The world of therapy and psychology within the region is usually a minefield of a topic. Stories of therapists shaming, judging, or using religion as a method of treatment often spring to mind. But that’s not to say that you won’t find a few gems in between the rough. Yasmina Nessim is certainly one of those gems.
Nessim is a fashion psychologist, meaning she uses fashion and styling as a means of therapy, helping her patients achieve wellness through sartorial recommendation.
We all pride ourselves on looking good and stepping out of the house with confidence — but Nessim has taken this one step further, backing up her fashion sense with a Master’s degree in Fashion Psychology.
On face value, she might seem like just another therapist, a person with whom you could share your life woes and stresses, but she’s far from that. Nessim’s charisma is the first thing you notice about her when you meet her. She’s funny, she listens, she’s affectionate, and reassuring. A truly captivating and refreshing character to be around.
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Since launching her company Pstyled three-years-ago, Nessim has been helping people both regionally and internationally overcome difficulties in their personal lives through bespoke stylistic recommendations tailored for each client based on their personality, preferences, and lifestyle.
Offering such a hyper-personalized service, it’s no surprise that you can attend sessions at Pstyled both in the office, or as an online video session. Clients can also keep in touch around the clock with her personally on WhatsApp.
“I’ve always been very fashion centric,” recalls Nessim in conversation with MILLE. “Growing up I was really expressive in what I wear, but I just never thought of fashion as my career. I can’t design, I’m not a photographer, and I definitely can’t sew and I was happy with that. I just used fashion as a tool of expression,” she added.
“That is until, I went through something traumatic in my personal life, and I didn’t notice it at the time, it was actually my grandmother who pointed out that I stopped getting dressed up, which was not very Yasmina,” she recounted.
“I would leave the house in jeans and a t-shirt, or maybe an oversized sweater and leggings… I was very disconnected from who I was. One day I decided to break this cycle. I think the outfit was a khaki dress and a pair of mules. And I went out. And I had a good day for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. I kept trying it over and over and over again, different pieces, different outfits, different styles, more social, singing in the car, spending time with my family, and finally getting out of the basement,” she said.
Below, Nessim opens up to MILLE about launching her own company and mental health in Egypt, and caught up with some of her clients who opened up about their experiences with Pstyled.
How did you get started in fashion psychology?
Naturally, being as curious as I am, I started looking up things online to see if there was a scientific link between the way we dress and the way we feel. I found next to nothing. Aside from the la-la land color scheme stuff, “bright yellow dresses means you’re happy, red means you’re sexy.” But that didn’t make any sense to me, for example, my mom hates yellow, so it would never make her happy! So basically using myself as patient zero. I decided to go back to school at 25. I wanted to do the science to start a business.
And how did that go?
I was sitting in a coffee shop with my dad. I was explaining the business idea. ‘I want to help men and women who are feeling this. But you know, you can’t go to therapy in Egypt, it’s so taboo. You can’t talk about mental health. And I don’t want antidepressants to be the last resort. I don’t want it to be excessive drinking or working out or whatever either.
My dad, who was my boss at the time, fired me on the spot. He said “tomorrow, you’re supposed to submit a report for X client. But instead, you submit your resignation and your business proposal.” The next thing I know, I was in London taking every opportunity, taking every internship, meeting everyone I could, all whilst researching the link between fashion and psychology.
That was the start of Pstyled?
Basically. Everything I studied, I started implementing on myself, and then calling my sister, my mom, my aunt, whoever! So it was just sort of expanding the testing pool. And by the time I was making the decision, should I leave London and start the business in Cairo or should I stay and continue to work for another fashion company? It honestly gives me goosebumps, but I remember at that moment. I’m like, why would I stay? I found myself, I feel connected to myself again. That was the whole point. So I came back to help other people.
Wow, so you came back to Cairo!
Of course! I’m an Egyptian, and I was suffering here. I can relate to issues easier. When you’re abroad, you don’t have the issue of therapy being viewed as “taboo.” You don’t have that issue of not being able to express yourself.
Even if there’s a tiny pool of people who understand therapy here, who understand mental health, who understand wellbeing, who understand depression and are confronting it, they don’t feel like they have their resources. I want to help them first.
I have a younger sister who’s everything to me, and all I kept thinking about was what if she needed to speak to someone. I just feel like I want to be here. I want to use the skills I’ve learned. I have to educate and help people, even if I don’t even have them as clients.
Listening to Nessim’s passion and her drive to help people, coupled with her own personal struggles is something that feels so natural and relatable that it’s no surprise to see that she’s currently dealing with numerous clients both inside and outside of Egypt.
Nessim is undoubtedly disrupting the way that we view therapy in the region, combining therapy, her passion for style, whilst staying in continuous communication with her clients; she surely is our new favorite therapist.
We further chatted anonymously to one of her patients to get a real understanding on how Pstyled has helped them personally.
“Our sessions are a mixture between a therapy session, like a DMC with one of my closest friends, and that feeling you get when you meet someone new and click on the most random of topics instantly. Yasmina makes you feel seen. She values everything you say, even if it’ll make her job harder. The process is really about you and not about a cookie-cutter reality where red means sexy and short skirts are the way to go when you’re short.”
“She gave me a report, which was a joy to read; during the session, we had a whole conversation about what different colors meant to me. Something I had never really thought about before became one of the longest conversation topics of our session because, unbeknownst to me, each color had a lot of baggage for me.”
“Understanding that and understanding why I tend to gravitate to different things when I’m upset versus when I’m happy comes with a satisfaction that I didn’t expect. I don’t think I ever used the phrase ‘I think of my closet like a playground’ during my session even though I very much do and consistently call it that with my friends, but she picked up on it, and it’s written in there.”