The benefits of using a personal shopper

Personal shoppers
Whether you’re living the simple life or in the lap of luxury, stylish assistance has never been more within reach, says Lucy Slight.

Depending on which stage of life you were at in 2003 and your penchant for reality TV, you may remember being introduced to Paris Hilton’s scantily clad, over-eyelinered, regrowth-sporting BFF Nicole Richie when the pair invaded our living rooms on MTV’s The Simple Life. Whether you loved or loathed them, Nicole, Paris and their Von Dutch trucker caps were inescapable and did nothing to positively influence the style of impressionable teens and early-20 somethings.

A year after the show debuted, Nicole called on celebrity stylist and soon-to-be-household-name Rachel Zoe to help transform her image and cement the petite star’s place as one of fashion’s most influential players. In the style sense, it’s a rags-to-riches tale and shows that you can have all the money in the world and still need the help of a professional stylist to translate your coin into fashion kudos. But employing the services of a personal stylist or shopper isn’t something reserved solely for the Hollywood elite. Here in New Zealand there are a number of options available, whether you’re looking to spend $50 or $50K. Sarah Stuart, the head of news styling for TV3, dresses presenters for shows including Paul Henry, 3News, Story and Newsworthy, and also regularly consults clients on personal styling, image and branding.

“For my personal clients, it’s usually that they’re in a time of transition. They may be starting a new job, meeting a new partner or their children may have left home,” Sarah explains. “Businesses often bring me in to help empower their staff to feel more assured in how they look. I find this can make a huge difference to the work they do, as well as their self-confidence in general.”

Sarah Stuart, head of styling at TV3

Sarah Stuart, head of styling at TV3

Sarah initially conducts a colour and body analysis to determine what complements her client’s skin tone and body line, as well as finding out about their lifestyle, personality and what they want to achieve from the styling sessions. “I always ensure their look is appropriate for the purpose I’ve styled them,” she adds. “That means making sure they fit in while also standing out by wearing something that matches their style and – most importantly – makes them feel amazing. It’s important to me that I empower my clients to put together their own outfits so they understand their own assets and feel proud of who they are.”

Kaytee Boyd, an integrative nutritionist at The Boyd Clinic, was time-poor and in “desperate need of a wardrobe overhaul” when she employed the services of personal stylist, Jackie O’Fee, of Signature Style.  “I work with cancer patients and people with burn-out so I need to dress professionally or there is no instant respect,” says Kaytee who has a “boy shape”, as she calls it. “My strategy for clothes shopping has been to walk in, try clothes, get disheartened and walk away without anything. Jackie took me through an extensive list of styles, explaining what would suit me particularly well and what wouldn’t. I was surprised at what looked great on me and now see I can get away with a lot more with my body shape.”

If getting advice on styling interests you, but your wallet zips tight at the thought, there are retailers who offer complimentary services. At Topshop’s flagship store in Queen Street, Auckland, the personal styling service also enables you to avoid the 20-deep queue for the fitting rooms. The no-obligation-to-buy service gives you access to the store’s personal stylists who can help you with anything from a wardrobe makeover to finding a new dress for
a function.

“Our service can be tailored to whether a customer wants advice on the latest trends, a brand new corporate look, assistance with an outfit for an event or a complete wardrobe overhaul,” says Sarah Harris, Topshop’s brand manager. “I think what our stylists enjoy most is making clients feel confident, and looking a million dollars in a new outfit they maybe wouldn’t have chosen for themselves.”

Fostering customer relationships is top of mind for the client services team at T Galleria by DFS, which offers Diamond and Ruby members of the global program personal shopping assistance, concierge services and pre-orders and pre-sales of new arrivals. Just be prepared to spend between $30,000 and $120,000 in two years to qualify for personalised luxury offerings. Prestige members can book appointments with a personal shopper at any DFS around the world and request pieces from international brands including Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Dior and Burberry to be waiting for them on arrival.

T by DFS Galleria

T by DFS Galleria

“If we have new arrivals that we think will be appealing to our clients, the personal shopper will contact them,” says Hannah Zhang, T Galleria by DFS client services manager. “Our goal is to build a long-term relationship with our most valuable clients.”

Regardless of spend, styling is about building confidence, says Kaytee. “I feel much more comfortable now walking into clothes shops, I understand what works for me. That in itself is amazing.”

Photos: Snapper Media and Supplied