There are moments and people that are simply Parfait, and Charlotte is one of them.
Charlotte is a Style Therapist, who helps you finding your style and tidying up your closet, and, in doing so, she even helps you find yourself a little bit, to make you feel good not only fashion-wise but also for what concerns self-confidence. A process that she experienced first of all on herself, and that she explained while opening us the doors of her walk-in closet, or rather, closet room, a space where all the elements that describe her (from jackets with a masculine cut to embroidered skirts, from the must-have hats and foulards to small accessories) have a specific place.
Charlotte expresses herself through her looks, which tell us a story, a story made of deep knowledge of the field, a desire to see a change in terms of sustainability, and to find (and improve) what makes us feel good along the way. In the end, what is fashion if not a real journey to discover yourself?
Growing up, what did your closet look like, and how has it evolved?
My style has unconsciously always matched the different stages of my life and the person I was and am. Of course, there were uphill moments and others more fun and downhill, but in every chapter of my story, the closet has always been an indirect protagonist helping me define the story. Even in times when I thought how I dressed didn’t really matter to me. For example, when I was younger, I was a whirlwind of things to do and people to play with and, as a result, my closet was full of clothes that helped me express this side of mine always rushing and changing.
Then, when I turned 30, everything stopped, and in the morning I stood with a glassy eye in front of the closet to choose something black that, unconsciously, expressed how I felt. Today I know there will be up and down moments, but together with my closet, I learned to enjoy the plains and the panorama surrounding me. There are two mantras that I always like to share with my customers rushing to change look:
1. Style is a journey to discover ourselves.
2. Rome wasn’t built in a day, let alone our closet.
“Today I know there will be up and down moments, but together with my closet, I learned to enjoy the plains and the panorama surrounding me.”
How would you describe your relationship with fashion?
Like great loves: a strong passion and attraction, maintenance of strong individual independence, dependence at times, mutual respect, and physiological ups and downs.
What are the garments/accessories that better represent your style?
Those garments that balance well with each other, enhancing the different sides of my character rather than my physical shape, like a maxi blazer on a mini skirt, for example, or a lace suit with sneakers. There’s no such thing as individual garments, but balanced combinations.
What’s your everyday look?
Trousers and round neck shirt is the uniform that better represents me. What’s important to me is not to turn the uniform into a comfort zone: that’s why I enrich it with accessories and clothes that define me on that particular day, such as a great overcoat or a hat.
What are the three must-haves in your wardrobe?
Round neck shirts, slip dresses, hats. I could put just these clothes in a suitcase and go on holiday for one week, creating different looks, always respectful of who I am and who I want to be.
Have you ever had a fashion-related or closet-related epic fail?
I’ve had many, and I’m happy about that. Firstly, because I smile every time I think about it, for example, those ridiculously high heels that I wore when I was so young, or the crazy and excessive matchings I used to make, and, secondly, because I know that each epic fail has taught me something. I think that every phase has its own story to tell, and every story has its own style: you can’t expect everything to always be perfect. Each path is made up of attempts, failures, successes, which usually come to an end.
What is the piece of clothing or accessory that would deserve a wardrobe of its own?
Coats. Because they don’t fit in the closet and seeing them scattered around the house makes the game very difficult. If I had a closet full of coats, I’d feel invincible.
“Each path is made up of attempts, failures, successes, which usually come to an end.”
What’s the piece of clothing you should get rid of, but you can’t?
For years I’ve thought I could have a sports wardrobe, a rather abortive dream since I am a lazy person. I still keep a sportswear section (sweatshirts and leggings in the first place) because I still hope I change my mind, but instead of filling the closet with these useless clothes, I put them in a box with a note on which I wrote: “See you soon.” If that day comes, I’ll know where to find them, and I’ll be glad I didn’t throw them away.
If you could only wear one brand or designer from now on, who would you choose?
Cecilie Bahnsen, because every time I see those fluttering clothes, my eyes sparkle. And if your eyes sparkle, you won’t need anything else to feel Parfait.
You have a last-minute event, and you’re not home. Where would you go for an emergency shopping session?
