A Fashion Godsend - My Wardrobe Stylist Shannon

If you had ever told me growing up that I would have any contact with a wardrobe stylist I would have laughed.  Let's face it, I grew up in meager circumstances to say the least and left home at 17.  Not the recipe for even having a decent wardrobe.  Time does, however, change things.  One day I turned around and the kids were taking care of their own expenses, the house was paid off and suddenly I had a little extra income to purchase clothes from somewhere other than Value Village, Zellers and Costco.  Unfortunately other things had changed as well.

I had always been a very thin person from a very thin family who ate and drank pretty much whatever I wanted - no exercise required.  That all changed during the five years I spent creating over 200 dance costumes a year.  The stress was unbelievable.  While there were many things I loved about designing costumes -  I revelled in the creative process, enjoyed watching dancers in my costumes, had costumes on stage for the Attorney General and actually won an award - the business was not a good match for my organizational skills.  All the work is accepted at one time with no real knowledge if there will be a delays along the way.  If you don't finish on time, a dancer (or a whole class of dancers) will be on stage naked. More than once I was up all night so I could deliver costumes for a dance competition the very next day.

Thomas & RozeMerie Cuevas, Shannon and I, Natalie and Steelie

No matter how much I was aware you needed to eat a regular diet when stressed - I honestly couldn't stomach food and believed my genetics would save me. WRONG!  The day started with coffee and Gravol - bad, bad, bad - and food just didn't find it's way into my system until well after 8 p.m. at night.  Each year after the season ended my weight set point was up another five pounds.  When I finally walked away from the business I realized I had a weight issue for the first time in my life.   All those years of knowing what looked great on me were now gone.  I struggled to find a look that went with the new body, but shopping became a depressing experience. I would take 20 items into the change room and at least 19 would go back on the racks.

Shannon, myself, Natalie and other JC clients

Added into the mix was the unexpected passing of my mum (age 85) in February 2009.  I had to go not only to a small family funeral, but a large memorial service at the university where she was still working at the time of her stroke.  I was in a quandry emotionally and needed help.  In sheer desperation I walked into JC Studios and put myself in Shannon's capable hands.  The requirement?  Find me something conservative, but not boring, that looks good on my current silhouette.  I didn't want to be somber as my mum had a wonderful life and an exceptionally easy passing.  I also didn't want to stand out as disrespectful.  Shannon came through in spades and that outfit is still in my closet.  As it is a bit more conservative, it's not one you will often see on me out at fashion events, but I still wear it today and continue to get compliments on it.  My favourite was from another designer, "Whoever put that together for you knew what they were doing!"

This is the event I showed up with jewellery for her to choose from. :)
Over the course of the last couple years I have learned to lean on Shannon to help me slowly build a wardrobe with depth and versatility.  Each season I come in for pre-booking and we work together once the clothes arrive to decide what works best.  The designer for the Jaqueline Conoir line, RozeMerie Cuevas, shared with me in an interview that her stylists try to keep a client's wardrobes up to date by encouraging them to try one new look each season.

Keeping this in mind, I am always open to a new silhouette whether I think it will look good or not.  Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised.  Colour is another area I have broadened my tastes.  I actually did know my best colours, but as you age the hue of your skin changes.  There are a few I have had to let go and a few new ones that can now be added to the palette.

For the first couple years Shannon would adjust my garments at events, or in studio on my way to events, to make sure I looked my best.  I even showed up at the JC Studio launch one season with several jewellery choices in my pocket and had her help me decide what was best as I wasn't sure. When I did a great job putting together a new combination she was always the first to let me know. I loved the mothering - it made me feel cared for and special!  Suddenly it all started to blossum and I began to regularly come up with different combinations on my own that received her stamp of approval.  I knew I was finally getting there when we were both at the same event and she didn't take a moment to adjust my garments even once.  That said, I hope she always keeps her keen eye out for me.

Love you Shannon!

What should you look for in a stylist?  I think a personal connection is  probably most important.  Someone who garners your trust and really listens when you talk about your likes and dislikes is your best bet (let's face it we all have personal fashion dislikes.)  If your life has changed, your body has taken on a life of its own or you just want to get out of a fashion rut and give your wardrobe a new start, a wardrobe stylist is a godsend who can even make the process fun.