Swarovski on Michigan Avenue was buzzing with excitement last night. A stylish crowd gathered to celebrate the launch of personal style expert Jacqui Stafford’s new book, The Wow Factor. She mingled with the crowd, signing books and chatting with partygoers. Before the big event, I sat down with Jacqui to ask her some questions about her style philosophy and what led her to write her fabulous book.
SCS: What was it like living and working in Hong Kong? Were there any huge differences in the fashion world there compared to the United States?
JS: Good point! Living in Hong Kong was fantastic, but the one thing I realized was women are the same the world over. They all have the same insecurities, they all want to look prettier, they all think they need to lose weight; they all want to dress for their body shape. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world whether it’s in Europe, Africa, or Asia, everybody has the same insecurities. It’s very interesting.
SCS: After adopting your daughter, Charlotte, did your perspective on fashion change at all?
JS: My little munchkin! She’s the light of my life and the book’s dedicated to the deliciously naughty Charlotte. I’ve always been one of these women who isn’t a fan of shopping, despite what I do for a living. So what I’ve perfected is the art of being able to do it quickly. I know what works for me and I don’t make fashion mistakes. I’ve learned the hard way from years and years of working with real women. It has taught me to shop online and in stores quickly, which is good because when you’re a mother you have even less time to have the luxury of browsing on the weekends. I never have time to shop, so consequently it’s made me very good at it.
SCS: Do you have any tips for busy women who want to stay in shape?
JS: What’s really important for all women is to fit in some type of exercise in their day. Whether it’s running in the park or going for a walk, anything that gets your heart rate up is important.
SCS: What is your must-have article of clothing or accessory you can’t leave the house without?
JS: Oh, jewelry and scarves! It makes such a difference because you can wear the plainest outfit, like a t-shirt and jeans, and if you accessorize, it makes such a difference. It takes your look from boring to fabulous; from blah to brilliant, I like to say. It just shows you’ve made that extra effort to take pride in your appearance. You don’t need to be the skinniest or the prettiest girl in the room to have the wow factor, it’s really about having a lot of confidence, being self-assured, and being the best you can be. Don’t try and be something you’re not.
SCS: Your styling business is very interesting because it caters to many different people’s needs. When did you first have the idea to have three types of personal consultations: shopping, styling, and closet cleanout sessions?
JS: That’s a great question because people were always asking me to do a combination of things. Not everyone wants to go shopping; some people just want help going through their wardrobe and figuring out the pieces that work best for them. I’m a big believer in invigorating your wardrobe and seeing what you’ve already got. I like to refresh women’s wardrobes. My program can be approached in many ways because I have many different types of clients.
SCS: Your Style Me Jacqui styling program is pure genius! People send in photos and you shop for them. Where did you get the idea for such an innovative styling consultation program?
JS: I have clients who couldn’t afford to shop with me all day long, and it’s nice to offer women a really affordable option. After I determine the client’s body shape, I give her suggestions for which clothes work for her. I wanted to be completely accessible because I can’t be all over the country at once. I’m only one person, but I like to help women and this was like me, but multiplied!
SCS: What inspired you to write your new book, The Wow Factor?
JS: I wanted to write my book as a non-fashion person’s fashion book. There are many beautiful books out there, like coffee table books, which are lovely, but not accessible. What I wanted to do for women was to share my style secrets I’ve learned from over the years and really boil it down to what gives women the wow factor. I wanted it to be easy for anyone, whether you’re a size 2 or a size 20, or whether you have a lot to spend or nothing at all. It’s a fun book because you can’t take yourself too seriously… it’s just fashion!
– Claire Mykrantz
Photos: Second City Style