Therese has it going on. After 15 years in buying and merchandising at some of the coolest brands – think Burberry, Acne Studios, and Paul Smith – she rounded out her corporate CV by consulting for Coach and Rag & Bone. And now? She loves to make mums feel good about themselves…one well-picked wardrobe at a time!
She asked if she could take us for a spin around her day. Of course I said yes. (What else to say to someone who defines luxury as “a cab ride around London, a dry Martini at Claridges, cashmere jumpers, and Dyptique candles?”)
Hi, everyone! I am Therese Bassler. I live together with my husband Klaus and our two daughters: Alva is six and Elsa is four.
We live in a three-bedroom house in Barnes, South West London. I am originally from Sweden but moved to the UK almost 20 years ago. My husband is German so we have a crazy trilingual household!
It is a myth that children from multilingual backgrounds have delayed speech. They started talking at the age of 18 months and they haven’t stopped since!
It is 7:35 am and as I lift my eye mask I can see the sun shining through the curtains. And just like clockwork, I hear the footsteps of my eldest daughter approaching our bedroom. She climbs in to bed with us and snuggles up close to her father’s chest. Exactly five minutes later, we hear faint cries coming from another bedroom. My youngest daughter is awake. We all lie in bed for another five minutes, trying to squeeze more cuddles in before the day begins. Cuddling pretty much sums us up as a family.
Before hitting the shower, I quickly check the weather forecast for the day. This helps me to decide what I am wearing and as I wash my hair and brush my teeth, I have mentally already selected my outfit. My brain works a bit like the wardrobe of Cher from the film Clueless; I catalogue everything in order of shoes, trousers, tops, work, casual, etc. and I somehow manage to come up with a look.
As I head downstairs to prepare breakfast, the girls have already taken their seats as they await their trusted maid (me!) to serve them. If I have time, I usually prepare porridge for the whole family, but today I opt for yoghurt with fresh fruit and organic cereals followed by hard boiled eggs and bread. Being Swedish, breakfast is the most important meal of the day so I like to push the boat out. On weekends, breakfasts can take hours in a Scandinavian household.
I rush to get the girls dressed – somehow I never manage to do this without being stressed – and I drop them off at school. As I head to my local cafe to get my coffee fix, I pull out my phone and start going through emails and Instagram.
We have a rule to not use the phones until the official work day starts. I want to be able to teach my children to have conversations, to be bored, to use their imaginations, and to simply observe life. Our girls do not have any iPads nor are they allowed to watch TV for more than 20 minutes three times a week.
I have 15 minutes to drink my coffee before my first client is due for a wardrobe consultation. As I flick through Pinterest and Instagram, I make notes in my Smythson diary with inspired ideas for work. I work in fashion with a background in buying and merchandising, so my eye is always on the product. I appreciate clothes like others appreciate art or cars.
I began my career at Selfridges back in 2000 and have since worked my way up, via brands such as Paul Smith, Ralph Lauren, and Acne Studios. The highlight of my professional life was working for Burberry; Christopher Bailey is a true visionary, constantly reinventing the brand and pushing the limits. I left Burberry in 2011 after I had my first child followed by my second child in 2013.
As I was preparing myself to go back to work, I somehow felt a little bit lost. My priorities had shifted somewhat but I was also competing with 20-something year old girls (this is faaashun, remember!) who would literally do anything to get my job. I simply couldn’t keep up with the pace and I decided to go freelance for a bit, until I figured out what I wanted to do. This is how Style Coach was born.
I wanted to do something I felt I was good at. Something which was still in line with my career but also something that would make a difference. I love working with product but I also love working with people, and I love to make people feel good about themselves. My husband often says that my heart is too big for my body.
So during an evening at a friend’s house, helping her to organise her wardrobe, she suggested that I do this for a living. The previous week, I had been shopping with another friend who, coincidentally, said the same thing.
It took me exactly two months to come up with my brand, build a website, and print business cards. A week after I launched, I got my first booking. And it hasn’t stopped since! That was a bit over a year ago. I love every single bit of what I do and it makes me happy to see my clients happy.
The downside of having your own business is that it makes a big financial difference. I am used to having a secure monthly income, but now I never know how much it will be from one month to the other. At times, it drives me mad. It is the structured, unspontaneous Swede in me!
