Friday, 5 June 2015

Personal Styling: Behind the (Fitting Room) Curtain

During my time at the London College of Style, I've had plenty of opportunities to get to grips with the fundamentals of personal styling - from wardrobe edits to shopathon challenges - and, as a result, had my eyes opened to a myriad of opportunities for stylistic satisfaction beyond the pages of those crazy-cool concept editorial shoots. And, whilst I'm not about to turn down a commission from i-D, seeing the smile which results from tweaking and expanding someone's conception of their personal style and, by extension, self-image - often without them spending a penny, but simply from mixing and matching items which may have lain untouched in their wardrobes for months or years in new ways - really is priceless.

Personal Styling by Sam Muses
Styled by Sam: Introducing Mummy Muses to pattern clashing, and helping the lovely Anna find a way to rock her neglected split-front midi

But this week, the tables were turned, as I took a turn playing client. Now, I'm rather protective of my own personal style, so, perhaps ironically, being styled is my idea of a nightmare... But, rather as trainee counsellors are required to submit to personal therapy, perhaps stylists can learn something from spending some time on the other side of the fitting room curtain?

Lesson One: Be Brand-Body Shape Aware

Or: Don't take curvy girls to Zara. Now, I'm not exactly Kim Kardashian, and I can shimmy into size 8 Miss Selfridge culottes or an extra-small H&M crop top with relative ease - but could I yank a pair of size small Zara palazzos over my hips, or get the zip done up over my E-cups on a dress which, notwithstanding its lack of room up top, sagged sadly around my waist? Not a chance. In hell. Which, despite my relatively (ahem) extensive wardrobe, didn't exactly make me feel awesome. Which leads me to...

Lesson Two: Make the Client Feel Good About Themselves (via Ensuring They Look Amazeballs)

Which is only possible if you remember that...

Lesson Three: It's All About Them

Whilst Zara was the perfect one-stop-shop for my stylist's athletic size 6 frame, the straight cuts and paucity of lycra just didn't work for my hourglass figure. As a personal stylist, you need to leave your own personal style, and shopping preferences, at the door, at least to a certain extent. So, whilst I might encourage a client to experiment with print, for example, my aim will always be to give them the tools to re-envision themselves as the best possible version of them - whilst I might wear killer lace-up heels with the shirt-and-skirt ensemble I pulled together from Anna's wardrobe, pictured above, I loved the cute hi/lo look we ended up with thanks to her suggestion to add her favourite white trainers into the mix - combining my fresh take on her wardrobe with her own individual flair to create something totally new, but still totally her.

Whilst I may have already had the theory down, living the client experience myself really brought the fundamentals into focus. Definitely worth taking a trip through the looking glass...

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