Personal-stylist-header

A professional can help you select an outfit for a special event or rethink your entire wardrobe.

Do you find yourself in a battle with your closet on weekday mornings? Or maybe you just feel like you've lost your personal sense of style - or simply don't have time to shop.

You might try hiring a personal stylist who can help you rethink your wardrobe and regain lost confidence.

“A professional can help you interpret a style you may find hard to put together on your own," said Stacy London, host of television's “What Not To Wear" wardrobe makeover show on TLC. “They can explain the geometry of fit. A great stylist will never impose their style on you but rather will help you uncover yours."

A stylist comes in particularly handy at major milestones, such as getting a new job or promotion, post-maternity or retirement. “These are great moments to reassess" your fashion choices, London said.

Looking good in your clothes inspires self-confidence. And when you consistently make a professional impression, it helps you gain the trust of clients and colleagues.

“It's important to walk out of the house and feel good about yourself," said Andrea Wolf-Sobel, a professional stylist in Los Angeles who has worked for celebrities as well as high-powered executives and stay-at-home-moms.

“A stylist knows what looks best on your body and can steer you away from wasteful purchases," she said. And unlike a friend or spouse, who may lead you astray to spare your feelings, a pro can deliver objective and honest feedback on your clothing choices, but in a tactful manner designed not to offend.

Online services such as JustFab.com and StichFix.com offer a fast and inexpensive option – you only pay for the clothes you like and they provide return shipping for the rest – but it's less personal. After answering a list of questions and picking favorites from looks they present to you on their sites, they send you an entire outfit based on those preferences, including accessories such as shoes and/or bags.

Personal stylist/shopper Deanna Zaccari, of Deanna Zaccari Lifestyle Design in Los Angeles, is aware of these websites, but says they have had no impact on her business.

“My clients hire me for a more intimate personal exchange. The services I provide go beyond buying flattering clothes – I also teach how to make multiple outfits with their existing wardrobe," she said.

If you are ready for a fashion makeover, have a big event coming up or just don't have time to shop for your work wardrobe, here are some pointers on hiring a personal stylist:

1. Set a Budget

A budget should include the stylist's fee, up front. Stylists may ask to be paid by the day or by the hour – or you can negotiate a project rate if you need help selecting a look for an event, such as an awards show or milestone birthday party.

“Expectations must be set at the start," London said. “If a client wants two suits, how many suits do they want to see before choosing? How many hours of work are they willing to pay for in order to find final picks?"

Wolf-Sobel charges clients $500 per day. Zacharri charges $200-$375 per hour depending on the scope of the job, which range from closet-edits to wardrobe makeovers. She discounts her hourly rate if she's hired by the day.

2. Agree on a Time Frame

Typically, it takes Wolf-Sobel two days for her to assess a client's current closet, discuss wardrobe needs and desires, shop, bring various items to clients to consider and then return the items that didn't work. If all you need is one outfit for an event that might be accomplished in a few hours. Be specific.

3. Ask About Conflicts of Interest

Your stylist should be making recommendations that are in your best interests, not based on the commissions they get from retailers. Wolf-Sobel said she does not receive commissions from retailers or fashion designers and never favors one store over others because they give her special perks. She promises not to purchase anything she doesn't truly believe will flatter her clients and enhance their wardrobes.

4. Find a Stylist Whose Advice You Trust

The way you look and dress is very personal – and sometimes hearing critiques on your wardrobe can be difficult. You need to trust your stylist's point of view and respect her advice. “People get set in a look, but they're not always right. It takes a discerning eye to help force a change," Wolf-Sobel said.

5. Ask Friends for Referrals

Ask your close network for recommendations or search for a stylist online, choosing one whose photos align with your taste and wardrobe requirements. Make sure the stylist's fees and policies are stated clearly on their website and then set up a meeting, or at least a phone conversation, before you hire anyone.

“My business is very intimate, so we get to know each other in the initial face-to-face meeting," said Zaccari. “I learn the client's expectations and ask about their lifestyle in terms of work, casual everyday life and social aspects, so I understand their wardrobe needs."

Getting dressed shouldn't be a daily stressor. A carefully curated wardrobe can bring you peace and even improve your self-esteem.

“The reason that style is such a great antidote when someone is not feeling themselves is because it's visual. When you see a fast, visceral change in yourself… you start to wonder what else is possible," London said.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute an offer or solicitation to sell the products or services of the providers identified. City National Bank makes no recommendation of the products or services offered by the providers attributed in this article. The opinions expressed are those of the persons quoted and not necessarily the opinions of City National Bank.