What should I wear? This timeless conundrum presents itself to everyone that owns more than one shirt or pair of pants – which is pretty much everyone. For those with the budget and the need to look their best, though, a style consultant or a personal shopper not only makes the process simpler, they offer something of a guarantee their client won’t go out of the house wearing a fashion no-no or an outfit inappropriate for any given occasion. A casual stroll through your nearest department store illustrates why – there are so many choices out there, it can immediately be overwhelming and you start to lose confidence in your own taste pretty quickly. Not to mention the risk of wasting a lot of money on the wrong clothes.
How does one go about finding a personal stylist, and how are they best utilized? Here are five tips to keep in mind.
Get started the right way. Many people assume that it costs a lot to hire a style consultant, or it never even occurs to them to use one. Actually there are a number of ways to go about it, and there are stylists to suit virtually any budget. If you are shopping at a major department store, the services of a personal shopper are free. This fact is rarely advertised by the store, but all you have to do is ask for one. They know the stock, and can save both time and money searching through all the racks. You can also look for a professional style consultant unaffiliated with any one store, who “gets” your personal style and will know where to go to find the right pieces. You can do a style consultant search online, comparing stylists by fees and portfolio.
Pick a stylist that feels right. The internet has broadened the ranks of every type of available designer and stylist, to include not just established professionals, but every sort of wanna-be out there with a computer. Do your homework, and look for credentials and a strong look book. Be aware there is no accreditation or certificate required to be a personal shopper. Find out where they went to school, what stores or designers they have worked for, and go with one that feels right for your budget and personal style. The time spent in advance getting the right person for your needs is well worth it.
Capitalize on the benefits of using a personal shopper. Using an image consultant isn’t just about looking cute on dates or keeping up with fashion trends. You can consider the time and expense of a professional stylist a great investment in your career, too. Your stylist can make you look like a million bucks in the office, or look like you earn it – it’s well known that dressing for the job you want instead of the job you have is key to advancement in the workplace. Promotions tend to go to the people who fit well in a company’s culture and who present themselves well. And a good stylist knows how to pick pieces that are versatile, that go from office to business meetings, to cocktail hour and evening events. A personal shopper could be a wise investment in your future and your overall time management, not just your closet.
Don’t get carried away. If you are using an in-store personal shopper, be aware that may work on commission, so there is always a lingering risk that they may sell you a little more than you actually need. You may sense pressure to buy something, which takes a lot of the fun and confidence out of shopping altogether. Independent stylists, on the other hand, can rack up bills too. They either charge by the hour or a flat fee, and it’s easy to get carried away and start running up costs before you know it. Image consultants can charge anywhere from $20 to $300 an hour, with an “average” rate of about $40. Despite these fees however, a good stylist will ultimately save you money by choosing items that you’ll actually use and complement what you already own, instead of impulse buys that you never wear. It may be preferable to find someone who works with a flat fee and set clear expectations about quantity of selections & looks at the outset.
Know why you need a professional stylist. This may sound obvious, but you should really know your own motives: Why you are seeking professional help in the fashion department? Do you want to just look your best, find clothes that actually fit, get that promotion, or are you using shopping as therapy? We have all heard about people who get into debt because shopping makes them feel better about themselves or fulfills some emotional need. Try to focus on what is really purposeful, as opposed to reaching out for the clothes rack for a temporary mood elevator. Write down a list of your priorities, and have it with you when you start a conversation with a potential stylist. You may quickly strike up a friendship with your stylist, which is great for having them get to know you and thereby bring out your best style-wise. But they aren’t your therapist, and it isn’t fair to either of you to make the personal shopping process about your personal problems. It’s okay to have “fun” on your list, just don’t make it your top priority.
Whether you choose an in-store personal stylist or hire an image consultant outright, know that you are joining the ranks of people who are savvy to certain social truths: It can matter how you look. Your fashion choices can influence who you get to know and where you get to work. Make a wise choice for an image consultant, and it will not only save you time and money in the long run, it will pay off in ways you never imagined before!
For more information on personal shoppers and to find a list of professional stylists and their services, visit www.Lifestyleprofessional.net
Five Tips for Finding and Using a Style Consultant