New Uniforms for a New Phase of Life
Welcome to Part 1 of this four part series of my work with my client Tony (follow him on instagram here). Follow his journey and transformation! You will watch an unscripted journey following the process of how I work Tony to find his signature style, help him restyle his existing clothes and shop his closet and provide shopping guidance and instruction - all done virtually.
Tony has woken up and put on a uniform for years as he attended West Point and then served in the United States Army. But now that he has taken a leave of absence from the Army to pursue a graduate degree at Cornell University in New York, he is struggling to know what to wear each day and how to visually express the “warrior scholar” he is. Watch as Tony and I pinpoint the style that suits his personality and current lifestyle, sort through his closet, incorporate new pieces of clothing, and develop a strategy for new, more flexible “uniforms” in civilian life.
Design Your Signature Style
Like all of my clients, Tony did his prep work before working with me and this Design Your Signature Style session to give me a better idea of who he is, where he’s at and where he’s going in life, and what he wants from his wardrobe. During the session, we delve into his answers in order to construct an approach to civilian style that honors Tony’s character, provides both form and function, and retains aspects of uniform-style simplicity.
1 - Meet Tony
Get to know Tony as you learn more about the major life changes he’s had with the shift to graduate school from the Army. We explore these changes and their implications for his wardrobe, along with identifying the style changes Tony would like to see moving forward.
2 - What’s Holding Him Back
Tony knows what he wants, but he doesn’t know how to get there. So the next step forward is recognizing what is holding him back from his style goals. We examine those obstacles and find a style metaphor that really speaks to Tony’s experiences and interests.
3 - Fit, Silhouette, & Style
Tony has worn well-fitted uniforms, but now he needs to know how civilian clothes should fit his particular body. We also discuss methods to enhance a V-shaped silhouette for him. Plus, I introduce him to “smart casual” styling, which will allow Tony to make his desired impression with his clothing and have the situational versatility he needs as a graduate student.
4 - Patterns & Color Palette
Two more important elements to consider for Tony’s style are patterns and color. We discuss how limiting his use of patterns and his color palette will be a key to developing a new “uniform” for graduate school and a closet full of clothes that will work well together, thereby bringing back some of the ease of apparel decision making from his military uniform days.
5 - What’s in Tony’s Closet Parts 1 & 2
We both discuss and look at pictures of outfits and what Tony currently has in his closet. While many things will go to make room for new items, Tony does have some good pieces to work with for his new style.
6 - Pinterest
Having inspiration helps immensely when moving into a new style, so Tony and I review the Pinterest style board I created for him. We study several outfits from style icons who represent features of Tony’s desired look well and consider what style principles and clothing pieces are in these examples for him to include in his own outfits.
7 - Wrapping Up
At this point, it’s time to wrap up the session with some discussion of upcoming steps and reflection from both Tony and myself--Tony on what he feels about the session and myself on what I feel is the most essential piece of information uncovered during this time together.
Taking the first step to an entirely new life
It was the first day of my master’s degree. I had recently relocated to New York from Hawaii, and I opened the door to my closet. As I looked at the different patterns, touched the textures and colors, I froze. I was on the brink my threshold and was being thrown into an unfamiliar world.
Prior to this, I had spent the last decade as a servant to my nation – proud to be in a uniform and prepared to fight and defend the United States of America. During my time in the Armed Forces, my job - and the uniform associated with it - was a staple of my identity. I woke up every morning with the same drive to serve as I put on the outfit that stood as a symbol of my fierceness for my country – but it also comforted me.
As I peered around my closet, I understood that I was embarking on a journey I was not initially prepared for I was on commencing an expedition to rebuild myself. I spent years dreaming of the opportunity to attend Cornell University and to advance my career in regional planning and real estate. However, I never imagined that my first day would be met with confusion and isolation. I was letting go of an essential part of who I was, and while I knew that I would eventually settle into a new routine, the beginning steps were complicated. It was a profoundly personal experience for me.
My military uniform was more than just fabric that I dressed in. My uniform became aligned with my values, my livelihood and protected against the elements regardless of the environment. Every day, I slipped on combat boots, a tan t-shirt, green socks and sheer fatigue. Now, I had turned a new chapter in my life, and I didn’t know how to start narrating the first page. Not to mention, the autumn days presented a climate that I had completely forgotten about. My Aloha shirts and board shorts would no longer provide the comfort and protection that they did in Hawaii.
I knew that I needed help rebranding myself, beginning my Glow Up, and solidifying the new path I was on with both my career and the seasonal climate. For me, to look good means to play good – and I was taking this chapter of my life seriously. My master’s degree wasn’t a rite of passage to show up in sweats. This was a career move and a massive transition for me. I wanted to make it as smooth as possible.
I quickly carved out time to go to the mall and replace the endless hoodies and t-shirts that my closet held. Before the military, I was a high school teenager that would effortlessly throw on casual clothes. However, now, as an adult, I wanted to present myself in a way that was approachable yet professional. My trip to the mall overwhelmed me within minutes. The various styles and patterns were a whole new world for me. I peered at the different textures, patterns and styles as I became my own enemy. I had spent years in camouflage, and now I was trying to outline a starting point.
I wondered, what are the next steps? Clearly, a shopping trip isn’t the best course of action for me at this point. I turned to social media as I want to research who they people I thought controlled the style game, such as Justin Timberlake and Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson. This is where I reasoned a stylist may be a seamless way to improve my wardrobe. I acknowledged that it might be a good option and began my search.
I began casually scrolling through Instagram in search of a stylist that could help me with my new “uniform”. For me, a stylist wasn’t somebody that I wanted to find in the Yellow Pages. I was seeking a professional stylist that carefully curated a wardrobe that fits the needs, personality and goals of each individual client. I needed to find somebody that understood who I was and the major transition in my life!
As I was scrolling through Instagram, I stumbled across Loren North. My first impression was: This girl not only knows style – she lives and breathes it! She came across educated and diligent in all of her posts and stylings. She took her career seriously – the same way I had for all of these years. I took the plunge and sent Loren a message.
Upon our first conversations, I was impressed with how personal she was. She seemed to understand my transition, my struggle, and what I hoped to achieve with her help. She knew that a wardrobe was more than just pieces of clothing styled together. Loren understood that, for me, my closet was a part of my identity. This was more than a business transaction for me – it was the first step to an entirely new life that I had spent years dreaming about. After a few messages back and forth, I knew that Loren would be the perfect fit for this huge transformation.
So, I agreed to team up with Loren, and I waited for my first meeting with her.