Chances are if you work as a personal stylist, you’re going to have a bit of flair and a lot of opinions. This week we found just such a subject with our Instagram style star of the week, Topher Yandell (www.instagram.com/topher723). On a side note, I wish I had shortened my name to Topher. So much sassier and avant-garde than Christopher. Readers, will you start calling me Topher? No? Fine. Back to Yandell. The 33-year-old has a degree in dramatic arts and works as a personal stylist for J.Crew at the Copley Place women’s store. He’s also a cinéaste of classic film and follows a very preppy style. Time to meet this Idaho transplant.
Q. With apologies to those who have been home-schooled in Boise, I don’t necessarily think of people who have been home-schooled in Boise as stylish. As someone who fits this definition, how did you develop your sense of fashion?
A. I had a fabulous grandmother with impeccable taste. So part of it is genetics. As a child I spent inordinate amounts of time reading fashion magazines and clipping things I found inspiring. While most kids were catching crawfish at the creek, I was sketching designs for Oscar gowns.
Q. How did you end up as a personal stylist at J.Crew?
A. I met a woman who owned a high-end boutique who liked my style and offered me a job working in her shop dressing her mannequins. Her clients noticed my flair for fashion and my tasteful eye and began requesting that I style them. After I’d worked as a personal assistant and a real estate agent and relocated from Idaho to Boston, I found myself back in retail at H&M and then at a high-end shoe store. Dissatisfied with options for growth at both companies, I wandered into J.Crew in Copley, where my future store director set up an interview for me on the spot.
Q. Does any of your training in dramatic arts help you when working with the public, or does it just make you a drama queen?
A. I definitely know how to leave reality at the door and step onto the sales floor as if it were a stage. I mean, it’s clothing, it’s not life or death. Any drama that could possibly arise is utter ridiculousness anyway. Of my staff of 96, I am confident that everyone would agree I’m one of the most consistently laid-back, cheerful, and least dramatic of the group.
Q. I noticed that you’re not afraid to wear slightly revealing swimwear and post photos of it to Instagram. Did you ever have any hesitation about such risque displays?
A. I’m naturally slim, always have been. The 12 to 15 miles a day I walk as part of my job certainly helps keep me that way. Since I basically have negative body fat, why not flaunt it?
Q. What’s the most common reason why women come to you for your help?
A. I’m honest, I’m kind, I’m approachable, and I know my business. I put most people at ease right away, a trait I thank my mother for.
Q. You mention you enjoy classic movie icons. What are some of your favorite classic movies? You score bonus points for semi-obscure films.
A. “Bringing Up Baby” with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, “Sabrina” with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, “Indiscreet” with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire to name just a few.