My Trip to the Westfield Style Lounge
By the BudgetBabe.comEarlier I introduced you
to The Westfield Style Lounge concept, and last week I had the chance to check it out for myself as a Westfield Style blogger ambassador.
The Westfield Style Lounge is an area set up within the mall where shoppers can get a free, one-on-one fashion consultation with Style for Hire stylists. Currently there are 3 locations:Westfield Trumbull in Trumbull, CT (that's the one I went to); Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ; and Wesfield Montgomery in Bethesda, MD.
Now I know what you're thinking. "But BB, I don't live near any of these locations!!"
I hear you. In an ideal world, there would be a Style Lounge in every mall across the country (they're that good) but until that day, there is an alternative!
Just send a photo of your look along with your question to "Ask A Stylist" at firstname.lastname@example.org to get almost-instant feedback, wherever you are.
I tested out this service myself, which I'll get to in a bit, but first, let me walk you through my face-to-face consultation.
When I arrived, I was greeted by Kendra Porter (above left) and Kate Powell, two lovely ladies who are professional stylists. Kate and Kendra are part of Style for Hire and received training from the one and only Stacy London of What Not to Wear fame.
Let me tell you, they are GOOD.
Honestly I didn't know what to expect but Kendra and Kate know their stuff. First, they asked me a couple question to assess my style concerns and fashion dilemmas.
Then, Kate set about creating four outfits just for me using items in the lounge that had been hand-picked from various stores in the mall. Westfield is huge, so it really helps to have someone who knows the latest inventory, trends and even sales.
I was actually kinda shocked by how well the stylists understood me, but playing "fashion psychologist" is part of their job, Kate said. I explained how I work from home so my everyday look is really casual, but that I need pieces I can easily transition from day to night, or from walking my dog to a meeting in New York City. Oh, and I like bright colors and fun accessories, comfortable shoes and classic silhouettes. You'd think this would be a tall order, but Kate nailed it.
Here's the first look: Love! White top, bright purple pants, a fun pink necklace and denim jacket. It's perfect for me! I would so wear this to the grocery store, then out to dinner with my husband.
Second look, also fab: I said I wanted to wear neon in a way that looks cool and grown-up, and once again Kate hit the mark with a striped top, white pants and blazer. How did she do it? Oh that's right, she's a pro!
Third look: We talked about some fit issues I have and came up with this amazing pseudo-wrap dress with a bold graphic print. Hello, curves and comfort!
We got to play around with accessories, too, like this fun owl bracelet and dangly earrings.
Fourth look: I asked about pattern mixing and Kate put together this sweet polka dot blouse and striped skirt look. If there's a trend you're ready to try, the Style for Hire stylists are there to help, demystify and break it all down for you so you can recreate a look on your own.
We also discussed how to pick a necklace to match your neckline, something I always struggle with. It's these little tips and tricks that can make a world of difference!
As I explored the items in the Style Lounge, I even learned about a few new brands. And here I thought I knew everything about the mall! Haha. These cute sandals are from the Indigo by Clarks line, who knew?!
Kate and I then headed into the mall where she gave me tips on navigating one of my favorite no-so-budget-friendly stores. I was worried Kate might pressure me into buying something expensive, but instead, we headed to the sales racks first! Some tips: Look for those quality fabrics on sale like silk. Don't buy if you can't find your size. And try to fill the holes in your wardrobe, rather than getting sidetracked by cute new things on the mannequins or glossy displays.
Did I mention that Style for Hire stylists do not work on commission? I had to ask. They don't. And it makes sense, too, because a happy, confident shopper is probably going to come back, shop more and return things less. It's a win-win. The style lounge is there as a service to help shoppers navigate the amazing inventory in the mall without feeling overwhelmed or hassled.
Meanwhile, Kendra was busy on her iPad putting together my wish list, which she printed out for me before I headed into the mall to shop. Genius! Equipped with my wish list and $250 gift card courtesy of Westfield Style, I headed to Banana Republicwhere I picked up a peplum blazer suggested by Kate.
In the dressing room, I snapped a pic and emailed it to email@example.com for feedback. I got my response within 5 minutes. Granted, I had already left the dressing room because 5 minutes is a long time to hang out (store employees start to wonder what you're doing LOL) but the advice was helpful nonetheless. In the future, I will email my question, then continue shopping while I wait for my response to save time.