I’d rush to Bergdorf Goodman in New York for a shopping session with Betty Halbreich in her private studio, “Solutions.” For once, I want to be on the other side and have a person I consider Parfait and who I think could help me understand something about me and my style dress me up.
What do you have too many of in your closet?
I have lots of shirts and round neck t-shirts, but I do not consider them to be “too many” because they are well-balanced with the rest. I have lots of round necklines, but no V-neckline, to give you an idea.
What is your “special” bag?
I’m moody with bags, it depends on the period. Generally speaking, I am fond of all the bags I inherited from my mom. Even though my real special one, the only one that has a place in its dustbag, is a Birkin by Hermès.
Sneakers or heels?
Over the years, I’ve given up my heels. Sometimes I still wonder how I could run while being 12 cm above the sky. I’m not necessarily a fan of sneakers, which I find way too trendy today, but they are comfortable and perfect for my lifestyle made of smart working, dog walks, a lot of wardrobe decluttering, and several shopping tours. But when I need to tell myself that I am Parfait, heels are more convincing than sneakers and make me feel better because they improve my mood, and they enhance my legs as well. For this reason, I wear them even when no event is taking place, even just to stay at home with my leggings on. After all, who says it’s forbidden?
“Over the years, I’ve given up my heels.”
Your must-have accessory?
A hat, any kind, for all seasons, on every occasion.
Color block or black?
Years ago, it was only black, but it was basically a non-choice: I didn’t know how to dress because I didn’t know who I was and what I wanted. Today I can better answer these questions, and that’s why I learned to introduce color into my closet. It’s still a work in progress, but, up to now, I like what I see because it reflects who I am.
How often do you reorganize your wardrobe?
Every day. I am not a 360° tidy person, but I’ve learned to dedicate 3 minutes every day to put in place the clothes and accessories I used; I prefer to do a little something every day, rather than a huge amount of work at the end of the month. Also, having a tidy closet helps me to get dressed because I see what I need and I know where to find it.
“I am not a 360° tidy person, but I’ve learned to dedicate 3 minutes every day to put in place the clothes and accessories I used.”
Is your wardrobe a sacred place, or do you let other people in (other than us)?
I’m not jealous of my clothes, I like to share and let people know something about me through my clothes. If you’re afraid to show or lend your clothes, then maybe it means you’re more attached to them than to yourself.
What’s on top of your fashion wish list right now?
There is a great desire for new, different, interesting, precious brands in their uniqueness. I’m not buying a lot of things precisely because I want to do it knowing I’m buying something special: my closet deserves it, and so do I.
Was there a look from a movie/TV series that left you speechless?
I could answer Margot’s from “The Royal Tenenbaums,” or Patricia Field’s unlikely yet such good looks for every “Sex and the City” character, but the truth is that every time I see Grace Kelly in “Thief Hunt” I’m struck by her look. I’m moved, and not because I would like those looks to be mine, on the contrary, they’re not my style, but because of how wonderful it is to see how those beautiful dresses manage to reflect and enhance her personality, the context, as well as her silhouette.
“I’m not buying a lot of things precisely because I want to do it knowing I’m buying something special: my closet deserves it, and so do I.”
What’s the book on your nightstand?
On my nightstand, I always keep some of my favorite books that I like to flip through in the evening when I am tired, a sort of Linus blanket to use at the end of the hardest days: from the biography of Betty Halbreich to a book about mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, up to the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales collected in an illustrated French version by Taschen that I bought in Paris. These days, however, I am reading “La rivoluzione comincia dal tuo armadio” by Luisa Ciuni and Marina Spadafora. That’s exceptional for me because I never read books about fashion before sleeping. I think it is important to always be willing to learn, especially in this field, where everything seems to have already been written.
What is your closet’s superpower (the one you have or the one you’d like to have)?
My closet has the superpower of creating functional and personal looks every morning in a short amount of time. That’s because I have given myself and my closet a lot of Style Therapy that made me create a space that is not exactly tidy, but it’s personal and functional for me and my needs.
“My closet has the superpower of creating functional and personal looks every morning in a short amount of time.”
