If You Were Italian, How Would You Dress?

sorelle-firenze-by-tribeca-citizen“It’s not about putting people in top-to-bottom Gucci,” says Monica Abbatemaggio (above left) over a glass of wine at Edward’s. She’s explaining what she and her younger sister, Barbara (above right), do for the clients of their personal-styling service, Sorelle Firenze—which was also name of the their boutique, located on Reade Street from 1998 to 2005. “Using what people already have is the juicy part,” she says, detailing how they go through their clients’ closets—determining the clothing that should be kept, the clothing that can be adjusted somehow, and the clothing that should be put out to pasture—and then figure out how to combine the clothes into outfits. “Clients get a digital book of outfits—we can come up with 25 looks in two days’ work—divided by where you’d wear it,” says Monica. They don’t just pick out outfits; they teach you what looks good on you and where to shop. They also do home styling, holding a “trunk show” of possible additions in your apartment. “We’re bringing the Italian experience to Americans,” says Monica (although the whole endeavor sounds significantly more organized than anything in Italy).

The sisters both originally from Florence (Sorelle Firenze means “Florence sisters” in Italian): Monica moved to the U.S. in 1991, spending some time in Hawaii before moving to New York; Barbara came to the U.S. in 1997. They each used to live in the Seaport area, but now Monica is in Jersey City, and they have an office on Broadway between Duane and Reade.

Their clients, who hail mostly from Tribeca and the Upper East Side, hire Sorelle Firenze for various reasons: “They had a career change, they had babies, they’re dating again,” says Monica. “Men especially want help with dating. They want someone who’s not their mother or their sister telling them they look great.” Do she and Barbara have to brace themselves when they first approach someone’s closet? “Oh no, that’s the fun part. People get so worried, though. They say they’re going to clean out their closets before we come, and I say, ‘What’s the point of that?'”

Any anxiety is gone by the end of the process. “They feel fresh, ready for their husbands or their families. It’s like somebody did this—” says Monica, making a swirling gesture with one hand raised high. Right when it becomes clear that she’s miming the waving of a magic wand, she says, “Like you’re in a circle of stars, and then you come out as Cinderella.”


Sorelle Firenze offers a free one-hour assessment. Beyond that, the Abbatemaggios prefer to work with a four-hour minimum; three four-hour days is the usual maximum. They can be reached at 646-701-3039. For a glimpse of their esprit, watch this short video.


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