How A Session With Personal Stylist Corin Kanazawa Changed My Look (And Perception)

Stepping Out in Style Isn't As Difficult As It May Feel

By Louise George Kittaka
September 26, 2018
Fashion, Lifestyle

From wardrobe detox to personal shopping, this Tokyo-based personal stylist will change the way you think about fashion.

Fashion makeovers are a popular feature in many English-language women’s magazines, and most of us have probably sighed with envy at a “lucky reader” who is whisked away by a team of fairy godmothers and given a whole new look, perhaps complete with edgy hairstyle and makeup. But while it would undoubtedly be fun to play Cinderella for a day, I wonder how much of the transformation is maintained once such women return to their regular lives?

Rather than a fairy godmother, for practical help and ongoing support, you need a personal stylist—someone like Corin Kanazawa. After building a career in the fashion world back home, the Tokyo-based Aussie now works with women in the international community, helping each client to develop and refine her personal style. As a working mom of three, Corin knows that her clients want effortless looks that will fit in with their busy lifestyles—without breaking the bank or having to invest in a whole new wardrobe.

Corin recently came to my house to give Savvy readers a peek into how personal styling works and to share some fashion tips!

Personal stylist Corin Kanazawa visiting me at home for our one-on-one session.

It all starts with a closet detox

The most popular service is her three-step Full Seasonal Styling Package. “It begins with an initial consultation to assess a client’s needs, followed by a ‘Closet Detox,’ where the client and I go through their closet piece by piece, keeping items that suit current needs and lifestyle and discarding items that no longer work,” Corin explains.

Corin knows that her clients want effortless looks that will fit in with their busy lifestyles—without breaking the bank.

“We follow up with a ‘Personal Shopping’ session, where we browse items based on my extensive research (some are placed aside prior to the shopping trip). I help clients select the perfect pieces to complement their wardrobe and look while offering honest styling advice and helpful shopping tips.”

From dressing to blend in to dressing to enjoy

For most of my life I’ve had a lukewarm relationship with fashion. As a teenager, I was shy and insecure about my looks, so I dressed to blend in rather than stand out. While I was on the smaller side of the size range back home, I then came to Japan and was suddenly L-sized. Rather than choosing clothes I truly loved, it was more often a case of buying whatever fitted. Add three kids, work and a raft of volunteer commitments, and by now “fashion” equated with “whatever is clean.”

Decisions, decisions: I like to wear tunics and leggings in the colder months but the purple one has seen better days. Toss!

Recently, as the kids have grown and more international apparel chains have moved into Japan, I’ve been rediscovering the fun of shopping, as well as feeling it is actually OK to spend money on myself. I’ve developed more awareness of looks that suit me, but I’m still a work in progress. I’m ready to move up to the next level and I’m glad I met Corin exactly at this stage of my life.

On the day of the Closet Detox, I am equal parts excitement and trepidation. What will she think of the contents of my closet?! As a fan of Japanese tidying-up guru Marie Kondo, I’ve decluttered much of my house, and I am fairly confident that things are in good shape, but you just never know. I give my closet a last-minute check, ensuring hangers are facing the same way, and passively-aggressively pushing my husband’s clothes over as far as I can to his side. (He has three times as many clothes as me, but that’s another story.)

Some of us tend to lose our confidence as we get older, thinking that fashion is reserved for the young or the wealthy.

Corin arrives and we sit down for a brief consultation. Normally she would meet with a potential client on neutral ground, such as in a café, but today we are jumping straight in. She laughs when I admit I’m a little bit shy of showing off my clothes. “That’s normal. Don’t worry, I’ve seen everything!”

We start going through my things one by one, with Corin asking where and when I would wear each item. Corin takes out a dress I got in London in 2009. I used to wear it to formal events, such as weddings, but I haven’t taken it off the hanger for a few years. Corin hones in on the hesitation in my voice. The color isn’t the most flattering, and as I have several other dresses for special occasions, Corin gently suggests it is time to let this one go.

We come to a white crocheted dress that I used to love, as it was a completely new style and made me feel quite daring. Once again, however, I haven’t worn it recently. Corin has me try it on, and we mutually decide it is a bit too short and it’s time to say goodbye.

