It’s great to be back after taking a blogging hiatus. I had somewhat of a relaxing time off. I never stopped working entirely. I saw clients, went to Vegas to speak and recently got booked to offer styling training to a sales staff at a boutique in Deleware. I am heading there next week and have spent the last week of my vacation pulling together the training manual. In between all this, I tried to actually be on vacation.

Bridgette Raes Style Group celebrated 17 years

I also reached a milestone this month. Seventeen years ago, I started Bridgette Raes Style Group, my style consulting company for women. As I said in this caption on Instagram, I am definitely an OG stylist.

View this post on Instagram

17 Years ago this month, a 28 year old me threw all caution to the wind and started Bridgette Raes Style Group, an image and style consulting company for women. I left a successful fashion design career because I wanted to do work that made more of a difference in the lives of women. Keep in mind, this was before social media, before blogs, before the idea of personal stylists even really existed in the mainstream. This was so long ago that my first newsletter was printed on paper and snail-mailed. In the past 17 years, I have worked with clients all over the world, I wrote a book, I made over 100 television appearances, offered my expert advice to many popular magazines, spoken at major corporations, created a relatively successful blog, and now I am consulting with stores to help train salespeople in stying. Most importantly, this 17 year journey has been filled not just with professional growth but personal growth too. I am now an OG stylist with miles and miles of experience behind me. As I always say, if you really want to know yourself, start a business. I don’t know what’s next, but I am sure it will be exciting. #fashion #personalstylist #style #imageconsulting #bridgetteraesstyle #fashionretail

A post shared by Bridgette Raes (@bridgetteraes) on

17 Things Clients have learned from working with me

To celebrate 17 years of being in business, I am sharing 17 things that clients have learned from working with me.

1. There is nothing wrong with them

After 17 years of taking calls from women explaining their woes about fashion and style, I know how the conversation will go because it’s basically a variation of the same. If they can’t find anything while shopping, can’t figure out how to put a look together, can’t manage their wardrobes, can’t stop the madness of buying things and never wearing them, they are often convinced they missed some Style 101 class that every other woman got to attend. I quickly assure them that everything they are telling me I have heard dozens of times. If you are struggling with any of these things. I want to assure you, you’re not alone.

2. You have to set aside time to shop

Plans are made to shop with clients, which is quite different from how most women do it. Many women stop into a store while doing other things, shop online in-between more important tasks, or use shopping as relief from stressful times. When most women shop, they do it without a plan. Clients learned it is important to make time to shop so it is the only focus. Few people can do more than two things at once well. The next time you go shopping, make time for it to be your only task.

3. Colorful shoes make a huge impact

Clients have learned how much of an impact colorful shoes can make. I always say that you can tell a woman is a client of mine when she has a closet full shoes in different colors. It’s so simple but can pack a huge punch to a basic look. If your closet is full of black shoes, look to this area to start taking some chances.

4. Being a cusp size is hard

Having special sizing needs can be a nightmare. Few retailers make true petites, plus size women are ignored, forget being exceptionally tall, the list goes on. All that said, cusp size women have it the worst. They’re not necessarily plus size and they fall into that size range of 16-18 that most missy brands don’t cover. These women don’t shop where they want to, they shop where they have to. I have been successful with these clients and working with me has helped assure them that it’s not them, they just fall into a tremendously underserved size range.

5. They have learned how to store and hang their clothing

When I walk into a closet that has clothing stored in dry cleaning bags I want to cringe. Sweaters hanging from the shoulders give me hives and when I can explain to a client why their bias cuts skirts and dresses have uneven hems and bumps on the sideseams they learn how to store bias-cut clothing. Nobody really teaches women about proper clothing storage and working with me helps these clients keep their clothing in healthy shape.

6. Their instincts are right

So often, I don’t necessarily tell a client something they don’t already know instinctively. Most women know what colors look best on them and they may not know how to fix many of their wardrobe issues but they know if an outfit is unflattering and needs to go. It’s not that most women don’t know what’s right, it’s that they don’t have the confidence to trust their instincts. I give clients the confidence to trust themselves and how to avoid being inconsistent with their wardrobes.

7. When the rules are meant to be broken

As the famous Charlie Parker quote goes, “You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” You can’t break the rules if you don’t know them first. What I teach my clients is how to make informed decisions. Style rules should be liberating, not restrictive.

8. Shopping isn’t an enjoyable activity for most women

Going back to the idea that women assume they missed some sort of Style 101 class, most women also assume they are the only ones who hate shopping for clothes. More often than not, clients tell me they would rather get a root canal. If you hate shopping, you’re normal, not an exception.

9. Black isn’t the only neutral

I have never worked with a client who has completely given up wearing black as I have, but every client has broadened the variety of neutrals in their closet. Clients learn that any color you can wear with black you can pair with any other neutral shade. This knowledge helps expand and create more variety in a client’s wardrobe.

10. How to look good and wear comfortable shoes

After 17 years, I can probably only count on one hand the clients who don’t have some form of a foot problem or who have reached the age where wearing heels regularly is a reality. Thankfully, comfortable shoes have come a long way since I started my business and the need to buy from comfort brands isn’t the unstylish death sentence it once was.

11. How to accessorize

Clients have learned that getting dressed is a three-part process and most women stop before that final step of finishing a look. These finishes don’t have to be extreme or overdone, just a final touch that makes an outfit look complete.

13. Shopping can be fun

Shopping doesn’t have to be arduous. Of course, I do most of the heavy lifting and I’m fun to be with, which can add to the delight, but it’s not just that. When you go to the right stores, with the right things and have success, the process of shopping can be much more enjoyable. It’s a great feeling to go home without any regrets and feeling like the time spent was worth it.

14. When they love something, the price tag doesn’t matter as much

Obviously, clients don’t spend beyond their limits, but they have learned if they love something the price tag doesn’t matter as much. Clients would rather buy less so they can make room in their budgets for the showstoppers. I should point out, I get paid hourly, not based on what they spend, so it makes no difference to me what the total is. The next time you go shopping, use this indicator for yourself. Would you buy something even if it cost triple the amount? That’s a good sign it’s worth going home.

15. They actually save money working with me

Working with me is an investment which is money that could be spent on clothes. Logic would indicate that it costs more to work with me than not, right? Not necessarily. What many clients learn is there is less wasted money on clothing that never gets worn which can certainly add up.

16. The importance of tailoring

I have a tailor on call who makes house calls. Many clients take advantage of her or use the in-store tailoring services at the stores we go to. Either way, they tailor their clothing. Clients understand that when clothing fits off the rack it is an exception, not a normal occurrence. They don’t see it as something being wrong with their bodies or an extraneous step. Very few women can wear clothing right out of the store.

17. Clients have learned how they look changes how they feel and impacts how they interact with the world

This was probably the biggest surprise when I started working with clients. I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would have in clients making life changes. I watched clients move up in their careers, leave bad relationships, take bold risks and put themselves more powerfully into the world. This remains my favorite part of the job, empowering women.

To my clients who have been a part of my business, thank you! I have learned just as much from you as you have learned from me.