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12 points to think about when hiring a Personal Stylist

Hayley Cooper walks down the street with a client, smiling and carrying a bag.
A Personal Styling Session is an investment in yourself, your personal brand, your lifestyle and your wardrobe. It’s so much deeper than simply buying clothes in a store with some friendly fashion advice.

A Personal Styling Session is an investment in yourself, your personal brand, your lifestyle and your wardrobe. It’s so much deeper than simply buying clothes in a store with some friendly fashion advice.

It’s much more personal, carefully planned and has a greater result than any form of shopping or wardrobe cleansing that you’ll ever do on your own. It’s actually less about fashion and entirely about you making smart decisions that allow you to build your personal style and wear your wardrobe.

You’ll get rid of items from your wardrobe, but have more outfits to wear. You’ll try on more items in a store than you’ll ever try on alone, and you’ll have a significantly higher success rate. You’ll be educated on what to buy, what to leave and the reasons why.

Personal Styling services are increasing across Australia and there’s a good reason for this, these services work and have huge benefits to the men and women who use them. They’re accessible services available to every body, not just the wealthy or celebrities, which has been a common perception for many years.

An increase in these services means there’s more Personal Stylists available than ever before. While this is a positive for the industry, there can be a lot of confusion for you when deciding on the right Personal Stylist to work with.  

The confusion can come from uncertainty of the services and how they work, stylist credibility, experience and professionalism. Often people who have had negative experiences with unprofessional, inexperienced or sales focused stylists are understandably cautious about working with another Personal Stylist and they miss out on the benefit of working with a stylist who has the formal training and years of experience and knowledge they need to achieve results.

I’m sharing my advice on what exactly you need to think about before you hire a Personal Stylist to help you. This advice is based on feedback I’ve had from my clients on why they have chosen to work with me and points they have appreciated in my services.

1. It’s not about the Stylist, it’s about you

You should be at the heart of everything your Personal Stylist will do. They want you to be happy and satisfied after the time you have spent together. There’s a high level of nurturing that comes with this this job and my clients are the absolute priority.

Your session is entirely about you, your body shape, colour tone, lifestyle, budget and ideal personal style. These are the key points I consider with every single client I work with. My image, personal style and lifestyle will never influence the professional advice I provide to you.

Your Personal Stylist will have their own personal style that they enjoy wearing and may be a part of their personal brand. It’s important to choose a stylist you feel you can resonate with, but understand that how they dress themselves shouldn’t be an indication of how they will style you.

While I may not be the same clothing size as you and may not have the same lifestyle or life experiences as you, I have helped hundreds of people in similar situations to you. I have an objective, professional approach and can understand a clients needs without personally being in the same situation.

I don’t parade my clients around on social media, share (or even photograph) before and afters and I never force anything onto my clients. I have complete privacy and respect for my clients personal and professional lives. There’s never pressure to buy something simply because of my personal opinions or because I like how something looks on you. The advice you receive is professional and tailored to you. 

2. Is the session personalised to you and your personal requirements?

This is one of the most personalised services you will ever engage with, so it’s important that it’s personalised to you and your personal requirements. No client of mine is ever the same as the next, every person is different and each session runs differently.

My clients’ sessions are entirely personalised to suit them. There’s never a session that’s similar or duplicated. Every client receives advice personalised to his or her body shape, colour tone, lifestyle, ideal personal style and shopping budget.

The documents I share after a session is full of personalised advice, often with references to components of the session, rather than a template about general body shapes or colour tones.

While we talk about body shapes, the real focus is on proportions, correct lengths, ideal fabrics, fits, how each piece feels and how to style it to best suit your individual body shape. The focus is not on being simply a “pear” or an “apple”, or on size or weight or being categorised into a simple colour group.

3. No commission or benefits from your purchases

It’s common for stylists to receive commission or benefits from retailers and certain brands. I feel this can sway the advice provided by the stylist and isn’t necessarily the best advice for the clients.

As a Personal Stylist, I’m not here to sell to you, I’m here to advise, educate and guide you into achieving your personal style goals, shopping efficiently, building your personal style and making smart decisions in the change rooms that have a positive impact on your wardrobe.

