All photos, credit: Brit Gill
For as long as she could remember, Vancouver-based stylist Elim Chu knew she wanted to pursue a career in fashion. After enrolling in fashion design school and finding out she was failing half-way through the program, Elim had to consider other ways to enter the fashion field. With the help of her instructor (and some research via Vogue and the Rachel Zoe Project) Elim began to see styling as a legitimate career worth pursuing.
Elim's journey as a stylist began at the lululemon lab where she dressed mannequins and advised on visual merchandising. From there, Elim became the first dedicated stylist at the lululemon head office, and she now works for herself full-time. Elim helps her clients create something fresh with the clothes in their closets, and encourages them to focus on how their clothes make them feel. Team Woodlot sat down with Elim to learn more about her approach to styling, and how her friends at the Vancouver consignment store My Modern Closet are inspiring her work.
What styling services do you offer your clients?
I do traditional styling at editorial and ecommerce photo shoots, and I help brands create content for their social media channels. I also offer wardrobe edits and styling inspiration to help people feel confident in their clothes. I find that when people go shopping, they often bring items home and don’t how to incorporate them into their existing wardrobe. My approach is to look at the clothes my clients have already, as opposed to telling them to go out and buy more.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Definitely the wardrobe edits! My clients range in age from 25 to 50 and I've learned so much by working with them all. Despite differences in age and demographic, most people experience the same challenges when it comes to clothes. Some people feel a boredom with their options, or an uncertainty about how to put outfits together. Others refuse to support fast fashion, and desire to buy quality pieces over quantity. I'm so impressed with these women’s efforts to make a stand for more intentional dressing and shopping, and I'm seeing a growing number of people starting to adopt this philosophy.
The idea of a minimalist capsule wardrobe is super hot right now. Have you ever created one for yourself? What would be in your capsule wardrobe?
Funnily enough, I just finished participating in a 10 items for 10 days challenge! I was inspired by Lee Vosburgh of the Style Bee. I'd created a mini capsule wardrobe before when travelling, but I'd never done an intentional challenge like this. What I learned is that I can wear the heck out of a slip dress! Some other key pieces included a skinny turtleneck for layering, two pairs of jeans, and a classic coat. (Note: Elim documented her challenge via Instagram, check it out: @elim_chu)
Do you have a style icon?
Yes! From a young age I have been drawn to Kate Moss. It may be because she is a supermodel, but I love how her personal style is always evolving, and that she wears her clothes with complete confidence. I also admire Tom Ford’s commitment to beautiful basics, and the Olsen twin’s lean towards androgynous style with hints of feminine elegance.
When did you get involved with My Modern Closet?
I was interviewed for their blog and during that I met Chloe (the founder of My Modern Closet). Chloe reached out afterwards to let me know that she loved the services I was providing, and wanted to know how we could work together. During this time, we were both fresh to our businesses and we've been supporting each other ever since!
What have you learned since working with Chloe?
Chloe was the first person who made me realize that what I was doing was eco-friendly. I'd never considered my approach to styling to be sustainable until I started working with her. This honestly blew my mind and opened me up to a new world. I now approach shopping in a more considered way, and I am asking questions of brands before I purchase from them. Before I used to just go to a store and buy something, but now I read through a company’s sustainability policies, and really do my research before making a purchase. Chloe has helped arm me with these questions and as a result, I've had to abandon some brands who don't have the answers I need to feel good about buying from them.
How often do you shop now?
I typically shop once a month, at most. Previously my shopping was much more frequent and not as intentional. I've made a move towards more thoughtful shopping and now I look to consignment stores more and more to find the pieces I love.
How do you relax and treat yourself?
A daily indulgence for me is starting the morning by reading and enjoying a cup of coffee. I treat myself to a workout class at Tight Club or Ride Cycle Club monthly, and splurge on a facial on special occasions! My husband and I also just went on a yoga retreat with The Social Yoga which was amazing. Generally, I love treating myself to experiences rather than things.
Do you have any natural beauty or self-care rituals? If so, what are they?
It wasn’t until my thirties that I started thinking about what was in the beauty and self-care products that I was using all the time. Isn’t that crazy?! I met the founders of Woodlot and Harlow at an event a few years ago and loved hearing their stories and learning about what is in their products. The charcoal soap was and still is one of my favourite products. I also swear by washing my face once a day, and choosing beauty products that are green.Thanks for sharing your styling wisdom with us, Elim!