‘I Want Them To Get To a Point Where They Don’t Need Me’
When you strip away the clothes and accessories, Dwayne Brice just wants you to look the way you feel.
‘My idea behind image consulting is to help people get to a place where they feel confident in speaking the language of their own style, and can shop for themselves with a very edited wardrobe. I give people the building blocks to construct their own image. I want them to get to a point where they don’t need me.’
Dwayne is currently working with five clients, from a man who runs a major arts organization and needs a look to match, to a mother who frequently hosts philanthropic events and doesn’t have time to think about what she’ll wear each night.
Some people simply want help putting together looks, packing for a trip, or refreshing their wardrobe each season. For others, it’s an entire image consulting package that begins with a deep dive into the closet.
‘We figure out what they have, what they need, what they’re missing, what can be sold, and what can be tailored. From there we see how we should shop, donate or consign. For some, it can be a year-long process of totally transforming everything.’
Dwayne’s career has, itself, been a total transformation. The Maryland native studied biology, neuroscience and African-American studies at Oberlin College—‘way more into my books than looks.’ After graduation, he debated a PhD, JD, or MBA, and settled on the latter.
‘I decided I would do some fieldwork for an MBA and completed the Business Bridge Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. My focus became the luxury and prestige industry and I thought it would be best to start in the belly of it all, which is retail. That was in 2005 at Barneys in Chevy Chase, and I’ve continued with retail ever since.’
‘My career has been quite a Georgetown celebration.’
While at Intermix, Dwayne met Lena Farouki—then a student at Marymount University, and, briefly, one of his clients. A few years later they reconnected and discussed working together on a luxe boutique Lena was opening in Georgetown. When Curio debuted in 2016, Dwayne became the project and operations manager.
‘Our whole goal with Curio is to bring something new to the city,’ says Dwayne, who assists with everything from daily operations to pricing, magazine shoots, and developing website content. ‘Be it a new designer, new jeweler, the feel of the store, or even a particular piece of home décor we sell, we work together as a team to create a distinctive shopping experience.’
It’s a necessity in Georgetown, where Dwayne has witnessed a sizeable shift in the customer base over the past decade.
‘There’s more of a diverse shopping community now. Back in my Intermix days, it used to be a lot of the students and parents who were driving the foot traffic and style, and there was no real pushback against prices. Then the economy tanked. Today, a lot of people are coming to Georgetown for easy things to wear—a casual top at H&M, a quick pair of jeans at Rag & Bone—and they’ll come to Curio for a special piece. The shopper is more discerning and looking for what they can’t find elsewhere.’
Among both his personal clients and the Curio customer—frequently, women in their 30s and 40s looking for something different in their neighborhood—Dwayne says there’s a tendency to buy as the occasion arises, instead of investing in ‘forever’ pieces that you can mix and match.
‘Some of the women I’ve worked with tend to have too many things that they don’t need or are outdated, but just amass over time. These items still feel fresh to them, but that’s because they’re in the back of the closet and haven’t been seen in three years. Once you have a selection of quality pieces to rotate, you can add a few trendy items each season to keep your look current.’
The opposite is often the case for Dwayne’s male clients, who retreat to the same handful of comfortable pieces.
‘One client would always wear the same ill-fitting suits to events, not realizing that his image reflected his brand. The lack of tailoring, while comfortable and familiar, aged him and seemed dated. Our goal immediately became a wardrobe refresh.’
Dwayne’s own style didn’t evolve until his early 20s, when he began reading, researching, and developing his ‘sartorial taste.’ His wardrobe is based on his mood, though he gravitates toward a minimalist look with a luxury twist.
‘I’d say my style is street luxe. There has to be a luxurious element to it no matter what, like a nice sneaker or bag. I think I dress pretty understated, but I pay attention to fabric and cut. I definitely didn’t start out as a fashion plate, and my style is still evolving, but what’s great about DC is it allows you to have a more intimate platform compared to LA or New York. You know the people who are doing important things with fashion. You can be seen.’