This expert helps to
reveal true personal style
By Stephanie E. Ponder
LIKE MANY WOMEN I know, I start
my day by staring into a closet filled
with clothes and coming to the conclusion that I have nothing to wear.
My only recourse is to opt for the easy
choice of jeans (or corduroys), a T-shirt
and a cardigan.
Hoping to put an end to my fashion
dilemma, I contacted Costco member
Sarah Whittaker, founder of Insideout
AMY GRIFFIN – A & K PHO TOGRAPHY
Profiling ( www.insideoutpro filing.com), a service that
“helps people design a personal style that reflects the
individual from the inside out.”
Whittaker, a native of England who now lives
with her husband in Georgia, has been styling clients
for more than 10 years. After writing about her
method of dressing people psychologically, the Times
of London dubbed her the “wardrobe shrink.”
“When you talk to someone about his or her
style, you see that they’re influenced by their
upbringing, the people around them or even fashion trends,” Whittaker tells The Connection.
While her work is done mostly one-on-one, it
has also taken her to the corporate world, where she
recently helped design a work wardrobe for a local
bank. She says that her service frees people to “look
at themselves in a new light,” helping them determine which fabrics, prints and even skirt lengths
look best on them.
But Whittaker does more than just dress her
clients. She also helps people by cleaning out closets
and going shopping with them—in person when
possible and online. Personal shopping services start
at $135, while consultations begin at $175.
At the heart of Whittaker’s technique is a set of
image types. Coming up with a type is based on
three aspects of an individual: body shape, personality and presence.
To determine a person’s type, Whittaker begins
by looking at photos of the client. These include
snapshots of the client’s face, front and back silhouettes, and how he or she dresses on a typical day.
From these photos she evaluates a client’s appear-
ance and the first impression she or
Whittaker also sends out a questionnaire in which clients describe
how they see themselves—by
describing his or her body shape,
best features, perception by others,
profession, hobbies and interests.
The resulting answers and
images are matched to Whittaker’s
35 Image Type System. Examples of types include
Parisienne, Moon Sprite and English Rose (think
Nicole Kidman, young Shirley MacLaine and
Gywneth Paltrow, respectively).
After determining a person’s type, Whittaker
chats with her client about the final report. The
report includes color swatches, names of celebrities
who share the client’s type, a blueprint of one’s personality and physical attributes, and suggested items
of clothing that would best suit the individual.
My type? I’m pleased to say she pegged me as
sassy: Think earth mother with a very flirty edge. I
should go for bold lips and natural fibers. She even
suggested that I convey authority at work while
maintaining my natural qualities by wearing a jacket
for “armor,” a strong heel to show my authority and
chunky jewelry to signify rank.
Whittaker suggests, as she does with all clients,
that I start with a capsule wardrobe that includes a
pair of pants, skirt, jacket and five shirts that can be
coordinated. The rest of the wardrobe can expand
from those items.
Whittaker says that many of her clients seek her
help because, like me, they have a closet full of clothing but nothing to wear. Others are curious to know
what their type is. Some are fed up with being a slave
to the fashion cycle. Others yet may have had a baby
and feel they lost their sense of style.
All of her clients realize that something about
their wardrobe isn’t working and turn to her to
identify the problem. Whittaker says, “People often
see that something isn’t right, but don’t know what
it is. That’s how I can help.” C
WARDROBE SHRINK Sarah
Whittaker makes a living
helping clients find the right
clothes to match their personalities. She works with a
system of 35 image types.
Although just the tip of the
iceberg, here are a few traits
for some of the types she has
• English Rose
Top look: Day dress,
fine classic print,
• Trixie Pixie
Traits: Fun, busy,
Top look: Colorful
cropped T-shirt, boxy
capris, bright ballet flats
Traits: High-tech, sharp,
Top look: Waterproof-style trouser, smart
leather fashion shoe
• Euro Retro
Top look: Loose shirt;
layered, neck scarf;
boot-cut, low-waist jean
You can find a variety of clothing
items to boost your wardrobe
at Costco and on costco.com.