Last week, YouTube kicked off their Women To Watch campaign, which celebrates extraordinary women who are redefining the entertainment industry on their own terms. YouTube Canada has evolved into a powerful platform for female creators by encouraging real and authentic stories. 

This week, we caught up with one of those Women To Watch: LA Personal Stylist, School of Style Co-Founder, and Fashion Expert Lauren Messiah. Lauren is a highly sought-after personal stylist in LA. Her massive roster of clients includes some of Hollywood’s most successful businesswomen (from companies like FOX, CBS, HBO, Lifetime, Warner Brothers and Nickelodeon). Her clients have also graced the red carpet at the Emmy’s, the MTV Music Video Awards and the Golden Globes.

We found out what made her want to become a stylist, why we get stuck in fashion ruts, and how dressing for your body type can instantly increase your confidence. 

SDTC: When did you know you wanted to become a stylist?

LM: For me, I wanted to work as a designer. When I was five years old, my grandmother taught me how to sew. I made clothes for my Barbies, for myself, for the high school fashion show. I went to college for fashion design, and once I graduated, I realized that wasn’t quite the job for me.

After [I worked in] retail, which was like the biggest letdown after going to school for design. The retail experience is actually what made me want to style. I’d help customers with outfits for job interviews, or for dates, and I just saw how much they would light up when they had the right outfit on. I just enjoyed the creativity of putting a look together, rather than sitting there and actually designing it. That’s when the spark came for me.

Have you always been this confident in your own style?

My style has evolved. I’ve had ups and downs in regards to what my style has done for me. But I’ve always been known as the most stylish of the group, and everyone has always asked me for fashion advice. For me, it was about calibrating my confidence level in different situations in regards to my style. So if I were at a huge meeting for one of my companies, and people were not taking me seriously, then it’s like, “Okay, I feel great about my look being stylish, but it’s not serious enough for this setting.” I think that’s where I’m able to identify how to use style as something that can help you rather than hurt you. Whether you have no style or a ton of style – if it works against you, it doesn’t matter either way. 

How do you go about making people more confident with their own style?

My secret sauce as a stylist is not to put style on people, but to figure out who the person actually is and dress them accordingly. When you go to a mall and a sales associate puts a really cute outfit on you, and you look great but you don’t feel great – it’s because it doesn’t feel like you. You don’t have that confidence. You end up returning the outfit.

I spend a lot of time figuring out exactly who my client is and for people that use my virtual services, I have a series of questions I ask that dig deeper. So they can see for themselves, “Hey, I am really sexy/smart/talented. Why isn’t my wardrobe reflecting that? I want to get to the level where I’m running a company or I’m in the corner office – of course I wouldn’t wear yoga pants to work if that were the end goal.”

What is the biggest misconception people have about what you do as a stylist?

People are like, “Oh my gosh, are you judging my outfit right now?” No, I’m really not. There’s no judgment. I don’t walk around thinking, Oh, she should change those pants.

Why do you think people are reluctant to change up their style or get out of a fashion rut?

People will say that fashion feels frivolous. It feels silly, wasteful. They say, “Fashion, that’s stupid…I have better things to spend my money on.” But what I’ve discovered is they are reluctant because they feel like they’re going to fail. Getting dressed should be easy – you go to the store, you pick something out, you put it on. But it’s really not easy at all. People think, If I fail, what kind of loser am I? I can’t put an outfit together? They’d rather just push it off completely rather than take a risk and have it not work out. 

With so many options for fashion and so many influences, do you think it’s harder to get dressed now than it was sixty years ago?

There’s really no time to keep up. You get that choice fatigue. But it really doesn’t matter where you get the clothes; the clothes are just a vehicle to take to where you want to go. You can wear last season’s clothes, you can wear vintage clothes, you can wear whatever – you just have to decide what suits you, your budget and your needs.

Clothes are almost an extension of our bodies. So a lot of times, I think body insecurity can become style insecurity. What are some styling tips that will help increase our body confidence?

I’m just wrapping up a series, “Dress Right For Your Body Type,” right now. I have a corresponding course that goes with it. So many people will say, “Dressing for your body type, that’s stupid! Wear whatever you want!” Easier said than done! If you have a cute little Instagram-model body, sure. But you need to know what you’re working with so you can make the right choices.

Women are all different shapes and sizes, but they’re always presented with the same information. Like, “This looks like a cute little outfit on the model, let me try it!” Then “Oh, it looks like crap. Nothing ever fits me.” You first have to identify what your body type is. The way I teach it is very simple – no fruit, vegetable, desk accessory – it’s all about where you carry your weight. You could be bigger on the top, bottom, or in the middle. You can be proportional, or you can have no curves. Once you understand the body type and what clothing actually flatters you, then you can know the silhouettes, pick the trends, and pick the colours. Then all of a sudden, everything fits you! My clients will say, “I’m just gonna warn you, nothing fits me.” Then we do the fitting and everything looks great, they look like they’ve lost ten pounds, and they’re blown away. It’s like, you were working with the wrong deck of cards. Once you figure it out, it’s instant confidence.

What have you learned about yourself over the years of putting yourself on YouTube?

I’ve learned to thicken up my skin. I think just having the YouTube channel has changed so many things for me as far as understanding my clients better goes. I definitely understand myself better, and learn not to take things personally, and getting firm on what I believe in. Early on, people would challenge my ideas and say I didn’t know what I was talking about. Now, I know that I know what I’m talking about. I believe fully in what I stand for. 

What made you want to get involved with Women To Watch?

I consider it a huge honour. When I started my channel, I didn’t think anyone was going to watch it, period. I was like, I’ll throw up a couple videos and see what happens. I think with YouTube, there’s this misconception that you’re going to be this seventeen-year-old girl in your bedroom talking about the stuff you got from H&M. But to have these women speak to their craft in a way that really connects with people? Of course I would want to be involved in a campaign like that. 

Look forward to Lauren’s upcoming Client Makeover series; follow along on a client consultation, closet purge, and eventual big reveal!