Thursday, October 06, 2011

Confessions of a Former Personal Stylist

By Dena A. Lorenzi

As an Ann Taylor sales associate and personal stylist, I had the opportunity to dress newscasters, homemakers, lawyers, accountants and students. With experience, I saw patterns of style emerge. I learned how women approach dressing. I gleaned style nuggets from my fashionable customers. I listened intently to customers who seemed to abhor the whole “getting clothes” process. Here are some observations from the front lines of the fashion wars.

1. Fashionistas know it’s important to be polite to sales associates. Savvy shoppers build and develop relationships with the sales staff. You don’t have to be BFF’s, but patience and courteousy go a long way. A courteous customer says “hello” upon entering the store. She is patient when a return or special order is being processed. After trying on her pieces, she returns her merchandise to the rolling rack. She knows, appreciates, and expresses gratitude for exceptional service.

2. Fashionistas don’t default to wearing black. They know that black is much more aging than reds, whites and yellows. Color is kinder. They embrace vibrant color.

3. Every women has at least one body issue, even the sub zeros. However, truly stylish darlings seem to have the most accurate body perception and know how to cleverly conceal figure flaws and reveal body attributes. Make sure your clothes are not too tight, too short, or reveal too much skin. Accept the fact that most women simply can’t buy a pair of pants off the rack and have them fit perfectly. Find a good tailor and get a custom look with alterations.

4. The most stylish women never bought a head-to-toe look from Ann Taylor, even though we were taught to sell the customer five items, including jewelry and hosiery. Fashionistas use the in-store mannequins as a starting point. Mix the Ann Taylor top with the Nordstrom pants with the consignment store jewelry. The magic is in the mix, and so is the style. Seek pieces that are uniquely you.

5. Personal style is an imprecise science, much more an art. There are guidelines. However, the most fashionable women also have the most fun. They know that shopping can be joyous. Give yourself enough time to try a lot of clothes on. Experiment. Try something you normally wouldn’t select. I recently tried on a romper. It looked hideous, but I had fun. It might have worked but until I tried it on, who can be sure? Keep an open mind.

6. Most women wear the wrong undergarments. As Stacy and Clinton from TLC’s What Not To Wear remind us, get a professional bra fitting once a year! Explore different underwear options based on the outfit you are wearing. Ask for expert assistance. The proper undergarments make all the difference. You will look better, feel better about your look, and your clothes be what people remember, not your clumsy undergarments.

7. Stay organized! Subscribe to the store’s email list to stay in the know regarding sales and shows. I created a separate email address exclusively for store emails. That way my regular inbox doesn’t get cluttered with sales notifications. Keep your receipts in a file by retailer. Make returns in a timely fashion. Take your time in the store to make a good decision; stores track chronic returners.

8. Be prepared! If you are shopping for a special event outfit, bring the items you already have selected. Maybe it’s the shoes, or a nice blouse. Don’t imagine how it will look with the new pieces. See how it looks first-hand, in the dressing room. Bring a digital camera with you and snap a photo of yourself to give yourself visual feedback. Learn what you like and don’t like about your possible outfit, then tweak your look accordingly.

Most importantly, stylish women know that building a wardrobe takes time, patience, self-knowledge, boldness and commitment. Here’s to your style success!

Dena A. Lorenzi has blogged at Blogging 4 Jobs, Career Branches and More Modern Modesty. She’s a marketing professional and fashion enthusiast who blogs as @FaithInFashion on Twitter and presents her You: The Brand seminar to college seniors and corporations.


Julie said...

Fashion is the weakness of every woman. Because everyone wants to look stylish, gorgeous and sexy. I want to say you thanks for sharing some great stuff on fashion.

Emanuela said...

Very interesting, I am in school for Fashion Design :)

Meredith said...

I Just found your blog and really loved reading your tips. Thanks for sharing!