Behind the Scenes During a Client Styling Session

Styling

This past weekend, I got back in the groove with my clients.  I always get a nice, and much needed, break from client work over the holidays.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy my work, my brain just needs a rest.  After this time off, I was really happy to get back in the groove of looking at clothes again and I met up with my longtime client Ms. Chic, a client I have blogged about many times before.  Ms. Chic and I had done some shopping for fall and we used this past weekend’s time together to put some outfits together.  I thought you would enjoy taking a behind these scenes look at our styling session.

It’s important to keep in mind that, in many ways, Ms. Chic is like a unicorn.  I can probably count on one hand the amount clients that almost exclusively wear pumps to work.  I’d be lying if I said it’s not fun to work with clients like this because it is so rare.  Therefore, if you are feeling inspired by some of of the outfits we put together, don’t fret, many of the looks can be recreated using colorful flats or lower heels.  Ms. Chic is also unique because she wears suits and her dress down Friday would be what many women would wear to work five days a week.  Believe it or not, based on the amount of my clients who still shop for suits and suited looks, the whole working world isn’t going casual.  Ms. Chic is among the many of my clients who still need suits and I am probably one of the few stylists out there who really love putting more corporate and tailored looks together.  It’s sort of my sweet spot, oddly.  Red carpet?  No thanks.  I’ll take work looks.

I am going to do my best to share links to some of the purchases that Ms. Chic made, or at least find things that are similar.  But, keep in mind, with such quick turnover in stores, much of what is in these photographs is probably sold out.  Plus, some of the pieces already existed in Ms. Chic’s closet.  She and I have been working together for five years now.

Anyway, on to the looks.

Looks From Ms. Chic’s Styling Session

I wish I could find these pants from Theory online for you.  I looked everywhere.  They’re in a green shade, imagine a deep spruce color, more blue/green than a shade of olive.  At first glance, they seemed tricky to style because it can be hard to wear other colors with them without looking clownish.  I decided to keep the top basic and used her Hugo Boss ponte top that is simple but can standalone without a layering piece.  Here is a somewhat similar top in soft grey, also from Hugo Boss.

With a clean base, I chose yellow pumps (similar) because yellow is a color that can work with other colors while being subtle.  Seriously, if you don’t have a pair of yellow pumps or flats you are missing out.   Lastly, I added this gorgeous pendant that Ms. Chic had in her jewelry box along with a pair of stud earrings that worked perfectly with the pendant.

Using the same Theory pants, Ms. Chic and I went in a totally different direction and used this Akris Punto blazer in ivory flannel.  During the warmer months Ms. Chic would definitely be lost without her white blazers, making having one in the winter a smart purchase.  This blazer is long gone in most stores, but, generally speaking, Akris Punto makes amazing jackets.   This particular style has amazing seaming details on the back that is really cool.

Underneath the blazer, we used this mauve tank from Elie Tahari that is several years old.  Ms. Chic has quite of few of these tanks in her wardrobe because they really do stand up well.  Unfortunately, this color isn’t available any longer (really wish it was), but I do recommend the tanks in general.  It is the Netta Tank from Elie Tahari and they always run the basic colors.  All the jewelry we used Ms. Chic had on hand and, for shoes, I loved the way the purple cast grey pair complemented the tank.  I think those are from Reiss, I can’t remember and, unfortunately, they are sold out on their site.  The burgundy pair was such a no-brainer addition.  As you will see, I will be using them a lot in the upcoming photos.  I can’t recommend a pair of burgundy pumps enough.

The next look using these pants is more of a going out look using a blouse from T Tahari.  Can we just talk about these shoes?  THE SHOES!  I searched all over for a link to them because I would love to share it but couldn’t find them online anywhere.  All I know is that they are by Vince Camuto.  It may surprise you, but we used these shoes a lot when styling looks.  They are way more versatile than they immediately seem.

You may also be wondering about styling these shoes with the green pants, but when I added them to the outfit they worked in such an unexpected way.  Ms. Chic has been into pendants lately so I had a lot of options to suggest to finish the outfit.

For the last look using these Theory pants, we styled them with this super comfortable, yet elegant, Vince cashmere sweater.  It happens to be on sale right now and there are still a few sizes left.  For Fridays, Ms. Chic can get away with a look like this as long as we kept it professional looking.  Given the cowl, I added statement earrings, all which Ms. Chic had in her jewelry box, and paired each with a specific shoes.  I don’t think I could chose a favorite combination.  They’re all beautiful.