What are the “Parfait” characteristics for a closet, in your opinion?
What we are is what makes the closet Parfait, it’s not the brands or the number of clothes it contains. For this reason, characteristics such as consistency, order (not absolute, but personal order), and balance are important. I can’t imagine a Parfait closet if I don’t know who I am and what I want. If my closet is a mess, maybe it’s because there’s confusion inside my head and in my life.
What pieces of advice do you wish to give through your work as a style therapist?
The Style Therapist has never existed before, and I wanted to create this figure for a specific reason, to help people feel good with their closet, question their style, go far beyond a simple day of shopping or wardrobe makeover. That’s why the Style Therapist is a personal consultant, a confident, if you will, who deals with fashion, looks and matches, but above all with people: they’re professionals committed to making them feel better, inside and outside the closet. For this reason, I need to share values such as empathy, care, and inclusiveness, which are much praised today in this field, but still difficult to see. With Parfait, you don’t do trend therapy, you work on yourself through your look.
What are the basic clothing items that everyone should have in their closet?
The only clothing item we need to learn to wear is ourselves. We’re so busy building these amazing capsule wardrobes made of a specific number of clothes when the only thing we need to invest in is self-confidence.
“I need to share values such as empathy, care, and inclusiveness.”
“With Parfait, you don’t do trend therapy, you work on yourself through your look.”
What’s an emotion that you associate with fashion?
I would say “escape,” because the first thing you think when it comes to this word is something beautiful that makes you dream, get out of your four walls, and play all the characters you’d want to be. I think that, together with books and movies, fashion is the only world that allows you to dream of being someone else. In everyday life, however, I associate fashion not so much with emotion, but with a word, language. Because looks are a personal way of talking to people, and the more consistent you are, the more this language will be deciphered and understood by others.
What do you think the future of this field will look like?
I think that this field, even if it’s considered avant-garde, really needs a wake-up call. Social media have totally absorbed people’s critical thinking, making them believe they’re part of this world just because it seems more accessible. Today, due to these new tools, real authenticity has gone missing, and the much-vaunted inclusiveness does not feel as effective or authentic to me. Therefore, I don’t know what will happen, but on a personal level, speaking about approaching fashionable people, I hope there is a return to awareness on dressing, buying, using fashion as a real tool to express oneself instead of appearing. I hope there is a gentle return to the origins, where beauty is not necessarily showcased, but it requires to be discovered. But this is more a wish than a certainty.
“I associate fashion not so much with emotion, but with a word, language. Because looks are a personal way of talking to people.”
“I hope there is a gentle return to the origins, where beauty is not necessarily showcased, but it requires to be discovered. But this is more a wish than a certainty.”
You said that Style Therapy is made of rules to break, is about involvement. With what kind of look did you dare the most?
Beige, even when it comes to total looks. Until some time ago, it would have been impossible for me, because everyone used to tell me that beige wasn’t suitable for my complexion and my colors. I believe that there are no universal rules, but rather that every rule must be adapted to ourselves and our feelings. I came from a difficult time where I always wore black. When I started to reopen my eyes, I began putting on colorful clothes again and, above all, beige: it won’t be the right color for my season, but it’s the Parfait color for what I feel right now. And then, who said that beige can’t be worn by everyone? It’s all about how we wear clothes, not what we’re wearing.
Your work is about fashion, but also about feeling good with yourself and showing it through your style. What’s the last thing you found out about yourself through your work?
Empathy. An asset and a weapon that I kept hidden, maybe I didn’t know that I had it and that, thanks to the customers who come to me every day with small or big problems, I now have the opportunity to share with them. I think this discovery has also affected my style, which is more polite and less showed-off or hasty than it was some time ago.
What are your next projects?
I’m working to push Parfait more and more. I’d want it to be a non-social-addicted environment and I’d like my customers and the people who follow my philosophy to meet me even outside the “likes” philosophy. That’s why I’m focusing my energies on workshops that can lead to beautiful synergies, as well as to communicate something. Among my future projects, there is also a book, but that’s more a wish list than a to-do list.