Style Me!

April 13, 2010

One of many outfit options

Today marks the debut of guest blogger Mia from the left coast:

I admit it: I called in a stylist.

I was in a rut. With two kids and a demanding job, I felt I had no time to think about what to wear each morning, so I’d pick up what was easiest, closest, and most comfortable — usually a uniform of jeans, hoodie and laceless Converse. But after two years of this, it started to wear on me — not only was I extremely bored with myself, but I recognized that looking good (or at least feeling like you do) is important for confidence. And confidence helps feeling in control, which can be pretty important…when you have two kids and a busy job.

I decided I needed help. I have lots of nice things, thanks to a generous sister who loves to shop, so I knew I didn’t need to spend massive amounts on a new wardrobe. I just wanted someone to come in and help me figure out interesting ways to wear what I already have, especially those pieces that I love but never know what to pair with. I wanted someone to tell me what to get rid of, and to pinpoint the items I needed to update my wardrobe, and then to scout out a few options for each of those items, and tell me exactly where to go to buy them, preferably online so I’d never have to set foot in a store.

But how to find this person? When I  searched “san francisco stylists” or “personal shoppers,” I was turned off by their aesthetics and seemingly elite clientele. I didn’t need someone to shop for me in Paris and make me look like a high-powered executive. I wanted someone normal — like me, but with better taste and the patience and time for all this. I mentioned my quest offhand to a friend at work, and she had a friend who was about to move to LA to be a fashion editor for a local magazine. She’d never done private consultations before, but was willing to try it; I found what I was looking for, for a more reasonable price and an aesthetic that was more on my level.

Hayley devoted the better part of a weekend to our project. The first day she came to my house, and we deconstructed my closet. She would make different outfits on the floor, each one with various accessories to give me further options. She encouraged me to layer (and surprised me with some combinations she chose) and not be afraid to tuck in my shirt. She said scarves, which I never wear as a fashion accessory, do a lot to punch up an outfit, especially when you tend to favor colorless clothes like I do.

I took a picture of each look, and sometimes took notes. Because all these pictures are on my phone, now each morning I just whip out my phone and scroll through the photos until I find one that inspires me. It’s that easy. *And* I got rid of about four bags of clothes.

From that day’s work, Hayley got a good idea of the basics I was missing from my wardrobe: a good pair of boots, black leggings, chunky jewelry, a nice black belt, and more basic tees and tanks, the kind that fit fashionably and well. I told her the stores I like and the names of other stores where I had credit or gift certificates, and she spent Sunday browsing without me. Three days later, she sent me an email with about 40 links, 4-5 options for each “need,” at all different price points. A few weeks later, I spent a Saturday night going through the links and placed orders at Urban Outfitters and J. Crew. I also special ordered a pair of boots from a boutique in Hayes Valley. Not everything that arrived in the mail was perfect once I tried it on, but each outlet makes it a breeze to return. I’m sold on online shopping.

Now, when I look at my closet, everything breathes, and though by this point I’ve exhausted most of the ~50 looks we put together, I learned enough about styling to know that it’s not as hard or complicated as I thought. The foundation of a good wardrobe is actually pretty simple; it’s how you accessorize — and how you wear it — that makes all the difference.


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