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Tracie Benton, founder of Lux Style & Design.

When Tracie Benton left the medical field for corporate America, she found herself unexpectedly unprepared. It wasn’t that she lacked the skills for her new job, though, but the wardrobe.

“My dress code [before] was basically scrubs or jeans,” Benton says. “When I moved careers … I noticed that I looked kind of like backyard barbecue compared to everybody else. It was noticeably different how I was dressed.” 

Her lack of professional attire left Benton feeling self-conscious despite having confidence in her ability to do the job. A busy mom of two, she had no time to overhaul her closet. So when her mother recommended Stitch Fix–a mail-order personal styling subscription service–Benton jumped on it. 

She loved the convenience but not all the clothes, so she went another direction, albeit with some hesitation: an actual personal stylist, referred by a friend.

“I said, ‘I know how much personal stylists cost. I can’t afford to have somebody come into my home and do all that,’” Benton says. Her friend urged her to give it a try anyway, and she did.

During the consultation, the stylist took inventory of Benton’s closet and assembled outfits “that I never thought about going together,” Benton says. She also shopped for Benton with a designated budget to fill in holes she’d identified in Benton’s wardrobe.

It was invaluable: “The personal touch of somebody knowing what you look like and want to feel like, you really can’t put a price on that,” Benton says.

She began to wonder if she could capture that feeling in a service that offered the convenience of a subscription box. In November 2016, she set out to try with Lux Style & Design, a locally oriented, web-based platform that connects Houstonians with a curated group of stylists and designers hand-picked by Benton to fit a range of needs.

“What I really wanted in the process was somebody that’s going to represent everybody,” she says. “Male, female, children, all sizes and shapes and design styles as well.”

Lux services range from basic to complete overhaul. There's an hour-long consultation ($85), which Benton recommends as a starting point, and a “style concierge” who handles all the shopping ($500 for five hours). There are packages, too, designed for everything from weddings to vacations. She hopes to introduce more in the future, like birthday party shopping trips for preteens and good old-fashioned makeovers.

"I love the before and after," Benton says.

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Lux clients vary, too, from working moms like Benton to those in need of an entirely new wardrobe after major weight loss. At first, Benton was most surprised to see “higher-end clients” with enviable closets coming to Lux for help.

“Their closets are already done, but they want fresh eyes,” she says. “I’m like, ‘oh, that makes sense.’”

The local professionals Benton connects with her clients have all been personally vetted to ensure their ability to effectively educate others and to provide customer service. There’s ready-to-wear from designers like KIT, Of Myth & Muse, and Jamel Hawk; wedding looks from Renegade; and local stylists like Kidd Ford, Dee Ware, and Feyi Omodele.

“It was important that I meet the stylists and designers in person,” she says. “[I could tell] they love fashion, they eat it and breathe it, and it comes across when you deal with them. I definitely wanted them to be engaged with each client.”

It’s been a learning experience for Benton herself, who still works in corporate America full-time. Being a fashion outsider positioned her to better relate to her clients—after all, she began as one.

“I’m not an expert yet, and I’m OK with that, but I’m learning and I’m going,” she says. “It’s been fun.”

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