Ep. 41: Personal Styling for Success with Kristin Holt

The way you dress and present yourself is often associated with you, your business, and your brand. Whether it’s super casual or ballgown attire, there’s always a way for you to stay authentic to who you are.

Today, we’re talking about how presenting, carrying, and dressing yourself for success is such a huge part of your personal brand. I have our very own Kristin Holt from Worx & Co. She’s our Creative Growth Expert and Personal Image Stylist. She works passionately at enhancing relationships and providing creative solutions and when she’s not at work, she’s spending time with her two beautiful girls and is always out creating the latest fashion trends.

Welcome to The Gutsy Podcast, Kristin!

What is personal image styling?

Laura: Tell me what personal image styling is for those of us who may or may not know?

Kristin: Well, it took me a couple of years to really realize myself what it was. But in the professional setting, I think I always pushed the limit and people would say to me, you know, you dress like that at work? Or that’s so businessy but I still see your personal style shining through.

Personal image styling, when most people think of it, they think personal styling celebrities or artists or musicians or things like that. But for me it was personal styling myself first because I believe how you look is how you feel and that’s how you present yourself as well. So, um, that really translates into being confident about who you are and where you’re trying to go and how you’re presenting yourself when you go to those individual places.

What got you into styling?

Laura: So how did you first get into styling?

Kristin: I remember being in a third grade and someone called me Punky Brewster, and I actually loved Punky Brewster, so it was a compliment. But back in the 90s, early nineties, people would relate it to, oh my, who’s that dressed like that? Oh, that’s weird.

But for me, it always came naturally. I just knew what to pair with what. I had an eye for color. I had an eye for pushing my personal fashion to the edge. Even in the third grade. I know a lot of us remember the stirrup pants and the slouch socks and the patent leather tie shoes. I had all of it, but then I would push it to the limit and put in different colors shoestrings and off the shoulders, shoulder pads, because we believe that you can still see our shoulder through it.

And that’s when people really started to kind of understand who I was because every day I was different and I loved it. And I still dress the same today. Every day I’m different. I get to be a different version of Kristin and I love that.

Facing The bullies

Laura: So, I would imagine being the very creative dresser that you are, you’ve probably run into a couple of roadblocks along the way. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say you’ve probably been made fun of, called names.

Kristin: Uh, all of the above. I heard this term bougie growing up which probably started in about middle school. Oh, she’s bougie. Oh, she’s really rich. Even though I was middle-class, you know, my parents lived paycheck to paycheck. But I began to internalize that in a very negative way.

I had a certain percentage of people like, oh my God, I love that. I would never think to do that. But there was more percentage of people saying: What are you doing? What are you thinking? Why are you dressing like that? Are you crazy? Are you okay?

So growing up, elementary, middle school, even into early high school, I internalize that. But never changed my style. So I think a lot of times we do that — we internalize what someone thinks about us. Some of us change that style to conform to society and then others rebel against it.

And I think I’ve always had that rebellious nature to know I felt good in what I was wearing. Um, even though it affected me emotionally, physically I knew I felt good in that and I knew the message I was trying to portray through my fashion. So I never let it affect my style.

from passion to career

Laura: Tell me a little bit about what was going on inside because you know, on the outside you felt good. You knew this is who I am. But on the inside, that’s where I think probably more of the challenge comes.

Kristin: Oh yeah. Um, again, every day I would get up and I have an eye for it, so I would just pick it. It’s almost very natural to me. I don’t have to think a lot about what I’m putting on. And so I would pull it out and I would wear it. And then as soon as I would get to school, somebody would be like, what are you doing? What is that? And I would internalize it, go into the bathroom and cry, get home from school, take it all off, and put on a plain colored sweatsuit.

There was more of me that wanted to rebel against it. And I think that was the fighter in me saying, this is who I am. But the other half of me inside was going, is this who I am?

You begin to self-doubt. Is what Jackie’s saying right? Or Joe or Brandon? Do they get me? Do they know me? It wasn’t until um, probably mid-high school that I started to really embrace who I was and not let any of those things be internalized anymore.

Laura: Let’s fast forward that to adulthood and really into your career. How did that start showing up and playing into your career path as a woman?

Kristin: Well, honestly, probably from an early age I knew I wanted to be a stylist. It’s been a dream of mine actually (and now a dream come true). I remember sitting across from someone and they said to me, I want to dress like you. Can you help me look like you?

