What would you want to know before working with a stylist?  After writing about Silfath Pinto on February 7, I realized that I needed to conduct a little more due diligence before making such a big investment.  I came up with the following list.  What would you add to it?  (See the questions I actually asked Silfath–and her answers–after the jump.)

  1. Does she “get” our body type?  One idea:  Show the stylist a picture of someone with your body type wearing something you either love or hate and get her opinion of it.  Also be on “attitude alert”.  At a networking event a few years ago, a personal stylist told me not to make my shirts too big in the bust because “anyone above a D cup is a freak”.  She’s not getting any business referrals from me.
  2. Can the stylist demonstrate that she understands your professional dress code, either through her own work experience prior to becoming a stylist or by pointing to past clients in your field?  I once enlisted a fabulously creative friend to help me with my shopping.  She was a great help in many ways, but the shiny plaid raw silk jacket and shiny raw silk black pants were never suitable for my law firm.
  3. Will she listen to and understand you, or does she seem to have her own agenda?  Find out how she plans to learn about you.  If you feel consistently misunderstood, figure out how to cut your losses and find someone else.
  4. Will she respect your budget?  If she makes you feel like your numbers are impossible, then it’s not going to work.  Also, find out if she is affiliated with any brands–if she receives commissions, you’ll always wonder about a conflict of interests. 

My Q&A with Silfath after the jump.

Q1:  What if she has an image in mind that isn’t “me”?

A1:  It’s Silfath’s job to fit both my personality and lifestyle.  I would prepare an inspiration book before her first visit (I love this!).  On the first visit, she would go through my wardrobe to see what I like.  Many women like a certain look but feel they can never wear it.  Once Silfath knows about it, she shows her clients how to achieve it. 

She would also take care of the “nothing to wear” dilemma by helping me to identify my different roles.  For instance, since I regularly attend networking events, she would help me put together the looks I want to wear to them.  Silfath worked in the corporate world before becoming a stylist, so I trust that she would “get” the look I’m going for.

Q2:  How much can I expect to spend on clothes?

A2:  Silfath makes a list of wardrobe essentials, and the client sets the budget for that list.  Most clients expect to spend between $1000 and $1200.  If that’s not enough to buy everything, Silfath will help them prioritize what to buy now and what to get later.  She tries to find the best relationship between price and fit.  For instance, most clients can find a good pair of jeans for $60, but for some clients, a pair of jeans that fits perfectly can be worth $130. Silfath warns that the client is usually the one who wants to exceed the budget!

Reassuringly, Silfath doesn’t come from a wealthy family.  She knows how to look great without a lot of money, and she uses this skill for her clients.

Q3:  Why not just do it myself?

A3:  Silfath agrees that I could, but chances are I’ve been procrastinating on this project for a while now (how did she know?).  She’s organized and focused and can finish in 3 hours what has been taking me months to get around to.  In addition, fashion is technical.  Working with her would be like taking a styling class.

Q4:  Why not just use a personal shopper from a department store?

A4:  They have different goals.  Silfath wants me to buy just a few pieces that work well with what I already own.  A personal shopper wants to sell me complete outfits

Silfath’s theory is that women’s lives change every two years (jobs, kids, bodies).  If she can help me buy just a few things that I love and wear all the time, it won’t be as expensive to update everything in two years.

Q5:  Why did she tweet that she didn’t like Christina Hendricks’ dress for the Golden Globes?  I thought it was a great style for our body type.

A5:  She thought the style itself was great but not the shiny red.  For that dress, emerald green or sapphire blue would have been perfect. This made sense to me.

Now that I’ve conducted my due diligence, I feel ready to seal the deal once I crunch the numbers in my budget. In fact, not only do I want to work one-on-one with Silfath, I also want to work with her in a workshop setting.  Look for my next post with details about the upcoming workshop that we’re offing . . . together!