“What do you do?”
It’s one of the first questions people ask when you meet them. Your career is often a defining factor about who you are as a person. Some people have it easy, their job is easily summed up by their professional title. “I’m a lawyer.” “I’m a doctor.” “I’m a racecar driver.” Those jobs are easy to understand. But there are some of us, especially those of us in creative professions, who don’t have it quite so easy.
“I’m a personal stylist.”
I always face a series of follow up questions about my line of work. And until very recently I was extremely self conscious and reluctant to divulge the details of my job. My job is centered around fashion. I tell people what clothes to buy and wear. When I simplify my job to just a few sentences, I can’t help but feel shallow and materialistic. Fashion is so frequently correlated to status, and many people fail to see the importance of style. While I love fashion, and style, and shopping, there is so much more to this job. So I feel like I am constantly trying to justify my career choice, without boring people with an endless description of what I do and why I do it.
For me, being a personal stylist is less about knowing the latest trends or owning the most expensive shoes, and more about helping people create a parallel between the way they dress and their goals and aspirations.
“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
“Dress for success.”
You’ve heard these phrases time and time again because they are true. Your clothes, and how you present yourself, are the first indicators to strangers of who you are. Unfortunately we cannot stop and greet every person we encounter, but we can demonstrate a piece of ourselves to the world in the way we dress.
As a stylist, it is my job to learn about my clients. I learn who they are, what they care about, their goals, their hobbies and interests, and the person beneath the surface. I use that information to help them establish a sense of style that reflects those intrinsic qualities.
Today I want to share a story with you. This is not my story, but the story of a client-turned-friend. Maggie came to me last fall and has been one of the most rewarding people to work with. Here is a little bit more about Maggie, in her words:
Hi! I’m Maggie! I’m a recent college graduate, with my BSN, about to start my career as a nurse. I love coffee, wine, movies, almost anything outdoors, and especially being on the water! I am proud to say I’m finally the person I always knew I was and at age 27 have the strength and confidence to really begin my life. To say it was a journey to get here is an understatement.
You see I was born a male, yep I’m transgender. I’ve always known I was really, even if I wouldn’t admit it to myself. I certainly wouldn’t admit it to friends and family for a long time. So even though I knew I was different than most boys growing up, because of my own fears and lack of confidence I wouldn’t choose to transition until I was 24 years old. Even then I didn’t dress as “Alexis” (the first name I thought I wanted) in public. And I had no idea how to actually come out to those I loved.
I was however, able to begin hormone replacement therapy. As the hormones started to work their wondrous magic on my body, it became harder and harder to hide Maggie (by this time I settled on my name now) to a point where changes were being noticed. It was at this time I knew I couldn’t stay in the closet much longer. It was not only the hormones, but by this point I knew that I couldn’t keep pretending to be male when I truly was not. It was eating me up inside every single minute of every day.
I decided to begin to slowly come out, to stop dramatically trying to hide the physical changes I was experiencing. This however led me to probably my second biggest fear (next to friends and family abandoning me) trying to find clothes and outfits that were “me.” Considering I tried so hard to conform to what boys like, I never had anyone to help me with fashion, especially women’s fashion. Cosmo, Glamour, and YouTube don’t exactly teach a rookie too much on these topics. Nor did they help my confidence, they actually sunk my confidence deeper.
While I began coming out at nursing school and to friends, I decided it was time to seek help with fashion. I went online and sought out a stylist. This is where I met Theresa! She, right off the bat, was nothing short of amazing. She listened to each and every one of my fears and concerns. She listened to my ideas, the things I liked and didn’t like, and guided me in discovering my style. At the same time she was doing this, she also was building my confidence in myself and helping me find the real Maggie. The Maggie that was always there, but I tried so hard to conceal for so long that I didn’t really know who I was.
Theresa was there through the whole process making me feel PROUD of who I was. It was literally retail therapy. I still do have a lot of “me” to work on, and will continue to do so with Theresa’s help. I cannot even express how much she has done for me as a person and as a woman.
To anyone unsure of their style, or if it goes deeper than that and they are unsure of themselves, Theresa as your stylist will change your life – and I’m not just saying that. She brought a smile to my face for the first time in a long time and I can now proudly walk into a room, or a job interview, or a myriad of other things with assured confidence. I am secure with who I am. She seriously was a dream come true and I am so happy to call her my FRIEND!
Thank you Theresa!
Working with Maggie has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career as a stylist. Seeing her evolve, and watching her personality come to life has made me so happy and proud. It is for people like her, that I do what I do.
Maggie’s great success in her transition is truly inspirational. She is living her life as her true self, and that is something to be admired. It is our hope that by sharing her story, it will inspire others to look deep inside and ask, “Am I living my life the way I want?”