I took that as a great compliment because they were saying they wanted to look like me and not what am I doing? And then I took it a step further and realized they didn’t want to look like me — they just wanted to have the confidence I had in being me and putting what I wanted on my body to create my image. That’s when I realized that this personal styling thing that I’ve always wanted to do could actually be sustainable and I could do it for a living.

So I think that, you know, coming into adulthood, becoming more confident in myself and how I dress and why I dress the way that I do, um, really can help translate into my clients. Because what I’ve realized is they’re looking for confidence, not really a style change. They’re just looking for confidence in themselves. And when they reach out to me and say I want to look like you, I want to help them look like them.

keeping your edge in corporate america

Laura: Tell me a little bit more just behind the power of authentically dressing like yourself.

Kristin: Oh, there’s definitely power in it. I will say that 100%. Um, I think the power in it more so is that you had the confidence to wear what you felt good in and what looked right to you without the judgment of anyone else.

So people are going to judge, right? They do it every single day. We do it intentionally, unintentionally. But having that 100% confidence behind you, there is power in that because you’re not allowing anybody else to affect how you want to look and feel and how you want to present yourself to others.

Laura: So I know a lot of people, especially in the professional world, they say: Well, I’m limited by my industry. I can only dress like this because that’s what my industry says.

I’m a risk-taker by nature, so I’m all about pushing the envelope as well. But how can people incorporate their own personal style into their career path or whatever they’re doing in life that may have limitations?

Kristin: I can definitely relate there. I worked in corporate America, I’ve worked in non-corporate America, and I still stay true to my style. I think you hit it right on the head when you said risk-taker.

So you have to be willing to be a risk-taker, right? For your own personal style. But I get it. In corporate America, if they say to you, you need to have on a pantsuit, um, heels, you know, a blazer or a jacket. I understand. But I always push the limit myself. Okay, pantsuit? Cheetah print heel, right? Scarf to match. They’re not saying anywhere that I can or can’t wear a hat (hats are sort of my thing).

I pushed the limit that way and fusing colors in. If you have a black pantsuit but you love fuchsia — wear a fuchsia blouse underneath! That is how you push yourself to that limit of, I know I have to wear this pantsuit and it’s really boring, but I really want to look and feel amazing. Incorporate those colors you love, incorporate the patterns you love. There are no restrictions on that. And I do believe as we keep moving forward in the decades, those restrictions will become less.

So my advice is be a risk-taker. And if you’re not by nature, that’s okay, but at least push yourself a little bit to the limit of what you’re going to feel good in and look good in.

simple yet chic

Laura: What kind of recommendations or how would you work with somebody that is like I have the same three shirts and the same three pants and I’m just totally fine with that. How would you help them to embrace just exploring another part of their fashion?

Kristin: So I think a lot of times people will say like, I like these colors and I don’t like these other colors because sometimes they’ve never even seen themselves in that color. Um, kind of like food. I will never eat sushi because it sounds disgusting. It looks disgusting. But when they try it, they find the ones that they like. It doesn’t mean they’re going to like every single one of them. So I would give that same advice to a client.

A lot of times people will come to us and say, I know that I have some type of style in me or sometimes they come and say, I have zero style, please help girl. And we begin to explore. So one of the first things I do with a client is we create a Pinterest board together. We collaborate together. Like I can quickly identify when I look at somebody just because it’s natural to me what they would look good in, what colors they would look good in. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to like that color.

It’s also pushing them to that limit of: Have you ever seen yourself in this color? How do you know you don’t like it? Have you worn it? So really digging deep into what their personal style is and if they don’t have one, creating one together. I 100% believe in collaboration — especially when it comes to personal styling — because I’m just getting a feel for you. You’re getting a feel for me. But how do we feel out your style together? How do we come to those decisions together?

why style counts in business

Laura: I think that plays into your brand as well. So whether this is, you know, I’m a working professional and just trying to spruce things up or I’m building a company and a brand. It’s kind of a perfect segue into how does your personal styling carry along with building a business and a brand?

Kristin: So, we create brands here that are consistent and cohesive so that you’re able not only to see a profit from that but able to put something reputable out. So I do the same thing with style. It doesn’t mean you have to wear your logo colors all day every day, but really incorporating the look and feel.

So if you’re a brand makes people feel happy, excited, joyful, then when we’re talking personal style, how do you want people to feel about you as a leader? How do you want them to feel about you when they come to your conference room? So I really base it off of how are you feeling about your brand and how do you feel about yourself.

