Los Angeles-based stylist Cassandra Dittmer has spent her career advising CEOs, politicians, and Hollywood celebrities on their wardrobes. But, since the pandemic started last year, she has been transitioning to a more accessible, digital styling service with sustainability at its core. In this interview Cassandra shared her thoughts about the role stylists play in educating consumers, how she helps clients transition their wardrobes to be more sustainable, and the ways that her new eStyling service can benefit people and the planet. Also, check out Cassandra’s eStyling service here.
FH: Was your transition into the sustainable fashion field gradual, or was it a dramatic epiphany moment?
CD: Without knowing that I wanted to work in sustainability, I still always had that line throughout my work. I have always been interested in the work behind the scenes and the ethos of brands. Then as I built my own company, I thought more about what I wanted my values to be and naturally embraced smaller and more ethical brands. Slowly, over time, it became clearer and clearer that I wanted to participate in the industry through sustainable fashion. So, yes, it was a gradual transition to get to where I am now, but in many ways, the key values were there throughout all of my work.
FH: You advertise your focus on sustainability, but do you still get clients who are more concerned about style and cost over ethics and the environment? And how do you convince those clients to consider sustainability as much as looks and price?
CD: More clients come to me because sustainability is at the core of my business. However, sometimes I still work with people — such as existing clients — who are not as knowledgeable about sustainability. When working with someone who is still new to sustainable fashion, I try to reach them by first disproving the myth that sustainability is not stylish. In 2021 there are ample brands that are good for people and the planet and creating cute, fashionable clothes. I try to show clients that they don’t have to compromise on values or style.
FH: Sustainable stylists sometimes get flack for promoting the consumption of new items, but you show how stylists can play a role in changing people’s minds and encouraging more thoughtful shopping. Do you think stylists should be viewed more like educators and given more credit for promoting the sustainable fashion movement?
CD: Being a stylist in 2021 is much more educational than it used to be. You are a resource for your client, which now means providing tools to help them live responsibly in addition to clothing recommendations. I provide a lot of educational tools and resources for my clients. I teach my clients how to work within their existing wardrobe and how to buy more thoughtfully, instead of just giving them a selection of clothes to choose from.
FH: What would your ideal closet setup look like in terms of percentages of clothes already in a client’s closet, secondhand, and new?
CD: I would say the ideal closet makeup should be 70% existing clothing, 20% secondhand or upcycled clothing, and 10% new items. Keeping the clothes that you already own and making them work for you is really important. It helps that society has been redefining what luxury is. It used to be more popular to post a new outfit on social media every day, but I don’t think that is cool, and I think many other people are starting to realize that as well. I try to tell people that they can kick the dopamine rush from buying something new by instead forming a deeper relationship with their clothes. Taking care of what you already have and passing it on to friends and family is a rewarding feeling.
FH: How do you address clients who are going through a transition in their lives and want new wardrobes to reflect that?
CD: I work with several clients who are just starting their journey to be more sustainable. They may have a lot of fast fashion in their wardrobes but now want to rework their closets to be more responsible. I never judge a client who has fast fashion. Instead, I try to work with their existing pieces and then build a capsule wardrobe to meet whatever new phase of their life they are entering. When it comes to transitioning your wardrobe, I think that is when you should really consider a stylist. Instead of impulse buying something that you might end up regretting, a stylist can help you find clothes that meet your needs, fit you correctly, and can work with other items in your closet. Finally, if one of my clients is getting rid of some of their clothes, I always recommend using a recycling program or giving their stuff to a shelter. That way, they are not just dropping things at Goodwill and forgetting about it.
FH: How are you using your new eStyling service to grow your business and reduce your environmental impact?
CD: The “e” is eStyling represents the three e’s that I follow: ethics, economics, and the environment. People usually think about one or two of those components, but not all of them. eStyling treats the three parts of sustainability equally while also being a great way to reach more consumers through a digital platform. In the past, using a stylist was considered an exclusive luxury. But, as the fashion industry embraces technology, more people can utilize digital services like mine. eStyling is also a great way to reduce my environmental impact and approach styling more thoughtfully. Digital styling can save waste by reducing the number of physical products that have to be transported between brands, myself, and my clients. It also saves everyone time. Now, instead of driving to stores and picking out clothes, I can spend my time researching brands and advising my clients on how to curate their wardrobes sustainably.