For Executive Women, Personal Shoppers

By Ann-Marie Schiro (The New York Times Style)
At one time the words “work clothes” conjured up thoughts of over-alls and smocks. Today, to more and more women, work clothes mean suits and silk blouses.

One of the many lessons successful women have learned is that, like it or not, dressing appropriately for the office is an important part of getting ahead. And a difficulty many of them share is that they do not have time to shop.

Susan Dresner of Successful Ways & Means, who was in corporate life for nine years before starting her service, put it this way: “The idea is to get women away from the blazer and A-line skirt. I don’t believe in uniforms, but there are certain restrictions. A woman vice president at Citibank can wear the preppy look, but one at McGraw-Hill should wear very conservative suits and ensembles.”

Successful Ways & Means (212-877-1417) charges an annual membership fee which includes at-home wardrobe analysis, a personal profile, annual wardrobe budget and game plan, seasonal updating service, and referrals to other expert services such as custom dressmakers. Dresner will, if desired, work with client and dressmaker on design, fabric selections, and colors. When Ms. Dresner takes a client shopping in stores, there is a per-hour fee. Another service she offers is working out a wardrobe diagram showing how to coordinate separates and accessories, or putting together a travel wardrobe.

“I like to educate my clients to recognize quality and good value,” Ms. Dresner said. “Many of them use me once or twice to go shopping with them and by then have picked up enough savvy to do it themselves.”