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ShopLocalSD: The Apparel Therapy of Cara Chace

Ever walk into your closest and feel like you hate everything in there? You think your clothes look old, don’t fit, aren’t flattering, and haven’t been trendy in decades? What if at the worst moment of trying to dress yourself, you had a girlfriend that you could call? An amazing, astute, tasteful and encouraging person to drop whatever she was doing andrush over. She’d look intelligently but kindly at all of your clothes, accessories, and shoes. She’d help you sort: Tailor or toss? She’d tell you what you needed to have.

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Cara Chace is just that person. She’s created a thriving business out of what began as a knack for helping her friends shop. Chace’s company, Apparel Therapy, offers personal shopping, fashion consultation and styling tips.

Chace—an anthropology major who began her career in retail working as an “Advanced Bra Specialist” at Victoria Secret—wears many stylish hats, but the heart of her business is personal shopping. On her Web site she offerscustomers three basic personal shopping packages: Fashionista, Style Maven and Concierge. The packages vary in price, but all offer an initial consultation, a wardrobe evaluation and a personal shopping trip with Chace.

In the initial consultation phase, Chace helps her clients evaluate their clothing needs by listening to what’s important to them. Clients discuss wardrobe goals, styles and budget. The next phase is for Chace to actually examine the client’s closet—it can get ugly, Chace says jokingly— and help them weed out what stays and what goes.

Chace at work.
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Then there’s the shopping. Chace helps clients save time by being familiar with the market. And being familiar, she says, she most often ends up at Nordstrom. Chace says the staff there is wonderful; they’ll set up a large dressing room, stock it with bottled water, pull clothes from the racks in a variety of costs, styles and sizes. Chace says Target is also one of her favorites—she calls it “fast style.”

“I’m not against small boutiques, but I like the variety and the return policy of the bigger department stores,” says Chace.

Chace has other services, too. On her Web site, you can create a “shopping profile,” that directs you to online shopping sites that fit your needs. She also does corporate and group seminars. In the corporate workshops, she’ll set up office attire make-overs for interns, new hires or even the big boss. In these tough times, she says, a little wardrobe tweak could be just the thing to give a candidate the edge.

There’s also “girls night,” where Chace gives mini-consults or organizes a clothing swap. Often, she leads shopping excursions to LA.

“I teach clients how to look at themselves objectively,” Chace says. “People want to feel good when they get dressed. They want to know that when they spend the money, it’s on the right thing for them.”

Chace’s most basic advice? All women need, “a black pencil skirt, a crisp white shirt, a pair of cute and comfortable black heels, great fitting jeans, and layering tees in every color.”

As for the rest, give Chace a call. She’ll be there to hold your hand and lend a critical eye the whole way through.