Meet the ‘wardrobe detoxer’ who helps fashion hoarders to declutter

Gabrielle James of Style Council

Gabrielle James of Style Council - Credit: Archant

Imagine owning more than 200 pairs of shoes, and not feeling able to part with any of them, or having so many mountains of clothes that you have to house them in a lock-up storage unit miles away from your home.

Gabrielle James, from Coggeshall, has come across extreme fashion hoarders such as these, and through her business, Style Council, she has been able to persuade them, and many others, to purge themselves of those pesky only-worn-once outfits lurking in the backs of wardrobes.

Gabrielle also provides services as an image consultant and personal shopper, but says the wardrobe detoxing is the most popular request she gets.

“People can let their wardrobe clutter spiral out of control... a most common mistake is simply having too many clothes, and not being able to know your best outfits because of this,” she says. “It’s a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees.”

Gabrielle, who until recently used to live in Bury Saint Edmunds, says a lot of the work she does is in that part of Suffolk, although she also travels throughout the region as part of her unusual, but intensely rewarding job.

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The 43 year-old is amply qualified for the role of personal fashion guru, having worked for 15 years in the fashion industry, starting off as a showroom model for Morgan and going on to work in a variety of roles for brands including Gas, Pepe and Miss Sixty.

While taking time off from her career to bring up children, Gabrielle helped friends and family members to re-organise their wardrobes and realised then that she had a knack for it.

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“It was so rewarding to see people close to me regain their style and confidence that it inspired me to set up Style Council, with the aim of helping others in similar situations and with a mantra of “Why not look fabulous every day?”, she explains

“I wanted to help people dress for their current body shape, find styles that best suit them and to bring back lost confidence.

“Through personal experience I know how having children, turning 40 and going through various different life challenges can change your body shape and affect your self-esteem.”

Gabrielle has helped clients with Big Yellow Storage lock-ups full of clothes, and has also persuaded clients to cart away as many as eight bin-liners of unwanted clothes.

“Often people are slightly nervous about this at first, but afterwards are left feeling liberated and empowered,” she says.

For some, Gabrielle’s help involves getting out of a “jeans and jumper rut” and for others it can be a push to get alternations done on items that have never been worn, or simply to enjoy a wardrobe that’s neatly lined up and colour coordinated, with the hangers all facing the same way too.

The shopping element is the fun bit, of course:

“Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to go shopping for new clothes that will make us feel great?!” Gabrielle asks.

How it works

Of course, roping in a stranger to inspect your wardrobe can seem like “quite a daunting thing to tackle for some people,” Garrielle admits, so she starts with a free, no obligation phone consultation. “We talk over what they are hoping to achieve and we can take it from there,” she says.

Gabrielle has to find out what kind of person the client is, what colour shades they might suit and the kind of clothes that they go for.

“This part of the service involves me travelling to the clients’ house and spending three to six hours with them, depending on the level of clothes we have to go through,” she says. “This really gives me a good idea of their personality and their sense of style.”

After working out which items are no longer needed or wanted, Gabrielle works with her client to find new combinations from existing clothes and suggest alterations to clothing that will better suit the person’s body shape.

She explains that some people like to simply have the wardrobe detox, as it helps provide them with lots of new, exciting outfit combinations to wear from their existing clothes, and with ideas of how to adapt some items for a new look.

“Other people like to also take on the Image Consultancy or Personal Shopping service as well, as this follows on from the wardrobe detox and can help to really advance a person’s wardrobe by exploring new colours, looks and styles that will really compliment their body shape,” she says.

Prices range from £150 for three hours to £275 for six hours, with a £50 deposit required on booking.

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