If you don’t have time to shop, can’t identify your own style or don’t know what to wear to a certain event, you might want to consider asking a personal stylist for advice. Ysabelle Mercier, who will be offering her services as part of a package in collaboration with Le Germain Hotel Toronto, demystifies the profession of stylist.
What exactly does a personal stylist do?
In a nutshell, I manage my clients’ wardrobe and their style. I take care of all the buying. You tell me what you need, what you like, we talk about it and I go out and get it.
You say that you manage your clients’ style, but don’t many of them say they don’t actually have one?
Everyone has a style. That’s like saying you don’t have a personality. It’s impossible. You have one and the idea is to bring it out with your clothes. For that reason, I ask a lot of questions. I need to learn everything I can about my client to determine her style. Even the way she organizes her clothes can tell me a lot about her.
How do you go about doing a wardrobe assessment?
There are no specific standards because every wardrobe is unique. I always need to adapt. But, after doing my assessment, I can identify what’s missing, what she has too much of, if the clothes are not bright enough, if she has enough accessories, too many tops or bottoms. Generally speaking, the assessment takes about two hours.
You probably have to be pretty diplomatic when you make comments about a client’s wardrobe. Yes, but we often laugh about it. If a client tells me that she wants to keep a particular piece of clothing for sentimental reasons even if it's not fashionable anymore, no problem, but I won’t necessarily try to use it to go with other things. I have to be honest even when it comes to their shape. But in the privacy of her closet or the fitting room, where no one else can hear us and everything is confidential, there’s no reason for my client to be uncomfortable.
What is the greatest challenge for your clients? Lack of time! Buying clothes is sometimes placed on the back burner when you’re a mother or a working professional. I also have many clients who don’t have a good sense of their own style and others who have numerous events to attend and don’t know what to wear in a given context. I need to manage their wardrobes and their schedules. I tell them what to wear to a particular event, for a meeting, during a flight, etc. I also pack many suitcases.
Do you have any male clients?
I specialize in women, but I have quite a few male clients. The challenge for them is that they don’t like to shop.
What is the best Canadian city to go on a shopping spree?
We have more high-end brands in Toronto. Kind of like 5th Avenue. I like shopping at Vuitton, Pink Tartan, Ça va de soi and Kate Spade. Holt Renfrew is always a sure thing. I have palpitations just thinking about their shoe department! In Montreal, I really like the stores on Laurier Street. You can find designer products at reasonable prices. It’s edgier and I always find what I’m looking for.