The next piece that Ms. Chic presented to me was this navy Max Mara sheath dress in subtle tweed with gentle ruching across the midsection.  The dress is actually part of a suit and, given the price tag, Ms. Chic definitely wanted to be able to use this dress beyond just one suited look.

In this first outfit, I added a camel cardigan to give it a less suited appearance.  It was then that we went into Ms. Chic’s closet and pulled out her camelhair suit, also from Max Mara, and talked about pairing the jacket with the dress.  Given the weight of the fabric of the jacket, in relationship to the dress, the jacket works as a separate blazer with this dress gorgeously.  So she has two options in this case.

Next up I used this emerald cardigan from Michael Kors Collection to add some color and a totally new direction to this dress.  This is the cardigan that I have called “The World’s Dumbest Cardigan” because it is so ridiculously expensive for being as simple as it is, however, it is also one of the most versatile pieces that many of my clients own.  This season they had an emerald shade and Ms. Chic picked it up.

I wanted to bring in a complementary color to the cardigan and decided to give Ms. Chic two options, the shocking pink pumps and the magenta pair which she has owned for some time now.  Finishing the outfit, Ms. Chic had both earrings in her jewelry box already.

In this next look, I added an old pink Akris Punto jacket that Ms. Chic had in her closet and we added these super fun new Via Spiga printed pumps.  They’re sort of beyond fabulous.  And if you’re not into heels, they come in a flat version.

This last look was sort of a fluke.  Ms. Chic has owned this nubby navy blazer, I think from Elie Tahari or T Tahari, for some time now.  Styling can often be a bit of trial and error.  I will try something and it’s disastrous, but always try different options because you never know.  When I saw this jacket hanging in her closet I put the two pieces together and they worked.  The reason they worked so well is because the jacket is practically an exploded version of the small tweed in the Max Mara dress.  Trust me, the chances of something this serendipitous happening again anytime soon is slim to none.

With such a dark and heavy look of all navy, I decided to give Ms. Chic two options, a nude pump or the burgundy and suggested she add minimal jewelry.

Not only did Ms. Chic get multiple looks with this dress but she can also easily swap out the dress for a black sheath or any other navy sheath she might own giving her even more options.

What is it with cats?  I have two of them and their favorite place to be is where they don’t belong.  Ms. Chic’s cat was no different last weekend.  Eventually we just decided to go with it.  I just hope Ms. Chic has a good lint roller.

Ms. Chic’s cat was a particular fan of this burgundy suit from Reiss (link to jacket, link to skirt) and so am I.  In fact, I had scouted out this suit before Ms. Chic and I even hit the stores because in a world of work clothes that are primarily black, grey and navy, if you can find something that is appropriate in another color it’s a small miracle.  I was so happy about this suit, but will warn you, it runs super small.  Reiss’ clothes in general are cut narrow and small but this one was crazy small.

When working with suiting colors that aren’t classic neutrals, using neutral accents, like the gorgeous camel tank from Lafayette 148 (similar, different color) always works.  For shoes, I used an old pair of Corso Como pumps that Ms. Chic has owned for some time and this deep hunter green pair (similar) that she just acquired.  The earrings we used are a versatile burgundy pair.

Using the same Reiss suit, this time we put a green Theory blouse (style, but in white) underneath it.  Not wanting to be matchy-matchy, we ditched the green pumps and used the purple cast grey pumps and this awesome sage greenish grey pair.  I wish I could find a link to these shoes because the color is really unique.

Next up, this Max Mara dress suit that Ms. Chic will likely have until the day she dies or until it wears out, whichever comes first.  It’s so classic that I wanted to make sure I gave her enough options to wear with it so it never feels stale.  As you can see, I laid out all the shoes with corresponding jewelry choices and placed in a basic gold necklace should she ever want to add it.

Going through Ms. Chic’s closet, I stumbled on this dress and didn’t recognize it because she bought it without me at a boutique in her area.  I thought it was so super cute that I decided to choose some shoes she could wear with it.

While the orange may throw some people off, I decided to play on shoe colors that complement it and added all these shoes selections.  I think my favorites are the yellow and the soft blue, but Ms. Chic and I were both surprised how well the colorblocked shoes worked without looking match-matchy.  And how can you resist the floral pair that Ms. Chic can wear in the spring?  For jewelry, I just suggested some simple gold studs.

