Meet the Stylist behind “Style Identity”
Personal fashion stylist Toula Vogdanos aka “Style Identity” has been styling outfits for people for over 20 years. Starting in retail, she helped shoppers create a new look. In her own words “It was all about giving them options that they wouldn’t consider for themselves.” In our first Q & A with a personal stylist in our Meet the Stylist series, Toula outlines how years of invaluable retail experience led her into a rewarding life of styling.
How did you get into the styling business?
I was styling clients in a retail environment for over 20 years. For me it was all about sales and customer service. I wanted to help people and challenge myself to create a new style for them in the fitting room. It was about giving them options that they wouldn’t consider for themselves.
I was able to help people look and feel great in clothes that extenuated their body shape and made them feel better than when they walked in. Even though I enjoyed helping people with this side of things I began to dislike working for retail giants who didn’t value your skills and effort and after realising that I would always be just a staff ID I decided to take the leap and start my own business.
Style Identity was born based on all my years of retail knowledge and experience. It was amazing to create this as a business and go out on my own to further help people on a more personal level.
When I first started to build the business, I had no help from anyone and no influential assistance. I went out and hustled my business and spoke to as many people as possible. I spoke at any event that would have me and networked amongst lots of people.
My specialty area is transformational styling where I get to work with a client from start to finish. Starting with the wardrobe overhaul then a shop and then a wardrobe integration of all their looks and outfit suggestions. I get to see that client transform with confident person: amazing.
What do you love most about stying?
For me it’s all about the client. Seeing the smile on their face when they put something on that looks and feels amazing. It’s about making their lives better every day with a wardrobe full of clothes they can wear. Seeing them excel in their work and social life is the best reason for me to keep going.
What sort of things are people looking for you to help them with?
It can be for various reasons, but for most it’s because they don’t know what to wear or they want a new look. Time is a huge issue and having me do all the research for them, they save time and money.
For example, I spoke to a lady that wanted an outfit for a speaking event recently. She had lost some weight and had no idea what to wear. She wanted something that suited her style that she could also wear again. Without seeing her, only through a photo and speaking to her over the phone, I had a good idea of what to buy. So, I put some things on hold for her prior to meeting at the shops. The first outfit I put her in, she loved and turned around to thank me for putting her in something that made her feel young and modern. She commented. “How did you understand what my style was.” She was sorted with two outfits including shoes and accessories in one hour. It would have taken her all day and most likely would not have achieved the same result.
Describe a typical day in the life of Toula Vogdanos – Stylist
A typical day is one that requires me to have a coffee in the morning prior to doing anything else! Being a mum I have my son to get to school. It’s driving to a client, answering emails and social media messages. It does require me to think of social media posts which most times are written as they come to me. Research is an important part of my day and I am always looking at trends or style inspiration to enhance my mind and help my clients. My day also involves taking the time to see friends or check in on them and setting aside time for my mental and physical health. For me I am always on the go, but it is organised, productive chaos.
What’s your point of difference, as a stylist?
An incredible addition to my business is adding a range of Made to Measure suits for women of all body shapes and styles. The idea was born a year ago. I have always wanted to do this because while shopping with clients I saw it as a huge gap in the market. There were no suits for women with non-standard body shapes especially for the plus size women. Most were frumpy and dark. I wanted to create a range that fit and flattered women with a choice of beautiful colours and fabrics. Because the suits are made to measure, the clients get a suit that fits well and can be worn in many different ways. A perfect addition to the business.
Your most rewarding styling experience?
It is so hard to say just one! A client that I met over zoom through COVID. She shared with me that she hadn’t shopped for a very long time and hardly had anything in her wardrobe that she felt good in. She was returning to work, but also needed things to go out with. After getting to know her over zoom I did the research for her upcoming shop.
We shopped for 3 hours and bought over 40 garments including shoes. It was amazing and she walked away feeling like a completely new person. She was so happy with the experience and how much money she saved. There was no way that she would have been able to build a wardrobe of looks that catered for all areas of her life in 3 hours let alone pick all the looks that I did for her. It was so rewarding because I knew that she would be able to wake up every day to a new look and not feel sad and depressed again.
Your most challenging styling experience?
I would have to say a male client that I recently shopped with. He he was over 1.8 metres (6ft) and broad. He said he was a size 3XL, but ended up being a size 4XL which meant that all the research I had done wasn’t enough. I walked away feeling disappointed and knew that we hadn’t bought enough for him. He told me that he has this issue all the time.
Once I’d met him, I had a better idea of his body shape and style and was able to find other garments for him without him being present. I found him some jackets and shirts and pants and took them to him to try. They were perfect.
Most lusted-for item not yet in your wardrobe?
I love heels and I would have to say a pair of Christian Louboutin heels.
Advice for aspiring personal fashion stylists?
Work in a fashion store that prides itself on customer service, getting to know peoples body types and how they feel about particular looks. Get to know people on that level of service so that you can help them better. It is so important. Styling isn’t just about fashion. It’s about changing peoples mind set and helping them to evolve and adapt. It’s about creating a style that your client can feel comfortable in. Something that represents their personality and lifestyle. It’s about them, not you.
Follow Toula: @styleidentity
Want to see more stylists? Then you’ll want to see Meet the Fashion Stylist: Heidimarie Everett.