Chi Ilochi’s styling vision comes from the fabrics she works with, and the people who wear them.
Photo: “Being an outcast as a child jumpstarted my career,” says Northside-based stylist Chi Ilochi, pictured. Courtesy of Chi Ilochi
By Hallie Lauer
Chi Ilochi knew from a very young age that her taste in clothing was different than that of her peers. While all of her friends were wearing the hot trends as decided by the internet, Ilochi was finding her own way in the fashion world.
“Being an outcast as a child jumpstarted my career,” Ilochi said.
She spent a portion of her childhood attempting to follow the popular trends and fit in, but eventually realized it wasn’t worth it.
“[I] was determined to teach myself how to love my style,” Ilochi said. “I tried to follow the trends I hated and wear the clothes I knew and didn’t like and still didn’t feel how I’d imagine my fellow peers felt when they wore the clothes. Eventually I realized it was a waste of time.”
Now with her own business, StylingByChi, Ilochi describes her style as full of mixed prints and wacky colors. Part of her inspiration comes from fabric and color combinations not typically seen in popular styling trends.
Ilochi worked in the fashion department of a Kmart while she was in high school. That, she said, is where she found a solid understanding of the ins and outs of fashion which began her styling career.
“I would help customers find clothes, clean up the dressing rooms—the list goes on,” Ilochi said. “I realized it wasn’t for me, but I did find out how much I loved helping people with their personal style.”
Ilochi graduated from Perry High School in 2017. She now mentors students there on ways to take control of their mental health. Ilochi emphasizes to her mentees that it is OK to talk about mental health and to seek therapy. In the future, she hopes to combine her mentoring with her styling business.
“I want to style everyone ranging from celebrities, children, the elderly, those with autism, Down syndrome, mental illness, physical illness…” she said. “I plan on using my styling to not only change lives, but heal them as well.”
Although Ilochi was born and raised in Pittsburgh, her Nigerian heritage is a huge influence on her styling and is a large source of her inspiration.
“My aunts in Nigeria would send us fabrics and clothes that were always very bright, bold, and charismatic. I loved how different each piece was,” Ilochi said.
Part of Ilochi’s styling vision comes from the fabrics themselves, but also from the people who wear them.
“I’m inspired by those who create from the heart; those who are innovative and authentic—lovers of fashion who are bold and fearless,” she said.
Other than getting fabrics from her aunts, Ilochi is a big fan of thrift shopping, finding many unique pieces at Goodwill, as well as shopping at stores such as ASOS, PrettyLittleThing, Zara, and Urban Outfitters.
In the future, Ilochi hopes to see StylingByChi transition into a fashion consulting firm and continue to expand. Find her online at stylingbychi.com.