I'm sure you're wondering why I, small-town Ontario fashion plate that I am (yes, I'm kidding), would seek the assistance of a personal stylist. I mean, I dress pretty well. I live and teach in a rural area where sporting designer pieces and cutting-edge trends isn't exactly essential, and dressing on a budget is completely acceptable. But while I think I can put together some decent looks, what I was really looking for was the extra little bit of confidence that comes with knowing I have a professional seal of approval.
Lisa did not disappoint... she was amazing! Of course she showed up looking stylish herself, right down to her toes (I am totally going to copy her mint green pedi this week) and we got to work. Every Wardrobe Makeover from the Practical Fashionista includes a hardcover copy of In Style's "The New Secrets of Style" (valued at $34.95), which she flipped through quickly to get me acquainted.
After that, it was all about me, and Lisa seemed totally willing to tailor the session to what I needed. She clearly had read through the Style Inventory I filled out for her, referencing some of the information (e.g. Jennifer Garner is a style icon for me; classic and not too trendy). Lisa also noted that body image didn't seem to be too much of a focus for me, but if it had been, she would have been prepared to address that concern.
My goals for the makeover were:
2. Mixing and matching pieces I already have to create new looks
3. Creating a shopping list for Fall
Before Lisa's arrival, I went through my entire Fall/Winter wardrobe and sorted it into three piles on my bedroom floor:
Some newer items, or just favourites that I knew I wouldn't want to part with even if advised by a professional
All of the items I was unsure about and wanted Lisa to critique. Yes, I really needed someone to tell me that shoes which have gathered layers of dust are probably ready to go.
The pieces that even I could see were ready to go, like some "fitted" items that seem to get more and more fitted every year, and the bridesmaid's dress I wore when nursing a fifteen day old baby. Short of surgical intervention, I will never again be able to fill out the top of that one.
Here's a shot of Lisa, busy assessing my wardrobe:
First, we went through and purged. I made it clear to Lisa that my feelings wouldn't be hurt by her critique, and I really wanted her honest opinion, which I believe she gave. The kind expression she used a few times was "that piece speaks to a certain time period" (e.g. the tartan skirt I purchased when I began teaching 12 years ago!)
What else needed to go?
- pieces that looked worn, which I hadn't even realized
- chunky heeled shoes. While Lisa said toe shape is a personal preference (my square toed boots are fine), it's the big thick heels that look dated on footwear
- coloured cords
- legwarmers: my dear readers may have voted in favour of the legwarmer look I tested out (in the privacy of my own home) a few months ago, but Lisa feels they're reserved for the 20's and under age bracket. (As much as it may surprise you to hear this, yes, I am actually out of my 20's!)
The final "Donate" pile (which filled two garbage bags):
On to goal #2: working with what I have to make new outfits and combinations.
First up was this beautiful jacket, handed on to me by a friend with the backhanded compliment of "It doesn't fit my chest, but it would fit you!" But what to wear with it? Lisa recommended I pick up a tank with some metallic threads through it to go underneath, and pair it with jeans or my cream/beige dress pants.
Can I wear animal print leggings? Yes I can! This outfit needs slight tweaking as the hood and turtleneck are too much together, but would work if one of the pieces was switched out for something similar. (Oh yes, dear coworkers, you will be seeing me in animal print this Fall!)
Lisa also encouraged me to try colour combos I hadn't thought of, such as the purple tank underneath the green sweater. She advises against being too matchy-matchy, for example when searching for a top to go with a floral skirt, I don't have to perfectly match one of the skirt's colours, which I usually attempt to do.
Lisa's tips for adding some punch to one of my go-to dresses:
Throw on a scarf, and swap out the belt that came with it for something less expected.
Another question: how to wear the gorgeous Pashmina my parents brought me back from Italy? Lisa's outfit suggestion:
My third and final goal was to have a clear shopping list of items for Fall. I'm sick of pulling on dress pants and sweaters every day, which feels so predictable and a bit old-lady. I was looking for more layering and fun elements that would spice things up a bit, and I avidly jotted down every suggestion Lisa made as we worked.
But in terms of a shopping list, Lisa took things one giant step further. Within 24 hours of our session I received fantastic collages of outfits that she had built just for me, working with basic black, brown and grey dress pants as a foundation and polishing them up with colourful blouses, versatile jackets and accessories. I absolutely love these looks, and will have them in hand when I venture out shopping for back-to-school. Normally I stay away from short sleeves because I'm always cold, but I haven't given enough thought to amping up the style factor with blazers, shrugs, etc. I'll also be looking at colours I usually shy away from, like yellow and orange.
Take a peek:
I really appreciated the fact that her work didn't end when she left my house. Even after I received her outfit collages, I emailed her back to ask if she had an image of the denim shirt she had recommended a few times to go with my tweed skirt, or even with leggings and a longer sweater when the weather cools. She quickly sent this back, which will also help with my shopping expedition.
Rounding out my list of look-fors: a denim skirt, new black ballet flats (to replace my worn ones) as well as a pair in a dark metallic finish, and nude shoes, which I know have been "in" for a while but I've never purchased any. I like that I'm shopping for pieces to pull together everything I have, not just looking for completely new outfits.
The cost of a Wardrobe Makeover with Lisa is $250, which covers several hours of her time and expertise (two hours in your home with you) and while the cost may be prohibitive for some, those with working with larger budgets should keep in mind that you probably have well over $250 worth of clothing you don't wear (and should never have bought!) and that she can keep you from making that same costly mistake over and over!
Now I'm working my way through the In Style book, and internalizing great tidbits like "Wear short with long, or long with short". (I think sometimes I'm guilty of the sloppy "long with long" look.)
I would definitely recommend the Practical Fashionista, who's based in the GTA. I think what I appreciated most was that everything was tailored to me: my needs, my style, and what I hoped to get out of the session. It wasn't a cookie cutter system I had to fit into. She could totally go with the flow and help me to achieve my goals...which I did!
Lisa offers many other services, including personal shopping and group shopping tours, and has gift cards too! You can also check out the Practical Fashionista blog for tons of free style tips and tricks.
Disclosure: I was provided with a wardrobe makeover for the purposes of reviewing Practical Fashionista's services. Opinions are, as always, my own.