Since moving to Atlanta a year and a half ago, I’ve worked as a waitress, secretary, teacher at a homeschool co-op, art model, graphic design assistant, and now nanny. I wanted to get experience in various fields to figure out where I want to go with my career and I think I’ve made good on that goal. In each of these jobs I’ve learned about what kind of work environment I need (creative outlet, variety, some level of autonomy, helping others), but I’m still looking for the right area of work for me.
And now I have a new area to explore: fashion! Well, not exactly. I don’t mean glitzy photo shoots and runways and oddball outfits that nobody would wear in real life. I mean style and beauty as it relates to everyday people. Let me explain.
It started with watching copious amounts of What Not to Wear. At first I thought it was just one of those standard makeover shows where they put everyone in pretty much the same clothes, regardless of their lifestyle, personal preferences, whatever. But I was wrong. The more I watched, the more I saw how much thought went into assembling a new wardrobe. You have to take into account a person’s body shape, coloring, lifestyle, work dress code, and personal flair. That’s a tall order for 2 days of shopping. But through good technical styling and listening to their guests, Stacy and Clinton manage to do it.
What I found even more interesting was the psychological issues many guests had and how that related to the clothes they chose to wear. Oversized and boring clothing could be a crutch for someone who hates their body and wants to hide. Outdated wardrobes were usually a symptom of someone who focused on everyone else’s needs and never took time for themselves or someone who can’t let go of their past. Outrageous and skimpy clothes were often worn by people who had low self esteem and equated showing skin with sexy. It was amazing to watch Stacy and Clinton call people out on these bad premises, throw out their clothes (which were often a security blanket), and show them how to dress in a way that was more appropriate for their life, body, and personality. I loved watching guests at the end of the show walking out feeling lighter, sassier, and more true to themselves. Sure, some of that is probably glossed over for TV, but I do think a lot of the change is real.
I started focusing in on my own style and pushing my creative boundaries a bit. I purged my closet of any unflattering, old, or damaged clothing. I thought about what clothes I needed for my life and how I wanted to look. I started building my wardrobe up piece by piece. And it felt great. It felt good to let go of old clothing that wasn’t helping me and finding great pieces that worked for me. Each day when I get ready I feel pretty and put together. Feeling that good about my image brightens my day and makes me feel more confident as I go about my activities.
I started talking more about my interest in styling and how great clothes affect people in a positive way. My friend Kelly asked me to help her find some clothes for teaching. It was an interesting challenge. She’s teaches at GSU, so she needs to be professional, but she’s also a grad student, so she needs clothes that are fancy enough for teaching, but don’t feel too stuffy once class is over. Kelly also has a very bohemian style, so we had to find clothes that were polished, but didn’t make her feel like a corporate drone. After several hours in the mall, going to stores Kelly didn’t expect to find pieces in (yes you can shop at H&M if you’re not a teenager), and making her try on all sorts of things (even the oppressive black blazer from Gap), we got a great basic work wardrobe that was professional, yet laid back. Perfect for Kelly.
Not too long after I did a closet consultation with my friend Tori. It went great! A completely different challenge, I went with Tori piece by piece through her wardrobe to figure out what fit, what needed to be tailored, and what needed to be thrown out. From what was left, I played with color and pattern combinations to make fresh outfits. Turns out Tori had a full and varied wardrobe that worked well for her, she just needed to take a few things in and play with mixing pieces. The only pieces she was really missing were cool cardigans or jackets to make a jeans and shirt combo more interesting. Tori got a ton of new outfits without spending a cent and now has a better understanding of her wardrobe for the next time she goes shopping. A definite win!
I really enjoy this work. It’s fun and interesting and challenging. I get to work with people and put my creative talents to use. And there’s clearly a demand and a wide open market for me to take advantage of. This could be a career. I will be doing some more personal shopping and wardrobe consultations with friends to get some experience. I’ll also be blogging more style and body image related posts here. Is this the right line of work for me? We’ll see. If you live in the Atlanta area and are interested in giving me a test run, shoot me an email at mirandabarzey (at) gmail (dot) com.