In our last post, we discussed the role of the image consultant.
It’s clearly important for clients to hire the right professional. But it is just as important for professionals to know the type of services they want to provide and exactly whom they want to serve. That way, we focus on the client’s needs as the main priority, which allows us to avoid selling services that are unwanted or a bad fit for the client.
I am often asked what the best way is to manage clients’ expectations. My answer: know where you fit in the industry. Being clear on what you do and how you do it lets you know where your role stops and another role begins.
Now, let’s talk about what a fashion stylist does.
the fashion stylist.
Just as image consultants are visionaries, stylists are strategists. In the previous post, I said that an image consultant is comparable to an architect. They must see both the big picture and and understand where our client fits within a specific context or environment.
If the image consult is like an architect, the stylist is similar to an interior designer.
After the architect finishes creating a blueprint for a house and the contractors build it, the interior designer uses the finished framework to create a livable space that reflects the homeowner’s personal style.
If the interior designer does his or her job well, the space will be inviting and comfortable for the client’s family and their essence will be obvious from the minute guests enter your home.
The image consultant considers the client’s audience, behaviors and quirks.
The stylist gives life to self expression.
Several years ago, two owners of a restaurant hired me. Even though the establishment served bar food like hamburgers, fries and chicken wings, the owners wanted to project a more polished and upscale image. So they required all their employees, including the bartender, to wear button-down dress shirts. They hired me (as an image consultant) because they were getting complaints about the bartender’s attitude.
The truth is that he didn’t look too friendly. Then I noticed the bartender’s aggressive personality. He was commanding, blunt and direct. He was a take-it-or-leave-it kind of guy. But once you got to know him, he was surprisingly funny. I recommended softening the bartender’s presence with a uniform that is not as commanding as a dress shirt. Since I was collaborating with a stylist, I asked her to find clothing options that could enhance the bartender’s approachability without compromising the restaurant’s professional image. She presented options like v-neck t-shirts made with different blends of fabric, which still appeared to fit in with dress shirts worn by the wait staff.
Stylists also have the job of considering how to implement a vision within a budget because clients will almost always want you to work within one. Sometimes, the stylist may look at the budget with an image consultant to determine how to allocate for different roles (waitstaff, bartender, dishwashers, etc.) or daily occasions (play vs. business).
Moreover, it’s the stylists are familiar with what inventory is available at retail and online stores. They maintain relationships with stores so that implementing a vision can happen quickly and efficiently. They know fabrics, are aware of how clothes are constructed and can identify how clothes and accessories can be altered or adapted to suit a client’s needs. The stylist guides clients to pull together outfits that allow them to look and feel confident.
All too often I see stylists try to be image consultants when they don’t have the knowledge or background to ask the client the right questions. When that happens, the stylist doesn’t fully understand the scope of the client’s life –how much money and how many employees the client must manage, what products or territories the client is responsible for, etc. In reverse, I have also seen too many image consultants that are clueless about fabrics, alterations and retailers’ inventory management. To compensate for that lack of knowledge, these consultants turn over their clients to retailers and often, this results in the client feeling pressured to buy clothes they don’t want.
In both situations, it’s the client—who oftentimes knows very little about our industry—that gets hurt as their needs are piece-mailed and incoherent. This is exactly why personal style professionals must be very clear about what their competency is, so that they can deliver the right service to clients, building trust and delivering satisfaction.
can you see ourself as a stylist?
If you aren’t sure, we have one more level of service to examine. Coming up, a look at the Personal Shopper.
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