Local lady styles both wardrobes and lives


By Claire Harlin


Up until two years ago, Tracy Schwartz spent nearly a decade in business suits working as a concierge and event planner at L’Auberge Hotel in Del Mar.

“Banana Republic was right across the street, and that’s all I wore,” said the Solana Beach resident. “I was very structured, very black and white.”

When the time came for Schwartz to transition from her 20s to her 30s and from one job to the next, she came to realize she wasn’t projecting herself accurately to the world, and she sought the help of personal stylist Catherine Bachelier Smith.

Smith styles clients from Del Mar to Rancho Santa Fe, went through Schwartz’s closet to learn about Schwartz’s habits and personal style in order to enhance it. She also wanted to learn what Schwartz needs to buy more of or, more importunely, get rid of.

“At first I got a little defensive,” said Schwartz. “Your clothes are your identity. They are your personal choices and therefore a reflection of you.”

Smith said going through clients’ closets is like opening a door to their lives.

“A lot of people can’t go there with me,” she said. “It’s like they are exposing themselves.”

Schwartz, 31, said Smith’s consultation and styling two years ago changed her life, and the two still frequently meet for wardrobe assessments. Like Schwartz, most clients maintain a close relationship with Smith, whose role often parallels that of a life coach or close friend. Smith’s clients range from those making major job or age transitions to those refocusing their lives after a divorce. She also has a few high-profile clients who are extremely busy yet have to look their best at all times.

A first-time styling with Smith takes five hours and includes a two-hour “closet consult,” two hours of outfit pairing and one hour of creating a “look book,” as Smith calls it. The look book is a reference guide for the client that includes style inspirations from magazines, as well photos and ideas derived from the client’s own closet.

Smith’s client-stylist relationships go far beyond the first session, she said. Smith helps her clients pick out clothes for particular events or even pack for trips. It’s also not uncommon for a client to text photos to Smith to get advice while shopping.

Smith said, however, one of the main things she teaches clients is how to practice minimalism, as opposed to shopping more. She said one can actually expand the possibilities of what they have already, adding value to their wardrobe, without shopping at all. In most cases, she said it’s beneficial to get rid of items.

“There is a Buddhist philosophy that says everything you have is a heart string,” Smith said. “The more things you have the more you have tugging at your heart and the more pressure you live with.”

She said the biggest “mistake” she sees is when clients repeat themselves with their purchases. For example, she said, if someone owns the same white, collared blouse in three different materials and three different styles, people will still perceive that shirt as being the same. One of the biggest lessons that Smith teaches is versatility.

“What I do is not all about clothes,” she said. “It’s bigger than that. It’s about changing the way you think about life and the way people perceive you.”

For more information on Smith, visit www.cbslifestylist.com or call (760) 889-3725.