Summit Entrepreneur Embraces Passion for Fashion

The inspiration for Elaine Wang Yu's business, Simply Chic Styling, came from volunteering.

Elaine Wang Yu believes being stylish doesn't mean sacrificing comfort. Credit: Michelle Moon
Elaine Wang Yu believes being stylish doesn't mean sacrificing comfort. Credit: Michelle Moon
When Summit resident Elaine Wang Yu turned 40 she decided it was time to reinvent herself.

The mom of three had been volunteering at Dress for Success, putting together stylish ensembles for women re-entering the workforce, when she realized her true calling.   

"I'd always loved fashion; I have been the go-to person my girlfriends ask shop with," Wang Yu said. "So when I had the volunteer opportunity to style these women who are getting their feet back on the ground I knew in my gut it was the right thing for me. I would go to end my sessions with a firm handshake and my clients would give me a hug because they felt so good about how they felt about themselves."
Through word of mouth, Wang Yu began to build her business and Simply Chic Styling, offering personal shopping and closet makeovers, was born. 

The style guru said among her philosophies is the belief that being fashionable shouldn't be stressful or expensive. 

Wang Yu begins working with clients by "shopping their closet," which often means taking them out of their comfort zone by "changing it up." The entrepreneur said she likes to help women put together combinations they may not have thought of or introduce an accessory, such as a scarf or necklace, that can often freshen up a favorite item. By taking photos of newly-coordinated outfits, Wang Yu creates a "style reference" women can keep in their closets so they can quickly find the perfect outfit for each occasion. 

Alison, a New Jersey-based client, said before working with the stylist, she was anticipating spending hundreds of dollars on new clothes.

"During my closet makeover, she closely analyzed my wardrobe and pulled out pieces I hadn't worn in a while," she said. "She showed me how to layer and accessorize and came up with several outfits I could wear beautifully and feel great in. She then sent me pictures of those outfits to make it easy for me to recreate these looks. Who would have thought you could save money by hiring a stylist?"

On a mission to help all women look great and feel confident, Wang Yu said her clients range from women who need assistance prepping for a special occasion like a college reunion to new moms who are heading back to work and don't have time to put together a new wardrobe while caring for a newborn.

Because many women are intimidated at the idea of hiring a stylist, Wang Yu said she has had to overcome the stereotype that often accompanies her job title. 

"Some women think a stylist is too high-end or the clothing will be too trendy. I really want to communicate that I'm all about making fashion easy for busy women, making style simple. It doesn't have to be difficult or stressful to look good," she said. 

Wang Yu added that she also believes in mixing a range of styles and is open to shopping everywhere from Target and Forever 21 to Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's.

The fashion maven shared some secrets to prevent falling prey to common clothing pitfalls: 

  • Avoid the sale rack. Even $5 is too much to spend on something you'll never wear, Wang Yu advised.
  • Ditch the yoga pants - unless you're actually practicing yoga. After having children, women often feel as if their body isn't their own and can find themselves quickly surrendering to a sea of sweatpants. But the stylist noted that it takes the same amount of effort to dress in something that appears "put-together" as it does to throw on "sloppy clothes." Looking good helps women feel good about themselves, she added.
  • Don't buy the same thing over and over again. Just like when grocery shopping, Wang Yu said women tend to gravitate toward buying the familiar. Rather than purchase 15 identical items, pick up one really good pair of jeans or one interesting sweater that can take you through the seasons depending on how it's paired, she recommended. 

Having moved to Summit from Manhattan two and a half years ago, Wang Yu said she hopes to offer shopping excursions to the Big Apple in the near future. In addition to finding inspiration online and in magazines, the stylist said she enjoys sipping a cup of coffee while sitting in the shoe department at Saks and observing what's going on in the fashion world. 

For busy clients, Wang Yu is happy to deliver outfits to clients' doorsteps and style them at home. The business owner also saves busy women the hassle of making the returns themselves. Accompanying mother-daughter duos who are preparing for celebrations is another service Simply Chic Styling offers. In this capacity, Wang Yu said she can act as a buffer between the two if they have a hard time shopping together.

Proving she's not afraid to take on a challenge, when Wang Yu isn't helping clients look their best, she's training to compete in the Ocean Drive marathon in March and her first Ironman in Mont Tremblant, Canada in August. 

To schedule a meeting, visit Simply Chic Styling's website. Appointments are priced as follows:

Personal Shopping:
30 minute consultation plus 2 hour shopping trip, $100   |   $50 each additional hour

Closet Makeover:

3 hours, $150  |  $50 each additional hour

For more on Simply Chic Styling, visit the websiteFacebook page, email elaine@simplychicstyling.com or call 917-912-5376. Visit Simply Chic Styling's blog here. 
Boon Koo January 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM
Nice article. I do see a lot of yoga pant-wearing moms in my neighborhood and wonder all the time they can't always be practicing, can they? Do her secrets apply to men as well?
jjj January 28, 2014 at 09:57 PM
Give me a break


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