The Fashion Edit
By Meda Kessler
Whether you’re packing for a vacation or honing your everyday wardrobe, Bonnie Smith wants to help you to look good and feel even better
As we walk into Bonnie Smith’s impeccably organized closet at her Southlake home, we’re followed by Ruby, her French bulldog. Smith is dressed all in black, but she doesn’t fret about possibly collecting white canine fur. “That’s why lint rollers exist,” she says with a laugh.
The owner of Shopwithbonnie definitely takes fashion seriously — judging by the shelves of designer shoes and handbags — but she loves her dog just as much.
After we stop admiring a Fendi tote, we realize that her closet feels extra roomy thanks to her tightly edited wardrobe. Everything from jeans to blazers to blouses is easily eyeballed and accessed, a plus for this professional stylist who keeps a busy schedule. A dresser holds undergarments and workout clothes; jewelry and other accessories are carefully organized as well. “I live in separates, so most pieces I have work well together and can mix and match. It also makes getting dressed easier, a plus when I’m on a tight schedule.”
It helps that Smith gives her closet a twice-a-year cleanout, including one in January, and she encourages her clients to do the same.
“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 your 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 services, Smith also deals with the aftermath of a closet redo, either by reselling designer clothes and accessories — with the proceeds going back to her clients — or giving goods away to select charities or any place of her client’s choice.
Smith says she inherited her sense of style from 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 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, 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.”
Her resources, both local and online, were acquired during years of working in retail. She’s a familiar face at Neiman Marcus Fort Worth, a former employer, and at Highland Park Village in Dallas. “I’ve set up daylong shopping trips for clients 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. While Smith’s clients are mainly women, she also caters to men. Her boyfriend, Nick Shawn, dresses daily in black T-shirts and gray trousers, but Smith gently nudges him into stylish accessories such as a pair of Adidas-Missoni sneakers. And Smith is happy to share her walk-in closet with Shawn given his abbreviated wardrobe.
Smith’s home office is as tidy as her closet, especially now that the holiday boxes and shopping bags have been cleared away. “This place is my sanctuary,” says Smith, who tries to keep Mondays open to catch up with paperwork and planning. “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 and is always looking for ways to keep her services specialized. Branching out into closet design includes getting involved in new-home builds to make sure the space is truly customized for its owner’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.”