If you simply don't have time to traipse the town looking for that outfit or you don't have a clue where to go, then you could do worse than employing the services of a personal shopper to listen to your needs and impart essential knowledge and advice.
In an on-line article, author Peter Fiske advises scientists on how to further their careers through what they wear by writing in their own language: “Although we may disdain fancy clothing as scientists, we still accept that for most animals, appearance is a life-or-death issue. Animals judge each other’s health, strength, and parental fitness not by subjecting their potential mates to an interview or a series of calibrated examinations, but by examining certain external qualities that are a proxy for fitness.”
The importance of image may be rejected or ignored, but it should never be under-estimated. Success in modern-day society depends more and more on the external qualities to which Fiske refers, and people of means are acutely aware of this fact. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that there is a growing market for a relatively new and unknown profession: the personal shopper.
A personal shopper is an authority on where to buy things. Customers consult them when they want a new wardrobe or even just an outfit for a specific occasion. Experts in the latest fashion, the shoppers first consult with their clients, assessing them for tastes and personality. In some cases, they may do a colour analysis. Once this is complete, a shopping tour is arranged, throughout which the client is advised on what looks best and why.
In the Eighties, more and more women began to enter upper management positions. With less time and more disposable income, they engaged fashion mavens to keep them current and looking their best. Thus a new business was born—the personal shopper.
Though it began as a service geared toward women, men are not shying away. “Some 40 percent of our clients are men,” said Elisabet Olivé of QueMePongo, a personal shopper service based in Barcelona. “Our clients are from an upper-middle or higher social class, and either haven’t time or don’t like to shop. They want the best advice in order to transmit a desired image, as much in their personal life as professional.”
Fabiana Finetto is an Italian-born personal shopper who has operated in Barcelona for over a year. One afternoon she took a client, Tini Jensen, through about 20 boutiques in Gràcia. Tini needed a dress and shoes for an upcoming wedding. Her budget for the clothes was €150, but she was willing to double the outlay by paying Fabiana an added €150 for her services. “I work all week long and don’t have time to shop,” Tini explained. “And I don’t really feel like doing it on Saturday. Also, I wouldn’t know where to go.”
Their objective was something elegantly black, with a splash of cool colours to highlight Tini’s complexion and add to the festivity of the occasion. A brief glance around each boutique was enough to direct Fabiana to exactly what they sought. Some visits lasted no more than 20 seconds, others as long as five minutes. Hangers clacked with precision while Fabiana snatched two or three items and draped them over Tini’s arm. As Tini modeled them, Fabiana remarked—always in hushed tones—on the colour, cut or over-all effect.
Occasionally, she would even point out the less obvious. “This will be a wedding in Germany, so I assume that you’ll be drinking lots of beer. With this dress, your belly will be more prominent. I wouldn’t advise it.”
Without a doubt, there are times when expertise is, quite simply, priceless.