This Is What It's Like to Be an Online Stylist IRL

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If picking out your clothes the night before is the best part of your day, your friends come to you for outfit ideas, or you are religiously tuned into The Rachel Zoe Project, you've probably played with the idea of being a fashion stylist one day.

But like everything else in this word, even the styling industry is rapidly digitizing. And what does that mean, exactly? There are tons of online stylist options now, such as Stylit, Trunk Club and Keaton Row, that are just revving to get your wardrobe up-to-snuff this season.

One such site, Stitch Fix, offers complete online styling: You sign up, answer a styling quiz and are set up with a stylist. Then, poof! Just like magic, you receive a box of items hand-picked by a remote stylist just for you. (Check out the video below for a real-life customer review of the process.)

The client gets to buy what they love, return the rest and work a wardrobe curated by some of the most stylish people in the biz. Pretty fantastic from their end, right? But we wanted to know who's on the other side of things, so we spoke with Mary Steben, a remote stylist at Stitch Fix, about what it takes to be an online stylist.

Though she hails from California, Mary's now located in New York, where she works from home for the online styling business. Mary started as an intern for Stitch Fix, always knowing she wanted to be in the fashion business (even before she became one of their full-time stylists, which means being on-call for styling Monday through Friday).

Mary styles several people during the week, and though all the styling occurs online (with no additional phone or personalized email contact) her favorite part is building relationships from afar with clients who request her again and again.

"The best part, I think, is when you have really strong relationships with certain clients, and they feel like they're one of your friends because you've been styling them for so long," she said. "They trust your opinion. They try new trends they wouldn't have picked out on their own."

How does Mary find out about new trends? A lot of her inspiration comes from where you look, too!Scanning Pinterest or checking out what celebrities are wearing are two of Mary's go-to style inspo sources, and Rachel Zoe is one of her all-time favorite stylists.

Still, digital styling can become difficult when she can't see the client and shop alongside her, Mary says.

"Just because we aren't specifically dealing with the clients, I can't show them what I'm picking out as I'm picking it out," Mary said. "They receive the box a couple days later without knowing, so in that sense, it's very different. They may love what they get, and they may hate what they get."

Not to mention, Mary selects her options from Stitch Fix's predetermined inventory, so those options can be limiting after a week of heavy styling.
ChristmasBut most of the time, the experience is extremely rewarding, Mary said. "There's one client of mine in her 60s, and when I first started styling, I was afraid that she wouldn't like [the styled selections]," she said. "This one woman is so experimental, and she'll try anything and ends up loving everything I send her. She's so fun to style!"

What trend is Mary loving the most for fall?

"I love the wide leg trousers," Mary said. "I just saw a pair in Zara that were black - a nicer material - they were just amazing."
And as for shoes, "It kind of depends on your height," she said. "If you're really tall like me, you could get away with wearing a cool sandal, for the most part." If you're on the shorter side, the stylist suggests pairing the wide leg with a slip-on mule or platform shoe.

Sound like your dream job? Check out Stitch Fix's careers page to see if any opportunities seem like a good fit!

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