I don’t make any commission or receive any benefits from your purchases and am not geared to any retailers or brands. The stores we visit are purely based on what I feel will work best for you.

We’re lucky enough to receive some exclusive Personal Stylist discounts in selected stores. These have no benefit to me and are passed directly onto you. I will always let you know if there is a benefit available to us in a store, but won’t take you there if I don’t feel it’s the right product range for you.

4. Trust and confidence with your Personal Stylist

You need to have trust that your stylist knows what they are doing, have a plan in place, processes within the services that make the best use of your time, like a pre shop and a session plan, and that they have done their research on you and have the ability to help you reach your personal goals.

You need to be open to their advice, to trying new items and to visiting new retailers or brands. You need to trust that they are giving you the best, non-bias, professional advice that’s personalised to you, with your lifestyle and budget considered.

You need to be able to let them know if you don’t like an item, if you don’t feel comfortable spending or even if you’re not feeling well. I am with my clients for lengthy durations and always check that they are happy with our choices and ensure we’re on the right track.

Be honest with your sizing, your lifestyle and your budget. There is never the need to feel you need to spend thousands, to provide a size you think will be easier for your stylist to source, to embellish your lifestyle or buy an item that you can’t see yourself realistically wearing.

It’s a long time to spend with someone you don’t have trust or confidence with, so make sure you researched and chosen a stylist who feels like a good fit to you.

5. Professionalism and respected boundaries

Your Personal Stylist is a professional, think of them as a professional consultant, the same way you would view a Financial Advisor or a Buyers Agent. Do your research and make sure you choose a professional. This will save you time, money and mental energy in the long run.

Your Personal Stylist should always feel like a professional that you trust to help you. They should be able to give you peace of mind in their service, what they do and how they can help. They should have an active ABN, real client reviews and be able to send through a proper invoice.

They should respect your boundaries and not pressure you to buy everything they recommend, or anything at all.

They should respect your personal space in your wardrobe and guide you clearly on what to get rid of and the reasons why.

They should push you comfortably out of your comfort zone without being judgemental or forceful.

They should never comment negatively on your image and make you feel like you need to change your sizing, colouring or any physical features.

They should respect your privacy and not post photos of you without your consent via private communications with potential clients or publicly.

6. Credibility, reputation, experience and qualifications

You’re hiring a professional and you want to make sure they have the experience and knowledge to be able to help you. While you don’t need a set of formal qualifications to become a stylist, it’s a good idea to know your stylists professional background.

How long have they worked as professional stylist? If not, what did they do prior? Have they studied the industry? How well do they know it? What do clients say about them? Can you find any information on them outside of their website or own social channels? Do they seem credible?

You need your stylist to be a chameleon to understand you and be able to source suitable items for you, with the ability to advise you on how to wear them in your everyday life.

They should know the shopping location well, be familiar with the retailers, what items retailers stock, where to find specific items and what items are the best value for money. These skills develop through years of experience and knowledge in dressing different personalities, body shapes, colour tones, age groups and style personalities.

It can be difficult to determine a professional stylist compared to a styling side hobby. Really consider what kind of help you need and what kind of stylist you will help you achieve that.

I am extremely discreet and respect clients privacy so don’t have any case studies, outcomes or before and after images to share. I have never taken a before and after and I certainly wouldn’t share this with anyone other than the client if I had. This is such a personal, private experience and I have complete respect for my clients’ personal and professional lives. I do have reviews on Google and Facebook.

After 10 years of having my business I have a database of over 1000 clients who I have successfully helped, many who share similar concerns to each other, though each session is completely personalised to suit you and your personal requirements.

7. Real reviews

It’s very easy for a business to write and post non credible reviews on social media or on their website. I recommend digging a little deeper and reading through individual reviews on Google and Facebook. These are external reviews and are less likely to be created by the business.

You can read my reviews on Google and Facebook.

8. What do you want to achieve?

Have a clear idea of what you need help with and communicate this to your stylist. They need to know what you’re after to be able to recommend a suitable session or package. Think about this as much as possible so when you contact your stylist they have some understanding of who you are and what you want to achieve.

