by Wyndi Kappes
From a very young age, Lillian Gray Charles was inspired by her stylish grandmother. “She was immaculate,” says Lillian. “Her style was charming, sharp, crisp, elegant and sophisticated. From the lipstick she wore to her tiny quadruple-narrow Italian shoes.” With a lifelong love of clothing and a desire to help women, Lillian quickly ended up en route to becoming a stylist. But instead of a formal fashion education, she focused on becoming a certified energy healer and spoke with women about getting dressed as a form of self-love, self-care and self-expression. The result is a unique approach called style therapy.
Q: You often describe your work as style therapy. Tell us more.
Lillian Gray Charles: In my one-on-one programs with women, we work from the inside out — literally. In an energy healing session, I use my intuition to deeply read what’s holding the client back from fully stepping into the level of greatness she deserves to live in. An energy healing session might show stress, fear, self-loathing, trauma or a disruption in the home or career. These holdups always seep into the way we speak to ourselves and how we show up. Once we get clear on what’s holding us back, we get to make choices for ourselves, like how we dress, who we date and what career we choose, from a place of self-love versus a lower vibrational state. In 2016 I renamed my business Style Therapy because women always said, “This is better than therapy!”
Q: What do clothes say about people?
LGC: Clothing is just a big giant metaphor. What we choose to wear indicates what we believe we deserve. I could give hundreds of examples of clothing in correlation to an individual woman’s story, but I’ll say this, we’re all essentially wearing the stories of our inner worlds. When we course-correct our inner world and breathe into our personal possibility, everything else falls into place. Dressing well is about the energy you carry and exude. It’s an affirmation of what’s within.
Q: What do you wish more people understood about working with a stylist?
LGC: Now more than ever, I wish women knew that they could start working with a stylist at any size. We have to stop treating being thinner as some treat. “When I lose weight, I’ll date, I’ll hire a stylist, I’ll travel to see friends.” Life is happening right now, right this moment. I wish women understood this: You’re good and solid and wonderful right now. You do not have to earn your worth or a session with a stylist by getting thinner.
Q: What are three of your closet must-haves and why? What is a statement item you believe all women should have?
LGC: My own personal closet must-haves include:
- Fabulous earrings that dress up your go-to t-shirt dress as well as your office attire. My go-to is a pair of silver David Yurman hoops that are mid-size and kind of chunky.
- A leather jacket is also a staple that I wear any time it’s below 70 degrees. I toss it on with dresses, t-shirts, silky blouses, denim. I’ve had my All Saints moto jacket for a few years… it just gets better with time. I’ll be adding another one (beige) this year.
- And a great crossbody bag. So many luxury bags have removable or convertible straps, if they’re dressy enough you can wear them for cocktail or wedding occasions. Bags, shoes, belts, jewelry… they elevate everything. Every stylist in the world will tell you that.
We should all be focusing more on how things make us feel and less on the label. My favorite house dress is from Target. I feel great wearing it. It is chic and black and flattering and I don’t know what I’ll do if anything ever happens to it. Don’t overcomplicate things—focus on the feeling you have when wearing the garment.
Lillian’s tips for those looking to dress better
Don’t sacrifice fit for anything. Comfort can come from the cut of a garment and the material. Buy a garment that’s meant to be loose in the correct size, not a meant-to-be-fitted garment in a size too big.
If you’re going to wear loose clothes, add a little lift. That could mean a flatform or a 1-inch block heel. You’ll look longer. And feel happier.
Figure out which brands work best for your specific body type. Certain brands are cut narrow versus wide. Some are cut really straight, while others allow for more curve.
Accessorize. I tell women every day that accessories are just “eye tricks.” They command the eyes where to go and provide balance when worn with intention.