Thursday, August 23, 2012

You Never Go Out of Fashion

By Evelyn Robinson

If the most succinct way to describe yourself and your style is eclectic, then read on.

The most important thing when finding a fashion or form to express yourself is to forge your own style. Fashion and style magazines may offer a good cursor to base your appearance on but you do not want to be a replica of a publications page and a designer’s whim. Combining every facet of your personality and every trait you want to express, it is possible to find your personal style.

'Being yourself' is a high school counseling manifesto that seems to have little meaning after being dumped by your first serious crush; but it is a prognosis for a happier future throughout your years. Your adult years throw multiple curve balls at you in the form of bad bosses, mothers in law and judgmental fashion tomes. Fighting your way through these battles with dignity is one hell of an achievement; and whilst you will never receive anything resembling a medal, pride is reward within itself.

Aged 17 and with your first serious boyfriend/girlfriend in tow, you kid yourself that you have bypassed the age where the acceptance of others affects you. The respect of your colleagues and peers is something that most people will healthily strive for throughout their lives.

An important part of reflecting your interior in your exterior is finding fashion, furnishings and accessories that reflect your personality. These pieces can be picked up anywhere, anytime. Unless you want to live like a mannequin in a window display, an eclectic approach to personal representation is for you.

Grow With Your Experiences

Your clothes and your home read like a story of your life. The important chapters of your life are represented in the things that you have attained and lovingly kept throughout your years. Unusual artifacts and ethnic nic nacs evoke blessed memories from your past. The ability to travel the world is a modern day blessing that we do not always appreciate. The experiences and knowledge that we gain from travel should be worn like a badge of honour and reflected externally.

These experiences invariably shape who you are as a person, where you have come from and where you are going. Don't represent other people's tastes, experiences and preferences; wear your own colours.

Hidden Treasures

Incredible bargains can be found almost anywhere. Unique and beautiful style is sewn into the fabric of society. Penny Bargains are a modern phenomenon that has advanced since the advent of the internet. Centralised distribution centres mean reduced costs for distributors and the savings are passed onto you, the consumer. A wide range of deals from 1p mean that necessities and treats alike can be purchased in a guilt free manner. Decorate your home with all kinds of weird and wonderful works of art.

Flags, bowls, statues and much, much more can be collected and proudly displayed throughout your home. Find pieces that have personal meaning to you and represent yourself truly in your surroundings and habitat.

Likewise, owning beautiful clothing does not have to bankrupt you. Your family and bank manager will be thrilled with some of the bargains that are available to you if you look in the right places. Forget what Gucci and Louis Vuitton want you to believe you need and want; find your own style. High prices do not validate quality fashion; fashion is only validated by the feeling of satisfaction that you enjoy. If you are comfortable and happy in your appearance this will reflect in your poise and personality. This is real beauty and one that those around you will truly appreciate.

It is akin to having the world's largest bargain store inside your home at your personal disposal. Use it wisely and use it smartly and your life can be made a lot brighter and lot more fabulous. With a globes worth of goods and fancies within your grasp it is easier than ever to express your beautiful individuality and the pride it embodies.

Being eclectic is a blessing, not a curse. Never feel as though you are restricted by the high street. Everything in the world can be used as influence and inspiration, you just have to open your mind to them and you can achieve your fashion and function goal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The High Cost of Simple Propping

by Susan Linnet Cox

As my styling life has morphed into, as much as anything, a career of teaching, writing, and sharing, here is a typical event in the life of a stylist. Although I don’t recommend writing out your thoughts as I did; my career has succeeded because I am nice – and discreet. But here we go…

I was recently contacted by an East Coast public relations agency about my availability for a half-day photo shoot. My contact stated, “We anticipate it would be about a half day of pulling and a half day on set. Hard furnishings will be provided - we'd look to you for the soft furnishings and plants/accents only.”

I was interested but I do know that most possible projects don’t happen. Still I rushed back my estimate since it was only a few days away. Here is my estimate based on my day rate of $600:

1/2 day of prop shopping/prep $300 (includes returns after shoot)

1/2 day on location $300 (4 hours; if shoot goes over charge will be a simple $75/hour)

Prop estimate (cash or check advance) $400 (if less I will apply to the day rate in billing)

Transportation I can transport in my car. I will invoice at standard mileage rate for prop shopping and returns and travel to location

I think this is a pretty tight estimate. I hope it works for you. Also let know if you will need any crew snacks/water, etc. I could take care of those too, maybe an additional $50. If you agree, I will send an agreement form to be signed by the shoot date. Thanks, Susan

The next I heard back that the client had decided to skip styling and do it himself or herself. “At this time the client has opted to move forward with personally procuring the styling needs for the shoot in an effort to mitigate expenses.” No surprise; it happens often, especially as budgets are tight in “tough economic times.” But I started thinking. Was my props budget too high? I know that my day rate is pretty average.

