Being a personal shopper to powerful women in the spotlight sounds like every girl’s dream come true. For Dana Asher-Levine, her path into this sought-after career has been a blessing to herself and her clients. Known as The Clothing Therapist, she spoke exclusively to Upscale Living magazine about the inner workings of picking outfits for the stars.
DANA, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles and am the youngest of three girls. My father passed away due to a heart attack when I was 16 and my mom passed away exactly ten years later from lung cancer. Because of this, my sisters and I are really close.
I went to The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) for one year of college to get my fashion background and then went on to study at American University in Washington DC. After college, I started working in the fashion industry, holding positions in many different areas from sales to production and even worked at FIDM.
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL?
My job changes on a daily basis. Some days, I’m shopping for client’s events such as everyday wardrobe, award shows, or weddings. On other days, I am meeting with clients. I have to be able to change directions at a moment’s notice because there is a fashion emergency happening every day in someone’s life.
I call myself a personal shopper, but my job requires that I wear many hats. I get to be a problem solver, seamstress, friend, brand ambassador and master stylist. My clients call me ‘The Clothing Therapist’ for a reason!
YOU REALLY CAN SAY ‘LIFE BEGINS AT 40’ WHEN YOU STARTED A NEW CAREER PATH AS A PERSONAL SHOPPER AND STYLIST TO AMAZING, POWERFUL WOMEN.
I always thought I was going to be a stay at home mom, but sometimes life doesn’t always work out the way you plan it. At 40, my marriage fell apart and I basically had to start over. I had three small children that needed me, so I had to figure out how I was going to support my family.
Shopping was what I knew best, and I owe that familiarity to my mother – she laid the groundwork for my career. She was an amazingly chic woman and taught my sisters and me how to dress with our own personal flair and how to shop till we drop.
I ASSUME IN YOUR LINE OF WORK, YOU HAVE TO BE SUPER ORGANIZED.
I try to be as organized as possible for someone on the go as much as I am. I have a great team who assists in keeping things organized. It also helps that I have a photographic memory. I can remember every single thing I have purchased for every client over the past twenty years. I can also browse department stores and take a mental inventory. It truly is a gift, especially when a client FaceTimes me to see if something goes – I can picture exactly what’s in their closet.
YOU GET TO ‘PLAY’ IN YOUR CLIENTS’ WARDROBES FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. WITHOUT DISCLOSING THEIR IDENTITY, HAVE THERE BEEN SOME REALLY ENVIABLE ITEMS YOU WISH YOU HAD THOUGHT OF BUYING FOR YOURSELF?
Yes, and a lot of times I do! I love seeing what clients’ wardrobes have to offer because not only do I learn about their style, but sometimes they teach me about a new designer. I love when that happens because it reminds me that you have to keep evolving, learning, and adapting to the job, clients, and fashion trends.
I SUPPOSE IT COULD BE CHALLENGING FOR BOTH YOUR CLIENT AND YOU TO ‘GUIDE’ THEM IN A DIRECTION OF STYLE THEY ARE NOT USED TO; HOW DO YOU CONVINCE THEM TO TRY AND PULL OFF A LOOK THAT YOU KNOW WILL WORK FOR THEM?
I never try to change a client’s style. I try to polish or modernize their look without losing their personality. The goal is to always feel comfortable and confident. I want getting dressed to be fun again so they can have the confidence to put together their own outfits. There’s no greater feeling than leaving the house knowing you look good because when you look good, you feel good.
HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN THE LOOK TOTALLY WRONG THAT IT DIDN’T WORK AT ALL?
Fortunately, I have never gotten the look totally wrong. Phew! (Knocks on wood.) I bring my clients a ton of options, so they feel good and 100% confident in what they’re wearing. If they don’t feel good in it, I’m not doing my job. It’s important to find their perfect look because confidence and feeling good is the best accessory anyone can have.
HOW DO YOU NAVIGATE THE LINE BETWEEN INDIVIDUALITY AND PROFESSIONALISM?
Everyone is different. Different sizes, different personalities, different styles. I treat each client differently. Sometimes a client might buy the same shirt, but how it gets styled is completely different. That’s what makes this job so creative! I love how one shirt can look so different depending on the person. I embrace everyone’s individuality.
I LOVE YOUR SAYING ‘REMEMBER THERE ARE NO RULES IN FASHION. THE MOMENT THERE’S RULES, IT’S NOT FASHION’.
