I was once the queen of the classic closet-full-of-clothes-and-nothing-to-wear predicament that every girl knows all too well. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. I spent all of my preteen and teen years organizing and reorganizing my overstuffed closet and dresser. I had so many clothes that I couldn’t seem to find space to fit them all, yet it always felt like I had absolutely nothing to wear. This followed me into adulthood, and the solution always seemed to be shopping. So I would go out, buy a few new things, and have a few new outfits for a while, but then the cycle would begin again—I would get bored of everything and never seemed to have anything to wear!
Lately this problem hit an all-time high, I think in part because I lost a significant amount of weight over the last year. That, combined with the fact that I entered my 30s this year and am getting married very soon, has caused my style to change, and the items I used to love aren’t appealing to me anymore.
When I was approached by Emilia, the co-founder of Signature.Styled, a new website that pairs clients with the best stylists in New York City to answer any and every style need, I was hesitant. The first point of resistance came from the fact that I used to be a fashion writer. I covered Fashion Week, I interviewed designers, I styled looks for TV segments; I don’t need someone to help me in this area. I was once the person who guided others on what style choices to make! Next, I just didn’t think something like this was relevant to someone like me. I always thought personal shoppers were for three kinds of people: celebrities and super rich ladies, women with zero sense of style, and high-powered career women too busy to shop. Why would someone like me, who has a decent sense of style, the time to shop, and a strong sense of what I like and don’t like, need someone else to take me shopping?
Under normal circumstances I would have sent the e-mail straight to my trash folder, but since I’m friends with Emilia’s sister, I figured the least I could do was meet with her and learn a little more about it. Over coffee she explained that her goal is to improve the shopping experience for busy women (and men) by helping them find the best looks to fit their lifestyles and budgets, and by making shopping stress-free and fun. Their clients are diverse and they love working with busy moms, women who want to update their look, and even brides-to-be.
Now this was the point in the conversation when my ears perked up. You see, I’m getting married soon, and the most stressful, taxing, exhausting part of the planning process, the thing that made me want to throw my hands in the air and just give up, was finding the right dress. I knew what I wanted in my mind, and I went everywhere trying to find it. Eventually I did find something that was close enough and I got a dress I’m happy with, but the amount of time and energy spent and the roller coaster of high hopes and disappointments that led to finding it made the whole process miserable. Had I used Signature Styled to help with the dress search, they would have done the legwork for me and taken me only to places that had gowns that matched my vision, and this would have been an absolute lifesaver.
I also could have used their help finding a dress for my bridal shower. I remember pounding the city streets for weeks trying to find the perfect dress and getting nowhere. Eventually I ended up wearing something I already owned, but again, I can never get back all that time I wasted searching.
But it was too late to go back now. I have a wedding dress, and the bridal shower was over a month ago. However, I was still struggling to put together cute outfits on a daily basis so I decided to swallow my pride and give this service a try. I figured I was in need of a wardrobe update anyway and didn’t have the time or energy to do the work and sift through the racks, so I might as well have someone else do it for me.
Before my appointment, I did a quick phone consultation with Stephanie, my assigned stylist. I told her about my style: what I like to wear, what items I need, what silhouettes and colors I prefer. It was clear very early on that she totally got it. We discussed budget and how much I’d be willing to spend per item, what kinds of things I’ll splurge on and so forth. I also provided her with my measurements and a photo so she could see my complexion, and a few days later we were ready to do some shopping.
The cool thing about Signature.Styled is that they give you an authentic NYC shopping experience by bringing you to hidden gem boutiques rather than the big department stores. I met Stephanie at a cute store called Cloak and Dagger in the East Village, I could barely find it even with the address in hand so there is no way I would have discovered it on my own.
When I walked in, there was a dressing room waiting for me with a selection of pieces in my size that matched my style exactly.
