What to wear: local stylist solves fashion dilemmas

By on November 20, 2011

Photo: Mallory Sills is a fashion consultant and personal shopper who helps people change their image. Here she examines some garments from her personal collection. Photo by John DiDonna

by Lynn Meredith
LILY LAKE—Next time you look in the closet and declare, “I have nothing to wear!” help is nearby. Fashion stylist Mallory Sills can solve your dilemma.

As a part of a network of stylists called Style For Hire, Sills studied with Stacy London of the popular fashion makeover show “What Not To Wear.” A kinder and gentler version of London, Sills is available to help clients find what to wear. From one outfit for a special occasion to an entire closet audit, Sills uses her fashion know-how to make sense of your personal and unique style.

Sills is a graduate in fashion marketing from the Chicago Art Institute and received a certificate in Image Consulting from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. But it was only after applying and being accepted at a workshop with London of “What Not To Wear” that she found her own approach to being a stylist.

“I always knew I wanted to be a stylist. Even as far back as middle school, I loved everything about clothes and dressing up,” Sills said. “Stacy is a stylist of everyday people, not just to celebrities, not the extremely wealthy.”

Helping everyday people be the best they can be is what Sills is all about. She learned the basics of fit, style and color, and was tested on her ability to choose appropriate outfits.

“Stacy would have a rack of clothes and a table of accessories. She’d give us a scenario, and we had five minutes to pick out an outfit. Then Stacy would critique our choices,” Sills said.

The workshop was not just for new stylists, but attracted people who had been in the business for 30 years. The mix offered Sills a chance to pick the brains of more experienced stylists.

The process of working with a client is geared toward what the client wants. The relationship begins with a free one-on-one style consultation. Sills talks with the client to find out what she wants to look like. The client then fills out a lifestyle questionnaire that asks about the client’s job and its atmosphere, what social activities she is involved in, the desired price range, particular clothing items she tends to wear and how she would describe her own style.

“I’m helping people express themselves, so I ask what celebrity she wants to look like and what it is about how she dresses that you like,” Sills said. “I do color analysis, but most importantly I do body analysis to figure out your shape.”

If the client wants a closet audit, Sills goes through the client’s wardrobe to see what items to keep, what ones to get rid of and which ones to donate. She offers ways to wear clothes in different ways the client may not have considered.

Sills also does personal shopping. She goes out to the stores and brings back selections for the client to try on, or the client can come along to the store. Sills offers tips on what items look best and how to have a range of prices in your wardrobe with classics costing more and trends purchased at lower prices.

In shadowing other stylists as they worked with clients, Sills observed how sensitive the subject of image and clothes is. People, she said, can be quite attached to their clothes.

“People really share what they’re not feeling good about—especially with their closets. They have an emotional connection to some clothes and are reluctant to get rid of them,” Sills said. “It’s interesting to see how people get attached to their stylists as well and how quickly they open up. We’re a lot like therapists in a way. Stay-at-home moms, for example, often feel they don’t deserve new clothes. I tell them they deserve it more than anyone.”

Resistance comes in all forms when it comes to dressing, but Sills tells her clients to give something new a try.

“I say, ‘Just try it on for me, so I can see how it looks on you and you can see. There’s no commitment to buying it – just see how it goes,’” she said. “At the end we have a pile of what we like, and then from there, what ones we love. It’s a process.”

For more information, visit www.MallorySills.com or call (630) 878-9234.