You know those people that can walk into a store, a Vinnies, a wardrobe, and look at every item separately, and magically form a jaw-dropping outfit that would have Kendall herself asking where you got it? Kind of like the way Russell Crowe sees numbers and words in A Beautiful Mind?
I am so not one of them. Basic dress or skirt and top? Sweet. Anything more complicated is like one of those 3D puzzles your grandma gave you for Christmas back in the day. I genuinely have a few outfits on rotation and don’t tend to deviate from them. If I wear something new to work, people start to ask if I’ve been shopping. Very unlikely.
Because of this fashion-phobia, the idea of a stylist has always been intriguing to me. Even if you’re super picky, they can help you build an awesome basic wardrobe or pick the perfect piece for an upcoming event. I mean, people hire interior designers and gardeners, why not use a fashion stylist?
The biggest misconception is that you need to spend a lot of money on a stylist, or on the clothes themselves. Potentially because the term ‘stylist’ is usually uttered in the same breath as ‘celebrity’ or ‘awards show season’. But it certainly is a misconception, because many online retailers (and stores) have stylists or personal shoppers available for free.
For my first foray into stylist terrain, I went with online retailer Fashion Bunker, because I like their brands and they always have a good selection of items for someone as picky and neurotic as myself.
It’s so damn easy, you can jump online whenever you like and use Fashion Bunker’s online chat function in the bottom right corner and the team will be more than happy to help. It might feel weird at first, but they love it. Seriously. For a stylist, this is the dream, to play dress up and open your mind and wardrobe to new things.
First step was to fill out a form with my measurements. Easy enough. *Takes deep breath in* Done.
And then there was a questionnaire… Celebrity style icons… Uhhh. I have no idea? 13-year-old me would have been all “definitely Summer Roberts, or Lindsay Lohan’s baby doll dresses”, but slightly (read: much) older me is a little more discerning. A quick Google search gave me a few names to drop and I was on my way. Is it weird to call Kim Kardashian a style icon? When she’s not preggers or dressed like Mrs Doubtfire, obviously.
How would I describe my style? Probably wouldn’t, tbh. But after asking some mates that speak fluent clothing, I settled on a few key terms. They all said the same thing: relaxed, classic, silhouette. I’ll take that as a compliment?
Are there any bits of my body I like to show off? Apart from my mouth from talking non-stop, I’m not entirely sure. Teenage me proudly wore a fitted t-shirt that said ‘My face is up here’ inside an arrow, but I suppose I’ve moved on from that stage of life. So I went with waist, because I have one. Am I afraid of prints or patterns? Hell no. I would dye my hair leopard print if I could. I really only know what I don’t like… Which is yellow.
So then I jumped online and got chatting to Molly (hi Molly!), who was equipped with my measurements and questionnaire and had a few outfit suggestions for me. I’m going to be completely frank: I was iffy about a few of them. I mean, this is all online, how can I explain to her that sometimes my bum has a mind of its own, that depending on the day of the week, stripes are either friends or foe, and that I definitely sucked in when I did those measurements? How?
Also—the midriff. It’s a terrifying situation for me, but the lovely Molly put two forward and assured, nay, guaranteed me that they would look good, or I could send them back no problem. I won’t lie, the whole thing was so much fun, it’s like going shopping with a friend who is perfectly happy to let you be completely selfish. She was incredibly gentle when I suggested a few things that, while totes amaze, probably weren’t best suited for me.
After much deliberation and “maaaaybes”. We settled on three outfits: a wedding or cocktail party-appropriate dress that made me feel like I could attend something fancier than my great aunt’s birthday and feel like a million bucks, an all-white, casual-ish (but easy to dress up) outfit that consisted of a floaty white skirt and a similarly floaty white cami and made me feel way more feminine than I am in real life, and an office-to-date (I wish) getup including the crop top that changed my life, and a blue wrap skirt that I love so much I’ll probably end up wearing to my non-existent wedding.
So the clothes arrived, all neatly packaged and fresh as a well-made daisy, waiting to be ripped from their virginal packaging. If there’s anything more fun than an office fashion show, I don’t want to know about it. I genuinely felt like I was bludging, but this was all in the name of work, so… parade we did! In and out I went in my new outfits. And any hesitation I had at first was gone. Apparently my foray into midriff territory was nowhere near as terrifying as I had once thought. The clothes I was iffy about turned out to be my favourites, and it was definitely a “shut up and take my money” situation.
See pics above of me posing like an idiot in these incredible clothes for our amazing photographer? Definitely have some new found respect for fashion bloggers, pretending you’re not aware the camera is there while trying to look natural is no easy feat.
And the clothes? Love them. Feel like I’ve been missing some seriously important parts of my wardrobe for many a year. Not a plug, I genuinely love all of them. No, you can’t borrow.
TL;DR: Here’s what you need to know about online fashion stylists:
- Most (good) websites have a chat function, and it’s definitely not like a call centre type thing. You’re speaking to real fashion professionals (well, at Fashion Bunker anyway) that love nothing more than helping you find something you adore and will definitely wear.
- Molly is awesome, so if you end up with her, you’re in good hands.
- Have some idea of what you’re looking for, helps them get that ‘ding ding ding’ piece you can’t live without. That includes measurements, keep them handy!
- Same goes for budget. If you’re strapped for cash but need something desperately, let them know.
- Keep an open mind, dammit! Unless you would literally rather wear your mum’s pregnancy gown, be open to trying new things. That’s what stylists do.
- On the same note, be honest. Tell them if you’re just not feeling it. They won’t be insulted… I think.
- Have fun! And remember, most good retailers will let you exchange if something isn’t quite right, so don't stress if it doesn't work out.
Image credit: Jackielyn Powell
Hair: Madison Voloshin at District Salon