I was struck by two things the second I walked into my dressing room. The first was how on point the selections were—they matched my style to a T, and even before trying anything on I knew I would be buying two of the dresses Stephanie had selected, an army-green fitted style and a black formfitting knitted dress. The second was the fact that there were pieces that I never would have selected on my own. I usually ignore things like jackets and blazers, probably because I own a few that I rarely wear.
When I shop on my own, the dressing room can be an agonizing experience. I’ll look at myself in the mirror and wonder: Do I really need this? What will I wear it with? Does it flatter me? Do I look boxy? Where will I wear it?
None of that happened here though, because as soon as I put something on Stephanie showed me exactly how to wear it. In fact, she showed me several ways to wear it, using other items she had selected. We mixed and matched dresses and blazers, skirts and blouses, blouses and blazers, and I was able to see just how versatile each item was.
I ended up buying the two dresses, a skirt, a blouse, two blazers, a black jean jacket (I never ever would have taken a second look at it on my own, but I fell in love with it!) and a super lightweight parka. I felt like our trip was already a success, and we still had two more stores to go!
We migrated over to the second boutique, again with a dressing room filled with preselected items for me, but while the items were super cool and fashion-forward, nothing looked especially amazing on me. I really appreciated how honest Stephanie was: When something didn’t look right or didn’t flatter me, she would tell me straight out.
The last stop was another hidden boutique nearby called Deja Vu. Once again, I fell in love at first site with most of the selections upon entering the dressing room. The items here were a little pricey, but my philosophy is that if it’s unique, looks amazing, and I know I’ll get tons of wear out of it, it’s a worthy purchase. While trying on the items, Stephanie would pull out some of the pieces I had already purchased to show me new ways to mix and match everything. I ended up buying three dresses and a cool shirt and left feeling invigorated and so excited about my new wardrobe. This was a nice change from how I usually feel after a day of shopping, exhausted and depleted and second-guessing myself.
My shopping day with Stephanie was about two weeks ago, and I have already worn most of the items I purchased. I also spent some time mixing and matching them with items I already own, and love the fact that everything is so versatile.
In addition to acquiring a selection of amazing new pieces, this experience also sparked an epiphany about why I could never find anything to wear in my closet full of clothes. When I shop, I usually get pieces that are the same theme and look similar. A few more tops, another dress, another bottom. So then I would wear them a few times and in another few weeks it would again feel like I had nothing to wear. The reason this happened is because I was adding to my wardrobe rather than enhancing it. The key to having a versatile wardrobe where you can create countless outfits that can be dressed up or down is to buy key items that can work with what you already have. The lightweight blazers I bought are a perfect example of this.
For example, the black denim jacket can go over anything to give it a cool, trendy, casual feel. Take the same outfit and top it off with the navy more structured blazer I bought (or the pink one) and you have a much more sophisticated, dressed-up look. And since these items are so light, I can wear them in the fall and spring, then use them as layering pieces in the winter. It’s all about versatility.
You may think the idea of spending money to have someone take you out to spend more money seems crazy, but this experience actually saved me time and money. I found pieces that work with everything I already own and enlarged my wardrobe without spending as much as I normally would have just adding new pieces, and now I don’t have to go out and keep buying more more more.
This experience came at the perfect time in my life and really helped me transition my look to fit my new body, new style, and new phase of life.
While on our shopping trip, I explained to Stephanie some of the hesitations I had about my wedding dress and showed her pictures, and she kindly came by for my fitting and offered up some suggestions and tweaks that seriously transformed the dress into something I genuinely love (it’s amazing how dramatically a few seemingly slight alterations can completely change the look and feel). I found her to be such an asset that I actually hired her to be on hand the day of my wedding to help get me ready and make sure the entire look (hair, makeup, jewelry, shoes) is cohesive and matches the vibe I’m going for.
Clothing has power. It can truly transform the way we feel; when you love what you’re wearing, you just feel energized and confident and carry yourself a little differently.
So in sum, if you live in or around NYC or are planning to visit, I highly recommend you give this service a try. I never would have done it unless pushed and I am so, so happy I did. You can learn more at signaturestyled.com.