“The decision is always ultimately the client’s, but when it comes to deciding to toss something, often I am just confirming what they already knew,” she says.

We come to my jeans and Corin raises her eyebrows when I reveal that I currently only own two pairs. “I always get jeans in New Zealand when I go home, but they stopped making the kind I like, so…” I mumble. “Well, you need to try some new shops!” Corin says firmly, and names several clothing chains here that now offer jeans to fit non-Japanese curves.

A new look without buying any new clothes.

She helps me combine the clothes I have to create some new looks. I have a short bolero-style jacket with gold brocade that I usually paired with the dress from London. “Should I throw this out, too?” I ask. To my surprise,  Corin shakes her head. “No, I think you should keep it! It has kind of an antique vibe that could look cool with jeans,” she says, laying the clothes out to show me. I have to admit they pair well and so the jacket stays.

Never thought that pairing these two would look this good. 

By the end of the session we have weeded out about 20 percent of my closet, and checked the content of my drawers and my off-season clothes in the ubiquitous plastic case. She helps me come up with a list of some key pieces to add to my wardrobe. There are also several items we have put aside, as they need some minor mending. I go to return them to my closet but Corin speaks up: “You’ll never get around to fixing them if you put them back! Hang them in a place where you’ll see them,” she advises.

My closet before (left) and after (right) — 20 percent slimmer following our detox session. 

Meeting community’s needs

Clothes all sorted, we chat over coffee while Corin tells me about how she came up with the idea of offering a personal stylist and shopping service. Her passion for fashion started young, playing dress up with her very stylish grandmother’s scarves and high heels. This eventually led to a career in high fashion in Melbourne, working for Louis Vuitton and other boutiques. Marriage and motherhood in Japan followed.

“A few years ago, I wrote a monthly fashion article on a blog for international moms in Japan, which was very popular and motivated me to start my business based on feedback and requests,” she recalls. “Feedback from readers encouraged me to start the business. Comments such as ‘I don’t feel confident shopping in Japan’, ‘I’ve lost my sense of style’, ‘My body has changed with age or after childbirth’ or ‘I’m returning to the workforce and have no idea what to wear,’ and so on.”

Some of us tend to lose our confidence as we get older, thinking that fashion is reserved for the young or the wealthy. “Fashion is for everyone and every body shape! We have to know what we like and need, what suits us and what we feel comfortable in before heading to the shops,” says Corin.

“Fashion is only fun if you feel confident in your clothes. Discovering your best look can be challenging and overwhelming for many women due to the huge variety in the stores and often, limited sizing options. These are popular reasons for seeking styling help.”

After completing the Closet Detox part of the program, Corin’s clients usually book a Personal Shopping session with her to pick up some new pieces. Corin puts in considerable legwork before the shopping trip, searching for the right pieces to suit the client and building relationships with the stores.

This year’s winter trends

With cooler weather just around the corner, what trends can we expect to see for the coming autumn and winter? Corin recommends colors and prints: “Dark forest green, plum, burgundy, camel, mustard, stripes and animal print. I love animal print for accessories, such as a bag or shoes, to add punch to a simple outfit,” she assures me.

“The oversized coats trend has carried over from last year. Leather jackets are also still popular. Boho-style shirts and structured shirt dresses are trending—I like to cinch an oversized dress at the waist with a belt to create a more streamlined shape.”

Finally, a good dressing tip: “Check the back of your outfits before leaving the house. Use a hand-held mirror and full-length mirror to check how you look from all angles. The other day I got dressed in a rush. I was wearing a jumpsuit that zips at the back and had not zipped it up all the way, exposing my bra! After riding the train and walking to a café, a kind woman gently told me that my back was exposed and helped me zip it up.”

I am so happy with the result of my Closet Detox that I have signed up for a shopping trip for early next month. As for those mending jobs, after a week of seeing the items hanging on my closet door, I finally did pick up my sewing kit and fixed them. 

Savvy Exclusive

Corin is offering Savvy readers a 10% discount off the initial consultation for any bookings made before the end of 2018. Please mention Savvy when you contact her through her official Facebook page, Instagram or via email at

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