I recently had the honor of working with personal stylist Kat Depner of Seven Styling in Portland. As a self-proclaimed fashion illiterate, I found myself enjoying Kat’s posts about style and felt like I was learning so much about a topic I would normally shy away from just because I enjoyed her writing style so much. When someone’s passion for what they do shines, you can’t help but take notice.
I have never had a personal stylist and was very excited when Kat and I got to collaborate. As we jumped into the personal styling experience, she allowed me to ask her all of my burning fashion questions. I found myself asking questions to help me figure out what to do about my wardrobe after having two babies, and wanted to share with you what I learned about style as a new mom. Or simply as a woman who could use a new fashion tip or two.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Kat as much as I did. You can read her blog post all about our virtual styling session over at Seven Styling. Here’s a sneak peek of the outfits she chose for me. I loved getting my first jean jacket ever!
Did you always know you wanted to be a personal stylist?
Kat of Seven Styling: I always had an eye for aesthetics from a very young age, despite what my neon tracksuit outfits looked like at that age. I remember being 8 years old, and I would come into my living room to fluff the pillows, rearrange the decor and clean up my little brother’s messes just to make everything look more visually appealing. I was very preoccupied with the aesthetic layout of a room, and as I grew up it also transferred into being the go-to person to help my friends get ready for high school dances and dates. I picked out dresses, helped with make-up, and eventually one day I realized that I was essentially my friends’ personal stylist. I guess you could say styling was always brewing inside of me.
What’s your favorite thing about being a personal stylist?
It’s absolutely wonderful when you see people imagine something bigger for their lives because they finally feel truly happy with how they look. Personal styling is all about helping you tell the story of your life through your clothing, and so many people limit their stories because of how they think they look in clothes. It’s as if they disqualify themselves from doing things they always could and wanted to do because of some lie they believe about their style. When you help someone break out of that prison and start to see what’s possible for them, it’s a beautiful thing.
Have you watched Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix? How do you feel when she is having her clients go through their drawers and closets and asking themselves if each item sparks joy? How does this process compare to your process when you work with your local clients in Portland?
The spirit of what Marie Kondo does is amazing as it teaches these delightful and healthy values of mindfulness and appreciation. But part of my job as a personal stylist is to take the work out of all things clothing related. Consequently, Marie’s approach is probably a bit too time-consuming for my clients to handle considering some have multiple closets full of unworn clothing items that need to be sorted through! I try to get my closet cleanses done in 2 hours, and that’s even cutting it close with me heavily directing the process. I do try to keep items that are sentimental and elicit feelings of joy for my client, as they are often important parts of one’s story. But I’ll be honest, there are times when we lean on certain items as crutches and they actually just need to go in order to really see what’s possible without looking back. It really depends on the person and the item.
What’s your number one piece of style advice for postpartum moms who are in-between maternity clothes and whatever their old or new size might be?
Cotton-spandex-nylon blends are your best friends during this time. They have stretch without making you feel like a stuffed sausage. And I’d recommend getting your hands on any cute v-necked empire-waisted maxi dresses — they hide any wobbly bits and give easy access to the boob for breastfeeding while looking very elegant.
In my 20s I wouldn’t have given a second thought to spending hours browsing through a thrift store. Now I feel like I don’t have the time, but I genuinely value the thrill of finding a great consignment piece. I know you are all about the consignment find too. Do you have any advice for busy moms who feel like we don’t have time for consignment shopping but wish we did?
Never think you are going to find an entire new wardrobe worth of clothing in one consignment shopping session. I always recommend going in with a very specific, small list of a few things you want to find, such as a blouse and a skirt or a new pair of jeans and some cute flats. Give yourself a hard and fast time limit — 45 to 60 minutes — and get out of the door before the buzzer’s up, even if you don’t find anything. You’ll avoid that feeling of overwhelm and buyer’s remorse from getting things just because you don’t want to leave empty-handed. If you make a habit out of going to the consignment store once or twice a month like this, in no time you will develop a very unique wardrobe for a fraction of the price of buying things brand new.
How do you know what will look good on someone? How do you know if something looks good? I will admit I have always felt a little insecure about my fashion sense so I would love to know your secrets if you are willing to share them! I’m sure there is a good amount of intuition mixed with some kind of magic too!
This is a very good question! Quite a bit goes into determining if something looks good on someone, but I will say this: a lot of women don’t know their size. Many women I work with think they are bigger than they are and dress about 2-3 sizes larger than they are. Once you get someone into clothing that actually fits them, it’s a lot easier to find things that look good! Also, I recommend sticking to the classics as they are classics for a reason: they naturally look good on almost everyone. I generally stay away from trendy items as they only work for the time that they are in style and usually only look best on a limited amount of body types.
What are the staple items you recommend every woman have in her closet?
Every woman needs a jean jacket. It adds casual structure to any mom on the go outfit and can make any fancy dress wearable for daytime.
For the lower body, I recommend a pair of dark wash mid-rise skinny jeans. The darker wash adds the perfect blend of casual sophistication and has a slimming effect on your leg line. The mid-rise cut is ideal for postpartum as it sits slightly above the hips and holds in any wobbly bits.
For a simple fancy piece, I recommend a black wrap dress. A wrap dress is timeless and works on every single body type. It can be dressed up or down and plays nice with so many other elements of your wardrobe. And it’s super comfortable to boot!
Are there any additional staple items you would recommend for new moms who might have to change outfits at least once a day to feel refreshed?
For new moms, cotton v-neck tees are a wonder. They are comfortable enough for new motherly duties but can be styled to look cute despite their simplicity. Their short sleeves help you avoid spills on the arms, and the cotton fabric is best for washing out messes. I’d go with darker colors like navy, slate, olive and maroon that can hide minor stains. If you tuck them into your pants or even fashionably roll up your sleeves, you look instantly polished.
I’ve heard a lot about capsule wardrobes and think they sound like a great idea for moms. There is so much information out there though that sometimes it can feel overwhelming to get started. Do you suggest attempting to build a capsule wardrobe or starting with staple items and building from there?
Capsule wardrobes are great! I actually have two posts on my blog dedicated to this subject (one for upper body and one for lower body recommendations). However, I think it’s best to start small with a staple checklist and build from there. You could start with the staples I’ve listed above and incorporate a few more pieces once you get comfortable styling them.
There you have it! Tips from the master. I don’t know about you but I will be heading over to Seven Styling next to read all about capsule wardrobes and taking notes for my next trip to the consignment shop. See you there!