Your outward appearance can convey your innermost longings to the world, so you might not want to take dressing cues simply from what’s trending each season. Enter Susanna Merrick-Klinkbeil, who founded her personal styling company Aura Wear NYC in July 2018. “Your wardrobe should reflect not only who you are, but also who you aspire to be,” she says over a vegan lunch in Soho, New York.
Merrick-Klinkbeil spent years designing color therapy jewelry, but wanted to expand her business to personal styling. “My pastor told me that I have the gift of encouragement,” she says. After studying the work of Edgar Cayce, an American clairvoyant prevalent in the 1900s, who many consider the father of the New Age Movement for his pioneering work in therapeutic nutrition and auras, Merrick-Klinkbeil wanted to bring a holistic approach to fashion styling.
The work of Dr. Barbara Bowers, linking color theory and personality type, was also highly influential to Merrick-Klinkbeil’s approach to styling. In 1989, Bowers published the seminal book on auras, What Color Is Your Aura?: Personality Spectrums for Understanding and Growth. The book categorizes human personality traits, correlating them with a set of 14 different colors. The book includes several personality quizzes that help you understand your nature, and thus the color of the energy that surrounds you.
Are possessions important to you as a stepping stone to power and influence? Do you do believe ideas are things or mental abstractions? Answers to questions like these cumulatively help assess your aura, with the understanding that auras are fluid and change over time. Whether or not you believe in auras is not as important as the exercise of being self-reflective, and taking time out to carve self-understanding that can help you solve the conundrum of deciding what to wear.
“I’m not a psychologist,” says Merrick-Klinkbeil, who wants to make sure her clients know that her approach is meant to be fun, light, and playful, not diagnostic. She’s offering a slow fashion approach to wardrobe styling and personal shopping that eschews fast-fashion consumerism and seasonal trends. Inspiration on dressing comes from within, in opposition to fashion cycles dictating what to covet and why.
When meeting with a client, Merrick-Klinkbeil gets a sense of who they are professionally and personally. She’ll then inquire about their closet to get a sense of their staples and gaps. “My mantra is to invest in joy pieces – that one garment or accessory that will make you smile from ear to ear,” she says. “My job is to help you fill the gaps in your closet, because that’s where the most love is needed.”
A lifelong fashion aficionado, Merrick-Klinkbeil has relationships with designers and labels who favor one-of-a-kind pieces and small batch production like In God We Trust, Intentionally Blank, Rachel Comey, Mr. Larkin, Heinui and Ajaie Alaie. “I believe in minimalism,” she says, outlining the principles of slow fashion. “I believe in the value of highly coveted items. I’ll watch the spring line, do my research, set a budget and let the love for each piece I want build before making a purchase. When you buy something, it has to resonate with you. I want you to buy something you’ll keep forever, or if you don’t like anymore, [something] you can sell on eBay. Whatever you buy has to come back to you.”
This approach to wardrobe styling is a welcome antidote to the consumer-driven acquisition of fast fashion and label mania. “When it comes to fashion, my number one rule is you don’t want the clothes to wear you. You wear your clothes. You can always tell the difference between a person who is trendy and a person who is stylish.” That distinction arises from being reflective of your wardrobe and what you possess.
After Merrick-Klinkbeil gets a sense of the personality and existing wardrobe of a client, she’ll create an Aura fluff and buff complete with a mood board based on her style recommendations. Although she’s conscious of trends, when it comes to colors, she’ll suggest three colors that complement the aura. Ditto for fashion icons people can emulate, brands that speak to their ethos and key pieces to incorporate into their wardrobe.
As her business expands, Merrick-Klinkbeil looks to introduce a host of personal services like Reiki and Feng Shui, as well as special events and workshops into the Aura Wear NYC experience. In the meantime, she’s focussed on helping nurture the individual energy that sets people apart from the crowd, and defines the fashion aura.
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