My love for clothes (and shoes) is well document. In fact, it is a passion that goes hand in hand with my love for travel. You know, because travel can equal incredible shopping experiences. Unashamedly, I do not pack light – but what I don’t always tell you is that many times my Tumis leave home empty. You can see where I am going with this.
On a recent trip to New York, I was invited by Good Looks to try their personal stylist service. I have to say I was intrigued – I had never shopped with a stylist, and always felt that there would be no need unless you were spending tens of thousands of dollars, or that if you picked an in-store option, you would kind of be forced to buy random things.
Good Looks offers a platform in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago where you can find the right stylist for you. The fees are clear (charged per hour) and you do not have to buy anything. However, if you do, your stylist will make a 5%-10% commission depending on the service you select. More on that later.
Picking a stylist was my first priority – and the key here was picking the right stylist for you. I am quite ‘classic’ in my style, a great believer in quality over quantity and also a keen worshipper of the ‘cost per usage’ way of life. I much prefer to invest in pieces which will last me a long time (and are wardrobe staples) – but will mix it up with seasonal pieces. I am not ‘super trendy’ by definition and obviously the goal of the session was not to become a catwalk junkie.
After looking at various profiles, and with the help of Mitzi (one of the founders of Good Looks), we decided that Ali Call was the woman for the job. You can choose by price, neighbourhood or approach and I loved Ali’s profile. Also liked that she specialised in designer, discount and up and coming – but with a classical approach. We could be on to something.
I contacted Ali via the platform saying that I would like to update my winter wardrobe with some key pieces which would be travel friendly (duh), and I would like a mix of city chic and ‘suitable for a weekend away’ items. We established the budget at $1000 and over a couple of weeks we exchanged emails where she asked me what I liked, what I did not like, which brands did I usually buy and so forth.
As I was visiting New York, the option of an in-house call and wardrobe edit was not a real possibility – and I was checking out of my hotel that day, so we went for a real in person ‘trailing the shops’ experience. This would be like shopping with your BFF with a difference: she wouldn’t lie to you. Ali would visit the shops beforehand and have all the items preselected for me which would save time, of course.
We settled for a 3 hour session (priced at $120/hour) and a 5% commission on my $1000 budget, which brought it to a total of $410, which you settle via GoodLooks (and I was the first international shopper and can confirm that the system worked brilliantly).
As it was sales season, I made Ali’s job harder – but this is where personal connections make a difference and stores will hold stock for the right person. Needless to say, there was a real opportunity to score some real bargains.
We met at Bloomingdales (which I must confess I had not been to for years, and has been ‘revamped’ recently) and made our way to the Elie Tahari concession where Ali had reserved a large and spacious dressing room. I love Elie Tahari and it is one of my ‘must visit’ shops on every trip to the US – and funnily enough, Ali used to work at Elie Tahari in her pre-stylist days. It does classics very well, it has a little bit of an edge, the quality and cut is excellent and it never disappoints.
I told Ali I wanted to focus on blue and grey as she was going blind on my actual wardrobe – so we knew it would complement what I already had.
At first glance, the colour palette was spot on – we were off to a good start. But there were so many items I would have never picked… But I was approaching this challenge with an open mind and obviously I was game to try anything that came my way. The first items I tried were quite key – namely as this is when you get the chance to say ‘I don’t like it at all’. But Ali surprised me and went like ‘Nope, nope, nope’, or ‘This isn’t you at all’. And that was a key moment in building trust – this woman was not selling me things for the sake of selling me things – her fees were covered and all she really wanted was for me to look fab.
I was sold on all cashmere items (even some she had picked up and bought for me beforehand – again no obligation as it could be returned) and we did particularly well on some open cardigans for $100. God bless America and its sales.
Turns out I look quite good in leggings – and one can match them with heels (I wore heels all my life but stopped. Or have I?). And after all, white does not make me look so fat. Please note that I picked the worst week of the year to go shopping: the first week of the year, after the Christmas fatness and 4 days indulging with friends in Boston and Greenwich.
I felt good. There was a newfound confidence too. I honestly loved the feeling. And who knew that there were silk camis that you can layer under sweaters and they take 5 pounds of you?
From Bloomingdales, we hoped on a cab to takes us to Aritzia, which is a Canadian store on 5th Avenue. Interestingly enough, I had popped round on a previous visit to the city and thought it was ‘way too trendy for me’. I am past my mid-thirties, after all.
