I have so many fond memories and experiences from working with my clients. I take great pride in bringing them to their full potential and watching their confidence grow in terms of how they present themselves visually. Discovering their sense of style boosts their self-esteem and their lives overall.
My offering a few of the real-life stories of three of my clients, I’ll share some key takeaways that you can use to improve your own style and confidence.
Client 1: Creating your overall personal brand provides you with confidence and empowers you.
This client is the powerhouse in a male-dominated environment. She’s what you call a triple threat: she’s talented, she’s intelligent and she values her appearance. When I first met her she had an exact idea of what she wanted: to command attention in the right way, to be comfortable through long work days, and to embrace her femininity in a powerful way.
During our session, we had a lengthy discussion of her likes and dislikes—the most important part of my client relationships is to listen. We discussed what her goals and aspirations were. Where did she want to take the next level of her brand identity? She had at times been ill-advised on certain looks, which hadn’t put her at the level she wanted to be.
I always remember not to change a woman’s personal brand, but instead to enhance it with the right tools. For me it always begins with fit. Her overall frame was petite, so I understood that certain silhouettes were not going to give her the best version of herself. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to fashion. Each piece still fits differently on each individual.
The next step was to discuss her commitments and what pieces she would need to work for different engagements. She wanted additional suits, but not the standard, bland, boring style, as she put it. I chose a jacquard suit with a pattern. The waist on the jacket had a leather panel and the skirt had a small pleated panel on the back, instead of a slit. She wasn’t sure it would be appropriate, but I convinced her to step out of her comfort zone and try it on. It was not her size, but I began to pin it and showed her that with the proper tailoring this could give her a “joie de vivre” feeling. She saw that the pattern was not too loud and that the waist panel gave her petite frame the feminine lines she wanted.
She had an important board meeting to attend and insisted that she would wear this suit. She was a relatively new board member and wanted to impress the group with her strong career accomplishments, while also visually conveying that she respected herself and took pride in her appearance. Later, she told me that when she walked in the room, all eyes were on her. She had captured the right and appropriate attention, and was respectfully complimented on her attire.
From there, we put together a strategy on her overall look. We focused on how to enhance and build on her brand to best represent herself and her lifestyle.
The Takeaway: Curating a personal brand that involves your own style preferences and a bit of risk can empower you. While this client was somewhat nervous going into her meeting, she ultimately realized that she could step out of her comfort zone in a tasteful way, which changed her outlook on herself.
Client 2: Be Open
This client comes from a prominent family of philanthropists. She is a leader in her own right within the women’s rights community. But instead of feeling like a strong, confident leader, she hid behind her clothes because of her insecurities, as many of us have done at some point or another.
This woman had a different frame than the first client. She didn’t feel she had a waist, her shoulders were broad, she had a long torso–the list of complaints about her body went on. I started by listening but quickly asked about her positive attributes. I stopped her in her tracks, and then she answered, “I’m a challenge, but I guess I’m not all-in-all that bad.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I followed the same process as I had with the executive, trying to understand her likes, dislikes, commitments and what she wanted her brand identity to be. She wanted to feel more feminine and wear more bold colors, but she felt she couldn’t. She wore a lot of black and dark hues of gray, and was completely against pants and anything remotely fitted.
We worked with different fabrics. We mixed tone-on-tone and variations of colors, but I kept it subtle instead of jumping to mixing fuchsia and orange. I showed her how tailoring could change everything from blouses to suiting to gowns. I even explained how we could change pants by moving the inseam, tailoring the pant leg, and so on. She could not believe her eyes once a number of pieces were finished. She went from thinking she had no shaping to saying, “I have a waist, my legs are decent and I don’t have to wear my skirts that long.”
She had an event coming up, so we chose a gown with a beautiful drape over the shoulders and a perfectly placed “V” at the back—not to mention that the color was a lovely merlot. With her dark hair and piercing blue eyes, the look was just beautiful. It may be silly, but we were both teary-eyed at the sight of her in it. When she told me about the event later, she said that the guests and her friends and family were completely taken aback with her, and that she felt the best she had in years.
She simply didn’t know how to do this herself—many people do not. She felt like she was finally being seen as the best possible version of herself.
The Takeaway: This client teaches the lesson to be open with your style choices. By trying colors, styles and fits you wouldn’t have previously considered, you might be pleasantly surprised by how fashion can make you look and feel.
Client 3: The Small Adjustments Make All the Difference
This client had worked in the corporate world for several years but had aspirations of running for office. She felt that her corporate look made her seem unapproachable yet plain and cookie cutter.
We discussed ways to soften her appearance. We added accent pieces through accessories and scarves. We experimented with softer silhouettes that weren’t so rigid. We tried an interesting sleeve. Rather than a jacket and pant suit, we tried a blouse with a matching pant that was a little more relaxed with a subtle pattern. We also discussed haircut and color to compliment the frame of her face and complete the look.
The Takeaway: Think about how small adjustments to your style can change your entire look. In this case, all it took were accessories, a different beauty approach and a slight shift in how she thought about a suit.
Working as a stylist, I’ve seen firsthand how style can make people feel more confident. Through my work, I have helped clients overcome feelings of being trapped in and limited by their body shapes. I’m confident that by finding your own personal style and feeling good in it, you can overcome these insecurities too.