Tired of wasting 30 minutes every morning changing in and out of outfits? Do you daydream about how you'd look better and feel more confident if you just knew what to wear? A wardrobe consultant may be the answer to your style prayers. Fashion consulting is more than just a service for the A-list, red carpet crowd. Hiring a wardrobe consultant means getting realistic (and affordable) solutions for your fashion dilemmas. The expert guidance of a wardrobe consultant can save you time, money and frustration by streamlining your closet and stocking you with outfits you will actually wear. People of any age or gender can hire a consultant to help them refine their wardrobe and get their closet into stylish shape.
When you hire a wardrobe consultant, they'll provide an intake meeting to determine your needs. This may be done in person, by phone or by video call. They may listen to your specific needs, then outline their services and pricing and describe what they think will be the best approach. Wardrobe consultants can provide a complete closet audit and overhaul, meaning they take stock of each item of clothing you own and coach you on what stays, what goes, what new items you need and how to make remaining items work. A wardrobe consultant can help with an image assessment or guide you toward the best colors for your skin, eyes and hair. They take the pain out of shopping by either going with you or shopping on your behalf. Hire them to find that special anniversary outfit, discover new pieces to spruce up your style, or track you down an entirely new wardrobe.
You may want shopping help with work clothes, weekend wear, and cocktail or dinner party attire. Once your closet has been sorted and new pieces added, many consultants also make "lookbooks" that catalog each outfit — down to the accessories — so you don't have to think about it anymore. Each look is fabulous and ready to roll; just refer to your lookbook each morning and never be late again. Clothes really do make a difference, and that's why many people hire a pro when they want to develop a new look, gain more self-confidence or adjust after a change in clothing size. Pro help is also invaluable for job hunting or improving your professional image. You can finally truly dress for the job you want. You can feel confident and courageous in first-date clothes that fit and flatter. You can handle body and life fashion transitions with aplomb.
Here are the factors that affect the average cost of wardrobe consulting services.
Most wardrobe consultants charge an hourly rate for short-term projects or add-on assistance to a larger flat-rate project that they are undertaking with a client. Some wardrobe consultants may operate solely on an hourly basis for all services such as closet editing and personal styling. Hourly rates can be fixed, regardless of the task, or they may vary according to the project. The hourly rate a stylist charges can vary based on geographic location, reputation and experience. Celebrity clientele or TV personas mean a wardrobe consultant will be in demand, so expect to pay a premium if you want Jennifer Aniston's stylist. Here are a few examples of average hourly rates:
- Cynthia Alden Freelance Wardrobe Stylist in North Hollywood, California, charges variable hourly rates. $25 per hour for basic assignments. $50+ per hour for styling events
- Katelyn Milley, Personal Stylist in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, charges a fixed hourly rate of $85 for personal styling
- Orene Kearn Image & Wardrobe Consulting in Burlingame, California, charges a fixed hour rate of $99
Many wardrobe consultations are a multistep process that go deeper than advising on a single outfit for one occasion. In these cases, the pro may offer rate bundles to provide savings to clients. The desired level of assistance directly affects the cost of services; the more hours the consultant dedicates to the client, the higher the cost. Often, clients spend more money upfront for a package price but save per hour over time compared with paying an hourly rate in smaller increments. Packages can include everything from a closet audit to personal shopping. Here are some examples of package pricing:
- One-hour image assessment and wardrobe building plan: $89, a $10 savings over the standard hourly consulting rate
- Four-hour package that includes a closet audit, outfit planning and shopping game plan: $320, a $76 savings over the standard hourly consulting rate
- Eight-hour package that includes all of the above, plus personal shopping services: $640, a savings of $152 over the hourly rate
- Three-hour package that includes image assessment and color analysis: $500
Beyond fashion advice, some wardrobe consultants offer complementary services that integrate with their image work. For example, Katelyn Milley, Personal Stylist offers beauty consulting services in addition to fashion:
- Beauty product shopping and guidance at the cosmetics counters: $85 per hour
- Two-hour assessment and consulting on haircuts, hair color, skin care and beauty/makeup options: $250
Signs you need help
Hiring a consultant for help with your wardrobe doesn't mean you don't have good fashion sense. It just means you are smart enough to call for professional help when it's needed. Even people with a terrific eye for style might have a hard time putting together outfits they want to wear. Or maybe you couldn't care less about fashion but need to look good for your career. Whatever your motivation, a wardrobe consultant can help. If you're not sure a style consultant is what you need, Katina Brock, a stylist based in Los Angeles, suggests you ask yourself:
- Is my closet packed with clothes but I feel like I never have anything to wear?
- Do I wear a few of my clothes all the time and leave everything else hanging?
- Do I have some gorgeous pieces of clothing that I never wear because I'm not sure how to pull them off in an outfit?
- Does my closet feature items I really like, and will put on, but then always take off and go back to my comfort zone?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, a wardrobe consultation could make your life much easier.
Hiring a wardrobe consultant
When you're ready to reboot your wardrobe, the first step is going online. Search Instagram and websites to see consultant portfolios and get a feel for their offerings. Target someone who showcases an aesthetic similar to one you'd like to achieve, or else someone who shows a broad range. Once you've pinned down a consultant you like, read reviews and confirm they have a good reputation in the community. Look into their experience, background and training. If you just need help shopping for new pieces, it can be an online relationship, but if you need someone to perform a closet audit, a local consultant will be your best bet. Next, capitalize on a free phone consultation if one is offered. This will give you the opportunity to see if your communication styles match. Making fashion changes can sometimes feel like sensitive territory, so work with someone who puts you at ease. Before booking your first session, clarify rates, payment terms and the exact services that will be provided in writing.
- Wardrobe consultants can actually save you money in the long run. With a plan in place and a clear vision, you're less likely to buy clothes just because they're on sale, purchase an item that you'll never wear or succumb to buying something you love that (truthfully) isn't comfortable.