Tell us about yourself and your career so far, how did you become a fashion stylist?
I started Signature Style almost 19 years ago! Prior to that I worked in sales but it’s fair to say I spent most of my wages on fashion magazines and clothes. I have always loved fashion and so I trained in colour analysis, body shape analysis, learned how wardrobe building-blocks work and qualified as a makeup artist. So I not only understand the science behind dressing someone, I can also teach them how to look great every day.
What advice would you give an up and coming fashion stylist?
Learn! This market is crowded with gals who are simply doing wardrobes and shopping with no real understanding of what works for their client. Then, dress lots and lots of people to take that knowledge to a deeper degree.
How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic! I love to dress up and can wear something pretty, floaty and feminine one day and then something with a bit of a ‘rock and roll’ edge the next. I’m a big believer in playing when you get dressed – we wear so many hats in this life, why not have some fun with it?
What is the biggest misconception people not working in your field have about your job?
That it’s “easy” or “just so much fun” or “a dream job”. Yes, I absolutely love what I do, and it is fun but there are days where it’s hard, too. There is pressure to find the perfect pieces as I want to have a fantastic outcome for each of my clients and sometimes that’s tricky. I am keenly aware of my responsibility with my clients’ budget and finding pieces they not only love but will wear often. You also work hard – it’s physical work. I outshop most of my clients and often have to repeat that experience two or three times in a day.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Wow. Tough question. There are so many! Some would be: working both behind the scenes and on-stage with Gok Wan; recruiting and training 14 stylists in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to dress each of the 5,200 Air New Zealand uniformed staff in their Trelise Cooper uniform; building Signature Style as not only a business but a respected brand; being asked to speak at countless conferences and workplaces around business dress; being nominated as columnist of the year for my management magazine columns, being a ‘prize’ for brands such as Mission Estate, Health 2000 and Roadshow entertainment; I could absolutely go on. One thing I will say is I am so grateful for the many, many cool things I’ve been able to do.
What challenges do you face as a stylist?
The biggest is that Personal Styling is seasonal work and there are times during the year where it is very quiet client-wise which corresponds to what you’re earning income-wise, Sadly, as a business the bills don’t have quiet patches!
How do you choose what looks work for each individual client?
It all begins with them: their colouring, their body-shape and their lifestyle. Once you’ve got that, you know what to choose that is going to really look fabulous and work for them. It’s magic, but there is a science behind it.
What is your favourite item in your closet?
This changes constantly but today it’s my gorgeous new Adrian Hailwood dress – I can’t wait to wear it!
Everyone loves a good deal, what are some of your favourite places to find budget buys?
Sale racks – clothes are made for bodies, not hangers and sometimes you can find an item that has no ‘hanger appeal’ so it’s left on the sale rack. You really do need to try garments on. I also personally love to look in second hand stores (especially when travelling) and even though it can be a bit hit and miss, I’ve bought some of my all-time favourite items this way.
What items do you feel are worth splurging on?
The things you wear often. This is the reverse of what most of us do – how often have you spent a fortune on an outfit for an occasion and worn it once or twice? Think about what you will wear often and spend more on those items as you’ll get far better value from them. You’ll also feel great when you wear them, which is frequently, so it’s a total win.
What trends are you loving right now?
Floaty, floral midi-length dresses with low/mid calf boots, also the return of longer boots. I’m so loving the amount of colour on the racks this winter: cerise, red, bright yellow – it’s gorgeous!
If you could choose anyone to give a makeover, who would it be and why?
Anyone who is reading this thinking fashion isn’t for them and that they don’t know how to look good – I’d absolutely love to de-mystify it all and show them how they can.
What’s the best style advice you’ve ever received?
Perhaps not so much style advice as life advice: when I was about 12 years old my mum told me to make sure that when I was an old lady, I had happy wrinkles. I love that.