If clothes make a man, don’t you wish you were cut with the same cloth as a Katrina or an Arjun Rampal? Do you catch yourself feeling envious when you see fashionistas, divas and successful celebrities step out, looking spectacular. You’d be surprised to learn that mostly there is a style guru working behind the scene, making them look the way they do. 

Enter the world of personal shoppers, who can help you shop for just the right clothes and accessories and give you an entire wardrobe makeover, so that you can revel in that celebrity look. Remember Karisma Kapoor’s total makeover by Manish Malhotra or Narendra Modi’s wardrobe change by designer Troy Costa, ahead of his overseas visit? It can be your turn next.

“Whether it’s a wedding in the family, a new job, a holiday or a simple desire to look good everyday, I help people with no time, put together the right wardrobe,” says Prache Khade, a professional personal shopper certified from Milan, Italy, who started styling for print ads and ad films and has worked with the likes of Priyanka Chopra and Sonakshi Sinha.

Prache loves to give people a whole new fashion identity. That’s not to say that she changes her clients’ personality altogether. She believes that understanding a person’s personality is very important. “Subtle changes work better. I am not here to change anyone. That never works. People go back to what they were. It’s like going on a crash diet!” she jests.

So if you are an introvert, you can be rest assured that you will not be handed flashy outfits and colours. Your professional background, how you interact socially, what kind of people you interact with — all of this will help your personal shopper fetch the right clothes for you.

“Lot of clients are busy and do not have time to get things for themselves. Since they are our clients, I know pretty much everything about them — their lifestyle, their tastes, more than they would know about themselves,” says Sheena Agarwal, founder of Urbanista Image Consulting, that is based out of New Delhi, and has done many workshops with corporates and people at the CXO level.

One of her clients goes to Bali every year and he simply asks her to put together a wardrobe for the trip.

So what do personal shoppers do?

They sift through your wardrobe, flush out clothes you can wear, junk the ones you can’t and then make a list of must-haves, and take you shopping to the right places for the right brands.

What’s more, if you don’t have access to luxury brands, your personal shopper can get them delivered.

“One of my clients lives in Meerut and does not have access to brands available in Delhi. She goes online, selects what she wants and I send them across to her,” says Sheena.

If you are an expat or an NRI travelling to India, personal shoppers can save you a lot of trouble looking for the right things.

“A lot of NRIs come to Mumbai to shop for a wedding,” explains Prache. A personal shopper can help you pick the right souvenirs. A lot of times people do not get luxury bags at a good price internationally. Dior is in fact the cheapest in India, says Sheena.

And if you are a globetrotter, then technology allows the personal shopper to accompany you, to all your favourite shopping destinations.

“When my clients go to shops abroad, say, during the Dubai shopping festival, they send me Whatsapp messages to find out which clothes they can buy. I don’t even need to be there,” says Prache.

For a fee

If you have a personal shopper on board, the red carpet sure runs long. So hand-wringing over the cost and such may be futile.

Personal shoppers usually offer two different types of packages. Either they charge you on an hourly or daily basis or offer a contract, say, for six months on a retainer fee basis.

Hourly charges come to about ₹3,500, while a daily package could cost you ₹20,000 (for six to eight hours). Remember this covers only the personal shoppers’ fee for advising you on what to buy. What you spend on clothes, travel and food is additional.

If you feel a couple of thousands a day is no big deal, remember that learning styling tips is hardly a one-day affair. So be ready to loosen your purse strings, not only to engage a personal shopper for a longer period but also to pick those groovy outfits.

“If you hire me, then you have to be willing to pay at least a lakh of rupees, because hiring me for half a day at ₹20,000 doesn’t help. And if you have a low budget on dresses, you may end up paying a lot more to me than you pay for your clothes,” explains Sheena.

With Indians and wedding, sky is the limit and the budget is the least of the issues. The fee can go as high as ₹2 lakh, because apart from the groom or bride, other family members may also accompany for shopping.

But if you want tips on what to wear every single day, then paying a retainer fee for a contract period of, say, six months, can work best for you.

But remember, this essentially includes wardrobe management, and within this period if you want to go shopping, you will be charged separately. Your personal shopper may meet you twice a month to refresh your wardrobe.

Sometimes clients don’t want to go shopping or do not want to be seen shopping. For them, shopping on demand or home shopping, works well.

“I had a client who came with three bodyguards. It was difficult to go shopping everywhere. So I provided home shopping for him,” recalls Prache.

What’s in?

So, what’s in vogue, we quiz these professionals.

“Comfort is the key. Nowadays, the fashion even in movies has become very real and practical — right from what Deepika or Katrina are wearing. You can add small trinkets or go for an interesting neckline. People are also paying a lot of attention to statement jewellery,” says Prache.

She feels that clients are investing in real pieces (branded bags, for instance) than just buying things off the rack. Fads are a definite no.

Bridezillas are no myth, say personal shoppers, and people can go crazy with weddings. But Prache advises her clients to stay as classy as possible. A plain sari or a silk sari is a timeless fashion that can never go wrong. It’s not a fancy dress competition after all, she adds.

Sheena feels that no one wants to wear anything that’s too ornate for a wedding.

The one thing that turns her off is the bride and groom going for matching colours.

“There are other ways to look synchronised you know. You can go for analogous colours that can complement each other. Or if you are looking for something dramatic, triadic colours can look fabulous too,” says Sheena.

Analogous are colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel — say a red, orange, or yellow. Triadic are evenly spaced around the colour wheel and are colour harmonies that can be quite vibrant — a green, orange or violet.

But tracking different hues on the colour wheel or differentiating between feather-boa and ruffled shoulder pads kind of fashion and classy and sleek designs is not everyone’s cup of tea! It’s best left to professionals if you can afford one!