A Personal Styling Case Study

About a year ago one of my best friends asked me to style her for an event.  And not just any event, the Royal Ascot.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a big deal.  (I personally wasn’t aware of its significance, so I had to do a fair amount of research to familiarize myself with the event.)


Royal Ascot dates back to the early 18th century, when Queen Anne attended a horse race in 1711. The event quickly became popular and soon gained its current name, Royal Ascot. Since then, it has become one of the most renowned UK sporting events, attracting millions of visitors each year. It is traditionally held during the first week of June and includes five days full of racing, fashion and fun. Guests always come dressed to impress for this royal event as it’s traditional for guests to dress in formal attire such as morning suits and top hats for men and long dresses with hats or fascinators for women.


Needless to say, not your average event.  But I couldn’t have been more thrilled and I’m excited to share my process for getting my friend ready for the big event!


Now by day I’m a hybrid product/program manager, so my approach very much follows the framework of building a new product.


Phase 1: Discovery


This first phase was really about articulating the “problem”.  I have a friend who is attending the Royal Ascot and needs something to wear.  More specifically, she needs to find something to wear that follows the Ladies Dress Code.


Ladies within the Queen Anne Enclosure are required to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion and are kindly asked to take note of the following:


  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
  • Strapless and sheer dresses and tops are not permitted. Please note our definition of strapless necklines include off-the-shoulder, Bardot and one shoulder. Dresses and tops with sheer straps and sleeves are also not permitted. Midriffs must be covered.
  • Trouser suits must be full-length and jumpsuits should fall below the knee. Both must adhere to the neckline regulations above. Shorts are not permitted.


(For more information on the event and the dress code, visit www.ascot.com.)

Phase 2 – Brainstorm


Once I had my “problem” statement, I moved on to brainstorming.  How might we go about solving our “problem”?  So I turned to Pinterest for inspiration.  Royal Ascot Board


I saw a lot of the following:


  • Structured jumpsuits
  • Tailored suiting
  • Midi and full-length dresses, cinched or belted at the waist
  • Separates, top + skirt
  • Fitted, column dress


Based on my initial research about Royal Ascot, the provided dress code, and what I know about my friend, I put together a mood board to convey my vision for her.



Phase 3 – Refinement

I packaged all of this together – the Pinterest board and the mood board – and presented to my friend.  At this point I needed her input.  Which images did she gravitate towards?  In the end she selected 9 images, which I categorized into 4 different types of “looks”.


With this feedback, I proceeded to…


Phase 4 – MVP (minimum viable product)

A first pass at solving for our “problem” statement.  At this point I began sourcing clothing and accessories to create a variety of looks.  I stuck to retailers that I knew would have broad coverage, meaning they would offer a lot of options for each type of look.  Nordstrom for clothing and accessories.  Anthropologie and Rent The Runway for clothing.  Amazon for the fascinators (these are hard to find without getting expensive!).  And Kate Spade and Mejuri for additional jewelry options.


I created a total of 9 different options for her to review and provide feedback.  My objective again was to see which options she gravitated toward and if/how she would tweak any of the looks that I provided.

In the end, she was really drawn to the “separates” options and the white fit-and-flare halter dress.


Phase 5 – User Testing 

During user testing we want to observe a user’s interaction with the product to determine how well we’ve addressed the “problem”.  In this case, user testing was a try-on session with the options my friend had selected.

She tested out each option, taking photos along the way, and sourcing opinions from our besties.


Phase 6 – Launch

After you’ve created your MVP, you’ve conducted user testing, you’ve iterated on the product, you can finally launch with a scalable solution.  In personal styling, the client makes their final choice and rocks it at their event!


For my friend, it really was a tough choice as she picked some incredible options.  But in the end she went with the white fit-and-flare halter dress, and she looked amazing!


This was such a great experience, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity!