Once reserved for Hollywood royalty, powerhouse executives, and blue-blood socialites, personal styling services have entered the democratic age. Stepping beyond the dressing rooms of high-end boutique stores, personal stylist service providers have embraced the Internet to bring A-list fashion counseling to the masses.
By Sara G. Stephens
Just like a trusty shopping buddy, a good personal stylist will pair your fashion taste and personality with items you will look good in, feel good about, and actually wear. Traditionally, such professionals can charge in the range of $100 per hour. But an awareness of the returns to be gained from servicing a larger percentage of the fashion market has prompted many stylists to form or join online services that anyone can access.
The Psychology of It All
Dawnn Karen, MA is an Ivy League grad and Founder of the Fashion Psychology™ field and the Fashion Psychology Institute™ (FashionPsychologyInstitute). She works with elite clientele via her consultancy www.FashionPsychologySuccess.com.
Karen says that the idea of having a personal stylist appeals to people because color and fashion unknowingly affect human behavior. She adds that, “One’s mood can be a psychological barrier that prevents a client from accurately perceiving his/her own best looks.” These are the psychological reasons behind people lusting after the idea of having a personal stylist and why this industry has for so long thrived for the small percentage of fashionistas who can afford them.
The advent of online personal style services has leveled this aspect of the fashion playing field, making personal fashion counsel accessible to the masses. Karen sees the good and the bad of this trend. “One of the biggest pros of online personal styling services is the convenience of flexibility of scheduling a session,” Karen says. “One of the biggest cons of online personal styling services is that one cannot see the body language of the client when wearing the selected garments.”
At this point, Karen does observe an online personal stylist market geared toward children, but more toward middle and upper-class families.
What’s Out There?
The options for online personal style services are varied and growing:
K Couture (kcouture.com) is an online formal wear shop that offers access to its fashion experts via email or through a phone call. Stylists help customers navigate the right colors for them and the best styles for their body types. A custom dress option enables clients to submit their measurements and then create the perfect dress with the help of a personal stylist.
FabKids (fabkids.com) is a children’s fashion brand and personalized shopping site that creates monthly outfits and shoes for boys and girls, giving VIP Members access to competitive pricing and durable, stylish clothing and shoes. Parents start by taking a personal style quiz with their child. The quiz presents a series of outfits, from which the child chooses which she would wear to a particular type of event (school, special occasion, etc.). Based on the child’s responses, a FabShop is created with personal selections for the child. Her store is saved in a personal profile, where parents can shop for complete outfits for $29.95. Individual items start at $14.95, and shoes start at $16.95. With a new collection each month, VIP Members can choose to shop or save their $29.95 credit, or they can skip any time, with no obligation to buy.
Customers of Stitch Fix (stitchfix.com) start by creating a style profile, including measurements (height, weight, waist size, and shoe size; prints you like or dislike; your accessories preferences; and your budget. Stitch Fix sends a “fix,” a box of five surprise garments for you to try, along with styling tips on how to dress it up or down. You can keep any, all or none of the sent items, returning what you don’t want in a prepaid envelope. If you buy at least one item, the $20 styling fee is applied to her order. There is a 25% off incentive for keeping all the items sent. Especially appealing is that StitchFix adapts future deliveries based on your feedback.
Think of Keaton Row (keatonrow.com) as the “Avon” of online personal stylists. The company outsources its styling to amateur fashion hounds, screened by Keaton Row’s style director, to hunt for fashion for its customers. Stylists create for their clients personalized “lookbooks” of outfit ideas from online retailers. Clients choose which looks they’d like to see in person. The items are sent to the customer, who can try the pieces on in the comfort of her own home, with no obligation to buy.
For those who prefer the in-store experience, Nordstrom offers a hybrid solution that lets customers use the web to book their in-store appointments with a store personal stylist (shop.nordstrom.com/c/personal-stylists). After the customer books an appointment, her Personal Stylist will contact her within 24 hours to learn more about the customer’s style, budget and goals. When the customer arrives for her appointment, she will experience a dressing room full of options put together just for her.
Trunk Club (trunkclub.com) is a personal styling service for men, and was acquired last year by Nordstrom. After a man signs up for the service, he is interviewed by his stylist to determine his personal tastes, and provides his measurements. The customer then receives his first “trunk” – a box containing a selection of clothing and other items. He pays only for what he does not mail back within 10 days.
At Personal Shopper, by Shop Your Way (ps.shopyourway.com/getaps), a personal shopper will research products, suggest gift ideas, fiind deals and sales, create custom catalogs for the customer, and find cool new items suited to her preferences. The service’s personal shoppers are fashion bloggers, stylists, authors, teachers. and moms.
Stylit is a free service out of Israel that sends personalized outfit advice to the customer’s inbox weekly. The services uses quizzes and algorithms to put together personalized outfits in digital lookbooks that are emailed on a regular basis to clients with links to the featured clothes and accessories. The service is free. Clothes are budget friendly. Different from the other personal style services mentioned, Stylit does not permit the customer to try items on before purchasing them. Additionally, the “stylist” component is missing from the equation, as buyers do not receive feedback on how the items look on them. The gee-whiz aspect of this service is that the algorithms get smarter each time the customer offers feedback on a look. So, provided she has good judgment from looking in the full-length mirror, the client can, in essence, become her own personal stylist, with an automated sales person standing outside her virtual dressing room to go and fetch additional items she chooses to try on.
Another departure from the personal, online stylist, My Private Stylist (myprivatestylist.com) is a web-based, visual, personal styling program that’s available to its owners 24/7. Rather than offering customers a personal stylist, it, too, aims to enable clients to become their own personal stylists. After gathering vital information about a customer’s unique body shape, the software creates a detailed, customized program in moments, addressing all the styles and accessories that work or don’t work for the customer, and an explanation of why. Clients learn what styles will accentuate their positive assets and those that will minimize their challenges. Users can then log in to their online program and check out more than 660 full colour fashion photos in 40 categories, chosen based on the customer’s data. The program also gives examples of how to put the outfits together and detailed descriptions of the suggested clothing. Having this program has been described as “ like reading a current fashion magazine that has been tailored to you….. from top to toe.” The software is available online ranging from $69-$89.
Readers of Houston Family Magazine can redeem a 50% discount off this price by entering coupon code ”Houston Family” at checkout.
PrêtàStyler (PretaStyler.com) is a companion program to My Private Stylist. It provides the shopping and styling solution to, “Now that I know what suits me, where do I find it?” The service starts by creating a personally curated fashion mall for each member that is constantly restocked with garments and accessories specifically chosen to flatter the member’s shape and age. Personal styling recommendations are added for every garment, specifically for each member. PrêtàStyler offers a 14-day free trial period, with an ongoing membership price of $9/mth.
Readers of Houston Family Magazine are eligible for $5 memberships by entering “Houston Family” at checkout.
Should you use an online personal stylist?
1. find yourself leaving the store empty-handed because you couldn’t find an outfit that felt or looked right?
2. have a shape that has changed as the result of pregnancy, illness, or diet, and you haven’t updated your wardrobe accordingly?
3. lead a hectic life and don’t have time to go shopping?
4. have a recent lifestyle change, for which you have no corresponding outfits, and don’t know what to get or where to find it?
5. own a lot of individual garment pieces, but never can find the right outfit to wear, because none of the pieces mix or match?
If you answered yes to any one of the above, then an online personal stylist could be just what your closet craves.