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Guest post by Lisa Nielsen, The Innovative Educator
The day I came to grips with the idea that a regular person like me needed a stylist was in the mountains of Vermont after a day of skiing with some long-time friends. I shared how frustrated I was to have closets bursting full of clothes but had tremendous difficulty finding something I wanted to wear. It was at that time that I realized that though I was a 40-something with dreams of making the world a better place, I was still wearing my 20-something and 30-something clothes much of which was purchased when (and even before) we all first met. I needed an update that conveyed I was a professional to be taken seriously. So, on the advice of a few of my highly successful, and fashionable, friends I hired Amy Salinger a stylist.
I admit, at first, this seemed a little crazy for someone like me. Unlike my big business and high-fashion New York City friends, I work in education. Like others drawn to the field I love the work/life balance the career provides and have an active and fun lifestyle that has never been much focused on what I wear. As a teacher the dress code is pretty lax and in my free time I ski, snowboard, play beach volleyball, football, and dance. I hadn’t given too much thought to my appearance. But when my friend who’s also a career advice writer and speaker Penelope Trunk first posed the idea and the two-year president of the National Association of Womens’ Business Owners Melanie McEvoy and high-profile photographer Amy Fletcher resoundingly supported this idea, I had to rethink my position.
I am now in my forties and as a professional educational administrator who loves speaking to individuals, small groups and large audiences about ways to educate innovatively, I knew it was important that I presented myself well because my message would be received more effectively if I looked on the outside like the experienced and stylish professional that was on the inside.
So, I hired a stylist and learned a lot about doing so, which I’m sharing here for others who are interested in doing the same.
10 TIPS TO GET READY FOR YOUR STYLIST
1) Weed your closet.
You don’t want to spend valuable time with your stylist doing things you can do yourself. Throw out anything you haven’t worn in two years. Throw out anything you’ll never really get fixed. Put aside clothes you’re thinking don’t look quite right, but you’re not sure.
2) Get a friend.
This process is a lot easier with a friend to help. She or he can help you from the start to finish. They can push you to do the weeding and let go of the emotional connection and justification for keeping your clothing. They can help you determine what fashion areas of focus should be.
3) Think about real life events.
Think about real life events that you want help dressing for. Once you do that you can think of the fashion difficulties for which you really need support.
Here are some of my examples:
4) Get in touch with your do’s & don’ts
5) What goes with this? And…Does this go with that?
6) Know your idiosyncrasies
Before you send your stylist off to shop for you, remember to tell her about your idiosyncrasies. While they may be obvious to you, they may not be to others. Pointing these characteristics out will result in your stylist getting you clothes you LOVE! Here were some of mine.
When your stylist comes to help you sort through your clothes and then try on outfits it is wonderful, but it does get a little tedious. Make sure you have a bottle of wine and turn it into a party. Just don’t spill!
8) Have safety pins and a sewing kit on hand
When your stylist comes with all your fabulous clothes some of them may need minor adjustments and she’ll know exactly what looks best. Make sure you have safety pins and a sewing kit on hand so those small alterations can be adjusted so they look just right.
9) Get stuff altered
If you’re like me, the idea of getting stuff altered is not appealing. Well, get over it. You paid someone to find great clothes for you and there will probably be a few things that need altering. If you followed the step above, she’ll help you get it ready so all you have to do is drop it off at the cleaners.
10) Lights, Camera, Action
Take picture of yourself in your new outfits so you can remember what goes with what. You may want to get dolled up so your friends who want to look at the pictures can see you at your best.
In the end, the days of having a closet full of “nothing to wear” have become a thing of the past. Instead, I wake up each day knowing exactly what to wear, and when I forget, I can always refer to the pictures she took of me to help me remember, like the ones below.
Read why I hired a stylist in my post, Make the World a Better Place. Get a Stylist.
So, the party is over. College is ending and it is time for the “real world”. Stop crying! It can be fun, I swear.
