Lady’s Maids and Valets are members of private household staff who are generally responsible for the wardrobes of their principal and care of all their personal items. They are often described by those in the know as 'Secret Magicians' because of all the work that goes on behind the scenes. They are likely to be the principal’s most important member of staff.
Traditionally the roles were the male and female equivalent of each other. The Lady’s Maid looked after the female principal and Valets were responsible for the male principal but today they are not gender specific.
Ultimately both will focus primarily on wardrobes, care of personal items, accessories, packing and often travel with their boss. There are additional housekeeping duties that may come with these jobs if separate housekeepers are not employed. And duties may extend to assisting with diary appointments but usually a Private PA will be responsible for these.
What does a Lady’s Maid/Valet Job involve?
Lady’s Maids / Valets concentrate on the care of their employer’s wardrobe. This might involve looking after and cataloguing extensive couture or designer clothing, as well as specialist beauty/ health products and the cleaning of all personal items. Sometimes they will be dressing a celebrity, film star or singer.
Typically their principals will lead very busy professional or social lives and require extensive help planning and coordinating outfits or booking appointments. Lady’s Maids and Valets act as close confidents. They will travel with their boss to pack and unpack, make sure clothes are steamed or pressed, shoes polished and accessories coordinated.
Additionally, a Lady’s Maid and Valet might be tasked with ensuring that their principal’s bedroom/bathroom is organised, their wardrobes organised or winter clothes put away. If items need cleaning they will take them to the dry cleaners and if they need mending take them to the tailors. They will also coordinate any alterations required. Knowledge of specialist repairs and how materials should be treated, like delicate and rare fabrics, furs and jewellery is essential.
Skills & Qualifications
Experience working as a housekeeper or butler who has focused on wardrobes could be a way into this job. Equally someone from a textile, retail, hospitality, military or royal household background would have relevant skills.
Lady’s Maids/Valets are likely to liaise with the other household staff, like Housekeepers and Nannies, as well as their employer’s connections so confidence and natural relationship-building skills will certainly be an advantage.
They need to be able to anticipate their employer’s needs and requirements before they do. Plus, knowledge of cultural differences (or an inclination to learn), particularly in reference to wardrobe and diet, and when travelling with employers, is also really important. For example, knowing the cultural dress that is appropriate for foreign state dinners.
As a Lady’s Maid or Valet you will be expected to have a detailed eye for care of the most expensive of fabrics, excellent packing/un-packing skills, be able to manage a wardrobe, accessories for all seasons or occasions. In addition, a contact book of seamstresses and beauticians is very useful.
Most importantly these roles work very closely with the principal, dealing with all their most private, personal items, often travelling and spending a great deal of time with them one on one, so it’s imperative they are 100% trustworthy and happy with what often becomes a vital but background role.
Lady’s Maid/Valet Salary:
Lady’s Maid – £35,000-£50,000