Carolyne Van Den Hoogen's Summer 2017 Posts

Lessons – A Few Ways Joseph Changed My Life and Thinking

Here we are again! You’d think that all we do is eat. But, eating is crucial when keeping the schedule that Joseph has.

When Joseph first meet me and offered me this internship, I assumed I would learn all about fashion. My goal, if you don’t know already, is to be in the business side of the fashion industry. Whether marketing or sales, this is the industry for me. So, I sought out an internship with Joseph to gain in-depth understanding of clothing and the structure of the industry. I expected lessons of style, I also leave with life lessons.

Joseph, as you may know, does not limit his service by the moniker of personal stylist. Joseph doesn’t just dress you, he offers much more than that. So, while I thought my objective was to learn about fashion, I am coming away with so much more. Plus, I have learned about life and, in the process, have learned much more about myself. Joseph is not only your stylist. He is also your friend. I want to share with you five standout lessons Joseph taught me.

1.     The Energy of Clothes

One of the very first things I learned about clothing was the energy it holds. The concept that clothing has its own energy was something I had never heard before. Learning that clothing has its own energy was my first step in understanding that clothing goes beyond the physical fabric.

The consumer’s energy associated with clothing begins with the purchase. Whether it’s the store’s cleanliness, the sales associates’ moods, or you are “hangry” (hungry-angry) it all affects a garment’s energy. As I wrote in an earlier blog post Clothing is Alive, clothing has an aura. From the moment I saw clothing hanging on Joseph’s blank white studio walls, I experienced a connection with the clothes. A relationship develops between you and each piece. Then, when it is time to present a collection of curated clothes to the client, everything falls into place. How does the garment successfully satisfy the needs of the client? How is it that the garment communicates exactly what the client needs to say? The answer is that it is energy. The clothing has energy.

2.     Life > Fashion

America is the capital of consumerism: buy…feel happy…get rid of…and buy more. People buy clothing for so many reasons. Some people want to simply have something to wear. Others want to show up the brunch gals. Still others, want to get the girl, or the promotion. I find that status is possibly the biggest motivator when purchasing clothing.

Previous to the internship, I wanted the new Adidas sneakers and I wanted to know the hottest trends. I’m not saying that I was some Kardashian-trend-following teen. I just wanted to be current and in-the-know with fashion. I can admit that I wanted to be cool. Many people allow envy and jealousy to rule their lives, and then social climbing becomes their only purpose. In an industry of such materialism, you have to seek satisfaction beyond what is in your closet.

A few times a year Joseph receives calls from a client going on luxurious trips to exotic locations. Joseph’s constant drives to San Francisco and visits to New York, create the client’s glorious travel capsule. Of course, the client looks fabulous on her luxurious trip. It is so much more than that. A client with a substantial amount of money could’ve bought the new Birkin bag. Instead she chose to see the world and spend time with her husband. Just like this client, we must invest more into our lives than our wardrobes.

I have spent the past 5 months in the closets of men and women with clothing beyond my wildest dreams. How can it be that people with such incredible clothes are the least materialistic people I have ever met? This internship has taught me that we cannot let fashion rule our lives. Above all else we must search for happiness and satisfaction in life. We ought to value opportunities and relationships, maybe more than we already do. Life is greater than clothing, and we must look beyond material objects in order to be more content.

3.     GSD (get shit done) and take care of yourself

To the people who think the fashion industry is fluffy and glamorous: it is not. Joseph is one of the hardest working people I know. He will go the extra 500 miles if that’s what it takes to meet his clients’ needs. Whether an hour long heart-to-heart in a client’s closet, or waking up at 5:00 AM to get to San Francisco early, he always delivers. So many people could say no. Joseph says yes. I’ve been there every step of the way this summer and fall, and assure you, it’s not all glamorous.

A valuable lesson that I have learned is time efficiency. If you have 30 minutes now to make a return at a store, do it now. Time is valuable. Results are important. The client is Number One. In addition, you must always take care of yourself. In this industry it easy to work yourself to death, but you are also important.

