A few years ago, I blogged about the appearance tax and the startling statistic that a negative physical impression can cost you a whopping $230K over the course of your working life.
Since I'm always talking about the necessity of dressing appropriately in a business setting, you might find it surprising that I never hired a stylist myself. Even after I was told by a gender researcher that my short stature was counting against me appearance-wise, I maintained that I knew what I was doing with my clothing choices. After all, nothing was too tight or too worn, and everything matched!
Then, a few months ago, the folks from Share Some Style got in touch with me. Share Some Style is an online company that pairs customers with stylists and guides them through a process of identifying personal preferences, auditing their closets, and putting together outfits that play up customers' strenghs and personalities.
When SSS offered me the chance to "get styled" in exchange for telling you about my experience, I was totally game. I realized that an affordable resource like this could be exactly what some of you need to take your careers to the next level. So after I selected several business-appropriate outfits I liked from an online catalogue, SSS paired me with Jenny Applegate, a Chicago stylist who has worked with Stacy London of What Not to Wear fame.
On Jenny's first visit to my house, she had me try on several items from my closet. One pattern quickly emerged. Much of my business wear was a size too big! All my life I'd been harboring a complex that I looked fat, and so I routinely bought 8-10 sizes rather than 6-8 sizes, which is where Jenny said I belonged. Also, despite the fact that many of my shirts had "lost their shape," I was holding on to them anyway. With a tone that was honest without being offensive, Jenny quickly dispatched a third of my clothes into a Goodwill pile.
Jenny returned to my house a few weeks later with a bag of clothing and accessories from Banana Republic. She paired items from my closet with the new items to create outfits I never would have imagined on my own. In particular, I was not accustomed to mixing colors and patterns, but Jenny showed me that this is how you make an outfit pop. During a speaking engagement or an important client meeting, for example, I can overcome my height challenge with a vibrant, eye-catching ensemble that accentuates my small waist and lengthens my legline.
The final stage of this process is personal shopping! Although my current wardrobe has many of the basic components, Jenny and I will spend a few hours this spring selecting a few versatile pieces that can fill in the holes. Meanwhile, I've already worn Jenny-inspired outfits twice and gotten some great compliments. Maybe I'll become a fashionista after all.
Jenny going through my closet during the audit.
The bags that are going to Goodwill and Dress for Success after the closet audit.
New ensembles: Speaking engagement outfit and Summer conference outfit
New ensembles: Regular office day outfit and Evening networking outift.