Jermina James has worked as a stylist at American Eagle Outfitters for almost a year. At only 17-years-old, she has honed her style and the style of others for as long as she can remember. Snacking on a cannoli, she tells me how she helps customers feel comfortable in their skin with amazing clothes and encouraging words. Her dream is to study fashion at a school in New York and go on to then pursue a career in fashion.
Q: How did your interest in fashion begin?
A: It began with my mother, who has always been in fashion. She used to be a manager for Express and she went to fashion shows, so I think my inspiration really comes from her.
Q: What does it mean to be a stylist for American Eagle Outfitters?
A: The ability to put together outfits, not just for yourself, but for other people as well. To take colors and patterns, and be able to play around with all different types of [materials] for a customer.
Q: How do you determine which pieces in the store would reflect a customer’s style?
A: I actually go by the complexion of the customer, the shape of the customer. That’s kind of how I project my opinion on what a customer should wear. Or I ask them questions like: “Where are you going?” “What is this [outfit] for?” “Are you hanging out with girlfriends?” and really get to know them personally… so then I can reflect that.
Q: Have you ever successfully changed a customer’s view on a product that wasn’t normally their style?
A: Yes, I have picked out plenty of things that customers really weren’t too sure or comfortable about. So I [offer] encouraging words, and then give them some pointers on why the item I picked out is good for them.
Q: Can you tell me about one memorable customer experience?
A: I had a customer who had lost a lot of weight and had a tummy tuck, so she was really insecure about the scar that was at the bottom of her stomach. I picked out something that would cover it, but still flatter her amazing figure — she was so petite! I chose a top with some high-waisted pants that were flared at the bottom because she was more on the boho chic side, and she loved it. She bought the whole outfit!
Q: Are there any current trends that are increasing in popularity right now that you have incorporated into your own wardrobe?
A: Yes, the criss-crossed top that shows a little cleavage, I think that’s definitely trending right now. And one thing about a trend is that it always repeats itself. At [AEO] I see those flared jeans, which is an old trend, but young people are now buying it.
Q: What tips can you give to people who are trying to define their personal style?
A: Be yourself. I know that’s probably cliché, but put your own style into it. Do what you feel comfortable with. To really personalize your outfit, just be you. You don’t always have to do what you see someone else do.
Q: Do you believe fashion should have rules?
A: No. Once again, always be yourself. Always go by your own rules, never by what the books say. When you look at Vogue [Magazine] or any high-end [designers], they always mix patterns. They do what they want, and it sells. Putting your own style into something really makes it unique.