Play time: Consultant Stacy Wallace-Albert (near left) insists that every woman should experiment with the contents of her closet. She convinced her client Tina O’Connor (above and far left) to try wearing an old sweater backwards—an unexpected touch that kicks the chic factor up a notch.
Tina O’Connor had a vision of an easy, stylish wardrobe— every morning she would wake up and in no time find something to wear. Her closet, however, didn’t fit her lifestyle. Her old job had left her with a wardrobe full of suits, while at her new job in the entertainment industry, the work environment was laid-back.
Enter our style editor Stacy Wallace-Albert, who has recently started a wardrobe consulting business. (Her rates begin at $600 for a four-hour session. For more information, see her Web site, thefashioneditor.com.) Wallace-Albert agreed to overhaul O’Connor’s closet in her gentle manner—no fashion-police bully tactics here—weeding out the tired and unflattering and putting together a few go-to ensembles for O’Connor. The result? A closet as airy as a boutique, filled with things she actually wants to wear. Getting dressed now is as simple as opening her wardrobe.
HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?
HOMEWORK “First, I ask the client to pull everything she loves from magazines like Marie Claire and Lucky, nothing too over the top editorially,” Wallace-Albert says. “And then I categorize it so she understands what she’s gravitating toward. I’ve been keeping a folder like this for ten years. It teaches you to hone your taste.”
EDITING “We go through most items in the closet. It’s hard to part with things, so basically I help people with permission. We may get rid of clothes, but the idea is that in the end you’re left with more to wear because you love it. And don’t worry, I won’t make you throw anything away!”
ALTERATIONS AND REPAIRS “Alterations are so important—that’s the advice everyone gets—whether it’s to slim down a leg line, nip in the waist of a boxy jacket, or remove a waistband.”
WRAP-UP “Within a couple of weeks, I send an exhaustive summary of what we’ve discussed, complete with an action
plan that includes a shopping list and department
stores they should visit.”
Trial and error: Wallace-Albert and O’Connor test different color combinations against her skin.
The shoe-in: Cast-off pairs are on the left; shoes to be repaired are on the right.
DEFINE YOUR FEATURES “The wrong color will wash the details from your face,” Wallace-Albert says. “To find what colors suit you, go to the men’s tie counter in a department store and see how they work with your skin.”
FEND OF THE FADE “Never put jeans in the dryer, and wash them only when absolutely necessary. People tend to overwash their hair and their jeans.”
TAILOR YOUR TOES “If you find a shoe with a pointy toe that pinches and you love it, go up half a size and get Dr. Scholl’s footpads for the balls of your feet.”
CONSIDER THE LENGTH “Empire dresses should be a little longer than most women are wearing them—at least to the knee. That will make them look taller.”
TAKE CUES FROM MENSWEAR “To punch up a boring suit, men might wear a paisley tie. Women in a corporate environment do not need to wear black shoes. Red, white, brown, and gray look fantastic, and the same is true for handbags.”
* * *
FINDING YOUR MANTRA
Some fashion gurus would be tempted to peg their clients, but Wallace-Albert cleverly poses a question at the end of the session that lets them define their own taste: “Say you were in the bathroom at a party, and you overheard people talking about you, saying you look so something tonight, and it was good. What would that something be?” O’Connor’s response: “Hot and pulled together.” Voilà, a personal- style mantra!
THE PERFECT WORK ENSEMBLE
(1) Wallace-Albert wants O’Connor to find more jackets like this—romantic but neutral in color. “When you add a jacket, you automatically make it a business look without being too businessy. You look creative but sophisticated.” (2) “Wearing your hair back frames your face really well; it also adds to your height and emphasizes a really good area for most women—the neck. You do not have a super long neck, so earrings elongate you here. A turtleneck might cut you off,” says Wallace-Albert. (3) O’Connor’s biggest problem with dressing for her new job: Everyone wears jeans to work, but they make her feel too casual. Wallace-Albert says: “Trouser jeans are perfect for you—with big legs and in dark denim, they wear like pants.” (4) A rich burgundy necklace pops over a chic beige top.
WHAT SHE KEPT
Brown suede boots and black trousers, perfect for work To remain neutral while adding interest, Wallace-Albert encourages O’Connor to mix whites with creams and browns with blacks. (O’Connor hates navy and is washed out by gray.) A jewel-toned 3.1 Phillip Lim dress Although this is vibrant, not neutral, the rich shade is great with O’Connor’s skin, and the halter-top accents her shoulders.
WHAT SHE DITCHED
Candy-colored knit tops Pastels don’t flatter O’Connor’s fair skin. A white scarf with a pale blazer The frosty effect is deemed “too drama queen” for O’Connor.
Photography by Anna Knott, Megan Lovejoy