A session with a personal stylist can sound like a bit of an extravagance. Most of us would think they know how to shop without help.
But what if spending some time with someone who would take apart your existing wardrobe and help you figure out which pieces are really ‘you’ would help you make fewer fashion faux pas?
We spoke to the gorgeous Roberta Lee, a personal stylist committed to ethical brands, how she helps her clients, and what her work has to do with sustainable fashion.
Why do women use your sustainable personal styling service?
It varies, but mostly because they have reached complete wardrobe overwhelm and don’t know where to start in terms of updating their style and knowing how to dress for their age or the woman they want to become.
Some women are just looking for an easy way to update their existing wardrobe so they can get dressed without stress, without having to go through an entire re-style from scratch. Ultimately, all of my clients want to feel confident and beautiful in the clothes they own.
What are the first questions you ask? Are there any common 'mistakes' people make with their style?
Yes, I always ask how they feel about their existing wardrobe and style and why they think it isn’t working for them. Then we delve into a lifestyle analysis and create a personal profile for them based on who they are today and who they want to be in the future, not who they were 10-years ago or how they dressed when they were slimmer or heavier for example.
It’s a really important step and so many people skip this bit, which is a costly mistake that causes a massive wardrobe disconnect. I’m always exploring the deeper psychological and emotional drivers behind what we wear and what we don’t, why we buy more clothes than we need and why so many of us have items hanging in the wardrobe that we’ll never actually wear.
You are passionate about sustainable fashion. Why is this important to you and how is that connected with your work as a stylist?
Just five years ago I was still living a gluttonous life of over-consumption and unconscious consumerism, especially around clothes and shoes. I was constantly buying things I didn’t need and before long I had hit wardrobe insanity - total clothing overload. I had too much stuff and getting ready was a nightmare. I know I’m not alone here, as the stats on the our collective wardrobe shopping habits reveal we are all guilty of owning more than we need (find out more about that here).
As I started to become more aware of my daily habits and indeed the effect my clothes shopping had on the planet - I realised I had to stop. So I went on a detox. After 6-months of not buying anything new I got hooked on the idea of doing more with what I already owned - hence the #sustainablestyling element.
In my role as a stylist, I believe I have responsibility to do the right thing and not encourage unnecessary shopping. I won’t tell someone to shop for stuff they don’t need. I’m respectful of the things they already own, ethically or sustainably made or not. I won’t be wasteful either, because our planet’s resources depend on it. I try to encourage other women to think like this too. I always advise that they invest in pieces that are high quality made by brands that care.
That’s why I love discovering great online shops like Sheer Apparel. Finding super stylish brands that actually give a damn about their impact on the environment, animals and the people in their supply chain is still a challenge. That’s another reason why I created the Ethical Brand Directory - thank you for supporting it and wanting to be a part of it.
What's your favourite piece from the current Sheer Apparel collection?
I really love simple basics that I can dress up or dress down, or add colour or print to. The one item that jumped out for me was the black Organic cotton rib dress. This is the type of dress and material that is flattering on my body shape because I am petite and have curves. It’s an all year round piece that won't go out of style.
I immediately know what would go with this from my existing wardrobe - for example it would work with my: trainers, sandals, heeled pumps, ankle boots and even my knee high boots for winter. I’d pair with my leather jacket in the autumn and it would work well with layers and my large minimalist style grey overcoat in the winter. It’d also go nicely with my denim jacket for the spring.
This is something I would wear today, next year, the year after and the year after that too - and dare I say it, yeah why not... I reckon I’d still be rocking this dress in my forties too. Now that’s sustainable style…
Any top tips for women who want to feel more confident in their style?
Absolutely! My top tip (and in life, love and business) is never compare yourself to anyone else. Or worry about your age and what’s appropriate. You are unique and comparison is a confidence killer. Be inspired but never compare. You have to find out what works for you, be true to who you are and create your own signature style.
Not everyone knows how to do this. I’m very fortunate that style isn't something I have ever struggled with - but if I did I would definitely invest in a stylist. Clothes should be a joy to wear, they should make you feel empowered, beautiful and capable of doing anything. I couldn’t imagine waking up every day and not having that feeling that comes with stepping into an outfit that makes you feel like superwoman, feeling confident in the clothes you wear is truly amazing!
For any women looking for inspiration to define their personal style I can recommend getting started with my FREE Top 10 Style Tips here
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