Wardrobe audits, shopping trips and life as a personal stylist

Personal stylist and shopper Marianne Nairn has a unique skill for unearthing one’s true sense of style. Hannah Mumby caught up with the wonderfully fun and vibrant Marianne about her recent journey into business, and what it means to be a personal stylist.

Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to start this business?
Having worked in fashion for more than six years and being a consumer of fashion for many years, I understand the dynamics of retail and the need for sales to be made. However, this can result in the customer buying something that may not suit them.  

My service eliminates this potential for conflict of interest, because I am an independent and unbiased interface between the retailer and the customer. My income is not dependent on a sale being made because, as a personal stylist my clients pay me directly for my advice.  

How exactly does the Styled by M process work?
Firstly, we have a casual meeting over coffee to discuss my process and see whether my service is a good fit for you. The process starts with the customer completing a style personality questionnaire, then I do a body shape analysis and determine the most flattering colour palette for them.  

I always recommend we complete a wardrobe audit which entails pulling everything out of the wardrobe and deciding what works and what doesn’t. This is crucial, as now, with an understanding of my client’s style personality, it is important to make sure their clothes actually work for them. It is amazing how often I can pull together “new outfits” from existing wardrobes by mixing and matching in a way that hasn’t been tried before!

And then the fun stuff comes – we go shopping!

What is the most fulfilling part about running Styled by M, for you?
The most fulfilling part for me is helping my clients feel empowered by the way they dress, which in turn builds their confidence by presenting the best possible version of themselves.

Through the wardrobe audits I complete, I have also started providing a service where I take the unnecessary clothes from my client and donate them to the wonderful Dress for Success cause, which is such a rewarding experience for me.   

What sort of feedback have you received?
Without fail, everyone I have completed a wardrobe audit for has been amazed at how cleansing and cathartic it is to throw out clothes they have held onto for years (in the forlorn hope that they may come back into fashion!)

What are some of the main challenges you have encountered?
Although New Plymouth is a great place to live, and for our population we have quite a wide range of fashion outlets, I find many of my clients need the greater choice of women’s fashion retail outlets that only the larger centres can offer. Consequently I have been planning periodic shopping excursions to Auckland, Wellington and Melbourne.

How important do you feel fashion is for people on a daily basis?
When I make the effort with my clothing choices for the day, not only do I feel great, but it does give me a real confidence boost and helps to lift my mood. I feel like I achieve more when I feel good in myself.