Interview with Mallory Sills, Chicago Image Consultant with Serious Fashion Cred
Mallory Sills, a Chicagoan, is a personal stylist and the Founder and Lead Consultant of Image Success by Mallory. She is also a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, has been certified by the prestigious New York-based Fashion Institute of Technology as an image consultant, and worked alongside Stacy London of TLC’s What Not to Wear and Zanna Roberts Rassi, Senior Fashion Editor at Marie Claire magazine and Project Runway mentor.
The motto of Sills’ business, which has a goal of “helping women create an image that tells their personal story,” is a catchy and reassuring “When you look good, you feel good, and you do good.” This notion of positive transformation is part of her core belief: that daily clothing choices can change a customer’s existence, by influencing mood and personal image so strongly. After all, if a client’s wardrobe says nothing in particular about her personality, that is a missed opportunity to communicate something essential and important to the world.
So, whether Skyping with customers during a “BrandYou” personal styling consultation or kicking it up a notch with her “Wardrobe Boot Camp” discussions, Sills feels her quest is to help magnify, thru wardrobe choices, a customer’s inner sense of self, and the rest will follow.
As she explains, “Image is personal…it’s emotional, and it’s your way of speaking to the world without saying anything.” Once an aesthetic upgrade is accomplished, she believes, that can be a stepping-stone for a smoother path towards a customer’s personal and professional goals.
Mallory Sills and I initially connected through social media, and have been working on various collaborations with Ensambl a mobile app that populates styled outfit inspiration according to the weather. We spoke recently about her own sense of fashion, how she garners style inspiration, and what apparel can help outsmart changeable Chicago weather.
Sills has a distinctly Midwest-based style perspective; this is a region of the country known for a more conservative way of thinking, so her fashion choices and suggestions definitely follow that mindset.
Tell us a little about yourself — how did you get to where you are today?
At a fairly young age, I knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry. It really wasn’t until going through my own personal self-esteem/body image struggles that I realized the power of feeling and looking your best.
Going through those struggles gave me a different perspective about the emotional side of what we wear, and it propelled me into wanting to help others experience that power. During college I did anything and everything I could to educate myself on the science behind styling/image consulting, so that I would have as much knowledge as possible.
Upon graduating, I had the opportunity to train with Stacy London from TLC’s What Not to Wear, and I instantly knew Image Consulting/Personal Styling was the route I was meant to take on!
What do you love most about what you do?
I love having the opportunity to be a part of someone’s journey to feel more confident in themselves. Having a client email/text/call me to tell me how great they feel about the way they look is the best feeling, and I’m truly touched that I’m able to be a part of their journey.
What is one thing that makes you unique?
I would say my passion. I absolutely love what I do and I’m extremely passionate about helping others.
What challenges have you faced so far in your business and how have you overcome them?
I would say that my biggest challenge is to show others that what we wear is more than just the clothes we don in the morning.
Many people find spending money, time, etc. on what to wear to be silly and superficial — I’ve heard all sorts of things on that topic! But it’s so much more than many realize. What we wear sets a tone for how we feel, how we act, and how others perceive us. I’ve overcome that by really doing a lot of networking and speaking – i.e. trying to show individuals that you can use your appearance as part of your “personal brand.” And also sharing my personal story with how I adapted what I wore to overcome some obstacles in my life.
What advice would you give to someone who has a dream or talent they want to pursue?
Don’t wait for the “perfect time” to pursue your dream. The truth is there will never be a perfect time (for anything really) and if you wait for that perfect time, it probably will never come. It’s going to be scary and it will probably be stressful but the rewards of following your dream far exceed any of those things.
Sills’ Fashion Treasure Trove: Wax-Coated Denim, Pinterest, and Polyvore
How do you describe your style?
My style definitely fluctuates depending on my emotions; I’ve always been one to express my emotions creatively, through what I wear. But in general I always love to dress with a feminine influence mixed with an edgy element — or a little surprise touch.
Who are your style icons?
I have a number of style icons I appreciate. But I would have to say Jennifer Lopez, Blake Lively and Olivia Palermo are some top inspiration icons recently.
From where do you draw inspiration for your style?
I’m a huge Pinterest user, so Pinterest is a big one for me. It always gets my creative thoughts going. I also love using Polyvore [an innovative, social-community-based fashion website] to create some inspiration from myself.
Do you have a favorite piece of clothing?
I’m not sure if I have just one favorite; it tends to fluctuate depending on the season. During the colder months I absolutely live for my leather jacket and/or black wax-coated denim! During the warmer months I’m all about distressed denim and easy dresses.
What’s one item that’s always in your bag?
Lipstick/gloss (Typically I have more than one of each!)
Plaid, polka dots or floral prints?
Where do you like to shop?
I’m a big Zara fan, I always find interesting pieces that have a lot of staying power to them. I also actually love outlet shopping; I have a lot of luck and always find really great pieces at even better prices.
Understanding Chicago’s Fashion Style and Choppy Weather
How to dress for a business trip to Chicago?
No matter what time of year, the weather can be quite unpredictable, so bring layers (i.e. cardigans, blazers). Figure in pieces that are versatile so you can switch them up depending on the weather.
Why is Chicago fashion different from other locales?
Chicago, being in the Midwest, tends to err on the more conservative side in fashion. Although suits aren’t common in the workplace, it’s still much more conservative and classic than New York or LA.
How does weather play into dress?
Our weather changes drastically and quickly, so it’s a major factor in wardrobe here. Dressing in layers is huge for me (and my clients) because of this. In the winter it can get extremely cold, so functionality is key.