Clothes En­coun­ters

She Loves Fash­ion but Hates the Hunt. Can Two Per­sonal Shop­pers Help?

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sunday Source - By Suzanne D’Amato

If you could see my closet, you’d be sur­prised — and not in a good way. As a fash­ion ed­i­tor, it’s my job to pore over the most rav­ish­ing clothes and ac­ces­sories you can imag­ine. Bub­ble skirts molded out of glossy straw­berry satin. Quilted hand­bags wor­thy of a 50-per­son wait­ing list. Dresses dusted in se­quins, edged in tulle, lath­ered in eyelet, dipped in gold. I may write about how to wear such clothes (or at least the knock­off ver­sions), but I’m not good at tak­ing my own ad­vice. Year-round, I stick to baggy sweaters, blousy tops, bal­let flats and jeans I’ve had since col­lege. And when I’m at a store, I over­think ev­ery­thing. Con­fronted with styles that I’ve fo­cused on too much to ap­pre­ci­ate in purely per­sonal terms, I look at lit­tle and try on even less. This is why my closet (while in­clud­ing a few nice items, such as per­fectly weath­ered mo­tor­cy­cle boots and a vin­tage coat the color of a ripe tomato) cur­rently con­tains: K Ten al­most-iden­ti­cal tu­nic tops in gray or black. All are long and droopy. (And, no, I am not ex­pect­ing.) K Ten cardi­gans in vary­ing shades of cream, brown, gray and black. K Seven pairs of jeans, one of which fits as it should. K An ex­pen­sive evening dress with a ragged, asym­met­ri­cal hem that strives for avant-garde but, af­ter only four wear­ings, says, “Send to Good­will, stat.” K A curious (and some­what dis­turb­ing) num­ber of items that would be ap­pro­pri­ate on a 12-year-old, in­clud­ing a Boy Scout shirt, Kan­ga­roos sneak­ers and a base­ball T-shirt with uni­corns and rain­bows on it.

Equally bad is what I don’t have. For some­one who works in an of­fice, I pos­sess a star­tling lack of Grown-Up Clothes. This is prob­a­bly be­cause I used to work at a fash­ion mag­a­zine where ev­ery­one strove to look like stylishly di­sheveled art stu­dents. I’m not there any­more, but I still dress the part: slouchy lay­ers, thrift-store jew­elry, the kind of lank hair and chipped nail pol­ish that make peo­ple won­der if it’s Take Your Daugh­ter to Work Day. It oc­curs to me that it wouldn’t be so bad to in­vest in a few pol­ished pieces: struc­tured jack­ets, pants that aren’t jeans, shirts that fit and don’t have uni­corns on them.

As it hap­pens, the D.C. area is home to sev­eral per­sonal shop­pers who are only too happy to help peo­ple like me. They can be found at de­part­ment stores, in bou­tiques and on the In­ter­net; their lev­els of ex­pe­ri­ence vary widely; and their fees range from free to you-don’t-want-to-know. I de­cide to seek out two wardrobe wiz­ards: a per­sonal shop­per at Lord & Tay­lor, whose ser­vices are avail­able to cus­tomers gratis, and a free­lance shop­per who charges a cool $100 an hour. What does each teach me about adding some chic to my closet? Find out on Page 4.

This might be a ca­sual Fri­day out­fit for some, but for me it’s a work look that’s a dra­matic shift from my usual T-shirt and jeans. It’s all

about baby steps, right? Cyn­thia St­effe jacket, $285 Club Monaco blouse, $89 Tevrow & Chase slacks, $225

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