cool. BUT, I was a new mom of twins, my body shape was yet unknown (still carrying plenty of baby weight with me, and nursing boobs are much bigger than my non-breastfeeding bra size).
I gave myself time to lose the twin baby weight and wean off of breastfeeding my twins before making the call… but I did call Traci of Tee McBee Image Consulting (who has also been trained by Stacy London from What Not To Wear). After just one phone call I was excited to get the process started.
But I’m getting ahead of myself; I should tell you where my head was at first. I thought working with an image consultant meant I needed to be at my perfect size. If I am going to invest in a new wardrobe, I want to look awesome and get rid of any unwanted weight to make sure the clothes I bought were all the right size for my fabulously fit body!
Well, there is no “right size” except the shape I am in right now and the number on the clothes tag is meaningless because there is no industry standard on size. A size 6 in one designer is easily a size 4 in another. I wish women were not so hung on numbers. This is something I’m personally working on.
Women are strange. I was anxious the night before meeting with Traci, so I counterproductively ate a lot of dessert (this confused my husband, but my girlfriends totally get it). She measured me to identify my body shape, analyzed the best colors for me (my power colors), and then went through my entire closet to see what should stay and what should go (aka closet detox).
It is so nice to get a rundown of colors and shapes which work best for my body shape and skin tone. I now have guidelines which help me know what will look good or not. I know what I should emphasize and what I should downplay. Now if I find a great jacket but there are too many embellishments on the shoulders – it’s not going to work for me (I have broad shoulders – something I always suspected). Purchase vetoed (and money saved)! Narrowing the focus on what works and what does not is so simple, but I would never have been able to figure it out on my own.
Traci listened to what my lifestyle is about (simplicity and fun with the girls) and the purpose my clothes will serve: going from work to playing with my girls. I am not in a place in life where I will wear haute couture with three little kids. I don’t have time to iron, nor do I want to iron, so even the type of fabric Traci pulled lends itself to simplicity and time-saving – wash, wear and go have fun! Even though I work in an office, I prefer to wear flats instead of heels. Traci understood what my personal preferences are and worked to find shoes and accessories to match my lifestyle. For example, she wanted me to get a new tote to replace my worn-out purse. I don’t have the desire or capacity to carry anything else big and potentially bulky and I really need something lightweight because I am often carrying one baby (or two) and a heavy diaper bag. Moreover, I like a cross body bag so I will not worry about my bag falling off my shoulder. She totally understood and we picked out a nice structured cross-body bag in neutral colors to work with any of my outfits. As an aside: now I feel duped by bag companies because I always wanted a purse which made a statement! I always looked for fun colors to match my personality. I realized I wanted my purse to convey what my clothes should do for me. Now my purse is a part of my look, not the focus and my clothes speak for who I am (it makes a lot more sense).
Meanwhile, my 3 year old is my biggest clothing critic. Each morning she sizes me up – like immediately upon seeing me. I think I have a budding fashionista in my midst. From 11 months old, she’s had a strong opinion about clothing and exercised her pleasure or dismay about her outfits loudly. She tells my husband what to wear, obviously has an opinion about my clothes, and picks out clothes for her baby sisters too. The day I wore my first “newly stylized” outfit, she gave me the hard once-over. I finally said, “What do you think?” and with the blasé authority of a mini Anna Wintour she responded, “Good.”
From the mouths of babes…
4 Benefits of hiring a personal stylist:
Exude my personal style
I know what I want my personal style to exude about my personality, but I just didn’t know how to execute the look appropriately. I wanted to take the guesswork out of looking fabulous and make getting dressed effortless.
Save time in the morning
As the mom of three little girls (ages three and under), who works full-time outside of the home, time is precious. I would rather get an extra ten minutes of sleep in the morning than spend ten minutes trying on different outfits to get ready for work. Diaper changes and breakfast for three is looming, so I know the clock is ticking before I hear the first cry from one of the babies in the morning. I really do not want to waste time randomly pulling an outfit together and just hope it looks good since my morning prep time is decidedly limited. Hiring a stylist means I know whatever I put on will take no time at all (because the look was already created) and I know it’ll look awesome which means I will, in turn, feel awesome.
Invest in myself
Think about how much money we spend on how we look in a year. For example, hair (cuts, colors, trims, blowouts, etc.), make-up (how much gets wasted, spoils before ever using) and clothes (which never get worn and just take up space in our closet, this is prime real estate)! How much is wasted? Working with a personal stylist is an investment in my self-image and every penny is worth it because every item is chosen to work and it does! Traci is able to connect with me and bring the internal mental image I have of myself to the external (like hot working mom, not hoochie mom). I wanted to meld the inside and outside together to create one fabulous image all the time.
Role model for my girls
Although they are still very young, I want my girls to see their mom exude self-esteem and my wardrobe is an extension of this and another way to express my confidence. My 3 year old already loves playing with my shoes and going through my closet. It is glaringly obvious to me I am their #1 role model. Having a well-dressed mom will be something they will grow up regarding as the norm. I am the barometer they measure themselves against and this will set them up for a lifetime of clothing/self-image success. I want them to have positive clothing experiences throughout their lives and this is the standard I am setting now.
3 Surprising things about working with a personal stylist
What a wonderfully positive experience it is has been
I learned size on the label doesn’t matter; it’s how the clothes fit my body and how I look and feel in them. I thought I needed to reach a magical size or number on the scale before calling Traci. I learned it’s not about size at all, it is about my proportions. Dressing well is really about being happy in your body and dressing yourself to look your best. It’s a simple concept, but very hard to truly internalize.
Stylists lift you up
I would never be able to create the looks Traci put together by watching a makeover TV show or reading a magazine. These are personally tailored for me from head-to-toe. Working with a stylist is not meant to make me feel like I’ve been doing everything wrong all these years. It’s about highlighting what I already have in my closet to make me look my best and add pieces to complete my wardrobe and round out my outfits. It has breathed new life into my clothes.
It’s okay to take style risks
For whatever reason, it’s nice to hear an expert say, “Yes, you can wear this and it’ll look good” whether it is a certain color or statement piece I never thought I could pull off. Getting “permission” from an expert gave me the extra nudge I needed to wear something I would normally have passed over. Now I wear it with confidence.
Bottom line: Looking great isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. A lot of what Traci shared makes sense. It’s not rocket science, but it definitely helps to play with your clothes and get creative keeping some simple guidelines in mind. If you don’t have resources to work with a stylist, the simple act of pulling out your clothes and laying them around your room will help you find looks and combinations you never considered. Seeing the same thing hanging in my closet had me falling on the same habits and patterns, taking all my clothes out made me see them in a different light (literally and figuratively because my closet has no natural sunlight coming in). Creating looks is an artistic outlet I never thought I would be excited about, but I am excited to “play dress-up” in my own closet! I express myself in a lot of ways; knowing my clothes will be another expression of who I am is great. Now, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or a reflection during the day, I think, “Wow, I look great!”