The Art Of Living Feature: VT Story & The Importance Of Staying True To Yourself

We’re honored to be featured in the September issue of The Art Of Living, Dubai’s leading luxury lifestyle magazine. In this interview, our co-founders Joe Lupo and Jesse Garza share the story and the philosophy behind Visual Therapy, discuss the difference between style and fashion, talk about the importance of staying true to yourself, and share the hottest fall trends.

The Art Of Living Magazine Visual Therapy Interview

You’re doing a very unique job of helping people discover their individuality. How did it all begin, and how did this much needed therapy for urbanites start?

Visual therapy began back in 1995 when we moved from Chicago to New York to create a business doing what we love and are most passionate about – helping others and fashion. Over the next few years, we came up with our 5-step process and wrote our first book, Nothing To Wear? A 5-Step cure for the Common Closet.

The fact is, most of our clientele value time spent with their families, their careers and their philanthropic work, moreso than lunching and shopping. They take comfort in knowing they have hired experts who understand their own personal style and help them to create a streamlined wardrobe full of ‘hits’ that they feel incredible in, in every area of their lives.

People always mix up style and fashion. Often they will infuse a trend, thinking that their style is completely reinvented. What’s your take on it?

Haha, that’s true! Fashion is the business and a current moment in time. It is a reflection of what is going on in the world that’s translated to wearable art. We are speaking of runway pieces and special trendy looks here, not necessarily your basic core wardrobe. Style is how an individual wears or curates fashion in a sense, translating it for their personality, body type and overall lifestyle. 

Today’s fashion world is changing rapidly, finding new ways to influence street style. Are we losing history, tradition and the incredible culture that fashion used to have?

We believe that fashion is about change and evolution. Of course these days, fashion is changing at an even more rapid speed, because we are living in an information society. Everybody has access to everything immediately, so it has to move more quickly.

This is both good and bad. It is good because it inspires creativity as our exposure is so great to so many things. The flip side is that when something original comes up, it is quickly copied and its origin is often lost.

The Art Of Living Magazine Visual Therapy Interview

Instead of trying to look like someone else, strive to look like the best version of yourself. 

Do you always accept new things easily?

As Sir Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”. Fashion is about change and you have to change to feel current and new.

However, we believe that you should always stay true to your style and fine tune it according to what is happening currently. It’s not about being a victim to fashion, but about using it as a tool to help you feel empowered and fresh.

Do you often encounter that your clients and readers want to look like someone else?

We actually encourage our clients to pick a style icon to follow for inspiration. We would never say that they want to look like someone else, but rather they should strive to look like the best version of themselves.

What is the most important thing for you when you’re working with a client?

The most important aspect of our work with clients is understanding who they are and helping them to be sure they always feel like themselves, not a version of the person with whom they work or socialize with. We are not dictators, but collaborators with our clients.

Visual Therapy is a well known brand respected by the famous.  What were some challenges you encountered on your way to success?

Since we are not really fashion designers and not retailers, it has taken time to gain as much respect from the fashion industry, as we were the first firm of our kind.  Through the years and our media attention, we have now carved out a place in the fashion industry.

Please share advice with our readers: how do we go into fall fully equipped, fashion-wise?

Start with taking an inventory of what you already have. Get rid of things you haven’t worn for a year, and make a list of things you need to get. It’s important to approach dressing from the perspective of looks instead of separate pieces. This way, every time you open your closet, you’ll feel ‘zen’ and know exactly what to wear.

The goal is to feel comfortable, confident, powerful and authentic when you step out the door so that you can focus on sharing your gifts with the world.


  1. The Coat: A beautiful unstructured coat in navy, camel or black is a must-have. Céline has great options!07-hermes1
  2. Mod: 60s style short, square sleeveless dresses are one of the most fresh trends this season! Wear them layered over a tight knit with chunky shoes or boots.Dior Mod Dress
  3. Block Heel: Chunky heel shoes and boots bring the comfort back and give you a great foundation for flared pants and A-line skirts. Balenciaga, Prada, Chloé and Céline have excellent choices.Celine block heel boot
  4. Trapeze Sweater: While trapeze may be a familiar silhouette thanks to A-line skirts, this season it gets a sweater update. Style your A-line sweaters with leather or suede leggings for an on-trend look.Stella McCartney Trapeze Sweater