We met Monika Mueller, the fashion goddess behind Signature Five at last year’s Expat Expo. She is dedicated to helping women create a capsule wardrobe to look and feel their best, while making a lasting impression.
It was such a pleasure to catch up with Monika to learn a bit more about the Signature Five approach and how getting dressed in the morning can be much more effortless, especially for women who are trying to balance it all while incredibly keen to walk out the door with confidence in her appearance.
GG: What inspired you to launch Signature Five?
Monika Mueller: It was my own personal journey that led me to launch Signature Five. After having my son and finding it difficult to shed the last bit of baby weight, I found nothing worked in my wardrobe. I think I must have driven my husband bonkers, as I was always complaining that I had nothing to wear, but my wardrobe was splurging with clothes. It seemed as though nothing fit into my lifestyle anymore, as there was no way I could wear my 4-inch Burberry heels on the cobble pavements whilst pushing a Bugaboo. Fortunately, I can joke about it now, but at the time I felt I had lost my identity as my clothes defined who I was.
Talking to family and friends (who often came to me for outfit advice) I found a lot of women struggled with their wardrobe at some point in her life. Women have many roles and responsibilities within their lifetime, sometimes we just don’t know how to move forward with our style, or we simply just don’t have time to take a fair assessment of how our wardrobe currently looks and how we wish it better represented the woman we have grown into.
I realized by putting my skills and experiences I learnt whilst working in the fashion industry; I can really help women shape their wardrobe and make them feel different about their clothes. I want women to be their best, feel empowered and confident through their style by making better and smarter choices on what is in their wardrobe. Getting dressed shouldn’t be a challenge, it should be easy and joyful.
GG: Tell us about your brand name & logo?
Monika Mueller: It took a 90-minute flight from London to Zurich where the idea, brand name and vision of the logo came to me. It was after having spent time with close friends from the fashion industry, we discovered we were at a stage in our lives where we wanted a handful of ‘signature pieces’ that we could easily mix and match together.
For every client I look at five core elements: her personality, her lifestyle, her body shape, her style goals and her personal budget and this is also where the name ‘Signature Five’ stems from.
GG: There are many wardrobe consultants to choose from, what sets you apart?
Monika Mueller: I don’t know how other consultants work, but I think the process I have seems to work as I’ve had such wonderful feedback in such short time and very happy customers since I launched the business.
I spend time educating my clients on fabric, cuts, colours, proportions and styles that is suited to them so when they do go shopping they know what to look for rather than being enslaved to current trends. My focus is not changing a client’s style, it is enhancing it, showing her how she can recreate various outfits from what’s already in her wardrobe and outlining simple tricks that they can do to have a more stylish and polished look.
GG: Tell us what a typical consultation with you consists of?
Monika Mueller: A typical consultation involves an initial meeting or a phone call to establish what my client desires and how I can help. Then, I give them three very specific wardrobe tasks to work on before our “Wardrobe Detox” session so that when we meet they are already more conscious about their goals and our time together is very hands on.
During the Wardrobe Detox, we thoroughly go through their current seasonal wardrobe piece by piece, purging as we go along. I advise the client on what cuts, fabrics, colors and silhouettes are best suited for their frame.
Together, we create various looks with their existing clothes and list any key pieces that are missing from their wardrobe. We also take photos of outfits we have built and these are all sent in beautifully designed Style Notes which is something that the client can cherish and refer back to forever. Following these sessions, I offer a personal shopping service where I either bring clothes to my client (for those busy professionals or mums) or we hit the stores together where I have already made a preselection. Then I show them how the selected clothes can work back within their existing closet.
GG: What is your earliest memory of being inspired by fashion?
Monika Mueller: Since I was very little, I always loved dressing up. I loved fashion magazines, always enthralled and mesmerized by the beautiful clothes. I also remember vividly at age 14 visiting Designer Boutiques on Bond Street in London for the very first time. I was literally a kid in candy store, totally in awe and wanting to work in one of these stores. As I left each boutique I remember asking for one of their empty paper bags with the big visible designer logo.
GG: You have had some pretty cool jobs in your past…which was your favorite and why?
Monika Mueller: I have been lucky to work for some amazing companies and for some truly talented and creative leaders within the fashion industry. All the jobs I’ve had, had their fair share of challenges and at times it was really like the ‘Devil Wears Prada.’ You had to make the impossible possible and everyone being frantic over clothes. We always had a saying ‘we aren’t saving lives, it’s just clothes’ but in that very moment it did feel like a life or death situation.
Working for Burberry was probably the best experience. I’ve never worked so hard, but it was such an amazing place. Working with real talent, forecasting and predicting what the trends will be two seasons ahead, being responsible for the product life cycle from a designer sketch to seeing the product through to store and then seeing people buy and wear something that I was part of creating was remarkable.
GG: What is your fashion influence? Travel? People? Fashion Weeks?
Monika Mueller: I do love the buzz and creativity around fashion weeks but I’m not an advocate for being in fashion or wearing the latest trends. Stores, magazines, countries and films all play a role, but what really influences me is people…I get most of my inspiration from stylish women.
GG: What 5 signature pieces must every woman have in her closet?
Monika Mueller: This varies from woman to woman and is dependent on her lifestyle. I always say start with good underwear. This will either make or break an outfit.
Once the underwear department is sorted. Then depending on your lifestyle, I would say these five items should be in every women’s wardrobe:
- Good quality T-shirt, if you like a fit of a t-shirt invest in buying a few
- Silk blend blouse/top – silk just drapes a women’s body well and is feminine
- Invest in good fitted jeans that work for your body. Do not buy brands suited for teenagers, buy brands that are known for making good denim.
- Invest in some blazers – I am a massive fan of blazers as they can have various functions; wear them casually or smart
- Shoes – have an assortment of shoes as you can create different looks just by changing what shoe you wear.
GG: Can you give some fashion advice to our readers?
Monika Mueller: Advice to readers:
- Invest some time in yourself: Really get to know what suits your body frame and your proportions and not necessarily follow what’s on trend.
- Get organised: how you start your day can make all the difference. By having an organised wardrobe with only current season will help your mornings be stress free.
- Shop with a purpose in mind: Before you hit the shops, be prepared. Look at what you already have in your wardrobe and make a list what you need or want. This will help you buy smarter.
- Quality over quantity; if you haven’t already start investing in timeless pieces as these are pieces in your wardrobe you will wear again and again.
- If you are stuck get help: if you do struggle with getting your wardrobe into shape or putting things together or have lost confidence in what works for you then get either help from a friend who’s style you admire or hire a professional who can make you look your best.
GG: What can we expect from Signature Five this year?
Monika Mueller: This month I will be at Women’s Expo on 25 March, so if you are planning to come, pop over and say hi. I will also be giving some workshops later this year. Last but not least, there will be an exciting NEW service added to Signature Five offering in a few months’ time.. stay tuned and watch this space.
For five lucky GG readers, Signature five is offering 30-minute free video consultation where you can get advice from the expert on anything you want with regards to your style or wardrobe.