Life + Style: Profile
From the Inside Out
Raquel Greer Gordian helps women make fashion statements from the core
by M. M. Adjarian
Portrait by Danielle Chloe
Raquel Greer Gordian’s closet is organized with a capital “O.” Eye-catching clothes in a multitude of textures, colors, and patterns hang in neat rows. On the racks above them, shoes line the walls according to color. Big, bold necklaces drip from a rack at the back of the closet, which also holds a collection of stylish bags and sweaters. A black felt hat and one made of straw rest on two hooks. Everything is in its right and proper place, including the poster of a pink-masked gorilla hanging near the hats.
It’s Saturday, but the fresh-faced Austin native is up early, carefully surveying her closet for the outfit she will wear to visit clients at their homes. Her work, which involves revamping women’s wardrobes and creating new looks from already owned and/or new clothes, is her passion and it shows.
Gordian is very clear that what she does involves more than just helping clients look fashionable. “I focus on creating style from the inside out,” she explains. “My goal is to help women enhance their self-awareness and confidence by building a wardrobe that reflects their inner core.”
Attired in a simple dress aswirl in black-and-white flower-like designs, Gordian disappears into her closet, her soulful-eyed Pekingese/pug mix, Norma, trailing at her heels. All her movements are swift and fluid; she exhibits no hesitation in her choices, which she says are dictated by three things: mood, weather, and the kind of client she will visit. And while she has styled women as young as 13 and as old as 85, this morning the 30-year-old dresses for her more typical clients: 30- to 40-something urban professionals.
She finds a gray shift decorated with tiny cream-colored diamonds laid out in horizontal stripes and takes down a hanging black-beaded necklace purchased from a New Orleans street vendor. After changing into her outfit, she pulls out a ring set with a long dark rectangular stone from a hanging jewelry bag. She puts on a set of wood, metal and Bakelite bangles and slips into a pair of beige-gray python print pumps. The effect — edgy yet elegant — is unexpectedly stunning.
“There’s an angular diamond shape that gets repeated in both pieces,” she says, describing how she matches patterns. “But the diamond shape in the python print is much bigger. Then the gray of the dress plays into the gray in the shoes. The black beads tie everything together.”
She pauses to put on her hat. “You can’t have an outfit without accessories. Not only do they show the complexity of the outfit, they show the complexity of who you are.”
Looking poised and in control, Gordian projects the image of the confident woman she inspires in her clients, including professionals, homemakers and expecting mothers, breast cancer survivors and bariatric surgery patients, retirees and more. She emphasizes that style involves a process of self-analysis that goes beyond evaluating what a woman has in her closet. “It’s easy to make excuses about your wardrobe,” she says. “But if you learn tricks like pattern and color matching, proportion and balance, you can apply them in seconds. Then style becomes routine, not this big scary thing you don’t have.”
Now sitting in the living room of her quiet South Lamar Street apartment, Gordian gazes thoughtfully at 10-year-old Norma, a rescue from the Manhattan ASPCA, who lounges nearby. The two have come a long way together.
Gordian adopted Norma just as she was beginning her post-college life — and the search for a career — in New York City. With a history degree, she could teach or go into research; but neither appealed as career choices. Fashion was something she loved and could see herself involved with in some way. So Gordian began working in a Manhattan clothing boutique, where she found out about an image consulting program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After she earned her certificate, she took an internship with Dominique Isbecque, founder of the Image Resource Center of New York and an industry leader in color analysis.
Raquel Greer Gordian’s
Fall Fashion Tips
1 Get a little sporty at work this fall by pairing your tailored ankle pant with slip-on sneakers. Try crushed velvet for a ‘90s spin or quilted leather for an edgier accent.
2 Transition your favorite sundress from summer to fall with the Austin staple: cowboy boots. My favorite brand to rock right now is Austin-based Tecovas.
3 Mellow your look for the cooler weather by accentuating warm neutrals with cool ones. Pair a blush satin top with slate grey jeans. Finish with pink mules and a charcoal moto jacket.
4 Bombers are still on trend, so invest in a fun one. Try an embroidered piece for a more romantic style or a letterman bomber jacket for a playful, downtown look.
5 Don’t get caught up in the rules of fashion. Instead, embrace what you love. Wear white all year long by pairing it with vibrant accents like a midnight blue pullover sweater and hot pink pumps.
6 Drop earrings are the perfect party piece this season, but make sure to pair with tops that won’t bump into them. Choose an off-the-shoulder top on warmer nights. Finish with a leather mini skirt and strappy heels.
7 Velvet is the star the season, so make sure it doesn’t have to compete with other elements of your outfit. Pair this rich fabric with black-on-black separates or a t-shirt and jeans to relax the look.
“Her eye is incredible,” Gordian raves. “Dominique really taught me how to understand what works best based on what you’re seeing in a person’s complexion and the palette that goes with it. That’s a big part of what separates a stylist from an image consultant.”
Stroking the top of Norma’s grizzled head, Gordian explains the differences between the two professions. “To be an image consultant, you need certification,” she says. “You need to become an expert at color analysis, which is the ability to determine undertones and overtones in a client’s skin and determine a person’s natural color palette. You also need training in how to determine a client’s body type and how to best dress for it. Then you can help a client develop a wardrobe for work, weekend activities, and date night that reflects her personality.”
In 2014 and after five years in Manhattan, Gordian returned to Austin to begin Greer Image Consulting. Three short years later, she has established herself as an award-winning figure in the world of Austin women’s style. Between her many weekly style consultations and shopping trips for clients, Gordian also makes guest appearances on KXAN’s Studio512 and KEYE’s We Are Austin and writes a column on professional women and style for the Austin Business Journal.
The fierce work ethic behind her success is similar to that of fellow 30-something Sophia Amoruso, vintage style titan and author of the 2014 bestselling book, “#GIRLBOSS.” “[Amoruso’s] book is inspiring and shows that the possibilities for women entrepreneurs are endless,” Gordian says. “The fact she grew her business into a multimillion-dollar company just shows you what can come of working hard and believing in what you’re doing.”
Part of what drew Gordian away from Manhattan was the desire to work in a city she remembered as fun, eccentric and accepting. “Old Austin was a very funky do-your-own-thing place,” she says. “But people coming from LA, New York and Portland are switching up style. Now Austin’s signature hippie look is colliding and merging with a fresh, cosmopolitan one, and it’s making for an eclectic fashion culture.”
As for how Austin fashion will evolve, Gordian believes that the next trend will be toward minimalism. “People are getting sick of all the fast fashion that’s been pumped out,” she says. “So now they want fewer, quality pieces that they can understand how best to use and in as many different ways as possible.”
Gordian is cosmopolitan in her vision, but very much the hometown girl who loves cowboy boots and turquoise jewelry. Her approach to style is trend-aware, fresh and playful, just like the city she loves. But it’s also personal.
“Style is your daily dose of self-expression,” she quips, grinning.