photos by Peter Samuels
Since I was 14, I've dressed like, well, I'm 14. My uniform has been t-shirt, hoodie, jeans, and sneakers or boots. Thing is, I actually like to dress up. But I don't really know how. Until a month ago, I had a (small) closet packed with nice clothes -- or what I thought were nice clothes -- that I had acquired over the years but basically never wore. And had mostly forgotten. Then my wife Kelly Sparks and her friend Kat Yeh had their way with my wardrobe. I didn't mind because they're professionals. For decades, Kelly has been a fashion designer working for the likes of Levi's, Bebe, and Esprit. Kat spent years at Levi's as a global merchandiser and styled a great cast of assorted celebs and rock stars, from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Thurston Moore to Josh Homme and Erykah Badu. When Kelly and Kat emerged from the bowels of my closet, 85 percent of my tired duds were boxed up for donation (1990s shiny suit... buhbye) and they had put together a bunch of cool outfits based on timeless clothes I already had, most of which I hadn't seen in years. They also gave me a list of the key essentials I was missing. Now they're helping me shop (which I generally hate almost as much as a trip to the DMV) for clothes at prices even a cheapskate like me won't complain about. (Target! Vintage! Flea markets! Outlets!)
Why did they do all this for me? I was actually serving as a beta tester for Kat and Kelly's new "closet curation" and personal styling consultancy in San Francisco, StyleKouncil. Unlike most personal stylists, Kelly and Kat won't try to give you a "fashion makeover" or drag you to Barney's, unless of course that's what you want. (Believe me, they know their Prada and Marc Jacobs too.) No matter your budget, the aim is to "explore your style and turn it up a notch," says Kelly. Something about their taste and appreciation for classic and vintage looks mixed with their fashion-forward mindset, total lack of fashion snobbery, and ability to help you buy less but be way happier with what you do buy, has struck a chord. Word of mouth has brought them a bunch of clients and a few weeks ago Jesse "Sound of Young America" Thorn said nice things at his "Put This On" blog and even complimented me on my new look. (That's a first!) And now this month, 7x7 magazine has a four-page spread on StyleKouncil written by Leilani Labong. For the article, Kelly and Kat were asked to interpret fresh (and spendy) runway looks using affordable clothing. Their models included coffee geek Benjamin Kruer (above left), emo rocker Gina Macaraeg, and Tekzilla web video star Veronica Belmont (above right).
I'm proud of Kelly and Kat, even as I get impatient while they scour thrift stores in search of the perfect Steve McQueen Baracuta jacket for me.
Jesse Thorn on StyleKouncil (Put This On)
Leilani Labong on StyleKouncil (A Ruffled Feather)