Wow, they’re really tall.
That’s what I’m thinking as I look at us, all three crowded in my bathroom, laughing. There are some things in life you never expect to happen—the chance to walk on the moon, winning the lottery. Also on the list? Having two really tall former fashion models come into your home and transform your old clothes into fabulous new outfits. I admit, I was nervous at the beginning. It went like this:
Tuesday 4:19: My editor emails me with an assignment. Former models Beckie Klein and Martina Gordon, known together as beckiemartina, are coming to my apartment to re-style me.
Tuesday 4:26: I open my closet door. A small shudder inches down my back. I shut the closet door.
Tuesday 4:28: I glance at my dresser and cringe at the thought of what’s inside.
Tuesday 4:31: I head to the kitchen, shove my ratty underwear in the trash and pour myself a large glass of wine.
In the past decade, I’ve had four different bodies (pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, post-post-pregnancy) and now have three different jobs (writer, mother, wife). Between preschool drop-off, work, housework and play dates, I don’t have the time or energy to spend shopping. The clothes I have don’t really fit and are blah with a capital B. How are these fashion professionals going to re-style non-fitting, Blah clothes? Little did I know, this common state-of-closet is exactly what inspired Beckie and Martina to start their business.
Beckie and Martina’s friendship began 20 years ago on a modeling job on a remote island. Now, with Beckie’s relatives in Florida and Martina’s in Europe, the duo have become family. They’ve shared weddings, the births of their children, and now, a business.
“When we had children we left the fashion world,” Beckie says. “Now, a lot of our clients are new moms who maybe know how to put clothes together but don’t have the time.”
Beckie and Martina created their re-styling business with the mission to save women time and money. “For a half-day session in your closet, for basically the price of one high-end top, we create 12-20 new outfits out of clothes you already own,” Beckie says. “You’re actually saving money and you don’t have to go out and shop.”
The minute Beckie and Martina entered my apartment, they were enthusiastic, warm and refreshingly honest. Before answering any of my interview questions, they kicked off their shoes and asked to see my clothes. Could it have been nerve-wracking, having these basic strangers rummaging through my drawers? Sure, but it wasn’t. It was like having two fantastic “fairygodmodels” come and work their magic on me and my wardrobe. After four hours, a few glasses of champagne and a lot of laughs, they not only put together amazing outfits for me, they imparted the wisdom that they’ve gathered from years in the fashion universe. I now reverently refer to these truths as “beckiemartina mantras.”
#1: Understand your body.
“Many women don’t understand their body type,” Martina tells me. They explain that, whether because of weight gain (or loss) or because we are tired or overworked, we lose sight of how our clothes work on our bodies.
For me, it was weight loss. Yeah, that’s great, but the few times I did shop this year, I still felt the need to cover up my bum and thighs and was shrouding my body in too-big clothes.
“We all have to fight dressing that old body in our minds and dress the body we have now,” Beckie says. Which is precisely where the duo’s years of experience come in; Beckie and Martina see you in your clothes and can see what works and what doesn’t. With a keen professional eye, they “establish what your body looks best in and the type of clothes you should be wearing.”
Part of the service is helping women identify items that are missing from their wardrobe. “We’ve been to your closet, we’ve seen what’s needed and we make a list,” Martina explains. “We do the pre-shop. We go to 15 stores where we look for, say, the best pair of black pants. Then we meet you at the store and show them to you.”
#2: Get rid of what doesn’t work.
I kept telling them I had no clothes. But they found stuff that worked and created some terrific outfits. How? They cleared out what didn’t work. “It’s a big misconception that you aren’t dressing like the current you because you don’t have the new stuff. You aren’t dressing like the current you because you still have the old stuff,” Beckie says.
After clearing out the old, we mixed and matched more tops and bottoms (they even got a pair of scissors to make a skirt out of a dress).
The main elements of my wardrobe foundation were clear: some fitted jeans, two pairs of work pants and a pencil skirt. The problem? I don’t own any of these.
They remind me it doesn’t have to cost a lot to build the foundation. Take jeans, for example. “There are many jeans you can buy for $300, but we found some amazing jeans for $40 that we love. We own them!” says Martina.
#3: It’s all about fit and proportion.
As the day progresses, we must have said 33 times, “This is too big.” My clothes just didn’t fit. “We don’t want to be too tired or too classic or too old or too young, we all want to feel like a grown-up,” Beckie says. “The key to that is fit and how you put it together.”
For an example, consider the pencil skirt. “It should hit at the knee, or a tiny bit above if you have good knees,” Martina instructs. “If you are wearing boots with it, there needs to be some separation between the skirt hem and the boot or it will look dowdy.”
#4: Remember the surprise.
Like a lot of women, I buy the same thing over and over again—black and gray shirts and sweaters. “You buy them again thinking you’ll find the perfect black and gray, but you have the perfect black and gray,” Beckie says. “The key to an outfit is the surprise. Pair a thick sweater with something sheer, or a classic outfit with a rock-n-roll accessory.”
Of course, the duo knows that most women won’t be able to make all these wardrobe additions at once. “We leave our clients with photos of the new outfits along with the list of what’s missing,” Beckie says. “If you can fill in these gaps over the next 12 months, you’re good to go.”
What’s more, Beckie and Martina’s services aren’t complete after the half-day consultation. “We’re always thinking about our clients,” Martina says. “When we’re out shopping, we’ll text a client, ‘Hey, we found that striped turtleneck you need!’ and tell them where to go.”
#5: Have fun.
Aside from finding the proper fit, I was missing color. A green throw blanket almost became a dress, they were so desperate to see color on me. “Enjoy fashion, don’t think about it too much,” Martina says. “But take your style very seriously.”
As you look over the beckiemartina mantras, you’ll find that they not only apply to your closet, but also to your life. My day with Beckie and Martina was a little like therapy, a bit like going to style school, and a lot like being with girlfriends you always want to hang out with—the ones that bring out your best you.
My husband came home later that night and we went to dinner. I hadn’t gone shopping yet and didn’t have any new clothes, but I felt more confident, or, perhaps, new-and-improved. As we walked down the street, he turned to me and said, “You look taller.” I laughed.
Photos by Daniel S. Burnstein.
For more information about Beckie and Martina, visit beckiemartina.com.