She may be small in stature, but 5’0” Nina Aversa knows how to pack a major punch when it comes to preparing her high-profile clientele for their busy lives. “I have customers who come in to shop once or twice a season to add fresh lifestyle looks to their already wonderful wardrobes, and I have clients who call me when a special occasion or benefit pops up,” Aversa says. “Whether it’s a wedding, holiday party, or vacation, I am prepared!”

In fact, Aversa has been preparing for her role as star fashion advisor to the Windy City’s stylish set for nearly her whole life. Her family is in the retail business, and Aversa recalls going on buying trips with her father to New York City at the age of 12. By 22, she was managing the family store. Her knowledge of the fashion industry could have taken her in any number of directions, but Aversa was driven by her desire to interact with customers and the joy she felt in finding each one the perfect outfit. Soon, she found herself offering advice to appreciative shoppers at Barneys. “I absolutely love the intimate feeling of Barneys and the ability really to get to know my clients,” she says. “As a personal shopper, it’s fun to see the new talent the store brings in each season and introduce those lines to my customers. Everything is so well-edited, yet there’s something for everyone if you know where to look.”

Personal Shopper Nina Aversa at Barneys’ Chicago store

As for her personal style, Aversa leans toward clean lines with a little edge. “I love The Row,” she enthuses. “With my height, I am a little limited to certain things that might overpower me. The Row is luxe but simple. It’s perfect!”

Speaking of luxe, fall’s crop of velvet ensembles and bold colors make for great special occasion shopping—but with easy silhouettes, many pieces work for daytime dressing as well. “I am loving the assortments of rich reds and beautiful bordeauxs in the fall lineup,” says Aversa, who just sold a client a sleek red suede off-the-shoulder dress from The Row. “Red is a color women feel good in. It’s sexy. Who doesn’t love a little red dress?”

So what else is hot this season? We combed Aversa’s rack to get an inside peek on what she’s pulling for her fabulous clientele.

Part of a Barneys’ exclusive, this Alaïa dress is available only in-store

“I was at a benefit last night for the Children’s Hospital that a client co-chaired, and she was wearing a stunning red Alaïa dress. She looked amazing. One of the most satisfying parts of my job is seeing a client shine in something I picked out because I knew it was meant for her. The Alaïa dress here is a lighter weight, which is great because you can wear it year-round, day to night. It’s a versatile piece that works for anything from brunch to a cocktail party, depending on how you style it. In general, knits are great because you can go either way, dress them up or down. You could do an evening event wearing heels and a long necklace, or you could go for a day look wearing over-the-knee boots.”

Valentino’s floral gown takes center stage.

“This Valentino dress speaks for itself. When you have a piece this special, the most important thing to keep in mind is that less is more. You should wear a pair of beautiful earrings and a bracelet—but that’s it. You need to be subtle with a piece this spectacular. Whatever you accessorize with, it needs to work with the flow of the gown and complement the dress, not take any attention away from it.”

THE ROW Double-Circle Medium Bag

“The Double-Circle Bag from The Row is one of those pieces that goes everywhere. This is the medium size—it also comes in small—and I love it because it actually fits things, but without that big bulky look. It’s something she can carry day to night—take it to work, and then out to dinner afterwards. I love the pop of color, and I can see it paired nicely with a soft cashmere sweater and jeans.”

Add a pop of color with Calvin Klein 205W39NYC’s skirt. / CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC Wool-Cashmere Pencil Skirt

“I’m loving this skirt, and so are my clients. A lot of them do philanthropy work, and this is the perfect style because it’s chic but really comfortable. It’s easy to sit in during business meetings and not feel confined, and it’s warm without looking bulky, which is great for a city like Chicago where it gets pretty cold. I would balance the skirt’s heavier weight with a slightly oversized, boxy sweater and a great pair of boots.”

Make a statement with these Fabrizio Viti boots. / FABRIZIO VITI Take A Bow Ankle Boots

“This is a statement shoe. You can wear it with dark stockings or bare legs, and pair it with a simple black dress. Fabrizio Viti? Love this line. It’s new and different than anything else we carry on the floor, and it’s the perfect go-to when you want a shoe that does the talking. You could also pair the bow-trimmed ankle boot with cropped black pants and a crisp white blouse.”

Loewe’s crossbody and J.W.Anderson’s yellow Pierce bag add whimsy to daily dressing. / LOEWE Elephant Crossbody / J.W.ANDERSON Pierce Medium Shoulder Bag

“I was out the other night with a client and we were talking about buying a Birkin, and she was like, ‘But you know, I’d have to give up four other bags just for one of those—and I’m a woman who changes bags three or four times a day!’ That’s what makes the J.W.Anderson Pierce Medium Shoulder Bag and Loewe’s Elephant Crossbody such great options: Perfect price point, top quality construction, and fun colors and shapes that you can match with your wardrobe depending on the occasion. A woman can never have too many bags.”

Proenza Schouler’s colorful wrap dress adds drama to your Fall wardrobe / PROENZA SCHOULER Ikat-Inspired Crepe Wrap Dress

“One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is getting to do this transformative thing for new clients who, for whatever reason, need to step it up big time and come to me for a new wardrobe. I have one client, an engineer, who had just been promoted, and she needed the look that went with her new title. Pulling clothes for her and watching how it transformed her appearance was so rewarding. She couldn’t wrap her mind around the difference—she was positively glowing.”

Fendi’s iconic Dot.com Small Satchel is destined to be a classic/ FENDI Dot.Com Small Satchel / LISA PERRY Suede Drawstring Coat

“It is a pleasure to be able to present certain pieces to our shoppers that are highly desirable and hard to find, like this Fendi bag. That is what Barneys is known for, and the reason customers come back year after year after year. On the other hand, nothing causes me more stress than finding out a bag is sold out or we’re sold out of a certain dress size. I want my customers to have a seamless, satisfying experience every time they come in.”

Transition into the chilly weather with Alaïa’s elegant knit dress and tote bag.

“I love the color of this dress and the way the neckline is cut out. It works for any age and the texture and fluidity below the waistline gives it an elegant and flirty feeling. With this dress, my clients can go from morning meetings to luncheons and off to the Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony, The Joffrey Ballet, or one of our many amazing restaurants in the city. I’m all about a boot with this dress. The long sleeves and heavy knit need balance—she can wear a sleek over-the-knee style, or even a bootie. Carry a clutch inside the Alaïa tote to easily transition from day to evening.”

MILA MOURSI Firming Body Lotion / BYREDO Velvet Haze Eau De Parfum 50ml / Similar ALAÏA Small Tote Bag / WALTER DE SILVA Cutout Suede & Patent Leather Sandals

“Most of my clients don’t just buy a dress when they’re shopping for a special event. They’re looking for a complete look—and that means a show-stopping bag and shoes (there’s nothing more elegant than this Walter de Silva heel), and it means amazing skin products and a fragrance that turns heads. If she’s in the neighborhood, she’ll come in before the event to get her makeup done. Barneys is small, but it offers complete service for someone who wants to do all her shopping in one spot.”

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