In a profile published in the Star Tribune in 1985, Jacqueline Ari Murray listed travel, theater and classical music as her hobbies.
Murray included one more hobby — “delving into the why of things.”
Especially when it came to clothes. Murray, a fashion designer and wardrobe consultant, took an interest in the psychological impact of clothing.
After some friends told Murray, who had studied Gestalt and Adlerian psychology, about their trouble finding appropriate business attire, she developed a concept called “the psychology of dress” and started a business as a wardrobe consultant.
Her business mostly contracted with Dayton’s, where she helped create the FYI (For Your Image) Consulting Service. She also advised companies outside Minnesota on appropriate business attire.
Murray, of Minneapolis, died March 18. She was 83.
She was born on Oct. 5, 1936, to Eugene and Mabel Murray of Robbinsdale. She was the youngest of 13 children. For a time during World War II, she lived at a convent while her parents worked to support the war effort.
After high school, she graduated from the University of Miami (Fla.) with a bachelor’s degree in French. She did graduate studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, taking classes in psychology and costume design. She also studied at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
After college, she lived in Italy and Paris, where she danced in the Paris Opera, and New York City.
When she started her business in the late 1970s, she was a single mother raising four children after a divorce.
The Star Tribune profile said that Murray’s advice went “beyond the basics, like black shoes with a blue suit, that parents have told children for generations.”
Murray said she “recognized that plenty of people are skeptical or impatient about the importance of clothing.” She said her studies led her to form “a freewheeling philosophy of dress.”
She said her sense of fashion incorporated elements of commerce, psychology, sociology and tact.
“When you’re in business, you need to deal with other people’s perceptions,” she said. “You don’t have time to say, ‘I may look casual, but I’m actually strong in my field.’ ”
Murray said people discern clothing’s signals most clearly on their own level. Up or down a degree of stylishness, “they see the signals fuzzily,” she said.
Therefore, she recommended that security personnel in department stores wear business suits.
James Stirratt, Dayton’s vice president for stores, told the Star Tribune in 1985, “She’s one of the most enterprising and creative people I know. She turns on her audience and, in cooperation with Karen [Bohnhoff], our director of fashion, has been the driving force behind the success of FYI.”
WCCO-TV anchor Pat Miles was one of Murray’s clients.
“I have my own ideas about what works on television,” Miles told the Star Tribune, “and I pick out what I like. But it’s nice to have somebody who’s knowledgeable about fashion, and it’s nice not to have to run around the store. We’ve had some pretty good philosophical discussions about clothing, images and television.”
In 1989, Murray wrote a book titled “The Power of Dress: An Insider’s Guide to Corporate Dress and Culture.”
Murray is survived by her children, Guy, Paris, Tiffany and Caprice, and seven grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date.