Hi, my name is Kelly and I’m a personal wardrobe stylist. There I said it. Almost like admitting alcoholism in a room full of alcoholics. The first step is acceptance. Oh if they could only see me now; my former colleagues on the fire department. To say that the firehouse is the last bastion of testosterone laced bravado is an understatement. This makes my current profession all the more surprising, especially to me.
I never gave fashion a second thought for most of my life. And truthfully, even today, even though it’s my profession, unless I need to dress-to-impress I am blissfully unaware of what I’m choosing to wear for the day. Shorts and a T-shirt are my uniform. But what’s odd to me is I am pretty darn good, even savant-like, at dressing and styling men, especially in tailored clothing, or suits as most people know it.
Where this skill came from, I have no idea. I suspect it’s a combination of paying attention as I learned my craft, caring about what I was doing, and spending some time keeping up on the latest trends (all the ingredients of a competent employee in any field). I don’t think it hurts that a former girlfriend, an accomplished artist, once said I had a very good “eye” for art…an intuitive sense of what worked, spatially.
So, the point here is not to tout my horn and bore you with what a great stylist I am, the point is to illustrate how interesting life, and our career choices can be. I began, and spent most of my adult life in the “First Responder” world…paramedic…firefighter…fire captain. According to studies, most people change careers several times over the course of their lifetime.
When I left the emergency services world, I dabbled in the law (giving law school a shot for a time) but eventually found myself faced with the reality that my resources were dwindling and I needed a job. A nationally known department store opened nearby and I applied for a job selling suits. Quite frankly it wasn’t something I wanted to do or envisioned as a career, but I needed to make the rent and eat, and selling suits (although I have no sales background) sounded somewhat sophisticated (hence massaging my wounded ego).
As it turns out, I took to it like moth to flame, and was eventually named our stores first Men’s Personal Stylist. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy developing some genuine friendships with some of my clients and that has been the bright spot of my journey into fashion/retail. Well, that and the benefits. Say what you will about retail, but most high-end companies in this arena do provide excellent employee benefits.
The downside: the entitled customer that treats us like the “help”…or worse yet treats us like the face of evil. Or the fraudster that affects a sense of outrage when we won’t return merchandise that has been worn or is over 10 years old. Witness the spoiled trophy wife who will never be satisfied until she has made a salesperson cry. Yes, these are daily challenges, and beyond the challenge of standing all day, make this an unusually stressful job, quite frankly much more so than my former profession. Please think about this next time you are about to go ballistic at your local retail establishment. The majority of us are hardworking people in a tough job who really are trying to make you happy. Step back once in a while and stop being so entitled…come down to our level and let’s work together to solve your “problem”.
Okay, excuse the rant…the point of the blog is this: I never thought fashion was important…in some ways, I still don’t. I find people who put appearances ahead of character to be vacant and useless…that said…something happens to the man or woman who puts on a properly fitted garment and looks in the mirror…or a beautiful dress…it inspires confidence. And for that, I’ve stopped arguing that fashion is meaningless. The old adage does apply…if you look good, you feel good…guess it’s time for me to stop arguing.