On one very stressful day of shopping in the city Joseph and I paused. It wasn’t one of those occasions when we pulled out our phones to check social media. It was one of those moments when you eat a piece of cake in the middle of the store. In a luxurious store Joseph and I left crumbs of cake. We needed it. In a week of stress and back-to-back appointments, this cake healed us. The lesson I learned that day is to take care of you.

4.     Trends vs. Individuality

One of the first questions I asked Joseph was, “Do you go out and buy the season’s looks for your client?” Joseph is special in that way. He doesn’t buy into the trends. One might think that a personal stylist dresses their clients in the hottest and most current clothes of the moment. But, not all trends represent a person’s individual style. Joseph dresses clients according to their own unique style, and this is why he is so successful.

Joseph presented a blouse to a client that he purchased on a recent trip to New York. When presenting the garment he told the client that he was walking through the store and paused. There was a romance in the volume of the sleeves and the creativity displayed in the cuffs. Instantly, Joseph knew this garment was meant for this particular client. When the client tried on the special piece her eyes popped and her face lit up. If the blouse represented a person, it would be her. If we had presented the client with one of the season’s hottest trends she would’ve looked like everyone else in a sea of trends. A hand-selected piece that represents a person is far more powerful, special, and effective than a trend.

The first day we zipped up to San Francisco, Joseph kind of blew my mind. I thought to myself, “but he is in fashion. How can he not dress the clients in trends? People in fashion obsess about trends.” The concept of trends vs. individuality rocked my world at the time. It all began to make sense and I quickly became an advocate for individuality in style.

Status is what rules the fashion industry today, and fashion followers keep up with trends to attain status. Celebrities are the faces of companies. Labels have now prostituted themselves to turn a profit.

Let me explain this some more. Brands that have such a rich history, and have shaped the fashion industry, have lost artistic value in their labels. An example of this is seeing so many brands printing their names on goods. Fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga, back in his day, shaped the industry with drama conveyed through angles and the color black. 2017’s Balenciaga is a “brand” that sells a black sweatshirt with “Balenciaga” printed all over. Prostitution of this prestigious label is what turns a profit. Wearing that sweatshirt says, “I spent $600 on a sweatshirt.” Individuality is dying in the fashion industry and trends have taken over.  As I launch into this idnustry, I want to be the one who changes that.

5.     Be the best possible version of yourself

Ah yes, this was one of the very first ‘Josephisms’ that took hold of me. One might think that, coming from Joseph as a stylist, the best possible version of yourself is being incredibly chic. When Joseph mentions this to every client, he intends it to mean much more than showing their personal style.

One of the first things I noticed when I first walked into Joseph’s studio was his vision board. A vision board is a board in which one organizes their goals and the things that one values in life. A few weeks into interning with Joseph, I created my own. On my vision board I put up images that represented goals in my spiritual life, physical looks, and my career. Each image represented the end goal, the best possible version of myself.

A few months ago a client called us on our way up to San Francisco. The client told us she wanted another capsule but that she had gained weight since she had last seen Joseph. She asked Joseph if we should start on a capsule now or wait until she had lost the weight. Joseph’s advice was to start now because the client still had to go on living her career and personal lives. In other words, this is who you are now and we are going to do everything we can to make you the best possible version of yourself.

There is a misconception of being perfect. Instead of focusing on being perfect, focus on the best you can be. This means to show up with your best self. Be in the best shape you can, turn in the best draft of the essay that you can. That is what you can do. Hearing this 7-letter phrase brings me great comfort because it means I can be me.

My internship has taught me way more than I ever thought I would learn. In addition to learning about style, I’ve learned about myself. As you spend more and more time with Joseph you will see that he is your teacher. The lessons he teaches are not limited to style but are also life lessons. I said, Joseph isn’t just a stylist, he is a friend and a mentor. He’s not just that way with me. He gives that care and attention to everyone. I cannot wait to break into the fashion industry and I thank Joseph for taking me on as summer/fall intern.

My role, as a personal brand and style strategist, is that of a storyteller. I learn about a person’s personality and strengths, translate that into an appropriate personal style aesthetic, and help each client to visually and non-verbally tell her or his story with ease and authenticity.