Local stylist Scarlet Chamberlin sorts through her clients’ closets, takes them to discerning boutiques, and ultimately empowers them to look—and feel—their best.
By Eden Dawn / Photos by Ashley Anderson
Her new pristine white studio oozes chic. The Chinatown loft Scarlet Chamberlin uses to conduct luxurious private wardrobe sessions with clients boasts soaring ceilings. Sunshine streams through the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows onto sparkling floors accented with a plush coral-and-pink rug and tan leather chairs. On the corner clothing rack hang pieces from local designers, including a navy shift dress from Liza Rietz and tailored red suit by Adam Arnold.
The swanky look is a necessity. As she marks the sixth anniversary of her business, Scarlet Chamberlin Styling Co. (431 NW Flanders St, Suite 203, 503-890-7800) this November, her client list is at an all-time high. “Most people who hire me wear about 10–15 percent of their wardrobe and they hate to shop,” she says. Using her signature “sort, shop, style” method, the 37-year-old has sorted through the closets of more than 300 women (and about 25 men), helping them get their wardrobes—and sometimes lives—back on track. “I empower people to detox their closets. Get that stuff out of there. Work with what you actually know you love and you’ll be more empowered, creative, and confident.”
You can begin a consultation by filling out an intake form and initially talking with Chamberlin by phone. She then gathers information about your style goals, budget, and important events that may have provided the impetus for hiring a stylist in the first place—perhaps a job promotion, getting back into the dating game, or a tricky weight gain/loss situation. Then she either heads over to your closet to begin the purge, or she invites you to bring in your favorite clothes for an assessment and help creating a shopping list to fill in the wardrobe blanks. “I can see how clients have been combining things and can help them take it to the next level,” she says about her holistic, A-to-Z process that’s focused on helping her mentees achieve a greater sense of independence, so that they’re not reliant on Chamberlin’s input indefinitely. “I try to align them with boutiques they can feel comfortable shopping in alone as we move forward.”
Her services include handling the consignment of the pieces that clients have decided to let go of and personally styling their new picks into head-to-toe outfits. Chamberlin has cultivated an eclectic client base, from shoppers as young as 18 who have only the budget for secondhand stores to wealthy execs comfortable with investing in pricier custom items. She recommends a shopping budget of $1,500 as an ideal range for acquiring enough pieces to mix well into multiple new outfits.
“I empower people to detox their closets. Get that stuff out of there.”
Chamberlin’s connections to boutiques, fashion, and the shop-local movement began with jewelry more than two decades ago. A lover of gemstones and with a near obsession about their metaphysical properties, she began designing and selling jewelry to boutiques on NW 23rd Avenue when she was just 12 years old.
Honing her skills over time, she made a career of jewelry making before switching to her current path. She even designed custom pieces for accomplished local singer Liv Warfield when she was touring with Prince, who had approval over all wardrobe decisions. Translation: The Purple One himself, known for his very particular taste, gave a full thumbs-up to Chamberlin’s jewelry line. These days she limits designing to an occasional piece here or there for special clients, but her desire to support independent designers and boutiques remains strong.
Her mantra of quality over quantity has earned her some bigwig clients. That stunning red Badgley Mischka gown Cheryl Strayed wore to the Golden Globes last year? A highlight from the seven months the two spent collaborating on outfits for Strayed’s Wild press tour, which included photo shoots in People and Vanity Fair. Chamberlin often works with authors, most recently helping Kink radio show host Sheila Hamilton develop her book-tour ensembles for All the Things We Never Knew. Noted comic-book author Kelly Sue DeConnick praises the ease of the process: “Scarlet, for an incredibly reasonable package price, cleaned out my closet, made me a shopping list and a personalized list of do’s and don’ts, took me shopping at boutiques I never would have known about.”
Chamberlin’s goal is for the new studio space to be a hub for all of her endeavors—more fancy event styling, more working with the new mom to get a wardrobe that works, more helping a client feel confident as she heads into a big meeting. But beyond that, she wants it to be a space where people can come together, share ideas about upcoming trunk shows, and show Portland that being stylish can be fun. “People are so afraid of overdressing here,” she says. “That’s one of the reasons I have this space. Let’s meet here and all go out and see what happens to this town if we all start overdressing.”
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