I’m a stylist who works on commercial shoots and with private clients — it’s a lot of time spent with women and wardrobes. My job is to make them look amazing. When I do my job well, they look and feel amazing, and I must credit yoga for making me a better stylist.
When the economy tanked after 9/11, my styling career slowed down leaving me with ample amounts of free time. I had been practicing yoga with some amazing teachers which eventually led me to sign up for a teacher training. It seemed like a good way to deepen my own practice while giving me something purposeful to do with my days since styling was so slow.
Eventually, the styling jobs came back. My weeks were spent working on shoots where I would dress models, or with private clients where I’d help them sort through their closets and determine what to wear.
How Yoga Makes Me A Better Stylist
With private clients, the sorting-through process could get grueling because they’d cling to their stuff. It wouldn’t even matter if they liked the things they were holding onto. It was this habit of accumulation that they had grown used to. When I looked at this habit as grasping, the yama aparigraha – which I studied in my teacher training— came back into my brain. By recalling the lessons of this yama, I could work with my client to let go more easily. She’d come to see that she didn’t need the cute cut-off shorts that looked amazing five years ago, but now only hiked up too high, making her uncomfortable. She could let go of all that no longer served where she was in her present life. This would leave her with a closet filled only with pieces that flattered, the items that made her look and feel amazing.
On shoots, after a model tries on an outfit, she’d come out of the dressing room ready to receive feedback. I’d look, and question whether the clothes flattered and fit. But sometimes, when she came out – the clothes would look weird. Seams were off center, sleeves hung too long, and pants sagged. Finally, I started to notice it wasn’t always the clothing that was off, it was the person, and how she was standing. Body alignment was a big part of my teacher training, and this awareness is really helpful in styling. With a simple stance adjustment like dropping a tailbone, or drawing the shoulder blades in towards one another, the whole visual of an outfit would shift. Their clothes would slip into the right place making my model look and feel amazing.
Occasionally my call time for a shoot is at 7am and we’ll work until 9pm. This schedule makes it tough to get to yoga class. As a committed yogi, I’ve come to rely on the practice to help keep me calm and carry on — a skill that’s quite useful at work (and in life!). I like to wake up early so one morning as I was puttering around my place, I realized I could use this time to do yoga. Calling on the info from the sequencing unit in my teacher training, I made my own class! When my body needed 20 minutes of surya namaskar, I’d flow through that. If it was craving something deeper, I’d go into a 45 minute posture building sequence. A home practice has been key in keeping me fresh on the job. It resets my energy so I can show up ready to get down to the business of making women look and feel amazing.
Sometimes the pressure on set gets intense. I’ll have ten racks of clothing that I haven’t yet gone through, and an art director standing by who wants to see completed outfits. I try not to let the stress get to me, but it’s hard when in the throes of it all (or ten racks deep). If I let my mind go crazy into panic mode, it’ll effect my creativity and decisions — I can’t make models look and feel really good in that head space! When I caught on to the fact that my racing mind was getting in the way of my focus, I turned to one of the biggest takeaways from my teacher training, the yoga sutra yoga chitta vritti nirodha, or yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. How could I create strong outfits when I wasn’t able to concentrate? I couldn’t. So I started a meditation practice to help train my mind to be more still. By slowing my reptilian brain reaction time, more space for creativity can flow which definitely helps in inspired outfit planning, and making women look and feel amazing.