I have always styled myself. Doesn't everyone? I have often envied celebrities or women who have someone to help them look their best in clothes, but it has never crossed my mind to seek out this service. I wouldn't even know where to find such a person.
And then I met L.A. Stylist Mom on twitter. By sheer coincidence - and the odds of this are so slight - we discovered we live in the same neighborhood. The same canyon, practically a stones throw away from one another.
It was clear we must become best friends immediately.
Coffee and lunch dates kept getting postponed, but when she posted about offering her style consultations, I just knew we had to get together. As it happens, I have this event coming up and I want to look my best. I'm always willing to shake up my personal style a little bit. You don't have to be completely style-clueless to benefit from using a professional stylist, I've learned. A refresher course, or just someone to force you out of your personal style box, can be an advantage to your wardrobe.
After I took a deep breath and told her INeedSpanxThisWholeThingMakesMeNervousIWantToFeelPretty, she agreed to style me for The Gorilla's documentary screening at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend.
Let the neuroses begin.
In our email exchanges, I told her that "I'm kind of a Blair in real life, but for this event I want to be a Serena." She got my reference with no explanation (Blair and Serena are characters on Gossip Girl, please keep up) and started shooting me ideas.
I started feeling comfortable that she understood where I was coming from, so I said calming things like,
I can get over-stimulated much like an infant.
You may have to hold my hand through some of this.
Tapering scares me.
There's a cookie place in the mall in case I melt down.
She couldn't wait to meet me!
We met at a coffee shop in our neighborhood. I pulled up five minutes late eating Oreo cakesters and drinking my morning Dr. Pepper. I think first impressions are so important.
We started jabbering before LASM even physically got in my car and we didn't stop for the next four hours. As a person, she is beautiful and open and easy to talk to and as a stylist she made me feel beautiful and not stupid. Which, in this scenario, was a fete of large proportions.
I set a budget before we tackled the styling. For a special event, I like to buy something new. My habit is to splurge on one major item (the dress, a pair of shoes, etc.) and stay very reasonable for the other items. This means I usually have one high quality thing, while the other pieces might only last a season or two. My budget for this event was $500.
LASM started pulling stuff off the racks for me right away. I stayed with my own shopping M.O. which meant I wandered, and felt the fabric, and checked my phone a lot. A few minutes in, LASM mentioned that the dressing room in this particular store was community.
A community dressing room.
So then I started dreading, and sweating, and nodding distractedly at everything she held up for my approval. I'm not particularly modest, but a community dressing room on a day that was already giving me hives, was almost more than I could handle.
For the record, my nervousness had nothing to do with LASM. This control freak just finds shopping to be a very personal thing, so letting someone else take the reins is what was putting me on edge. But I wanted to do this, and I was thankful for her help.
Here's something the LASM does that was so interesting to me:
She pulls everything for the outfits. Into the community dressing room we go with shoes, necklaces, jackets, and heaps of clothes to try. LASM had a "look" in mind for me from the start, so the different outfits she pieced together were sort of similar, but each had their own pros and cons. While I changed into the first option, she arranged neatly on the wall each complete style (accessories included), so we could evaluate them before I put them on.
I couldn't believe the shopping difference with those two techniques: bringing in every piece to try at the same time, and arranging them for evaluation and for easier mix-and-matching.
Before I even tried on the first thing, I had learned a ton from LASM about shopping and style.
The "look" she had chosen for me was a little rocker-chic. I was going to an outdoor BMX event, after all. The look included leggings. One pair was stretchy denim. Those are called "jeggings." These jeggings had stirrups. I almost died when she handed them to me. But, they were actually cute on. Another huge benefit to using a stylist: I was trying on things I would never, I repeat never, have picked to try on for myself. And here's the kicker: they looked good. I thought I looked cute. Different than my normal self. And that's what we were going for, right?
LASM was so complimentary. She never once made me feel foolish or ugly. Her attitude was not, "You need as much help as you can get!" but more that she wanted me to look and feel my best. I asked her to help me step out my fashion box a little, but I got the impression that if you wanted to stay with your own style, she would also be really good at enhancing what you've already got going on.
At this first store, we got everything but shoes.LASM picked two necklaces that were similar in length and style and layered them expertly. She advised me to wear the simple black earrings I already owned.)
It was a successful day all around. After just a few hours with a professional stylist, I had a complete outfit for my special event and had picked up new ways to shop and style myself for the next time.
*BONUS* that I felt as pampered as a celebrity and made a new friend.
It's not reasonable or necessary to use a stylist daily, but for a wardrobe overhaul or a special event, I highly recommend it. If you're interested, you can get more information on LASM's style consultations here. If you don't have a budget for something new, she can consult using your current wardrobe.
Check back late Saturday to see me in my new style for the film festival. I'll be the one in the leggings trying to look breezy.