Could you give a brief description of your career to-date?
I started my Personal Styling and Image Consulting business in 2005, following years of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life and career. Previous to that I had studied fashion on leaving school and spent my early 20’s as a fashion model in London and Paris. Unfortunately, that wasn’t a great career as by the time I gave it up I had very low self-esteem and an eating disorder to boot. I was desperate for a complete change of life, and so I went back to study and then on to University to do a degree in Mass Communications. After that I didn’t know what to do, and then spent the next few years trying, and failing, to find the right path.
You have always been related to fashion in one way or another, but what inspired you to start a career as a personal stylist?
After spending those few years in unsuitable and unrewarding jobs, and a lot of personal development and soul searching, I realized that I wasn’t really cut out for what I call a ‘proper’ job. I realised that I needed to do something I really felt was me, that made a difference somehow, and gave me freedom. Luckily, as I had changed careers already, I had never needed security and didn’t have many commitments. Although it was scary, it wasn’t a big risk for me to start something up of my own. I just needed to find out what that something was!
Lizzie wears Le Marais Straight trousers in Navy
You mention in your website that you seek the advice of a career coach to help you define your path. Would you recommend it to someone in a similar situation?
Oh god yes! I constantly recommend coaching to people. It was the best thing I ever did, and continue to do now. I was full of fear, and the feeling of ‘but I can’t do that, that’s what other people do’. I want to be the best ‘me’, and have the best life I can, and coaching helped me get out of my own way. I would not have the business I have now if I hadn’t had support from coaches over the last 9 years to help me grow personally and professionally. Never be afraid of asking for help and investing in yourself.
Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking of pursuing a career in the fashion industry?
I don’t think of myself as working in the fashion industry! I work with clothes, but what I do isn’t about fashion. I’m a personal stylist yes, and I help people with their personal brand, personal style and wardrobe, and shop with them and advise them what works and what to buy. However, it’s really about confidence, so I feel I work in the personal development industry rather than the fashion industry. What I do is about the individual, what they want their clothes to say about them, and what works for them and their lifestyle rather than trends.
However, for anyone who is thinking about a career as a Personal Stylist or Image Consultant, I would advise them to consider what it is that they want to do it for. The styling part of my job is really just a small part in the end, and I think people forget that running a business is a lot of work. You have to be very self motivated, and ultimately be a people person and passionate about it, as in the end it’s not really about the clothes!
You seem to have a very varied job. Could you give us an example of a typical working day?
My days are very different depending on if I am with a client or not. If I am with a client I am at their home. I usually undertake a personal branding consultation, style and image review, including a wardrobe edit and re-organisation. I often travel outside London and if I’m with them out shopping, it’s usually in the West End or Knightsbridge. I go to different stores depending on the client’s goals, budget and personal style.
On client free days I am often doing pre shopping research, out in the stores or online, or I am in my home office. I usually have phone calls with people who have enquired about booking, as well as follow up emails and keeping in touch with existing clients. This is as well as all the things that go with running a business such as meetings, attending events, updating social media, speaking engagements or preparing and running corporate workshops.
Tell us a bit more about you volunteering work for the charity Smart Works.
Smart Works is a fantastic charity that helps women back into work by providing them with an interview outfit and training. I work as a volunteer dresser when I can. We see around 6 women in a day: we discuss with them what role they are interviewing for and their clothing preferences, we find them a suitable outfit to project the right image and give them confidence in the interview. All the clothes, shoes and bags are donated and we always need more, so please do contact the office for information on how to donate any clothes and shoes you no longer need!
As a Personal Stylist, fashion is a central part of your job. Do you feel it is important for women to present themselves in a particular way for work?
I passionately believe that appearance makes a huge difference to how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us. Therefore, of course it makes a big difference to how we get on, especially in our careers. I increasingly work with clients on the image of their Personal Brand. The most important thing about a personal brand is that it is authentic and consistent. You need to know your values, what you stand for, your strengths and passions. You need to communicate this at all times, and also through your image. Your image does not need to be ‘fashionable’, but it needs to be up to date, as an out of date image gives an impression of out of date ideas.
What are your top tips for dressing for work?
My main tip is to invest! I see women who are successful, earn a good living, have a nice house, kids in private education, and yet they only buy cheap clothes – but often lots of them. They don’t think they are worth it, and what they are really saying is that their career isn’t worth it either. There is a lot of shame in many women about spending money on clothes, and it really frustrates me! If they invested in less quantity but good quality key pieces they loved, they would have a wardrobe that makes them feel great, and they would look so much better!
As the saying goes, “Dress for the job you want”. It is very important to consider the impact your image may be having on your career early on. Having a style that you feel comfortable in and is authentic brings you inner confidence, which is so important to success.
Minimise distraction by wearing well cut, good quality and simple styles, like the styles like you offer at The Fold, which is why they are so perfect!
And finally, what is your favourite piece from The Fold SS’14 collection?
I love the Argyll dress as its so me. I favour really simple styles, and love the fact it is loose and yet smart. It’s a great everyday work dress for me as its comfortable to move around it, yet looks smart.
Lizzie Wears the Argyll dress in midnight blue
If you want to know more about Lizzie or get in contact with her, visit her personal website.
Photos from Amelia Allen Photography.