Here is my response. (Although I think I was polite, I caution you NEVER to do this! Just be polite, say thank you and hope to hear about more opportunities in the future. In an email especially you never know how things will be interpreted. If I wasn’t such an old, semi-retired stylist I never would have sent this.)

Dear [Potential Client], Thanks for letting me know. I suspect the client was stunned to hear the budget - that much for a pillow and a plant and a tray of drinks! I believe my day rate is pretty standard.

I am interested in studying these responses since I teach a college class and write about the profession. The following is NOT a rant, but rather a potential blog that I would be interested in hearing your response to, when you get a chance. I'm sure you understand and respect the role of a stylist.

What quickly went through my head was multiplying everything by three. A coral pillow becomes two coral pillows but also maybe a turquoise and a yellow. We should have a coral throw. It might soften the back of one of the patio chairs. The plant becomes three large decorative clay pots (they are expensive, even at Home Depot) and a large plant (jasmine?), as well as some combo planter possibilities to set in the clay pots. A wooden tray of drinks becomes a wooden tray that I already have but also shopping for a smaller one. The drinks could be lemonade, wine, or martinis, though I would clarify the client's style and narrow it down two options. Lemonade is not just two glasses with lemonade; it is a pitcher, ice cubes, several half gallons of lemonade of differing colors, lemons to slice. For martinis I could bring my own glasses and some icy, chilled bottled water, a jar of olives, a box of toothpicks - two different styles of course.

What started at $100 in my own mind turned into $400 when I multiply my options. Since some of them will be returns the final amount will be much less, excluding the plants and beverages, naturally. But I need the adequate advance in order to avoid putting this risk on my own credit card.
The challenge - and the job of being a stylist is to try to get into the client's head. I can't just show up with a coral pillow and a planter. Invariably the client would say, "is that all you have? That's not exactly what I had in mind." As a professional, I say "of course not, how about this?"

In the end, if the client goes and buys the $30 coral pillow he or she has in mind they will get the shot. But they won't have the pampered feeling of having a stylist there to provide beautiful choices - choices they won't have even imagined (Did they think about the throw over the back of the patio chair? Do they know how large the clay pot needs to be to have the right proportion next to the gate? I'm thinking 12 to 14" diameter). And they won't end up with the high quality lifestyle photo they have in mind. Maybe that's good enough for them.

I do hope to have the opportunity to work with you in future. Thanks for listening, Susan

This ad agency, one of many clients that get away after they receive my quite reasonable budget, had written to me with compliments about my online portfolio. Some of those styled images accompany this post.

Friday, August 3, 2012


HOW TO HAVE STYLE by Isaac Mizrahi
Book review by Samia Lavenant

His name is often recognized thanks to his mainstream design deal with Target in 2002. The huge success of his designs that were purchased by a vast amount of households in America, paved the way for other collaborations between fashion designers and retail chains. That move blurred the lines of the known stigma that fashion is not affordable.

He has transitioned from designer to TV host and is known for his flamboyant personality. That is why when I saw his book on a shelf, I knew I had to read it. After all, a designer that has been able to endure the constant changes of the industry and still be relevant has to have lots of wisdom to share when it comes to style.

I found this book very easy to read, and focusing more on the quest of inner search to find your true personal style. But he is very insistent that in order to get there, you must do some work.

He points to what inspires you and even has a questionnaire that you must truthfully answer in order to begin the transformation.

What is surprising is that he points out the caution you have to have when being approached by a sales person, even though the industry has given him so much. The goal for a salesperson is to sell, which in some cases does not leave space for personal opinion and examining the true motivations behind a purchase.

He also makes a point to declare that not all fashion trends cater to all body types. As Mizrahi keeps pointing out throughout this book, each of the women he chooses to work with is going through a life change and has different personalities and goals. It is important to listen to your inner voice of comfort and experiment until you find what is right for you.

I think this is a great book if you will be specializing in Image Consulting or as a Personal Shopper as it gives you examples on how to develop a relationship with a future client and listen to their motivations and goals.