I am always so grateful to clients when they let me showcase photos from our styling sessions.  I hope these examples gave you some ideas for your own work wardrobe.

 

 

 

  • Carol

    Oh, these are gorgeous color combinations! Ms Chic does have beautiful things, and I love how you combined them. I am trying to figure out how to adapt this to my much more casual work setting. As a dr. I need to be in pants and flats, and be professional but not formal. Now I am on the search for colorful and comfortable flats, shells, and cardigans!

    • Thanks, Carol. Ms. Chic has one of my favorite wardrobes. If I had her life, her coloring and a need for the clothes she does I’d buy a lot of what she owns. She really is a perfect example of why so many of my clients abandon black shoes in favor of colors. It’s not even on my urging, they just see the benefit. And I think you could totally recreate her looks more casually with cardigans, shells pants and fun flats. That is definitely the way to go. I’d love to hear how you make out.

  • Amanda Toop

    I really enjoyed this post – the green theory pants are really amazing.

    • HI Amanda! They really are amazing pants. I wish I could find the color Ms. Chic bought. I am sure they run the style often, just not in that color, unfortunately.

  • Kelly

    I though I was kind of glad I don’t need to wear suits for work anymore. Then all saw all those beautiful options and how you made the suits not look boring and I am jealous. I still need to dress professionaly so I might borrow a few of your suggestions to use! Great post.

    • Right? Haha! I know, so many women hate suits, but the suits aren’t the problem. I have two clients in particular who prefer skirt and dress suits, Ms. Chic being one of them.

      You can totally adapt these looks for more of a business casual look. I am sure they will look great!

  • Mrs. Smith

    I definitely “dress up” more than most of the other women at work, but I just love clothes and don’t feel nearly as “comfortable” in khakis and a knit tee as I do in a lined dress and blazer!

    But in winter I am stuck. I live in Minnesota so we have REAL winter and I have to say warm and don’t want to go splat on a chunk of ice walking around in pumps. Sigh. I feel like I have no choice but to don pants and a sweater half the time.

    I need to move to a more moderate cliamte! :-p

    Thanks for sharing – she has a fantastic wardrobe but the SHOES…swoon!

    • Doesn’t she have great shoes? I just love them!!
      In some ways I understand the cold and weather. It doesn’t get as cold here in NYC but most of us walk great distances and deal with inclement weather. I know that many of my clients who wear pumps commute in boots, like La Canadiennes. This way they, if they need to wear them all day they can because they’re stylish. Aquatalia is another favorite for many clients, but they are real budget busters.

  • stacie

    Please thank Ms. Chic for allowing us a peak into her fabulous wardrobe and those shoes are to die for!!!! This has given me so many ideas how to wear my burgundy pumps!! I’ve had them for a year and have only wore them with my grey dress:(((

    • Oh yes, you can get so much from your burgundy shoes. I am actually working on a post for next week on all the different ways you can wear them. I have found them to be so versatile!

  • Jaga

    Gorgeous outfits! I love all the suited-dress looks. And as someone below said, Ms. Chic has beautiful things. I can see why you have fun styling all her shoes… I would not survive past Monday 5pm in any of those. 😛 Thanks for all the inspiration!!

  • S D

    Cheers to Ms. Chic for letting us take share in her styling session! I think it is especially helpful since we have peeked into her closet before. This is such a wonderful post and I learned a lot from it!

    I wonder if in a future post (or maybe an e-course?) you might consider providing more advice about building a mix-and-match wardrobe when a lot of layering and separates are involved? Most of the outfits that I wear are 3 pieces (+ shoes) — bottom, top, topper — and I find that sometimes my wardrobe is not as easily mixable as it might be because issues of proportion (this pair of pants requires a longer top; this top and cardigan are not exactly the same length but not different enough for the combination to look intentional) and layer-ability (this shirt can’t be worn underneath that sweater because the arms are too wide) come into play. Most of the outfits you discuss above are two-piece (+ shoes) combinations and I feel like there’s still a piece missing, as I sometimes struggle to apply what I’ve gleaned here to my actual closet — I sometimes end up with: well this SHOULD work…but it doesn’t, in practice. So I would love to see that layering aspect addressed, too.

  • EM

    The issue I have with tanks is that they permit underarms to come into contact with the blazers, which must be dry-cleaned. That is why I like shirts with sleeves–easy to toss into the wash. Are there any other options?

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