Personal stylists can sharpen your image, improve your wardrobe and save you money in the process.
In a world of celebrities and politicians, image is everything. That's why many of them turn to professional stylists to maximize their looks and make sure the image they're projecting is the impression they want to create. Business people, too, can take advantage of stylists to leverage their wardrobes, improve their image and - perhaps surprisingly - save money.
Fashion stylists, wardrobe consultants and personal shoppers all fall under the general rubric of "image consultant." Image consultants typically focus on how you're dressed and accessorized, as opposed to other experts who can help you polish your presentation and public speaking style. While many high-end department stores offer complimentary image consulting or personal shopping services, these specialists are limited to outfitting you from the store's selection. And because some store-based shoppers work on commission, they're incentivized to help you spend rather than save money.
Another option is to hire a service that charges a flat or hourly fee for unbiased advice. Depending on where you live, an independent image consultant might charge between $75 and $150 per hour. Here's how the process generally works:
The Wardrobe Audit. A consultant visits your home and helps you sort through your wardrobe. He or she will likely organize by category - office wear, evening, etc. - and help you decide which pieces to keep, toss and donate. All of this is done with an eye toward styles that are flattering to you and appropriate for the business and social events you attend.
Shopping Your Closet. The next step is "shopping" your closet - that is, identifying those items that can be paired with one another or with new items to create several outfits. Here is where a consultant can save you money: A few key pieces can serve as the foundation for a whole slew of looks, some of which can even cross over between day and evening. This process usually takes about two hours, but check with your consultant for specifics.
Finding Key Pieces. Your consultant will then shop for you or, if you prefer, with you (which can be a great learning experience). The goal is to fill the gaps in your wardrobe while keeping within your budget. A savvy personal shopper will concentrate your dollars on versatile items and steer you clear of pieces that might be worn only rarely. An independent eye can also make sure that the results are elegant and flattering without breaking the bank or buying by label.
When you're done, your closet should resemble a boutique from which you can pick and choose pieces that work together to create outfits for any occasion - and you'll have a new sense of confidence as you put your best foot (or shoes) forward.
To find a wardrobe consultant, search local listings or visit the Association of Image Consultants International at aici.org.
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