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dress professionally with style

How to Dress Professionally with Style (Without Breaking the Bank)

Your Closet and Your Career Will Thank You

You have finally decided that it is time to amp up your wardrobe! Boring black pants and a button-down shirt are not cutting it anymore. You want to get noticed by your boss, garner respect from your coworkers, and command attention in a room full of your peers.

But where do you start, and how do you go about it without breaking the bank? Where can you go to get advice on clothing cut, color, and fit, so you don’t get it all wrong? Dressing for success, especially for the workplace, can be challenging, but with so many innovations in the online and personal stylist world, it doesn’t have to be a chore.

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You could spend hours scouring Pinterest, but then you would still have to go out shopping to find the outfits. What if they end up being all wrong for your age and body type? Or what if you simply don’t like them? You could hire a personal stylist, but they can cost anywhere from $100-$500 an hour or more, depending on a variety of factors. You may want them to give you a consultation, come shopping with you, or do all the shopping for you, then bring the items to your home. Department stores typically offer free in-store stylists or personal shoppers, but you may end up paying high-end department store prices! Isn’t there a better solution to dress professionally with style?

An Affordable Way to Dress Professionally with Style

Personal stylists offer a myriad of services at a wide range of prices. Some offer in-person, one-on-one shopping days and some offer online consultations that may cover anything from recommendations on hair and makeup, to clothes or footwear. While popular with business tycoons and celebrities, personal stylists remain the most expensive option for updating one’s wardrobe and requires the customer to invest a great deal of time and energy into changing her look. If you do decide to bite the bullet and hire a personal stylist, remember to pay attention to the brands they recommend for your lifestyle, shape and taste!

Another tip is to try to negotiate a few ‘text appointments’ where you can send the personal stylist a quick picture of a date-night outfit or ready-for-the-office ensemble, and receive advice on the fly! Follow your personal stylist on social media in order to see looks they may put together for themselves or other clients. keep your stylist on speed-dial in case you need stylistic advice for the annual Christmas gala, chic wedding or that High School reunion you have been avoiding. Before hiring a personal stylist, remember to do some research to be clear about what services are included and any extra fees that may be involved.

Follow your personal stylist on social media in order to see looks they may put together for themselves or other clients.

Department store personal shoppers have a wide variety of skills. Some are former salesgirls who shifted over to the personal shopper department, to students who studied fashion in college or art school. Most stores do not charge for the personal shopper experience,, but the many make a commission from what you buy (and keep), so there is always pressure to purchase some of the suggested items. It is common for people to use personal shoppers for everything from a new work wardrobe to finding the perfect outfit for a specific event. It never hurts to test the waters and see how you enjoy the experience but be prepared to say ‘no’ and walk away if the shopper is not understanding what you are looking for.

Before your first appointment with your personal shopper, it helps to bring in some pictures of looks you like or the name of a favorite designer to help get the appointment off on the right foot. It also helps  to be realistic; personal shoppers cannot make a petite girl look 6 feet tall or a curvy girl look long and lean. Take a few minutes before your appointment and think about your favorite features as well as your ‘problem areas,’ and communicate those at the start of your appointment. The more information the better!

The New Era of Personal Stylists

Stitch-fix: A popular option in the online personal stylist market with a simple concept:: for $20 a stylist looks at your online persona (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) and reads a hundred-word description you write about yourself. From that information, the stylist puts together a box of clothing that gets shipped to your door. You select what you want to keep and return the rest at no charge. The more you order the better your selections, because your stylist gets to see what you return. This helps her better understand what you are looking for! Stitch-fix has been very successful in the online stylist market, but reviews can be mixed. The service is highly dependent upon your online persona being an accurate portrayal of your lifestyle. If you rarely post, or only post when you are dressed to the nines and headed out on the town, then your stylist will get a skewed image of what you are looking for. To ensure a successful experience, communication is key! There is no subscription fee, so trying it will only cost you a nominal fee and a little time.

Trunk Club: Began as a shopping service exclusive for men and all of the clothing sent was from Nordstrom. It has since expanded itsservices to people of all genders. heir consultation process is more thorough than Stitch Fix. It involves answering a survey that results in being matched with a stylist. You then chat with the stylist and ultimately have a phone call appointment. The stylist puts together a ‘trunk’ that has several pages of clothing, shoes, and accessories. From that, you decide what pieces are placed in your trunk and shipped to you, based on the pictures! Any clothing you do not want is picked up for free. The communication with the stylist and input from you on what is actually sent dramatically increases the success rate of Trunk Club. Clients often say the hardest part is “not buying everything.”

mTailor: This service puts custom clothing in the palm of your hand. Customers use their body measurements, taken by their smartphone. Return or remake rates for a custom shirt or jeans are quite low, at only 15%. That is lower than a typical online clothing store. However, you need to know what you want in a custom shirt or jeans. mTailor is a custom clothing company, not a styling company, which is a small difference to some, but an enormous difference to others. mTailor is ideal for the customer that is looking for more guidance and input from a style expert.

Workplace attire has made a huge shift from department store suits and a few button-down blouses, to a wide range of styles that allow for self-expression. For those who are stylish and have an eye for cut and color, the spectrum of acceptable attire is seen as newfound freedom; but for those who struggle to put together an outfit, it can open the door to missteps and embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions! If you are looking to update your look, and want to dress professionally and successfully, take a little time and explore personal stylist options that are available both in person and online. The return on your investment makes it worth your while.

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About Mercedes Holmen

Mercedes is a business owner and Executive Consultant with Rodan and Fields. In addition, she works in the field of behavior analysis for children with autism and their families, specializing in preschool aged children. She also has her Masters in Science from University of California at Davis.

View all articles by Mercedes »

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