A lot of times we’ll find a disconnect in there of my brand looks like this but I’m feeling like this and it’s because you’re dressing not the way your brand is portraying. So there’s a brand disconnect there.

Worx & co experience

Laura: I’m thinking back to our photoshoot we had here at Worx & Co a couple of months ago and how the photos are such a heavy part of our visual brand. Within the photos are the styles of each individual woman, but as a whole, they give a feeling.

Kristin: I don’t even think that we talked color scheme and we all showed up that day just coordinated in the most beautiful way. And I think that goes back to we know how we want our brand to make people feel. We identified that prior to setting this photoshoot. So once we knew how we wanted people to feel, we stayed true to ourselves, we incorporated the things we loved that we felt good in, and then we were able to portray that confidence through those pictures.

And you definitely said it correctly: Without strong photos of your brand, of yourself, of your team, there will always be a brand disconnect with your personal style. I believe that personal style, along with branding, really ties everything back together. Whether that’s company shirts, whether that is how you look and feel as a leader, as an artist, as a musician. It brings it all back together. So everything is very cohesive and consistent.

details details details

Laura: How does personal styling play into also the style of the photography that goes into the branding?

Kristin: So I think it portrays a lot in color scheme, how you’re looking, where you’re standing, how you’re sitting, how your face is facing. There are a lot of times I’m creatively directing, too. I take it a little further. I go a little beyond the styling, but I come alive when I style and I come alive when I creatively direct a photoshoot. And that’s because having that eye for what you’re supposed to wear, what color, how you’re standing in that color.

It’s the details, you know, again, the details of every single position and color that you’re wearing ties back to that photoshoot. And without that photoshoot — you can’t deliver consistency. And we’ve said it a lot during this: details, consistency, color fusing. But it’s really to create something that with longevity and personal style your brand evolves. And if your style has been stagnant for years, not only is your style stagnate but your brand could be stagnant. Your life could be stagnant.

So I’m a believer in evolving.

dress like you — not your industry

Laura: I want to dig into encouraging people that you could be a lawyer and actually be the least lawyery lawyer that we know. Or you could be a female in the industry and can create your own brand style.

Krisitn: I am 100% advocate for creating your own brand style. In fact, it’s what I encourage most of my clients to do. Really push that envelope back and say, this is who I want to be. This is how I want to feel. And this is how I want other people to feel about me.

And, again, it’s not conforming to what society says that you’re supposed to look like. And you’re right. If there are corporate places with limitations, that’s one thing. But push pushing yourself knowing that, hey, I want to be a doctor and I want to wear tie-dye Crocs. That’s okay. And in fact, in most cases it makes you stand out because you’re being your authentic self.

And I think that if we could push more people in personal styling to truly be their authentic selves, you know, a lot of times I ask the question, if you woke up tomorrow and you only had one outfit, what would it be? And I often asky myself in the morning: Who do I want to be today? How do I want people to feel about me today? How do I want to feel about myself today? And then how am I going to portray that to the world?

So tying it back into confidence again. It’s having that confidence to push back and say, I refuse to follow what you’re saying. I’m a doctor. I wear tie-dye Crocs, a bowtie, a backward hat and I’m still one damn good doctor.

the judgements

Laura: Let’s talk about nonsense for a hot second because I think that sometimes it’s misleading that if you carry yourself well and you dress well you look, let me just say, like a snobby bitch.

Kristin: Oh yeah. I think that’s what bougie probably means, uh, in the negative world of when people use that word. I’ll tell you what, if I let every person who thought I was a bougie bitch run me, then I would probably be sitting here naked. So it’s a myth everybody. It’s a myth. It’s not real. You can be exactly who you want to be and not worry about what anyone else thinks.

And for anybody out there right now who’s like, oh my God, I’m not going to wear cheetah shoes, I would encourage you to just try it one time. Okay? Zebra if you want. But push yourself somewhere else because there is so much negativity in the world on social media and in the media world period of you have to look like this, you have to be this. But then when you become that because you listened to them, then they say, oh my God, you’re such a snobby bitch and then you say, but you told me to wear that.

So it’s almost contradictive, right? Because the media world is telling you you have to have this and look like this and be this, and then as oftentimes as we do, we click order because somebody said we had to have it. We get it, we hate it, we wear it anyways. And then someone says, who does she think she is for putting that on? And then we end up feeling like shit because we put on the thing that society told us to put on. Well, everybody, you should feel like shit because you didn’t follow your true self.

