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Sarah Sullivan on Understanding Painpoints

personal styling

Personal stylist Sarah Sullivan shares the questions she keeps on her client intake form.

Words by 

Megan Hill

Published on 

September 14, 2022

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Sarah Sullivan had long been dishing out informal style advice to her family and friends, until one day she decided to make it her career.

Sarah trained as a personal stylist and set up her own personal style consultancy, Style Solutions by Sarah—founded on the belief that dressing up every day should be a joy, not a chore.

Adapting communications

I always prefer to meet clients face-to-face as styling is such a personal service. After initially talking with clients via email or DM, Sarah likes to organise a face-to-face chat as soon as possible to get a better understanding of her client's needs. In recent years, Sarah has adapted her service to offer online consultations conducted via Zoom too.

Personal problem solver

"People usually contact me because they are looking to solve a problem with their style. Often this is a result of a lifestyle change—a client might have retired or become a mum—and they are now unsure how to dress."

Alternatively, Sarah finds many clients come to her with the infamous "wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear" dilemma because they are struggling to mix and match items together.

Once Sarah understands where her client is coming from and what they need, it is a lot easier for her to find a style that suits! After a session, Sarah allows clients some time to absorb all the information given. She then loves receiving feedback and photos of outfits they have put together themselves—complete with a smile!

Confidence is key

The biggest obstacle Sarah has to overcome? Client confidence. "There is often a discrepancy between what my clients would like to wear and what they feel they 'should' wear. They don't want to dress up too much or stand out."

Sarah's job is to gently help persuade her clients to try new things, "Just get out there, life is too short!"

Client deep dive

So how does Sarah coax out the truth of what a client wants to wear? We challenged Sarah to understand the mindset of a client who has always found fashion and styling a chore—if she has just ~5 questions to work with.

What.. would you like to achieve from our session?

It is really important that I understand my client's end goal. Is it just to feel more confident about wearing what they already have and creating outfits?  Or is it about helping them adjust to a whole new lifestyle?

When... did you last wear this?

A client's answer is a good indicator of whether they are holding on to items which no longer fit or suit their lifestyle. If they haven't worn an item for over a year, I persuade them to let it go in order to make room in their wardrobe for a new chapter and things that bring them joy.

Why... won't you wear this?

This question helps me to uncover any emotional hangups a client may have about their body shape. People are often surprised by what new styles actually look good on them.

Who... do you admire for their fashion sense?

I can use their answer to assess what they might be open to trying.

Where... do you usually shop?

This question gives me an indication of my client's taste and budget. I might discover that their usual choice of shop/brand might not be the most flattering for them or best suited to their lifestyle.

Learn more about Sarah's services on her website, or follow her on Instagram for a source of style inspiration.

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