At the wardrobe consultation, I go through every single piece of the client’s wardrobe and assess how each item fits, but also how it works with her lifestyle. Is she a working mum? Does she socialise? Has she lost/gained weight? Is she 35 but dressing like 65?
The majority of my clients are all all mums, some stay at home and some work full time. But they all have one thing in common and that is that somewhere along the line, they lost their identity. So my job is to bring that back, but in a way which will fit in with who they are now.
Another remarkable thing is how wrong their perception is in terms of what they look like. We all have hangups with our bodies, but my saying is: “Embrace who you are now and work with it.”
I don’t have an ideal client, but I do prefer it when they dare to let go and put their trust in me. Today’s client is one of those women who has decided to go with the flow and get rid of all those things which have been sitting in her wardrobe collecting dust. I leave after three hours and we managed to fill four bin bags with clothes for the local charity shop!
In between clients, I rarely get time to have lunch, but today I grab some avocado sushi from Whole Foods and wolf that down whilst catching up on emails. This is usually when I phone my husband and we catch up on our day but frankly, I just want to hear his voice!
I take five minutes to organise my daughters’ after school activities for the week and realise that I didn’t bring change of clothes for their sports lessons. Oh well, life goes on.
Meeting my second client for a shopping trip and I have a whole list of things which we need to get. My aim is to build an ideal capsule wardrobe, so I am always taking my clients to shop for basic things like knitwear, jeans, boots, a coat, and tee shirts.
Women often have a lot of random things in their wardrobes, which looked great in the store but didn’t relate to anything else which they already owned.
I mix high and low fashion and always aim to end up below budget. The key is to invest in designer shoes, coats, and jeans, as this is what you will wear the most. The rest can be found in good high street stores.
We wrap up after almost four hours and the total spend came to £940 (budget was £1000). That bought us seven pairs of trousers, three skirts, two shoes, four shirts, six pieces of knitwear, and one coat. Not bad at all!
I come home around 5:00 pm and the house is still empty. I have exactly 30 minutes of me time before chaos erupts when the girls come home. My evening ritual always starts with lighting my favourite candle (“Le Sac de Ma Mere” by Annick Goutal or “Coing” by Diptyque), putting on TSF Jazz on the radio, and admiring the art which hang on our walls. We have a weak spot for Tracey Emin and some of her work hangs in our house.
My mind often wanders and I reflect upon the day or memories from the past. My first husband passed away in 2007, so I always take time out during the day to just dedicate that to him. He is very present in our lives and my now husband is an incredible man to share this with me.
I slowly start to prepare dinner and as the girls arrive home, the house is now filled with noise and chatter. My husband arrives around 6:00 pm and we all sit down for dinner together and take turns to talk about our day. This is a very important part as it allows us to share our thoughts and actions and I always love to hear their stories from school.
We are a trilingual family (my husband is German) and it is fascinating to see how the girls switch between the three languages depending on who they speak to and what they want to say.
After dinner, we give the girls a bath and they usually go to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 pm. Once the dishes are done, we snuggle up on the sofa and flick through our favourite interior magazines. We love mid century modern design and our house reflects that. From the Hans Wegner armchair to the Eames dining chairs, we collect timeless pieces which would fit in to any environment. On our honeymoon we went to Palm Springs and we thought we had died and gone to heaven!
We chat about our upcoming loft conversion and go through architectural drawings to see how it will all work out. The evening is rounded up by a couple of episodes of “The Man in the High Castle” – I can’t get enough of it!
The last thing I usually think about before falling asleep for the night is how my mother is doing. I moved to London from Stockholm twenty years ago and as I get older, I don’t visit as often as I used to do. Work and family has taken over and with limited holiday days, it is hard to fit it all in. The thought of her being alone saddens me and so I promise myself to make a greater effort.
I find comfort on my husband’s chest, and his breathing gently rocks me to sleep.
Thank you, Therese. I have to say, there I was dreaming about a wardrobe consult and personal shopper one minute, and then misting up over your late husband and faraway mom the next! So lovely to traipse around after you today. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.
Friends, what do you think about the luxury of a personal shopper? I think I’d love their expertise. I wonder how much excess and unnecessary we have in our closets? Have you ever done a purge and makeover? Did you love it? Did you miss an item that didn’t make the final cut? As always, I love to hear your stories. Do share!