Well, I can’t take full credit for that. One of my fashion icons, Michael Kors, said that and he’s not wrong. Fashion is a form of expression and I always want to convey a client’s lifestyle and personality through their wardrobe. Also, I live in Los Angeles, and I love wearing white. Life’s too short, I’m going for it!
DO YOU HAVE CERTAIN BRANDS YOU FAVOR, FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR CLIENT(S)?
Yes, yes! I have many brands that I can’t live without. A few of my favorites are Lagence Jeans, Good American denim, Mother Denim, Gucci, Chanel, Dior, Oscar De La Renta, Chelsea Passage, Michael Kors, and Zara. But that list could go on…
THE RETAIL STORES MUST LOVE YOU – SHOPPING UP A STORM. THERE SURELY IS A BUDGET THOUGH AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO STICK TO IT WHEN FACED WITH SO MUCH OF WHAT YOU LOVE DOING?
My clients have different budgets and staying within them isn’t hard. The beauty of my job is that I love what I do. I can literally shop anywhere – Target, Zara, Neiman Marcus, or Dior – and always find great pieces!
YELLOW SEEMS TO BE A FAVORITE COLOR FOR YOU, BUT IT DOESN’T SUIT EVERYONE. WHO SHOULDN’T WEAR YELLOW?
My fascination and love for the color yellow began when I was a little girl. My mom decorated my room with yellow velvet wallpaper that had picket fences and kids playing in the background. Since then, yellow has been my go-to color. If you’re not feeling yellow, don’t wear it. Some days it may work for you and others it might not. It’s all personal preference and what makes you feel good.
RISE AND SPARKLE – ARE YOU A MORNING PERSON OR A NIGHT OWL?
I’m a 24/7 girl! There is always something to be done in my world.
A SMILE NEVER GOES OUT OF STYLE. SOUNDS LIKE A BRILLIANT CAPTION! ANOTHER WINNER: NOTHING LOOKS GOOD ON YOU IF YOU DON’T FEEL GREAT IN IT!
I tell all my clients ‘When you feel good, you look good’.
YOU HAVE THREE BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN, AN ADORING HUSBAND, AND THE CUTEST FURBABIES. WHO IS DANA WHEN SHE IS AT HOME?
I’m the same person at home that I am with Shonda Rhimes, the salesperson at Neiman Marcus, or my kids. I try to live as authentically as I can at all times. I’ve been through too much not to be. I love the woman I’ve become and the family I’ve created.
My family is always there to love me no matter how overwhelmed or exhausted I may be. I always make it a priority to cook Sunday night dinners for my husband, my kids, and their friends. This is my time to relax, reflect, and realize how thankful I am for my health, my family, and my career. Having everyone together is a blessing and it gives me strength going into the next workweek.
My husband David is a Periodontist. We call him ‘Saint David’ because he willingly and lovingly stepped in to help me raise my three kids. I have three furbabies – two Australian shepherds and a Maltese.
WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO-STYLE?
My go-to style or as I like to call it, my uniform, consists of a cute T-shirt, jacket, and jeans by either Lagence or Mother Denim. Sensible shoes are a must for my job, so I ALWAYS pair my outfit with Gucci slides.
YOU HAVE FLAWLESS SKIN – WHAT ARE YOUR BEAUTY SECRETS?
Thank you! Skincare is really important to me. I try to make a monthly visit to Dr. Lancer for a facial. In between visits, I use his caviar lime facial peel. Really any product he has, I LOVE.
HOW DO YOU STAY IN SUCH INCREDIBLE SHAPE?
I finally practice what all the experts have been saying for all these years – a balanced, healthy diet and exercise plan. For all things nutrition, I follow celebrity dietician Tanya Zuckerbrot’s, the F Factor diet plan; it’s a high fiber/high protein diet. I highly recommend it! It keeps me full and energized for the days that require longer hours. I also try to work out every day with my personal trainer, Wendy, at Detox Fitness Gym in Sherman Oaks.
YOUR PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2019?
For me, 2019 is about giving back and going for it. I have been so fortunate in my career and personal life. I want to give more to my kids, my husband, my friends, and, of course, my clients. I want to share my knowledge with people that want to learn about a career in styling/personal shopping. I’m also starting a blog, which can be found at www.theclothingtherapist.com. Like I said earlier, life is too short, I’m going for it!