The Magic Closet

28 Aug 2014

Style consultant helps women look their best

By Lisa Truesdale

Patricia Belanger runs a service company—but she’s quick to point out that it’s much more “service” than it is “company.”

After years of honing her stylist skills as a television producer and host in Toronto, Canada, Belanger now helps women dress for confidence and success. She tells of a client who came to her a few years ago when Belanger had moved to Boulder and started Patricia’s Big Closet.

“She had no confidence, no idea how to dress her body type, and of course she didn’t realize how amazing she was,” Belanger says. So they had several consultations, during which Belanger helped her choose items from the expansive closet (really a few large rooms) in Belanger’s home, and sent her off to her job interviews. 

“She was really impressed with her new look, and her newfound self-assurance showed. Soon, she got a high-powered job back east.” Although she was sad never to see that client again, Belanger calls it a perfect example of why she and her husband, Frank, started Patricia’s Big Closet: “Simply put, it’s a service organization. It’s much less about money and more about service to others.”

It’s a good thing Belanger isn’t in it to get rich, because her expertise is free, and all of her high-end clothing (sizes 0-22), shoes and accessories are a fraction of their original cost—starting from $25 for shoes and $45 for jackets, from designers like Prada, Coach and Ralph Lauren. Everything comes from a select group of generous consignors who accept less for their items than they might get selling them elsewhere.

Getting to know her clients helps Belanger dress them appropriately. “I like to find out what they do, where they’ll be wearing the clothes, and so on. I listen to their needs, and I hope they use what they learn. And the confidence? It comes quickly,” she adds, “because the first step is finding the right bra, and that means getting naked right away.”

Best Features Forward

Belanger’s own confidence is in knowing how to flatter the good parts and diminish what women perceive as flaws. “I capitalize on a woman’s best features,” she says. “I see what’s beautiful, and that’s how I dress her.” Most of all, she’s brutally honest about what she thinks will work and what won’t. “All the elements of an outfit have to be right—like cut, color, length and fabric. And I want everything to be right, because these women are my walking advertisements.” 

After her husband said, “Not making money is fine, but I don’t want us to lose money, either,” the two of them started a second company that runs alongside the first—Patricia Be, a line of skincare products.

“My skin was drier than ever after I moved here, plus I discovered that I’m allergic to the sulfates in cleansers and shampoos,” Belanger says. “And I was tired of seeing women pay big bucks for toxic products.” Hers start at $15. The growing line includes a beauty oil, a calming face tonic, a skin-brightening mask and other products made from all-natural, good-for-you ingredients.

To showcase her dress-for-success techniques and promote her skincare products, Belanger holds frequent fashion shows at her home, during which several women are completely made over using closet items. About once a year, she hosts a large “Makeover Magic” show; this year’s is Sept. 25 in Westminster. “We’re going to transform 10 women from ordinary to extraordinary, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit various nonprofits,” Belanger says.

“Everything I do is based on the law of reciprocity—if you give something of value, it returns to you tenfold,” she says. “And what I get out of this is happiness, knowing that I’m helping other women. I want every woman who attends my makeovers to feel like she can change the world. Because she can.”

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