Couture Comment: A Personal Stylist – their role in your Wardrobe and Lifestyle

Following on from my previous article Personal Style – Four Styling Tips for your Wardrobe, as promised I delved deeper into the world of styling through conversation with Personal Stylist Juliana Mubanga.   

I found it quite insightful from a designer’s perspective, as I learned detailed analysis of a personal stylist’s role in your wardrobe, and way of life. Here’s what Juliana had to say in answer to my questions:

What do you love about your work?

“It’s seeing the transformation and the difference it makes to my clients, walking into a room with a rail of clothes ready for the client to try on, the client sometimes looks at the rail and thinks ‘I’m not sure about that’.

“My role then is to learn why the client may feel apprehensive. I’m looking at the client from a different angle to how they see themselves but at the same time I’ve selected a rail of garments to reflect their personality, their lifestyle and bodyshape.

“It starts with a consultation, which is quite informal and relaxed, the client talks to me about his or her lifestyle, how they like to spend their time, in relation to work, play and their environment. I factor in their working environment, are they office based for example, is their attire smart casual. With this in mind I take into account the key component for looking wonderful in your clothes, your body-shape and personality.

“What I feel makes me different in my approach to Personal Styling is I am dressing the client, it’s not about the latest fashion, if you look at what the latest fashion rules are, you will find that they are not for everybody. The clients that I work with are interested in investing in themselves: by investing in yourself in this way, you will convey the message that you want to give out to your audience, whilst being comfortable and confident.

“My ability is to be able to look at a client and select garment pieces that reflect their personality and is congenial with their body-shape, even though it may not be my style. It’s about the client and their message, how they want to show up. My client has to feel comfortable, confident and ready, knowing that they are showing the best side of themselves.  I take great pride in that; for me it’s not about making a name for myself, I see success when I see my clients stepping out, knowing that they are looking good.”

Is a personal stylist an indulgence?

“I believe it’s an investment and a necessity, especially for individuals who are ready to move forward. We can all stay doing the same thing every day however, we don’t move forward which in turn means we limit ourselves in growth. Having this other person come to you, they get to know and understand you, is vital. This is where suggestions and guidance assist that individual in their growth through the clothes they wear.  It is not necessarily massive changes, as that is not my goal, I am not removing their comfort zone. I am moving at the same pace as my client, providing suggestions and guidance.”

Is personal styling for people who don’t have time to shop?

“Yes it can be, for those clients who are time poor, but also clients who have lost their way. We go through so many different stages in our lives, sometimes we feel stuck and think ‘where do I go now?’. The latest catwalk is not necessarily the answer! I take on board a variety of clothing options from independent boutiques, to bespoke, which I often suggest to my clients, as this gives them choices in terms of fabrics.”

Do clients feel intimidated by clothes?

“Sometimes a client feels unsure about the garment I have presented on the hanger; however by the time we are at that stage I have already looked at the client’s body-shape, where the style lines converge on their body, where it’s going to enhance the silhouette of the client, the fabric, the length, from hemline to neckline. My thoughts during this are, will my client feel comfortable or am I moving too fast for them?

“Interestingly enough, the item that the client often feels unsure about, is always the first garment I get them to try on, the reason being is that I am confident in my choice for them, in the knowledge that when the client first puts the garment on, they too will be surprised; because they are seeing themselves in a different way to how they would normally, completely different to what they would have chosen for themselves, it’s quite wonderful. There’s something about how that particular garment works for them. It’s at this stage that I talk further with the client as to why it works.

“For me it is not solely about trying on clothes, it’s about explaining why a certain item of clothing works, from the way the fabric feels on your skin, the length of the garment, the shape of the sleeve, what is it doing, how is it accentuating your body-shape in terms of overall fit. These are a few of the factors that I look for when working with a client, all of which are fundamental to their overall transformation.”

I found my time in conversation with Juliana to be fascinating. As I spoke further with Juliana I could clearly see a variety of benefits to working with a Personal Stylist: as a women’s wear designer, fit and comfort, for me is always at the forefront of my designs, in both couture ready-to-wear and bespoke. I appreciate how Juliana’s work provides complementary harmony – from a fashion designer’s viewpoint – to dressing an individual. Some of us are already our own personal stylist, expressing our creativity through clothes, which of course is brilliant; however for those of us who would appreciate a little help in this area, there is tremendous value in having someone guide you through your fashion wardrobe whilst working with your lifestyle.

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