As senior vice president of community affairs for MGM Grand Detroit, Juliette Okotie-Eboh often finds herself dressing, shopping, and living in a business-to-party mode. On any given day, her calendar will include several business meetings, a power lunch, and a black-tie gala, with very little time in between for wardrobe adjustments.
With Houdini-like finesse, she’ll transform a basic black Armani business suit into an elegant evening ensemble by replacing a button-up linen blouse and pearls with a gold chain-mail halter and a Donna D crystal lariat. And while most of that magical, quick-change artist skill comes from her own innate sense of style, she is quick to admit she does it with professional assistance.
“My advice to everyone who likes to dress well is to find a good personal shopper,” she says. “And then get someone to customize your closet.”
She has used the same personal shopper from Saks Fifth Avenue for the last 10 years. And she had her closets customized about three years ago to accommodate her passion for shoes and fondness for fur coats.
Okotie-Eboh draws most of her wardrobe from two closets in her contemporary Detroit home. One small walk-in in her bachelorette-pad style bedroom holds her day-to-day wardrobe. A larger closet on the lower level of the home is designated for off-season clothes, evening gowns, and her collection of African garments.
Because she was married to an African and lived on that continent for a time, she acquired an extensive wardrobe of exquisite, authentic African clothing, including handmade gowns with intricate lattice and beading work.
“My former husband still sends clothes to me and my daughter, Margaret, all the time,” she says. “Unfortunately, we don’t have many occasions to wear those outfits, but we treasure them, so they get preserved and stored in that closet.”
She also had custom storage units built near her everyday closet. That additional space holds her handbags, overflow shoes, belts, and other accessories.
“Accessories are key to making an outfit your own,” she says. “I’ll take a conservative Ellen Tracy suit, for instance, and wear it with a trendy belt and a pair of fishnet hose.
“Everything about me is urban. A lot of people aren’t aware that you can find elegance and sophistication right in the heart of Detroit. You don’t have to always go to the suburbs to find people who are living a nice lifestyle. True, urban dwellers tend to be a little more cutting-edge, but in a good way. And I think it is reflected in our lifestyles, our wardrobes, our homes, and in our closets.”