Some points to think about are – Are you looking to to update your weekend wardrobe, work wardrobe or a mix of both? How do you feel about your existing wardrobe? Do you like the items you own and do they fit you and your lifestyle? Or, do you want to add items to your wardrobe to add some variety? Are you starting a new job? Did you just get a promotion? Are you doing research and want to gift a Personal Styling Session to your family member or friend? Are you looking for a capsule wardrobe, or do you like to experiment with seasonal trends?

Really think about what a successful end result looks like to you and communicate this the best you can with your stylist. By their response you’ll be able to see if they can help you.

In every session I ask clients to complete an extensive questionnaire that tells me all I need to know to be able to plan their session to best suit them. This is also a good tool to help my clients really think about their personal styling in a much deeper way than they usually do, giving them some clarity on what exactly they want from the session.

9. Inclusions of the service

Each stylist will run their sessions differently to the next and their services and packages will vary. It’s important to know exactly what your money gets you with the service you choose.

Are you able to book a single Personal Shopping Session for a set amount of time? Is there a minimum booking duration? What’s the hourly rate? Can you add time on the day if you need to?

My individual sessions include Personal Shopping Sessions, Wardrobe Consultations and Wardrobe Outfitting Sessions. These sessions can be booked for the duration of your choice, with the minimum time being 2hrs. The hourly rate for this is $125 per hour or $62.50 per half hour. These sessions can be booked as they are or added onto a package.

If you’re booking a Personal Style Package, what individual sessions are included? Is the package completed in one day or over a number of days? How does the package flow? Can the sessions and timings be adjusted?

My Personal Styling Packages all include a 1/2hr Personal Style Consult and Personal Shopping Session but most include these plus a Wardrobe Consultation and Wardrobe Outfitting Session. The packages vary across pricing and durations and I’m flexible with how we allocate the timing within each component.

If you’re unsure about what individual session or package, ask your stylist what they recommend based on your brief. They are the best person to ask if you’re unsure and will give you an honest recommendation.

10. Travel costs and service areas

Sydney can be time consuming to travel around and it’s understandably common for service based businesses to charge additional travel costs if you’re service is located a certain amount of kilometres outside of the city or their suburb. Make sure you’re aware of potential travel fees that can be added to the cost of your service.

I travel anywhere in Sydney for the same cost, I don’t have any travel fees for sessions conducted in any suburbs of Sydney. This is because my clients live all over Sydney and it’s the nature of the work I do. I’ve always worked this way, I know all of the shopping locations in each area and I enjoy working in various locations.

11. Your session is an investment in you

You are your biggest investment. When you feel confident in yourself this filters through to how confident you feel in your lifestyle, your job and in social situations. This is one of the few experiences you will ever invest in that truly has you at the focus and it’s likely the most personalised service you can buy.

Your Personal Stylist will educate you on what works and what doesn’t, help you shop efficiently with thoughtful decisions and support you to build a wearable wardrobe that works for you.

It makes economic sense to invest in a Personal Stylist. There will be no impulse buying or purchase regret in stores. There will be less wardrobe clutter and less of the unworn, unnecessary items. You will have confidence in the items you own and knowledge of how to wear them in your personal and professional environments.

Think of when you buy a top for $120 and it sits unworn in your wardrobe because you either purchased the wrong size, you don’t have anywhere to wear it or you don’t know how to mix and match it with other items in your wardrobe. That’s a waste of $120. You could hire a Personal Stylist for $125 an hour and purchase a number of items that work with your wardrobe, add variety, work with your real lifestyle and suit you, much better value.

12. The right fit

This is such an important one. Simply put, do you like the stylist you are considering working with?  

Have a look through their website, their social media channels, their blog posts and take notice of how it feels when you communicate with them via email or on the phone.

You are giving a lot of your time, energy, and money and sharing yourself in this experience, vulnerabilities and insecurities included. It’s a long time to spend with someone you aren’t sure about or don’t feel comfortable with, so do your research and make sure the stylist you choose is the best choice for you.

Work with me

If you’re looking for a Personal Stylist, I would love to connect with you. Please reach out with a rundown on who you are and what you’re after. We can start a conversation from there. Looking forward to connecting!

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