I’m sure that from the outside looking in at what I produce for clients, it looks easy-peasy. But, I feel compelled to share with you just what goes into this work. I’ve never written or shared such an intimate experience of my innermost work experience before. Creating looks require strategies and a whole lot more than meets the eye.
Creating looks require strategies provided by the client’s direction. At least, that’s the way I do it. I can’t and won’t create looks without understanding who the client says s/he is. Over the years, I’ve written extensively about this. So, without deeply reiterating those points, let me just say this. The holy grail comes from my client’s self-assessed personality profile with added emphasis on how s/he wishes to grow. Add to this, the creation of a color palette, which I have also written about ad nauseam. It’s one of the most intuitive elements of my highly strategic process.
With this holy grail set in stone, at least in my brain, I’m ready to get into the good stuff. The clothes.
You might think that I waltz into Saks, Bergdorf-Goodman, Neiman-Marcus, Barney’s or a plethora of boutiques and Tinkerbell greets me. Or, maybe that I wave some magic wand that I travel around with. False fairy tales, ladies and gentlemen. But, I have to break it to you. Tinkerbell and a magic wand are not strategies. Creating looks require strategies where I walk into a store solely focused on the vision of just one person. It’s like walking into cavernous places with tunnel vision.
Once inside these temples of high fashion where so many things look good, great, and downright fucking fabulous, I focus. I focus on my client’s objectives like no one’s business.
The clothes do not jump out yelling at me to pick them. I have to quietly, methodically, painstakingly peruse vast selections of inventory. It is as laborious as it is visually taxing. It doesn’t matter that it’s my job. A bricklayer tires, too. We may each love our work, or it’s the work we do best, so we do it. But, it’s still work. In my case, it’s the work I do unlike anyone else I’ve ever even observed.
Ask my friend Leah at Saks in New York how much inventory I check out and what little I return. Shopping without my client present, but with my client’s presence, is part of the genius of my work. I concentrate, uninterruptedly, for hours and hours. Non-stop. I go for hours, and days, if necessary, until I find just what I’m looking for. I have no preconceived notion of what a piece needs to look like down to the nth degree. But, I definitely arrive with parameters. I am one of those professionals who truly does know it when he sees it. My amazing network of sales pros in stores leave me to do my thing. It’s my way for the client.
Do you know what a heavy responsibility it is to essentially spend others’ money? I do. I have to bring up money and finances because creating looks require strategies that involve significant outlays of money.
My company pays every bill and clients reimburse my company for their wardrobe purchases. It’s an incredible financial obligation. Why do I do it this way? First of all, attaching my name to anyone else’s credit is simply not an option. The moment an unfamiliar charge comes up, what happens? This is against my company policy, and I never agree to ask for trouble I don’t need.
The responsibility I assume proves to any client how much skin I put into the situation. I spend money as if it is my own because it is my company’s. If it takes weeks to create a capsule for a client, my company pays the bill for the clothes. I wait until competing the capsule before requiring immediate reimbursement. That’s integrity. I approach building wardrobes with great sensitivity to finances. And, I do this for each and every client, as if that client is the only client I work with. In reality, I work on multiple projects simultaneously.
Once I have all the amazing clothes to work with, and all the accessories, it’s time to go to town. I take all of the clothes and, like an orchestra director, consider just what notes each piece of clothing hits. All of the clothes and accessories have to sing my client’s song, a look at a time.
So, after doing the profiles, developing a strategy, lovingly trudging through stores, I’m in the client’s closet. This is where so many people think this is where the magic happens. It’s not magic whatsoever. It’s the most intense artistic exercise I can possibly think of.
Think about this. After having shelter to protect you, and food to nourish you, you need clothing to adorn you. At my level of working, this is hardly about subsistence, and I know it. Anyone working with me is affluent enough to treat themselves to a unique life-changing experience. And, I deliver.
Clients have made more money than ever. They’ve gone on to lead companies. They’ve successfully reinvented themselves after marriages have ended. Clients have started businesses. Others received major funding for their companies. One even married again. The clients excitedly share with me that these results connect to our work together. That the way I dress them put their goals front and center, reachable, attainable, and fulfilled.
I stand at a client’s closet as if it were a tabernacle. Seriously. It’s an apt comparison. Let me explain how creating looks require strategies that involve treating the closet like a house of worship. I like to stand at my client’s closet alone. In solitude, all of the strategic vision comes at me in full force. Taking into account the client’s special requests, I consider the power of each piece of clothing. I begin to create a series of looks, doing my best to provide the client with many different looks. So, I utilize a broad range of all that is available in the closet.
No one ever has me over to create just one outfit. I can spend the equivalent of a work day in a client’s closet working non-stop. It is the most significantly intense kind of work for me to do. It may be hard to envision how mutually physical and mental an exercise this is. You might think it’s super easy to do this because all of the clothing resides in the client’s closet. Although this is true, looking for the best possible combinations of items is always an exciting and artistic challenge.
First, I choose a key item. Say it’s outerwear that I choose because I want to build an entire outfit around a sumptuous leather jacket. Then, I look at what kind of tops would complement the look and select one of them. Then, I consider a pair of pants or jeans that continue to build this outfit. I then stop at shoes and consider options for various weather conditions. After laying all of that out, usually on the floor, I return to the closet to consider the accessories. Jewelry, scarves, hat options, and handbag options. All of this. Plus, gloves when it’s the season.
I lay it all down just so and then snap a photo. An indelible image that represents my highest ideal for that client. I have just created a singular look that conveys certain nonverbal messages to all those who encounter the client. Then, try to envision what it’s like to do this all day. At my optimal best, I might max out the day with three dozen outfits. Once in that zone, I feel a bit like a machine. Or a computer. My brain buzzes while continuously separating out pieces I’ve already used in order to create entirely fresh looks. Then, after using key or distinguishing pieces once, I will go back to use them again.
It’s a very methodical process. But, it’s like destroying that tabernacle for the day, only to pull it all back together at the end. Putting everything back into the closet, arranging everything in a way that the client feels like I never touched anything. Restoring the closet to its tabernacle state. A closet full of good intentions, inspiration, full of love, and full of self-care. I always feel a sense of satisfaction and calm when I reach this point of the day.
Sometimes, I reflect on my creative output. Some days are struggles, and other days I feel more easily in the flow of things. It’s a highly artistic pursuit. I can think of no higher artistic pursuit than creating looks for my clients to wear. It’s my highest ideal of their personal expression. Creating looks require strategies that come from love. Full stop.