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Fitting Room

Wardrobe consultant Amy Nelson’s closets—yes, that’s plural—are packed with covetable couture, but for this sartorial star, a perfect fit is paramount.

Amy Nelson stands in her shoe closet in a Gio’ Guerreri dress, crocodile brass cuff from Elements of Style and Lisa Stein hoops. “It’s all about fit... and the accessories.”

Twelve years after birthing her second child, Amy Nelson gave life to her namesake enterprise—Amy B. Nelson/Style Design. Born to a life of style, she now works with some of the most prominent and well-dressed Atlantans and clients from Texas to New York, while also conducting seminars and consulting with corporations to help them develop their corporate wardrobe strategy. “The pendulum is swinging back to looking crisp and credible… you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and those are indelible,” she explains, “they’re good, bad or indifferent.”

When you enter her home, an exquisite Lorraine Christie on its landing sets the subtle and eclectic tenor of both the residence and Nelson herself. Credit part of this impact to her upbringing—the youngest of four, she was born and raised in Hong Kong, where she developed a lifelong passion for art and Asian food. Moving back to the U.S. when she was eight, Nelson grew up in Lenox, Mass., and immersed herself in ballet. In high school Nelson danced with a regional company, The Berkshire Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet Scholarship Program for five years.

By any account, she was a significant ballet dancer. She hung up her pointe shoes after one year in New York post-high school and made the tough decision to retire at the age of 18. “I enrolled at Skidmore College and earned my B.A. in Business and Economics.”

After graduation, Nelson returned to Manhattan and landed a dream job in the corporate accessories division at Chanel. She sharpened her stilletos traveling the country doing trunk shows for Chanel Boutiques, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and other specialty stores. “It was wonderful and glamorous,” she recalls. “I was 23 and exposed to a world of fashion that launched my career!” After three years, she was given the opportunity to work for and with Paloma Picasso, and helped launch her second accessory line, By Paloma. “I loved working for her, she was just a genuine person,” Nelson says with a smiles. “I would have loved to continue working with her, but I was getting married and moving to Atlanta.”

Not one to sit still, Nelson launched the Fifth Avenue Club for Saks Fifth Avenue soon after relocating to Atlanta in 1991. A personal shopping service exclusive to Saks, she grew the business to rank No. 4 out of 55 stores in sales and brought 250 clients to the service before leaving to start her own business in 2000. It was a natural fit, considering her vast fashion knowledge and extensive resources.

When meeting with a new client, Nelson takes the time to consider his or her lifestyle and personality. She teaches her clients basic fashion rules and ways great style can be built into one’s existing wardrobe. “It is about having a wardrobe that reflects who you are, something that stands out in your personality. It doesn’t have to be a designer [label], it is the small details that make a big impact,” she offers. “Great style is not dictated by price tag,” she explains adamantly, “and I don’t want my clients to be that way either.” Nelson believes the fit of the garment is crucial, and that one should never be afraid to alter a garment for proper size. She suggests, “if the clothing fits your body and you feel good in that piece, then it only needs that one perfect accessory. You are done and out the door.” She teacher her clients it’s really about options and being creative. It’s not necessary to have an extensive wardrobe. It’s more about working the right pieces the right way.

“You can’t just say ‘put that on’ to a client because if you don’t teach them why, then how are they going to know moving forward?” she explains. “In the end, you want people to compliment you when you walk through the door—not what you’re wearing. When I know that I’ve nailed it and the client feels confident,” Nelson says with a grin, “then I’m truly gratified and satisfied with a job well done!”