BY ELISABETH ANDREWS
“Would this woman wear a yellow buttercream shell?”
The tone of Jessica Quirk’s question reflects the absurdity of the idea. We’re both looking in the mirror at the ensemble she’s created for me: a form-fitting combination of gray lace, black satin, high-heeled boots, and chunky jewelry. They are my own clothes, but I would never have assembled them in this way. The effect is urban, chic, contemporary, and, quite frankly, hot. She’s right—I’m better off without the buttercream.
When Quirk first started chucking things out of my closet, though, I was nervous. Best known for her style blog, What I Wore, the 29-year-old was one of Time Out New York’s “Most Stylish New Yorkers” before she moved to Bloomington last year. After reading her book, What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style (Random House, 2011), I invited Quirk over to assess my wardrobe. “Will you teach me to be awesome?” I pleaded in an email.
Up to that point, my standard uniform was a sweater and baggy khakis. It would be one thing if I loved that look, but I yearned for a more sophisticated style that would be at once ladylike and commanding. When Quirk asked me to share online examples of outfits I admired, I pulled up images that paired scarves and heels with leather and chains.
People who know me would be surprised. Certainly Quirk was. But she didn’t hesitate, when she arrived at my house, to toss out all the clothing that screamed “wholesome.” Over the next several hours, she pulled together what remained into a dozen outfits that captured the industrial-sleek vibe—a Mad Men-esque dress under a brass-studded shrug, black leggings beneath a zip-up gray sweater and cowl-neck striped top, slim jeans with a black blazer rolled at the sleeves to make room for a row of cuff bracelets.
By the end of the day, I was on an outrageous high as I stuffed the “before” clothes into a bag bound for Goodwill. I’d wanted to keep them at first—can’t I be the take-no-prisoners professional some days and the disheveled mom others? But Quirk convinced me that I had nothing to gain by downshifting into sloppiness.
“Why wear something that’s just okay,” she challenged, “when you have clothes that look amazing?”
For an appointment or more information, contact Quirk at firstname.lastname@example.org.