First challenge, transitioning seamlessly into the work world by looking the part. This is often times not an easy task for those who have never set foot in an office. You own the staple uniform of jeans, t-shirts and sweatshirts for daytime and black pants with sexy, little tops for nighttime… Now what?? Basically you have a closet full of “weekend wear”. Get out your parents credit card (you don’t have any money yet, you haven’t started working) and get ready to shop.
I LOVE this look from J Crew and I think it is a great middle ground for someone just entering the work force. Let’s be honest, you can’t really afford to buy an entirely new wardrobe at this moment, so it is time to be creative. Owning pieces that are great for multiple occasions is the key to this great leap you are about to take.
Let’s focus in on the details of why I think this is a great look for almost any working situation: First, you are put together, but you are not stuffy. Remember that you are 22 years old, look it. Be sophisticated, but don’t try to age yourself by 20 years. The gig is up, everyone knows you just got out of college!
The top half of this outfit is so accessible that it could even be worn with jeans! Look, it really is just a fancy t-shirt and a colored cardigan. The print ups the ante of the tee (don’t think Ed Hardy here!) and the color of the cardigan makes it a bit more youthful. The piece making the entire look so “office appropriate” is the pencil skirt. A necessity in any woman’s closet of any age and almost any shape, this garment will kick it up a notch at the workplace. Plus, it is a great foundation piece and can be worn multiple times without your co-workers calling you out. Topped off with a complimentary red colored flat to offset the yellow cardigan and paired with funky bracelets, this outfit has full on green light approval! Mix and match any of the items shown here for looks ranging from casual to work. You can do it!
Another great item is the wrap dress. It is basic, simple, straight forward and can be accessorized how ever you like! This means that you have the power to exercise your styling muscle…. Within means! This is another garment that will stand the test of time, just like the pencil skirt. It has the flexibility to be worn in a sophisticated way or a playful way. You are in control. Adding a fun shoe, as this Banana Republic ensemble is showing, gives it that younger edge that you are going for. No need to be stuffy just because you are out of college. Fun and appropriate are the key words class.
Check out a Sass N Style video I did about being “Office Chic”. My friend and I are just a few years out of college (OK, maybe 8), but you should get some fun and easy tips for looking great as you enter the workforce. Remember ladies, your look is going to get you immediate approval from your boss, but your confidence and attitude is going to get you a promotion!
College Photo courtesy of Getty Images
J Crew Outfit
Banana Republic Wrap Dress: $120
Someone save Kim! Her hat is going to swallow her! Seriously, this is a little ridiculous. How does one maneuver doors in this hat? What you don’t know about this picture is that Kim Cattrall has a personal handler just for her hat and it was placed directly on her once she sat down. It will promptly be removed once she decides to move again…… I am just kidding for those that don’t get my sarcastic humor.
So what is realistic when it comes to summer straw hats? What is too big? I personally have one simple rule, if you can’t see anybody around you, the hat is probably too big. Of course this may be a plus for certain people trying to avoid others…. It should be just wide enough to cover your face so the sun can’t get to it. Sorry ladies, you are just going to have to slather sunscreen on your shoulders because if the hat is that wide, you probably will need a hat handler as well.
Now here is another problem. Wide brim straw hats should, I repeat, should only be worn to warm weather events surrounding a body of water. You are very within your means at a pool party, BBQ on the lake or cruising around in a sailboat, but the red carpet sponsored by Zales? Really? Really?!? Bethany Frankel, I am one of your bigger fans (I love loud mouths like myself), but this hat is only part of your offense. I cannot go without mentioning that this entire outfit is nuts. Add in the lollipop to boot and I just can’t take it. The ruffle, the sash, the hat, the feather, the lollipop, I am going to burst! Take that hat, rip off the feather and throw on a bikini, done. Oh yea, and get off the red carpet and head directly to the beach……
So here we have a good option for most gals…. It is breathable (so your head won’t be drenched in sweat), it is a good circumference and it has some style. Look at how awesome this model looks in her wide brim summer straw hat! This piece instantly adds class and style to any water-bound ensemble. Don’t you see yourself on the high seas near the French Riviera? Boat and hot captain not included.