Turns out Ali knows the various collections and labels inside out and this place is FAB for wardrobe staples like the silk camis and the world’s best gift to women: high wasted leggings. Exactly. Ali also found this gorgeous dress for me. In green ?
Now you are looking at the photo above and thinking: are those LEATHER leggings? WTH? Well, they are liquid leggings (in Ali’s words, so extra good quality not real leather) and they would go VERY well with the white cami, the white jumper from Elie Tahari and my own dark red Valentino flat rock studs. And between us, I have worn the outfit a few times in London and have people come over to me all the time. Quite interesting.
What I bought
A few days after our session, I got an email from Ali which detailed what I bought and very importantly, what to do with it. Here goes:
Magaschoni Sleeveless Turtleneck – royal blue
“This cozy sleeveless turtleneck can be worn back to skinny jeans and flats or layered with an Aritzia camisole and skinny pants or leggings. Heels or flats. Add a leather jacket or fur vest for a luxe layered look”.
Elie Tahari Turtleneck – ivory
“I love this back to skinny jeans (blue or gray denim) or black pants, dressed up with a heel or more casually with an ankle bootie or flat”.
Magaschoni Swing sweater – cobalt blue
“This cozy, casual sweater looks great back to a white tank and leggings, with trainers or flats”.
Aritzia Dress – evergreen
“This comfortable, chic dress can be worn dressed up with heels (stiletto pumps, open toe or knee boots) and the graphic topper, or dressed down with a flat. Add a luxe element like a fur vest for texture”.
Aritzia Liquid Leggings – black
“I love these leggings with a textural sweater. Wear with the Magaschoni slevveless turtleneck and white aritzia cami back to flats or heels (layer over a black jacket or outerwear piece), the more casual swing sweater or the ivory Elie Tahari turtleneck. The liquid leggin can also be worn back to a blouse/blazer combo”.
Elie Tahari Tuxedo pants – black
“This sporty pant looks great dressed up with a pump and silk blouse, or worn sportluxe with a cashmere sweater and white trainers”.
Sanctuary Sleeveless Topper – black/white
“I love this graphic topper back to an all black ensemble (black turtleneck and black slim pants or pencil skirt) and an accessory that pops (bright shoes or handbag). This topper would also look great back to the green Aritzia swing dress and your black Aquazurra Shoes”.
I also bought 2 pairs of high wasted black leggings and we identified some items for me to source later – i.e. the famous grey fur vest (with we got from Joie and I had it shipped to Ali, who in turn gave it to a friend of mine who was visiting as for some bizarre reason one cannot ship fur from the USA to the UK) and a black sleeveless turtleneck to go with the white/black vest. We stayed within the $1000 budget (I think it was $1100 at the end) and I could have not been happier.
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed my experience with Ali – at the risk of sounding ridiculous, it was life changing. I went home and did a little wardrobe edit and really found a new sense of style – very close to my previous one, so it isn’t like I had a personality change, but with a little bit more edge. Mr. O loved all the items and it has been interesting to see how friends and clients actually reacted to the new looks. The other obvious thing is that we picked American brands so not every item is available here in Europe (and that is one of the reasons I always shop stateside). Want to hear what my friends thought? Have a peek at this Instagram post and read the comments. Priceless.
We have been in touch since and I have made the decision to continue to work with Ali (via GoodLooks, of course), even though I am based in London and she is in NYC. We are now going to do a spring wardrobe edit and she’s going to help me find the key items for my ‘Spring Look’ but also tying in with what I already have. I don’t think I have ever looked forward to a Skype call this much.
Next time I am in town (you know that NYC is one of my favourite cities in the world – and one of my Top 5 Destinations for Winter 2016), I am getting together with Ali again. And boy are we going to have fun.
If you are planning a visit to NYC, LA, Chicago or San Francisco, I urge you to try this service – not only for the wardrobe benefits. It does wonders to your self confidence too.
Disclaimer and Fact Box:
GoodLooks is a marketplace featuring the largest selection of personal stylists. They curate and vet every stylist to make sure they can provide clients with the best services possible. GoodLooks provides the tools to find a stylist by using filters including service desired, price, neighborhood, and approach/vibe. We currently offer our network of stylists in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. GoodLooks is an LA based tech start-up founded by Mitzi Reaugh and Cynthia Rupeka.
A personal stylist session takes between 3-4 hours and costs between $200-500 (depending on the hourly cost of the stylist). Mine cost $360 + 5% commission and was courtesy of Mitzi. Opinions are, as always my own, and I LOVED this service.