The Art of Shopping
By Meda Kessler
Photos courtesy of Amber Tice Photography
Stylist Bonnie Smith wants you to look good and feel even better
The biggest surprise about Bonnie Smith’s walk-in closet is not how organized it is but how few clothes this self-avowed fashion lover and professional stylist has in it.
And since January is one of her twice-a-year closet cleanout months, turnover is imminent.
“It’s not about how much you own, but more about what you love and what you’re going to wear that makes you feel and look good,” says Smith. “I always start by spending time in my client’s closet. That’s nonnegotiable for me as I need to see what you already have, what you truly love, what works for you and what doesn’t.”
As part of her Shopwithbonnie services, Smith also deals with the aftermath of a closet redo, either by reselling designer goods — with the proceeds going back to her clients — or giving garments away to select charities or someplace her client chooses.
Smith says she inherited her sense of style from both of her grandmothers. “One was always dressed to the nines and collected shoes. The other one idolized Cher and loved anything designed by Bob Mackie or worn by Reba McEntire. She lived in the middle of nowhere but still got the Neiman Marcus catalogs in the mail. She also was the first person I knew who turned a bedroom into a closet.”
Smith got her start in the retail business by selling jeans at Neiman Marcus in Fort Worth. “I was 21 years old, and people were asking me to help them look good. I loved it.”
In 2009, she started a fashion concierge business with the help and support of her husband. “Honestly, it was more of a hobby. I found clients through word-of-mouth, and social media wasn’t much of a thing then. But it was fun.”
When her husband died unexpectedly, she was left in a bit of an emotional tailspin. “I quit working for a while and was so depressed. But I decided to get back into the game and went back to Neiman’s, which had just opened the new store. It was just what I needed.”
Two years later, in 2020, she was ready to launch version 2.0 of her stylist career. “I had learned that many women often shop to fill a void instead of a purpose, or they don’t take the time to evaluate what they really need. Then there’s the weight gain and loss, which I’ve been through, too.”
Smith’s honesty is refreshing, and she offers that same approach with clients. She helps them elevate wardrobe basics, mix separates to create multiple looks, and learn how to layer pieces. Using her phone camera, Smith takes photos of each outfit, complete with accessories including jewelry, handbags and shoes, as handy references.
“All of us want to spend money where it counts — for me, it’s Chanel handbags — and purchase what represents you and what makes you feel like a million bucks.”
She has honed her resources, both local and online, from years of working in retail. “I’ve set up daylong shopping trips complete with champagne in the dressing rooms,” says Smith, who aims to make the experience exciting and fun. Working with select brands gives her special access to merchandise, too, especially in-demand items that might be hard to find locally. During the holidays, the typically tidy office at her Southlake home was filled with boxes and bags.
“This place is normally my sanctuary,” says Smith, who tries to keep Mondays open to catch up with paperwork and planning. She also gets to spend down time with boyfriend Nick and Ruby, their French bulldog. “The rest of the time I’m in the car, on the road and in the stores.”
At this point in her career, Smith is as much of a businesswoman as she is a stylist. She has been kicking around the idea of hiring an assistant in the new year but wants to make sure she keeps her services specialized, so as not to dilute her own brand. Smith has branched out into closet design and would love to be involved in new-home builds to make sure the space is truly customized for a man’s or woman’s needs.
We ask her about her dream client, and she smiles. “That would be someone who gives me complete creativity. They’d have to love fashion as much as I do and, of course, take my advice and follow it.”