Friday night, 11pm. I am snapping a selfie within the bedroom mirror. Not for Instagram I hasten to feature – no one over 40 should try this – however for my “Best Dressed” folder of clothing. Next to me on a chair is a mountain of clothes which have been lying fallow in my dresser for greater than a 12 months. Some haven’t seen the light of day for as much as a decade. I should wear them all inside per week or drag them kicking and screaming to the charity store.
The “new” outfits I’ve unearthed from this growing pile are pinging me beautiful little hits of dopamine, handing over the sort of euphoric excessive I would possibly in general revel in at the Ganni internet site, however the idea of jettisoning a silver antique dress brings me out in a chilly sweat, even though I understand there’s no threat I’ll ever again fit into it and might, in any case, rarely have an occasion to put on it.
What lies in the back of this unnatural attachment? I’m about to find out as I’ve booked a style remedy session with Karen who, although primarily based in New York, is to be had to cope with wardrobe hang-usafrom afar by means of cellphone or FaceTime.
Fortunately, when Karen pops up on my smartphone display screen radiating a joyous positivity, all concerns of a brutal cloth cabinet cull speedy evaporate. Or perhaps, like me, you’ve hit midlife and without a doubt want coaxing out of a fashion rut.
“I’m no longer the type to inform you what to put on; I can get a touch prescriptive, but most effective after you’ve advised me who you are,” she tells me. “And I’m now not going to tell you, ‘You ought to dispose of this dress you love.’ But if we had greater classes, I could unpack why you’re conserving on to it,” she tells me.
Sharon in a shiny silver get dressed and heels holding up a couple of birthday party footwear in each hand and with multiple pairs of shoes covered up behind her
‘I have the cloth cabinet of a fashionista at a everlasting cocktail party, whereas in truth I am a 54-12 months-vintage mother of two.’ Photograph: Jean Goldsmith/The Observer
Not to be stressed with a personal client, who will prescribe a “look” and likely persuade you to spend money on a heap of new clothing, Karen is a qualified therapist with a grasp’s diploma in counselling psychology from Columbia University. And in case you haven’t heard of the function of fashion psychologist before now, that’s because Karen, 31, invented it. It does appear to be the correct marriage of her talent sets. A former version with a lifelong ardour for garments, she is the primary black lady psychology professor on the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. So Karen knows style. But she is also sceptical of “fashion rules, flash-in-the-pan developments and paint-by using-numbers styling recommendation”. Her periods are designed to softly tease out what garments mean to you and study how you could use them to sense more confident, calm or powerful. In other words, style as remedy or “styling from the interior out”, as she calls it.
As you may assume from a fashion psychologist, Karen is exquisitely turned out, in a sublime black pinnacle (every body must have of these dresser fundamentals), with long glossy black hair. Her private fashion “emblem”, something we ought to all have, she says, is minimalist glam, which means declaration capes, ambitious shades, leopard print (“It’s nearly a neutral for me”) and towering heels, as you may see on her Instagram account.