Basic grooming and style nous that used to be passed down by grandmothers have been lost – muffin tops and visible panty lines, anyone?

14Sep10

Myth: Personal shoppers, more commonly and grandly known as image consultants, made famous by a gaggle of blistering makeover TV shows, are reserved for the rich and fabulous and for ladies who lunch.

In fact, it’s often the ladies – and gentlemen – who have neither the time nor dosh for lunch who are paying experts to show them how to get the biggest, and most flattering, bang for their bucks.

Susan Axford has been in the sartorial fairy godmother business for 10 years.  “It’s become more acceptable to seek help in different areas of your life… we’re all so busy now. We can’t be experts on everything,” she says.

Basic grooming and style nous that used to be passed down by grandmothers have been lost (muffin tops and visible panty lines, anyone?).

People who hire personal image consultants range from 20-somethings wanting to look the part for their first real job, to mums wanting to focus on themselves after years of focusing on others, to septuagenarians seeking a little je ne sais quoi. Guided by clients’ budget and taste, a good personal shopper will scour the rag trade, from op shops to bespoke tailors.

Hair, make-up, accessories, glasses and, sometimes, things such as comportment and handshake firmness are scrutinised.

Of course, some clients are celebrities. Susan won’t name names but has arranged for stores to open out of hours for high-profile clients who don’t want to be photographed with a personal shopper.

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