You might be thinking: “What do you mean ‘am I ready?’ How will I know?” (queue Whitney Houston). Well don’t you worry, I’m going to tell you! Let me first say this; I’m not your average stylist. While I would love to tell you that everyone needs a stylist, and everyone needs a stylist NOW, that’s just not the case. For the people who could actually benefit from the process of working with a personal stylist, they still have to be ready. Not sure if you caught it, but I said the word “process” because that’s exactly what it is. You’ll be hard pressed to find a stylist who will work with you for an hour or 2 and then be on their merry way (at least not if they’re any good). There is a lot that goes into working with a stylist (again, I’m talking about the good ones) and you have to be ready for it. It’s in the best interest of everyone involved to ensure that the client is ready to work with a personal stylist, otherwise the outcome could be disastrous, trust me.
What’s the big deal, you say? Well, it is a big deal. First of all, it is a really personal thing. You’re not just dealing with clothes, you’re dealing with everything that comes with those clothes, you know what I’m sayin? I’ve had clients cry in their closets, clients have had revelations about their childhood and how it’s affected them in adulthood, and so much more. Sure, this isn’t the case with every client, but more often than not, a lot of emotions come up when working with someone on their style and it’s important to be in a space where you can deal with that.
In working with mostly women, the issue that comes up far more often than the rest is that of body image. For the most part, I’ve been really lucky with my clients in that they’ve been ready. But I have had a couple who were not. What does that look like? It looks a lot like the following: loving pieces, but hating those same pieces on their body, seeing flaws in themselves that literally no one else would notice, being totally dissatisfied when looking in the mirror before we’ve even begun our work. While we all have things we’d like to change about ourselves, it’s imperative that if you’re going to work with a personal stylist that you give yourself some grace. You have to acknowledge who you are, and where you are in your life. If you’re not happy in that current space, you’re not ready.
What difference does it make? It makes all the difference in the world. Imagine seeing the world through foggy glasses? Nothing will look as it should, and more importantly, nothing will be beautiful. The whole world will be seen through a distorted lens, and you’re doing yourself a disservice looking at yourself through that same distorted lens. You’ll walk away thinking you’re the problem, and you’ll be right. But it wont be because you’re too short, or carrying too much weight, or because your nose is a little crooked, it’ll be because you insist on looking at yourself through this lens of an unattainable perfection that does not exist. I’m not at all suggesting you forget about fitness goals, or forget about bettering yourself. What I am saying, though, is that until you can be satisfied in the space you’re in, you will never be ready for the process. And if you’re not ready for the process, it’ll never work the way it’s supposed to.
Imagine baking a pie, but only for half the time you were supposed to. Imagine if you had been expected to do multiplication tables before you were able to add? How about trying to run a marathon without training or stretching first? Well, you’d think pie was disgusting, you’d think you’re an idiot unable to do simple math, and you’d think running a marathon was something from the devil. You wouldn’t feel that way because any of those things are true, but because all of these things require steps to be successful; and you skipped those steps. The end result is the final product of a process and you went ahead and dismissed that process, and so the outcome is not at all what it should be, and it’s totally skewed your opinion of the product. Pie is delicious! But you have to bake it properly. Multiplication tables are a breeze (most days) but you’ve got to learn to add first, and marathons…well, those really are from the devil, but you get what I’m saying. Working with a personal stylist is fun, of course, but there’s a lot that comes with it and if you’re not prepared it’ll ruin the outcome.
So then, how do you prepare? It’s just like I said; you have to give yourself some grace. You have to know that you are and always will be a work in progress. Whether we’re talking about our physical body, education, whatever it may be, we’re always working. I don’t know anyone who feels like they’re perfect the way they are and there is nothing to be improved upon. That isn’t life. At least, that isn’t real life. Acknowledge that you are a work in progress and ever-changing and that you’ll get there when you get there. From there, you have to realize that no one will ever be as hard on you as you are. You are seeing flaws no one else sees. You are always going to be far more critical of yourself than anyone else will be…and that’s mostly because everything “wrong” you’re seeing is magnified in your head, that’s not how it really appears. The last piece, and I think the most important (and my method with clients) is to highlight, not hide. Stop living in the space of what you’re looking to hide or conceal. Take some time, and find out what you love about yourself and if you’re not quite there yet, what you like about yourself and exploit that. It’s no fun trying to hide what you don’t like. What is fun, is highlighting what you DO like. However big or small, find what you can say is great about you, and play to that strength. Until you can give yourself the space to do these things, you’re not ready. But my hope is that one day you will be.