Houston-based stylist Emily Elliott began her journey in the retail industry early on as a bright-eyed teenager working at a high-end dress shop in Highland Village. After studying merchandising at Texas Tech, she bounced around several states, working different jobs, both in and out of the fashion industry. But over time, one thought continued to pop up in the back of her mind: How do I get back into retail?
Eventually, she moved back to Houston and discovered the world of fashion consulting. “I was like, oh my God, this is amazing! Like, this is exactly what I want to be doing,” she says.
She spent almost six years working as a consultant for Rebecca Matthews Image and Style, a local personal styling firm, before officially launching her own styling consulting company in 2016. Since the launch of Emily Elliott Style, she's served clients, both across Texas and nationwide. She says she draws on Houston's unique energy to keep herself inspired. “There's something about this city that's really special, and it's the heart," Elliott says. “You have every color of the rainbow and that brings such a beautiful presentation of creativity to me.”
Despite the quarantine, Elliott has continued to serve clients by transitioning her business online and using the phone or video meetings to work with clients and take care of the rest of her business. For Elliott and many other stylists, the transition has been an adjustment. The pandemic has forced the entire consulting experience to go digital almost overnight. Elliott has been intent on making the new setup work though. “I think everyone wants that shopping experience of being in a store, being able to touch and feel and interact,” she says, “but we are pausing right now until we figure out how to do that safely. Technology is our friend and we'll have to use technology, work with our networks, and obviously listen to the client.“
Although the COVID-19 means—among many other, more troubling things—that you won't have many places to go for the foreseeable future, that doesn’t mean you can’t look and feel your best while hitting the Zoom meetings at home. We asked Elliott for six fashion tips to help you revamp your personal style.
Admittedly this is hard when you first have to find it in yourself to reach for something other than yoga pants in the morning. But do it. From there, it's all about discovering your signature style, looks, color palettes and anything else sartorial that piques your interest. “When clients are struggling to find their style, I ask them often to look into the world to examine where they get inspiration from,” Elliott says. “Think about a movie, a celebrity, or Pinterest page, where they like something that someone's worn.”
Identify what you like.
Again, get past your simple love for comfy clothes. Are you into vintage silhouettes, circa-1940? Have you always adored those sweeping Edwardian up-dos? Do you just follow what Beyonce does and try to do the same? Whatever it is, figure it out. Once you have explored and narrowed down on a style, look for trends or celebrities that you love. “Find a celebrity and pull from them what you like and don't like. For instance, you may like how the clothes fit Rihanna or how they show off femininity, or you may not like that certain clothes are shiny or cut in a certain manner,” Elliott says. Knowing whose looks and approaches to clothes you admire will help you start to decide what your own criteria are, and that's the only way to even begin to mold and shape your own unique style.
Recognize the functionality of your outfit.
What are you dressing for? If your job is on the conservative side, you may want to stay away from vibrantly patterned statement clothes. (Or maybe not.) If you are on your feet for a large portion of your day, aiming for comfort within your clothes should be a primary focus. (Unless you're one of those people who can rock six-inch heels all day long, and if you are, we salute you.) “Functionality is being realistic with what your day or night requires,” Elliott says.
Dress for your body type and size.
Embrace your figure and play up your assets by picking clothes that truly fit you. Don't obsess over the size on the label instead of getting clothes that fit you properly. Be on the lookout for clothing that flatter your best features rather than diminish or distort them. If you have to move a size up, don’t be discouraged. “You're not married to your size,” Elliott says. “You can walk through the Galleria and be priced four different sizes depending on the store. Recognize fit over numerical sizing.”
Make a list.
Once you have successfully followed these tips, creating a list of tangible items to be on the lookout for will help you stay organized and stay away from purchasing duplicates. (Unless its that one pair of jeans that fits you so well you really should buy two. Do it. Buy two. You'll never find them again.) “By creating a list, you are identifying what your needs are, so you don't go out to shop and get another pair of jeans when you already have six pairs at home,” Elliott explains.
Be mindful of your budget.
Shopping without a financial plan is a recipe for disaster, so figure out what you can afford, what you're willing to splurge on, and the limits you need to have for your budget before you even leave the house, or, you know, get on the computer. And watch out for those sales. They may save you a penny now, but those items may also end up stored in the back of your closet. “Do not buy something just because it's on sale, and that certainly is going on more due to COVID,” Elliott says. “If you buy a product, think about whether you have something to wear it with or whether you are finishing a look. Will there be any additional costs like alterations?”