Remember the timeless episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians when Kim gets a “closet makeover” by (then-boyfriend) Kanye West?
It ends in tears. Sessions with Valerie Halfon sometimes do, too.
“They’re happy tears,” she’s quick to clarify. “Women who are often for the first time in a long time seeing themselves in this new light ... it’s such a wonderful gift to be able to help people see that.”
Halfon is the stylist behind Shop With Val, the personal shopping service she started out of her native New York City in 2010. A year and a half ago, Halfon relocated to Houston with her husband—like so many other transplants, for an energy job—and Shop With Val now serves clients in both the Bayou City and the Big Apple.
With a new location came new clients with a different set of needs, largely informed by Houston’s subtropical climate. For Halfon, a “lack of seasonality” here often translates to having more fun with clothes.
“Things that aren’t practical at all for New York City life can make total sense for Houston,” she said. “Just being able to dress for warm weather in general and not having to worry about the layers ... wear boots because you want to wear boots, not because you have to.”
Though Halfon’s always loved fashion and shopping, she only made a full-time career of it about five years ago. Before that, she balanced helping clients rethink their wardrobes with her 9 to 5 in the hospitality industry.
Shop With Val was born out of a birthday present when a friend of Halfon, knowing she was shopping savvy, hired her to help their mutual friend who was in a “style slump,” uncomfortable with her body, unexcited about getting dressed, and wearing mostly black.
“It was such a wonderful experience being able to watch her transformation after just one appointment–standing up a little taller and smiling with this newfound confidence,” Halfon said.
Inspired to duplicate that experience with others, she set out to find them: people too busy to go to the mall, unsure of where to begin, or those who straight up hated shopping (yes, they exist).
“I try to be a one-stop shop so they can look good and feel good and just have someone do all the work for them,” Halfon said. “Everyone wants to look good, but not everyone wants to spend a ton of time and money to achieve that. I try to bridge all those gaps and make it an enjoyable experience for people.”
As one might expect, a Shop With Val session takes all the legwork out of shopping—clients arrive at the fitting room to find all the pieces for full outfits pre-selected in their sizes, and sometimes specially discounted for Halfon.
Beyond personal shopping, Halfon also offers closet consultations (think a much kinder Kanye), style workshops, shopping city tours, and more. Going away? She’ll even style your vacation ensembles, photograph them for your personal look book, and pack your bags for you.
“It’s not that it has to be a priority, but I think everyone understands the importance of looking good,” she said.
To that end, she cites a longtime New York client who overhauled her closet and learned how to dress more effectively for her shape. Armed with new clothes and, more importantly, newfound confidence, she began seeing a slew of positive changes, including a promotion and new relationship.
“She didn’t even realize that the clothing in her life was not only killing her self-esteem but just affecting her life in so many other ways, personally and professionally,” Halfon said. “I absolutely adore her because I’ve just watched her go through so many positive changes, and it’s kind of crazy that it all just started with us going through her closet.”
While the nature of the business may seem superficial, it’s actually highly emotional—the proof is in the fitting room epiphany.
“I’m almost just as much therapist as I am stylist,” she said. “It ended up being this perfect, natural fit for me ... I definitely found my calling.”
You, too, can Shop With Val tonight from 6–8 p.m. at Theory in River Oaks District, where Halfon will host a shopping event with complimentary styling and 20 percent off your purchase. Follow along with her shopping adventures on Instagram @shopwithval.