Executive Personal Shoppers

bfashion.JPGy Caroline Shannon (Dayton, OH)

Sure, “girls just wanna have fun” and “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” but, despite conventional wisdom, shopping can sometimes rank pretty low on the list of fun things to do — especially, when you are a busy business professional who can barely squeeze in lunch let alone a trip to the department store.

That is where a personal stylist, like Corinne Phipps, founder and president of Urban Darling Wardrobe Styling & Closet Audits, steps in.

“Personal shopping – whether it is for home, personal or family needs – is the ultimate de-stressor and time saver,” says Phipps, who is based in the Greater Bay, California area. “Having another human being dedicated to you can put calm into the heart of the most stressed and time crunched woman. To not have to think about or struggle with the thoughts of when you are going to get to the shops to find the items you are looking for, calms the mind.”

Kristen Harper, founder of Wing Woman Consulting in San Francisco, says she has two demographics of female clients: (1) women who have challenging, fast-paced jobs, who “do not have the time to shop either professional or socially” and (2) women who “simply do not have an eye for shopping.”

Harper says of the second type of female client, “She may look to Vogue to define her style, but it may not suit her. This causes frustration, and [such women] generally throw in the towel on looking and feeling good.”

But, in the business world, looking presentable is the only option. The good news is that the world of personal shopping is becoming more and more open to women who are on a budget of all sorts. In fact, Phipps says personal shoppers can range from $65 to $175 an hour, depending on the services a woman is looking for in a personal shopper. Urban Darling, for example, charges $85 an hour for services, with a minimum of three hours.

“Personal shoppers are not just a luxury anymore,” Phipps says.

Harper said another common initial misconception about personal shoppers is that they only know how to shop for one body type and one kind of woman.

“But we do not have a template for the client when shopping,” Harpers says. “Each client is unique and subsequently so is each shopping experience.”

The Wing Woman also emphasizes the importance of feeling good in your clothes. In fact, Harper says, studies have shown that a person who feels like they are presenting their best self is more successful both socially and professionally.

“Typically a woman on the go-go-go does not have the luxury to shop-shop-shop,” Phipps says. “They are in for the essentials, or that outfit for the wedding they put off all month, so there is no time to browse. Browsing will lead to treasures. Treasures are the pieces that we don’t find on the shopping dash and treasures are the pieces that make our wardrobe sing!”

Accredited image consultants can be found at the Association of Image Consultants International and a local personal shopper can be found through a quick internet search combing the words “personal shopper” + “your city name here.”

And if you are one of those gals who still think fashion is equal to discomfort, then consider Harper’s words of wisdom before pooh-poohing the idea:

“Style is not necessarily the latest fashion,” Harper says. “Style is presenting your best self. As Gore Vidal once said, ‘Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.’”