Whitley Hamlin: Generations of Style

By Leslie Moore

Whitley Hamlin: Generations of Style

Every day, most women I know stand in front of an overflowing closet trying to decide what to wear. Sound familiar? And usually, according to Whitley Hamlin, wardrobe stylist and creator of the Queen City Style, it comes down to the same few outfits. That’s why she loves to purge. “If you’ve had something for a year or two, get rid of it. The more clean and clear you make your closet, the more effective it will be.” Of course, there are always exceptions, and those exceptions are what led 37 year old Whitley to her success as a fashion blogger and personal, editorial and commercial wardrobe stylist.

Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, Whitley lives in Charlotte with her husband Jon, a software engineer, and her two children, Worth and Hank, three and six years old. Growing up, she spent many summer vacations along the Grand Strand, and her dad, an award-winner shag dancer, taught her the state dance and instilled a love of the area at an early age. She and her family still vacation in Pawleys Island every year. But, her grandmother and great-grandmother were the biggest influences on young Whitley, instilling a lifelong love of fashion. Both women were department store buyers in Eastern North Carolina, each with their own unique style. After they retired, both women loved seeing young Whitley play dress up with their garments and accessories. From these strong, fashionable women, Whitley inherited not only her sense of style, but many unique and classic pieces that she still wears and uses in her work.

Whitley Hamlin: Generations of Style

“Everything I have is pretty amazing,” Whitley said. “They traveled all over and had great lives. I have a skirt from Egypt, a dress from Morocco, charm bracelets from France…everything is symbolic. These pieces are my secret weapon: My pockets may not be that deep, but I have inheritance pieces that money can’t buy.”

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Whitley travelled to New York and worked in the fashion industry. Eventually, she missed home and moved to Charlotte to be closer to family. “I owned and operated a Nanny Placement Service for eight years. I loved my work, but after my second son was born in 2011, I was forced to reevaluate.” Whitley sold her company and stayed at home for a time, but her creative drive needed fueling. She threw herself into decorating her home, making her own curtains, pillows and countless do-it-yourself projects. Today, her living room is a perfect example of Whitley’s eclectic style and has been featured in print and online.

Whitley also loves to write and, of course, still plays dress up with her extensive collection of inherited clothing and accessories. When she submitted a story about her grandmother and great-grandmother to Lucky Magazine, it was chosen for the back page and the Queen City Style was born.

“When I saw my article on the newsstands in Asheville, I decided I would write a blog. Before long, people were actually reading it, with the fashion element getting the most attention. I started putting myself in front of the camera wearing these great clothes and won an award from Charlotte Magazine for the best blog!”

Soon, Whitley was getting requests for personal styling, and landed a monthly fashion column in Charlotte Parent Magazine. Her work snowballed, with private and corporate clients clamoring for Whitley’s styling expertise.

But what exactly is a personal stylist? Whitley works with men and women, ages ranging from mid-30s up. Her clients are mostly based in and around Charlotte, but she does have clients along the Grand Strand that she visits periodically. After the initial visit, Whitley helps clients purge their closets, coordinate outfits and come up with a list of the things they need. She then helps them shop for special occasion pieces, coming up with a wardrobe that suits their needs and lifestyle. “I believe in investing in quality pieces that will be worn for years. My dad has a pair of Gucci loafers he’s had for 30 years – they’ve been re-soled over and over and are still gorgeous.”

Whitley also shared with me a few important pieces that every woman should have in her wardrobe. This first is a black dress. “Pick a dress that works for your body, not everyone wants to wear spaghetti straps,” Whitley began. “If you have great legs, focus on a shorter dress. Highlight the best parts of your body.” Next she recommends a classic trench coat. “These work for everyone and usually have a belt.” Then she added a stylish, amazing coat to the list. “You can always throw a wonderful coat over a simple outfit and be fashionable.” Last, Whitley says all women need a good pair of slacks and a white blouse, again in styles to suit your body type.

Whitley Hamlin: Generations of Style

“Pick what you like about your body and share that with everyone,” Whitley advises. “ Then don’t worry about the negatives. One of the least trendy celebrities is Jennifer Aniston. She is very consistent with her style and sticks to colors and lines that work for her. Fashionable is what makes you feel the very best about yourself on the inside and outside – most importantly on the inside. People know when you feel good about yourself – it radiates. You smile and hold yourself better.”

The commercial side of Whitley’s business is exciting and diverse. She is known for her vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces that lend that special touch. Her hat is one of those pieces. “I found this Nine West hat in a mall. It’s a great looking hat, a ‘wow’ piece, and I always take it to photo shoots. At every shoot, the model would want to wear my hat, and it has made the rounds. Now I have a page on my blog devoted to the hat with photos of people wearing it.”

As busy and as successful she is, Whitley feels family is her first priority. The day we spoke by Skype, she was spending a week in Virginia with her in-laws. Physical fitness is another priority, and this stylish mom ran the recent Boston Marathon, doing very well in spite of an injury. She still enjoys interior design and is constantly updating and changing her home. “My poor husband, he never knows where a piece of furniture will be – my living room has taken the brunt of my creative frustration.”

“I love what I do and am grateful for my success. This has allowed me to turn a hobby into a profession in only three years! I believe that is the key to happiness – do what you love and get paid for it. We only have one life, make it colorful and fun.”

To learn more about Whitley, visit her blog at www.thequeencitystyle.com. She does take limited appointments along the Grand Strand!

Donna Jernigan Children’s Photography & Portrait Photography in Charlotte NC | Moments By Donna

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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