Like any good stylist, Jill Heller has an excellent relationship with designers, and has built a loyal following among her upper-crust clients by consistently building outfits that make women feel beautiful and confident.
Unlike most stylists, she also exclusively works with designers and brands that are ethical, fair trade, sustainable, made in New York, or all of the above.
"My typical client is a mom, in her 30s to 50s, educated, with excellent taste. I serve all shapes and sizes," Heller tells me the day visit her in her studio on the Upper West Side. She works out of her perfectly appointed apartment, which has the feel of a high-end department store. When I arrive for a complimentary taste of her services, one of her favorite designers, Suzanne Rae, is waiting with two employees and the latest crop of sustainable garments. (How often can you discuss with the designer yourself what you like? Priceless.) I'm handed a cup of tea with ginger and lemon, and Heller pulls Suzanne Rae garments from a rolling rack, brainstorming outfits that would look good on my 5'2" frame. There is gossip, there are compliments and critiques. All the focus is on you. It's almost like wedding dress shopping, but without all the drama and high expectations.
Heller started out as a boutique owner in Westchester, and had the fortuitous timing to sell her store in 2007, right before the recession hit. Her clientele continued to seek her advice, which is how Pure Thread, her current personal shopping company, was born.
"Each season I do a curated selection from our favorite designers, make an edited selection of the very best styles I know my customers will love, and bring them here to my live/work studio on the Upper West Side," she tells me. From there, she spreads the word among her clients, and either invites them up for an intimate styling session, or works with them over phone or Skype.
"Clients come back and say, 'I'm still wearing blah blah blah from three years ago!'" Heller says with pride. And her clients can depend on her ethicality as well as her aesthetics. "They trust my picks and the consciousness and sustainability of the designers," she says. That includes factors like where it's made and how, if the fabrics are organic, recycled or repurposed, if the company addresses water issues, garments that are free of toxins, and how the leather is tanned.
Heller is adamant, though, about one thing. "First and foremost, the clothing is beautiful," she says. As I found, she's a good listener, and is honest if something isn't working. Everything she chooses possesses a timeless and versatile quality. With her advice, you could easily build the foundation for a perfect New York City wardrobe.
But see for yourself:
(And if you covet anything, just email or call Heller and she'll get you the piece you need.)
This was the first think Heller pulled for me, and I absolutely fell in love. I can wear it like it is, or layer tights and a cheeky bra under it, or a blazer on top. The matching bomber jacket was a nice touch.
I never would have picked this out for myself, yet when I put it on, it just worked. It's such a versatile yet impressive outfit--you could wear it to a brunch with the in-laws, a date with a gentleman, a high-powered business meeting, or traveling.
To purchase any of the garments shown in this post, email or call Jill Heller; she'll set you up.