My Personal Styling Session with Melissa de Leon

For my birthday, my best pals got me the best present ever: a closet edit session with Raleigh’s coolest personal stylist, Melissa de Leon!


Melissa and I both grew up in Raleigh, and we met over coffee a few years ago when she was just starting up her business, and she reached out to me to chat about tips for small business ownership in the area! I was honored, and kept up with her work from there.

Melissa is so very talented, and she has worked so hard to hone in her killer skills as a stylist. I finally had the opportunity to work with her on set this year (check out our shoot with Charles & Colvard here), and when I saw her doing what she does in person, I knew I wanted to work with her personally for my own wardrobe! It felt like a dream, but I put it on my birthday list just for kicks!

Blue Barn Photography

Blue Barn Photography

I love fashion and style, and have always loved expressing myself through clothes and accessories! From the days of PacSun and American Eagle to shopping from my sisters’ closets, and learning how to love thrifting from my sister Keeton, I’ve loved feeling like my unique self through my outfits.

Somewhere in the last 5 years, though, I started feeling a little more insecure about what I’m wearing and my body. I think that’s partially due to just getting older, a little to gaining weight more easily than in college, and also, I don’t have a single-girl clothes budget anymore!

Sarah Stewart Photography

Sarah Stewart Photography

I also hopped on the minimalism trend, and have a number of friends who own slow fashion businesses, so I’ve felt a little fashion-blocked when shopping through more approachable price-points like Target or Old Navy. Anyway, I knew I could benefit from the Big Guns - someone to come look at my closet, tell me what to keep, what to toss, and what kinds of clothes to shop for from here on out. And that’s exactly what Melissa did!

To start, we met for a one-hour consultation over coffee. We had a great time gabbing first : ) and then jumped into a questionnaire that was so helpful in pinpointing where I felt like I needed the most help. Ya know what I was most surprised by? My own insecurity.


I heard myself say things like “I look old” or “I don’t know how to dress my body” and suddenly I was putting words around feelings I didn’t even know I fully had! Admitting it is the first step, I guess! Turns out, Mel gets that sort of response all the time.

She looked at me and said, “Sam, who are you when you take all the clothes away? Once you know that, you can dress from that place.” I felt a punch in the gut followed by a renewed sense of freedom. The way we express ourselves outwardly is always connected to our inner self - I know that from years as a hair and makeup artist - but I was experiencing that in a new and personal way.


A week or so later, Mel came over to my house and got straight to work! She took my measurements like a pro, and immediately told me what body-type category I fall into - the hourglass! She had a helpful handout that showed my body type and visually the types of shapes that look best on that type, kind of like fashion math. It was so helpful! I still have the handout and refer to it.

Then we went to the bedroom, where I had laid out all my clothes (everything other than lounge, athletic, and basic tees.) She went through piece by piece. She gave me the stamp of approval on pieces I was unsure about (especially some of my thrifted pieces), helped me see that some pieces were oddballs (didn’t flow with overall style or color scheme), and put outfits together that I would have never come up with myself! Just to have someone else come in with fresh eyes to help me see my clothes in a different way was worth its weight in gold. I felt so encouraged and my confidence was boosted like crazy!


She then told me some pieces I could purchase to help fill in the gaps of my wardrobe and help me make even more outfits, like black tank tops, tops with larger shoulder lines and sleeves, and more structured pieces to help balance my abundance of flowy items. She told me she would send a personalized guide/recap of everything we covered, with clickable links to purchase specific items she shopped for me.

Then that guide came. And let me tell you, this is no basic document. This guide is a piece of art! I felt like a celeb! A pinterest goddess! Mel went above and beyond to recap everything we had covered. Lemme just show you:

Would I do this again? YES. Would I recommend to all friends/family? HECK YES! I feel more confident, more capable, and more me when dressing since our session.

Thank you so much Mel for being brave and sharing your passions with Raleigh and the world! Not only does Melissa offer personal wardrobe edit sessions like this one, but she also helps with personal shopping, capsule wardrobing, and photo/video shoot styling. View her whole list of offerings here, view her past work here, and follow her on Instagram here!

Also, in case you missed it, Mel was last month’s Kindreds Series contributor and it was straight fire! Go take a read here!

Would you ever opt to do a wardrobe edit session? where do you feel like you could use the most help with your personal style?

Here’s to treating yourself like the queen you are!


P.S. - thank you to Nancy, Jess, & Heather for this wonderful birthday gift!

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