“I have ways of wearing scarves that change the whole outfit,” says Jeanne Curry Mooney, Boston’s preeminent personal shopper.
One of eleven siblings, six of them sisters, Mooney is well-practiced in the art of standing out. “I just think of how I’m going to change something to look a little bit different,” she said. Once an editor of the navy pleated uniforms she wore to school, Mooney now applies her imagination to magazine spreads and shop window outfits, reinventing the season’s looks until she’s created something new and perfect for the person who is actually wearing it.
“Fashion is more classic this year. Nothing is entirely new. They just keep going backwards. What’s interesting is when you have your own style and do your own thing, not being a slave to fashion. Just because something is in style doesn’t mean it’s for you or that it looks well.”
The actual clothing is just Mooney’s canvas. She uses accessories to make outfits beautiful, but Newbury Street’s accessory supply doesn’t always suffice. “I think accessories are really lacking, like good belts. If I were ever to open up a shop on Newbury Street, that’s what I would do: an accessories shop with really cool belts, earrings, et cetera. A store like that would do really well because it doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive.” She usually turns to mens shops to find the right scarves, and relies on So Good for jewelry.
She’d like to see more sandwich shops on Newbury Street and fewer nail salons. She loves some of the boutiques, but thinks the shopping would be better with stores within one’s pocketbook.
A strict budget inspires Mooney more than a famous label does. “I love to find things on a shoestring and not have to spend a lot of money, because you can find great things.” More than anything, perhaps, she loves the challenge of making someone look great for under $50. Mooney routinely advises people to by the cheaper dress, wait for an item to go on sale, or spend on accessories rather than more clothes. She has one client who looks fabulous in skinny jeans but doesn’t feel confident in them. Mooney is discouraging the client from buying a pair until she likes the way she looks in them. “One of my favorite things is to help someone who lacks confidence to feel fantastic about herself.”
Mooney’s clients range from twenty to seventy-five years old, and seem to be a natural outgrowth of a household with her six sisters dressing themselves and each other. Jeanne’s grandmothers were stylish, her mother was stylish, and their complete progeny is the same. I asked her if anyone in her extended family was unable to put an outfit together, and she said no.
This October, Mooney will share her mastery of the accessory and her Newbury knowledge through a one-day course she is teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design Continuing Education.
This post is part of an ongoing series called Who’s on Newbury Street?