24 Mar 2010

Local Business: Wardrobe 180

If you’re an apostle of Tyler Durden, then you know you are not your khakis.  But Jenn Bussell can help you figure out how to make your khakis more you. Bussell, a stylist and marketer by training, owns Wardrobe 180, and helps clients put their best foot forward in any situation with advice on building a flexible wardrobe.  The end result for her clients is a unique, personal style that enhances all their best attributes.

Formerly a senior manager and consultant on award-winning digital and integrated brand marketing strategies, Bussell “fed her passion for fashion” doing freelance wardrobe consultation and costume design projects for the likes of Glamour Magazine and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.  Now, she has melded her background experiences to use fashion as a medium for individual branding. “I want to help people feel good in their own skin,” Bussell says of working with her clients.

Wardrobe 180 works with three types of clients.  The first, individuals, are men and women usually between 21 and their early 50’s.  “I see a lot of people that are in transition, like new college graduates and people re-entering the workforce or switching careers,” she says.  For her male clients, she finds their interest is very event-driven.  “It’s usually a specific, career-oriented presentation.  I recently worked with a male client preparing for a major product presentation for Microsoft.  It was a big presentation, but it was also a part of rebranding his company.”  However, her skills are applicable outside the office environment, too.  She has worked with stay-at-home parents that “may feel like raising kids has taken the style out of their lives.”  Describing the benefits for these clients, she said, “If you feel good about yourself, it’s going to mean a good, positive energy for your family.  If your kids see you smiling, see your sense of well-being, then they’ll feel that energy too.”

Bussell also does more traditional styling with commercial clients like photographers, ad agencies, film and TV professionals.  Her third client category is corporate clients, where she does everything from offering in-office seminars to workshops for employees that work in the field (ie, a sales force or consultants) to help them develop a personal style that also reflects the company’s brand.  “I help these clients figure out what the boundaries are and how to be flexible within those boundaries,” she said.  (More on Wardrobe 180 seminars below.)

Working with Bussell is guaranteed not to be a cringe-worthy reality TV experience — no embarrassing photos or dramatic culling of your closet.  “It’s like a fun project,” she told me.  Likening it to redoing a bedroom, she said “you don’t go out and buy a bed-in-a-bag.  You think about what colors appeal to you and create an ensemble from there.”  A word she uses is “ownable” – finding pieces that work for each person so that they are wearing an outfit instead of the outfit wearing them.  So which Washingtonian does Bussell think has a great style?  “Barbara Lang, the president of the DC Chamber, is very impressive.  When I see her out, she is always well presented.  She has a chic haircut, chic jewelery.  Her look is very ownable.”

Now that we’re putting away the turtleneck sweaters, I asked Bussell what trends we should look for this spring.  In terms of color, expect to see “lots of nudes and pastels.”  And keep an eye out for African and Middle Eastern inspired graphic prints and bold florals.  The grommets and studs of last season are being replaced by zippers as hardware accents on accessories.  For shoes, Bussell says its “still about open toes” though she’s not a huge fan of what she calls “shoe-booties” (my take on the look is here).  And “sadly, the clog is back.  Now it’s an updated, fancy clog,” but still not a fan-worthy style in her book.  She does get on board with the new wedge heels in natural fabrics and fibers.

Bussell also offers seminars and workshops that are open to the public.  Her next event, “Taking the Stress Out of Getting Dressed: Winning Strategies for Looking & Feeling Your Best on Any Budget” is Sunday, April 11th, from 1-3 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott Capitol Hill.  You can register here.

Jenn Bussell, Wardrobe 180

Jenn Bussell
Wardrobe 180

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