Use Online Stylists to Pick Your Workwear

Services are popping up to help you know when to shop your own closet and buy new.

If you’re looking to revamp your closet but need some guidance, plenty of online stylists can strive to help you look professional and trendy. You can choose from a large variety of online personal shopping services; some will send you wardrobe pieces right to your front door, while others will send you daily emails with advice on exactly what to pick from your closet that day.

Stitch Fix, for example, allows you to fill out a style profile online, and a personal stylist handpicks and sends clothing items in the mail to you. Your style profile includes where you live and your body type, occupation, and work and wardrobe needs; you receive five personalized pieces at a time in the mail. You can keep what you like and send back the rest. There’s a $20 styling fee on top of the retail price of the clothes you decide to keep.

Stitch Fix has seen explosive growth since it launched in 2011, with Forbes estimating that the service made $250 million in revenue in 2015 alone. That’s projected to jump 50 percent this year. Right now, the service caters to busy, working women, and real estate professionals are a growing client segment, says Stitch Fix stylist Layla Katz. It is testing the market to expand its services to men as well.

“We want you to look your best — polished and chic,” Katz says. “Your wardrobe can help you feel more confident and you’ll then project that confidence too.” She says Stitch Fix users can tailor their style profile to exactly what they’re looking for, whether it’s an outfit for an upcoming networking event or an accessory to dress up an ensemble.

If you love to shop on your own but just want some extra guidance, a Style Challenge may work best for you. Personal stylist Alison Lumbatis, founder and CEO of Get Your Pretty On, launched Style Challenges in 2014, and the popularity of her challenges continues to grow. So far, 10,000 women in 20 different countries have participated in online style challenges.

Here’s how it works: Before the challenge begins, you’ll receive a list of classic and trending pieces to purchase, with links to where you can find them at both high-end and discount stores. The idea is to first “shop your closet” before buying new.

After you have your pieces, the challenge begins. Lumbatis will send you a daily email throughout the challenge suggesting wardrobe combinations using the pieces on your shopping list. You’ll also be able to swap shopping tips and gather advice in a private Facebook group during the challenge. By the end of the challenge, you’ll have 21 outfit ideas.

Lumbatis offers Workwear Style Challenges (the next one rolls out in September), as well as more generic style challenges for summer, fall, and winter. “The idea is to invest in classic pieces that will stay the test of time, and then mix in inexpensive trendy items to update your style,” Lumbatis says. “One of the biggest benefits to taking part in this challenge is you’ll be empowered in learning how to dress yourself. You’ll have a shopping list as you go into stores, instead of walking into stores uncertain of what to buy. You’ll know exactly what pieces to get. Each piece on the list will be worn four different ways during the 21-day challenge. You’ll build a functional wardrobe, and the tools you need to go forward after.”

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Workplace Staples for Women

Lumbatis and Katz suggest some of the following must-haves for building a more fashionable workday wardrobe:

  • Printed blouse: A blouse with black polka dots, for example, can be dressed up with slacks or dressed down with jeans, depending on your workday. A nice printed blouse can offer an adaptable style.
  • A fitted blazer: Too often, women wind up emphasizing a body part they’re not happy with due to poor fit or by wearing loose clothing. Seek a tailor, if needed, to make sure the fit is just right.
  • White button-down shirt: This can be paired in so many ways, with jeans and printed pants, and then accessorized with scarves or statement necklaces.
  • A comfortable, stylish pair of shoes: High heels may hurt your feet, so try wedge heels, a trendy and more comfortable alternative. “Wedges look like a pump and give you the same aesthetic of a stiletto heel,” Lumbatis says.
  • Leopard-print anything: Lumbatis suggests a leopard-print accessory to instantly enhance any wardrobe. It could be ballet flats or a leopard-print clutch, scarf, or belt. “It’s neutral and can be put with anything,” she says.