And to all of the people too that just feel like, I don’t want people to think I’m all that or too much or I dress like this and now I’m this. Screw them.

recycled fashion

Laura: I’m a huge advocate for, I don’t really care how much you spend on your clothing or your shoes or your bag as long as it’s falling within your budget. And it’s a responsible thing to do whether you’re a millionaire or not. If you’re middle class or not. Like you could wear Gucci or you could get the t-shirts at Five Below and wear both of them with the same amount of confidence.

Kristin: I’m glad you said that Laura, because here was an often misperception of myself and you know, I stated earlier, oh, she’s rich. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve never been rich. I’m headed there though. But no matter where I was at —Kmart, Walmart, thrift store, Payless, I have been in Gucci, I have been in Louis Vuitton, I have owned something that costs a lot of money, etc. — there was no difference in how I felt.

And that’s when I started to realize it doesn’t matter how much I spend on it. It’s about me. It’s about how I feel in it. And many times, actually 90% of the time I put together something that did come from consignment shops. And I’m very proud to say that because not only have I saved money throughout the years, but I also looked really good doing it. And most of the compliments that I have received have been from an outfit that’s 90% from a consignment shop.

And let’s talk about that for a second. Recycled fashion. I believe in recycled fashion to the T. Are there new lovely pieces that come out at New York & Co. and Gucci and all of those places that I love as well? Yes. But I’m able to spend within my limits and still look fabulous and still feel as confident as the woman who would wear a Gucci book bag. And I’m wearing one from Target. I’m still as confident as her. And I think that’s really important to say as we move forward in life.

And for anybody who is struggling with their personal style or does feel like, oh my God, I don’t even have the money to invest in my own style. You do, you have it. It’s where are you going and being strategic about what you’re looking for? What pieces do you want to incorporate into your fashion?

staple pieces

Krisitn: I am all about staple pieces. We talk about it a lot here. That blazer you love that you can wear multiple shirts with. Right? I believe in those staple pieces. In fact, that is something I line up with my clients when we start creating those boards, understanding each other’s fashion, understanding the collaboration.

Then kind of phase two goes into what do you need to be successful every day? Is there a staple piece that you need to have? Okay, great. How many shirts can you coordinate with that one piece? Because when you start to create those staple pieces, the other things become secondary and you’re really able to save some money on those secondary pieces if you invest a little bit more in those staple pieces.

I have about 10 staple pieces, um, and growing. But absolutely that blazer you feel phenomenal in that you can pair multicolored shirts with. Absolutely. Those pair of pumps that will go with any meeting from day or night. Booties for fall, of course. Heeled booties and flat booties are staple pieces of mine. Ones that I can wear with ripped jeans, with skinny pants, with sweat pants. Yes, I push the limit.

I also have a great sweater that coordinates with anything. Have you seen the long vests? They’re like very long passed your knees. These are just my staple pieces. But again, I’m able to pair these staple pieces with so many things that it’s almost deceiving to the eye because somebody may not know I just wore it last week with something else. That’s why they call them stable pieces.

And if you start to incorporate those and you have a good 10 staple pieces in your closet, again, the other things become secondary. And then, hey, next week I can pair that with that Hunter green shirt or that lime shirt or, oh, maybe I can wear this, you know, tied around my neck versus on me.

So there are just so many ways you can wear one piece of clothing. And I think again it’s just pushing it to the edge and realizing you can.

don’t break the bank

Laura: So, what about people that are saying, I definitely want to up my game but it’s expensive. How can I spruce up my current attire without breaking the bank?

Kristin: The first thing I would do is, and this helped me — especially for those who might have a lot of clothes — really lining everything up. Color-coding it. How many black pieces do you have? How many green pieces do you have? How many red pieces do you have? And then begin to purge because you’ll notice that some of those things you don’t wear anymore. You haven’t worn for years. Oh, God. How long have I had this?

Now, sometimes, that can be beneficial because if you loved it and forgot about it, then you can say, great, I have a new shirt to wear tomorrow. But for myself, I laid everything out and said, okay, well I haven’t worn that in 10 years. Do I love it? We’re big advocates here on, is it a hell yes or a hell no? And implementing that into your style, if it doesn’t feel like a hell yes on, give it one more try. Right? Try it on. If you look in the mirror and you’re like, ah, I don’t know about this — that’s usually a hell no. And get rid of it. Sell it.

