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Style transformations with Carol Sae-Yang

11 Oct 2019

Carol Sae-Yang is the epitome of elegance. She believes in buying well and buying to last, and it has become her life’s passion to empower women – to cultivate and embrace their personal style.


With a career spanning over 20 years, Carol remains at the forefront of fashion. Having styled an array of celebrities – including Cate Blanchett, her expertise has also shaped the beauty and fashion pages of leading magazines and television shows. Having run her own fashion label and, most recently, in residence at the Whitehouse Institute of Design, Carol continues to be in-demand as a stylist, privately dressing some of Sydney’s most-renowned faces.


Becoming a mother was the catalyst for a career shift. After helping to style a friend returning to work after having children, Carol began her journey as a personal stylist; elevating the wardrobes of countless women at every career stage.


“Working in publishing was a dream job – I really loved it. However, nothing brings me the same kind of satisfaction that personal styling does,” Carol says. “Meeting real women with real body and confidence issues who despise going shopping for clothes. And yet, after their Style Transformation, they often call or text me saying how amazing and confident they feel wearing their new clothes. It makes me feel like I have the best job in the world.”


We caught up with Carol ahead of the launch of RISE Style Sessions – new personal styling service available at the QVB.


What’s your style secret?

I believe in one truly great wardrobe where you can style the same pieces for work, weekend, and going out at night. With a lot of women working as consultants or freelancers, a professional wardrobe is now a lot more relaxed. Having one wardrobe that blends work and weekend makes sense to me.  


What’s the easiest way to transform an existing wardrobe?

Jackets and shoes! Don’t underestimate the power of a well-fitted jacket – and shoes are a game-changer. I used to spend all my money on clothes, however, I soon realised that footwear really changes the dress code of an outfit.


If you’re wearing a white t-shirt and tailored black pants, pairing different shoes and a jacket can take you from school drop-off to meeting, to business lunch, to dinner date. Key pieces such as tailored pants, a great white top (t-shirt or shirt), classic jackets, perfect-fit skirt, and go-anywhere neutral-shade dress form the basis for a premium, professional wardrobe.


What’s a common theme with all the women you meet?

The women are often at a pivotal moment in their lives. There’s a lifestyle change and they’re changing as a person, so their current wardrobe doesn’t reflect who they are, or where they’re at anymore.


For instance, having children or entering back into the workforce – our bodies change, and we have to rediscover what suits us. It can be really confronting, I help my clients embrace their changing shape and lifestyle by identifying the silhouettes that suit them and this might differ to the styles they’re used to. I love introducing women to new stores they’ve never heard of before that may be more suited to their shape and style.


What effect can a style transformation have?

Watching women transform and gain confidence is the best part of my job. They feel empowered by wearing an outfit that reflects who they are now, not who they were ten years ago. I recently helped a mum who’d had two babies close together. She was returning to a senior management job in the city and told me that she wanted to elevate her look. A lot of her clothes were pretty floral, short and close-fitting because that was what she was wearing prior to having kids.


To help her navigate her new role, I curated a selection of mid-length A-line skirts in different textures and colours, teaming this with a number of neutral tops to suit her body shape. I added longer-line tailored jackets in navy pinstripe and dusty pink linen that she can wear at work or on weekends. Finally, a classic black tailored pant and dress, with the versatility to be dressed up or down with ankle boots, pumps or strappy heels. The new proportions and lengths made her feel differently about herself: empowered, sophisticated, and in charge.


To enjoy your own style transformation with Carol, visit