- Alicia McCaslin
It’s time to flip the switch and see what the other side of the styling process looks like. This summer, I am initiating a client-driven campaign where I will be inviting my clients to share their experiences about the personal styling process. Alexandria Stylebook Readers will have an opportunity to receive firsthand information regarding what this business offers to the end-user. I’ll ask each of them when they decided to outsource the decisions behind clothing and style. We’ll also dive into their initial wardrobe challenges and subsequent solutions. Before styling consultations, clients often feel their own wardrobe lacked vision and cohesiveness - more of a random collection of things they liked or that fit. They were accumulating volume without purpose, lacking an understanding of each piece’s potential and its connection to the overall wardrobe. Each post will also include how the upcoming trends will be incorporated to enhance their style while still meeting the guidelines we’ve established.
Many people are going back to the office, and finding their current closet offers no excitement. This is not an unusual occurrence since we’ve broken the pattern of dressing during the pandemic. It’s possible you’ve disengaged just long enough to feel disconnected from those choices. Booking a styling appointment comes with built-in excitement and anticipation since change is on the docket! During my client series, we’ll hear from the end-user about the anticipation that builds before that first appointment: Do you prepare as though the cleaning team is coming? Will there be judgment? May I pour a glass of wine if necessary? Will there be anything left after it’s over?
My value is my vision - this vision is rooted in the creative process. Vertical thinking is sequential, and while there’s a lot of vertical practice that comes with styling, there’s a healthy dose of lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is unusual for so many people because it is not easily tracked in business; however, it’s where innovation occurs. It is generative and thrives on possibilities - anything is possible, and novel connections are illuminated. I temper my process with a mix of both practices. While possibilities can be endless, people want to know the beginning and the end. I try and create a comfortable existence for ambiguity… the middle ground. My approach isn’t for everyone, but clients have come to trust my process. Style is invariably evolving, yet guidelines should exist based on the constants - height, measurements, lifestyle - which all change over time as well.
What makes my business so interesting is the rich tapestry of people I work with. Many of them feel they already know me due to my social media posts on Instagram. This allows us to bypass the uncomfortable phases of any engagement. We can quickly jump into the closet, where I organically get to know each client through the language of clothing. You would be amazed what you learn about people based on their choices and aversions to style. I also take notes on the brands that they are currently wearing. I can look at the well-known designers that are prominent in a closet and help navigate towards niche designers that are less utilized. After years of being a buyer and spending time in closets, I’ve absorbed a wealth of knowledge, allowing me to find unique solutions for the wardrobe. I am able to cut through the volume of information that overwhelms the average shopper, aiming to deliver results. It’s not unusual that I can land a solution to an event dress on the first try. To some, this seems as though I’m a style magician. It is not quite magic, but rather it is my experience in multiple aspects of design and visual understanding that’s allowed me to chisel my problem-solving skills. Style is an art form to me, but I utilize a business branding mindset to establish concrete parameters. We may always wonder where fashion will go but understanding how to develop and build an identity within the unknowns offers my clients clarity and confidence.
One of my male clients described his ideal solution. He wants to pull out a shirt from his closet and know immediately what he has that goes with the shirt. He even suggested that I create an app! The problem with apps is that they can miss the creative leap of faith, and they are only as good as the day the backend algorithm was created - algorithms are imperfect and have biases ingrained within, and I think it would require each client to have their own unique algorithm. The magic piece of any experience is what I call the “attitude.” Creating attitude is creating a feeling, and I have yet to find an app that generates feelings. This will always be the nuanced part of styling that I feel only another human can help you develop. Why? Because you invest in the trust of someone who looks at you and feels your energy. The decisions made take into account a particular place in time - weather, audience, location, dress code, current mood - these are all pieces of the puzzle. I am a style coach that pushes you to take the risks that make getting dressed exciting. Once others start taking notice of the transformation, you’re hooked!
“Work smarter, not harder” is a common mantra I use as I continue to grow my business. Patience with the process has taught me that I never need a lot of clients, I only need the right clients. Investing time and energy into each person I’ve included has led to the next engagement. Styling has become a legitimate business that has finally escaped the realm of the rich and famous. Purchasing clothing can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Cultivating one’s style is an art - a fluid evolution.
With growth comes change. This fall, I will be increasing my rates. I’ve made a business choice to never increase the rates of those who have kept uninterrupted services. There have been clients who have stepped out of their engagement and come back for a variety of reasons. I welcome all back at the current rates and thank those with uninterrupted support with the rate where they joined. It’s my way of showing appreciation. If you want to open an engagement before rates increase, you will need to pay for future services before September 1, 2021. I anticipate fall will be very busy this year, and I will book new clients after September 30. For those who are around this summer and want to get that first audit accomplished, now is the time.