A lot of times when I go through, I call them closet cycles, I purge and I either give away or I sell and the profit that I make from selling those clothes goes right back into the place that I’m shopping for new clothes. So be very resourceful with what you have because you did invest your money into those pieces again, either for charity or being able to collect some money from those pieces to invest in new things.

Now, let’s add this to the mix: I don’t have any money to get anything and I just don’t know how to go in and sell these clothes and I’m a little shy and I don’t want to do it.

We hear you. That’s when I encourage you to really push yourself to the edge. What do you have? What have you never worn with something else? Did you think you couldn’t because that color may not go with that color? I would push your edge. You know, look on Pinterest. Pinterest is a great resource, especially for visualization of color schemes. What goes with what? If you’re not sure if those two colors would look well together, go on Pinterest. Look it up and say, you know, will Hunter green go with fuchsia? And then they’ll pull up a whole lineup of outfits showing you how they coordinate together.

So again, push yourself to that edge. Use the pieces that you already have and then start mixing things differently with them.

$500 into 120 looks

Laura: I’m thinking from a branding perspective again, um, on average, would you say that there is like an average amount that men and women can expect to invest in clothing for photoshoots for business?

Kristin: Well, I think it depends on the business and on your personal budget. But with all of that out of the picture for a second, I would say a good $500. Um, and that’s kind of pushing it to the higher end. You could probably do something around $300. How many outfits do you need? What do you need them for? How many poses will there be? A lot of things factor in. But I would say a good hearty budget would be $500.

Now, that’s where I work magic. With that $500 I can create 120 looks. Um, and I’m serious if you don’t believe me, just try it out. But um, it’s getting the staple pieces that you need, aligning those up, and then adding those secondary pieces in. And that’s really how I set up everybody for success because I’m thinking well beyond the photoshoot. I’m thinking, how can you incorporate these new pieces for your new brand into your new life and your new style?

Where to start

Laura: What is a great place for people to start? I’m sure that everyone’s kind of going into their closet in their brain or maybe they’ve got their earbuds in and they’re looking at their shoes like, well shoot, maybe I shouldn’t wear those?

What are some first steps, some bite-size things that people can implement right away with what they have at home?

Krisitn: So I would say the first thing is if you don’t have organization within your closet, get it today. And believe it or not, I am just now embracing that organization. Become organized, line everything up, color-coordinate everything. Because then you’ll start to realize what you have more of what you have less of, what you need.

So first things first: organize. Lay everything out. What do you have? How many pieces do you have of what? Once you do that, you can see quickly what you want to get rid of, what you want to keep, what you might not want to keep.

And then Pinterest. I’m going to go back to Pinterest again. Create a board for yourself. In fact, create one that is your current style and one of you pushing yourself to the edge. As you look at the one that’s current and then the one that you want to evolve to, How are they similar and how are they different? Then you can start to develop a plan.

What do I need? How many of these do I need? Well, I think I want to push myself a little bit more to Royal blue, so I have two pieces already. Would one more suffice? I know I hate yellow and I have six yellow shirts. I’m going to give these away or I’m going to sell these to invest back into the Royal blue. See how that works.

And again, I’m very resourceful, so I’m just kind of giving you the advice on my end of things. But I’ve really developed a plan over the years that not only works for me, but I’ve been able to implement it into other people’s lives as well. And I’m starting to receive the feedback from family and friends that are saying, oh my God, I didn’t even realize I had all of this. Thank you so much. Now I was able to get rid of this and acquire this.

So develop a plan, organize, create, and then make a list of what you need. Purchase those things. Only oftentimes we go to the store and go, I love that. Oh, I love that. Oh, I love that. I’m all about lists now, make that list of what you need. Start there. If you know that you can’t afford everything on that list, start with the main pieces that you want to incorporate now and then build on that again. It’s okay where you are and to build on top of it is okay too.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. I think it’s such a beautiful reminder that you don’t have to flip the switch today.

What Does Gutsy Mean to You?

Kristin: Gutsy means a lot of things to me, but in personal style, it truly means being a risk-taker. It truly means being so confident in yourself that whether you’re in all black or bright fuchsia or lime green or cheetah and zebra, that as long as you’re confident about who you are, that nobody can take that power from you with your personal style. Being gutsy to me is all about being a risk-taker and standing in your power and taking ownership of who you are and what your style is.

Connect With Kristin

Website  |  Personal Image Styling

Facebook  |  Kaptivated Kulture (for inspo) Kristin Holt worx&co (for booking)

Thank You, Gutsy Tribe!

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