I truly believe it is a necessity these days to own some type of wide brim hat to block yourself from harmful UV rays. Yes, I am a doctor as well as a stylist. Truthfully, when you can own something that does double duty, style and protection, why not? I love something that is two for the price of one.
Bloomingdales: Auqa Floppy Sun Hat with Metallic Edge- $58
I take great pride in the fact that I am a self-taught genius of flea markets. This essentially means that I am capable of finding fabulous treasures among what looks like piles of trash. People are easily overwhelmed by situations like this, but I thrive on it. It is a talent that has been honed over many years, but I want to give you, my fashion audience, some quick tips about how to “find the fab”.
Take this dress to the left. It was on a sad little hanger in the back of a parking lot flea market looking tired and bored. That is until I found her and breathed new life back into her body! I was just strolling past this particular flea market, as it usually goes in NYC, and I decided to do a walk through. Nothing too crazy, I just wanted to take a glimpse. I usually only go toward jewelry and bags in these situations because they are the easiest to search through, but for some reason, I decided to look at a rack of vintage dresses. The word vintage can be deceiving. People think of celebrities wearing vintage gowns on the red carpet, but mostly it just means that things are old! And so was the story with this long, wine colored polyester gown from the 70′s. Right there in the parking lot I tried this baby on over my clothing to see if it even remotely fit. And lo and behold, my eye was right on. It was a little long and a little loose, but for $25, it was sold. Of course the fun part of this story is that I then had to have it tailored for $96. The key to this type of shopping is knowing that often times, tailoring is a part of the price. I still got a floor length gown that I have worn numerous time for $130. Not too bad.
Another one of my great finds is this snake skin bag. Sure she’s a little beat up, but she just keeps on ticking! Whenever I pair this bag with an outfit, I receive a compliment. It is over-sized and relaxed, creating a laid back vintage look every time I rock it. For $12 in Chicago, this snakeskin bag has been put to good use. At any retail store a new bag just like this one would be upwards of $200 to $250.
Just this weekend I found this amazing art deco bracelet at my favorite flea market in Hell’s Kitchen. I am in way too many weddings this summer and I am trying to save money by styling two dresses different ways. This way I feel like I am wearing different outfits, but not buying completely new ensembles. This is totally for my own benefit since I will literally not be seeing the same people at any of the seven weddings I am attending. Yes, I said seven.
This little bauble only cost me $28 and was worth every penny. The detail and quality of it are amazing. To me, it also adds a bit of character to my look knowing that every piece of jewelry I am wearing I searched for and found a fabulous deal on! I will, of course, let everyone at every wedding know this and how much I paid for each piece. I can’t help myself.
So here are a few quick tips to navigating a crazy flea market:
PATIENCE IS KEY: You are never going to find anything if you are rushing through the market. You have to accept the fact that this is an activity and enjoy the search. Sifting might take time, but it will totally be worth it if you find your next favorite piece.
DON’T GO WITH ONE THING IN MIND: You are never going to find exactly what you are looking for. Certain pieces are more plentiful then others, i.e. vintage jewelry, but this place is NOT merchandised for your pleasure. Go with the idea that you might find something fabulous…. Whatever it may be!
GO FOR QUALITY: There is a lot of junk at flea markets. Piles and piles of it. At some flea markets, that is all there is. Be discerning. If it is clothing, look at the stitching and stain possibility. Check for missing buttons. If it is jewelry, look for tarnishing and broken clasps. It may look cute, but if it is inexpensive crap, then you will look like inexpensive crap when you wear it:)
ACCESSORIES ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND: This is going to be the easiest thing to pick up. There is always a ton of bags and jewelry at any flea market. If you are looking for a trinket to get you through your shopping lull, then this is the place for you. Again, patience is key and only buy it if you love it.
CIRCLE AROUND ONCE BEFORE PURCHASING: Look at everything and make a short list of what you love. Go with a certain amount of cash and when you run out, it is time to leave. Most vendors only take cash so this is an easy way to stay on budget! Make wise choices and you will always love what you buy.