I also bought an inexpensive necklace from Francesca's Collections and a neon and tan stripe top from Ann Taylor, also recommended by Kate. (Sidenote: Banana was handing out coupons at the door so I got 30% off my blazer, and I used the iPhone app CouponSherpa to get 15% off my top at Ann Taylor.)
When I got home, I played around with my new purchases and things I already had in my closet to create two new looks inspired by the outfits Kate created for me during my consultation. I am by no means a professional stylist, so I took photos and written notes during my consultation so I can refer back to them as needed.
I'm thinking of printing photos of my outfits out and keeping them tacked to my closet door so I can refer to them the next time I think I have "nothing to wear"!
So that, in a nutshell, was my experience with the Westfield Style Lounge. And while Kate and Kendra were expecting me and I am a blogger ambassador, I really got the sense that these women are truly passionate about what they do and that they'd treat every visitor with the same level of service. I can't wait to go back and I highly recommend scheduling your free appointmentASAP if you live near a Westfield Style Lounge. You won't regret it.
Things you can discuss during your consultation:
- Anything! Style for Hire works with women of all ages, all body types, all lifestyles and all budgets.
- What to wear for a specific occasion
- How to style something you already own
- How to dress for your body type
- How to accommodate a changing body
- How to try a new trend
- How to build your summer wardrobe
- Shopping on a specific budget
- Beauty concerns (yes, they can help with beauty and skincare issues too!)
Don’t Be Too Hot, And Other Summer Fashion Advice for the Office
It’s summertime, but we still have to work. Sucks! And we have to dress the part even if it’s a blistering 100 degrees. Double sucks! (Though today is quite nicehere in NYC.)
We’ve published three of the four parts of our CareerDevelopment series (part four will publish this week), but there’s one area we’ve failed to address: Office attire. Sure, you know to wear a suit to the interview. But do you show up in flip-flops and shorts once you’ve move into your new cubicle? N-O spells “no.”
After the jump, Kate Powell, a stylist with Style for Hire, has given us five tips for dressing appropriately during the summer months. Style for Hire is a network of personal stylists, compiled by What Not To Wearhost (and Media Beat guest) Stacy London and company co-founder Cindy McLaughlin.
Top Five Tips for Summertime Professional DressingKate Powell, Style for Hire stylist
- Pick suiting fabrics that are lightweight with visual interest. Find professional pieces that are blends of lightweight natural fabrics that contain subtle textures or patterns. Subtle pinstripes, plaids, or cross-hatching give professional fabrics a more interesting dynamic but can be worn exactly the same as a solid. Although solid suiting is “safe” it tends to look bland and dated. A couple of examples here and here.
- Express your personality with color and pattern. With less pieces to play with, your summer wardrobe should contain fun, bold pieces that look sharp and inventive without the bulk of layers. For women, colorful and patterned pants are a huge trend and florals are making a comeback in blouses and dresses (image above left from Zara). For men, pick shirting with bold colors or strong striping or plaids and look for pants in pseudo-neutrals rather than the traditional brown, black, and khaki. Pseudo-neutrals include colors like plum, forest green, charcoal grey, and burgundy. They can be worn just like traditional neutrals but look more interesting and modern.
- Pick natural fabrics to beat the heat. Cottons, linens, and silk breath and don’t trap odors like synthetics do. They also tend to look more luxe and hold color better than some synthetics, as the Marc Jacobs blouse on the upper right shows. Note: The price of cotton is on the rise leading many designers to use cheaper polyester or rayon. These fabrics are a close second to cotton as far as how they drape and feel but will still trap heat and odor on hot days. So check your labels before making a purchase. An example for men at left.
- Shoes make the man (and woman!). When the heat is unbearable and getting dressed in anything interesting seems like a futile endeavor, a great shoe can carry a look. For men, designers are making traditional loafers, deck shoes, and lace-ups in new and exciting colors. Really looking to make a statement, try a well-designed sneaker with a dressy outfit to give it some edge. For women, pointy-toed pumps in neons or metallics make a great statement while remaining professional. Color not your thing? Try an animal print shoe. Animal prints are also considered a pseudo-neutral and can be worn with everything in your wardrobe to give it some spice.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re hot, people won’t mind you showing some skin. When it’s hot out it can be tempting to throw on your lightest shortest, spaghetti-strap sundress or your worn out cotton tee and a pair of shorts to the office. Don’t be tempted. The heat is no excuse to show up to working looking sloppy, or worse. Although you may be slightly hotter in your professional garb, you will be avoiding sideways glances from you boss and water cooler gossip about your hemline.