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Monday, 30 March 2009

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Whenever I take a client shopping I am amazed at what I observe in the fitting rooms. Usually people seem to be taking three or more items into their cubicle and what would surprise any observer is the very small percentage of items that are actually bought. Sometimes reasons are given to the assistants, such as: 'It doesn't fit', 'I don't like it', 'It doesn't suit me.' As an image consultant waiting for my client to appear in clothes that do suit, she does like and do fit (or only need a minor tweak), I am disappointed to see the sad faces of many disappointed customers. However, as I stand there I can tell which faces will be gloomy on trying on the items. So many customers confirm my own thoughts about the articles as they come out of the cubicles.

In Canada, a machine called the Bodyskanner and team of technicians is travelling around. A person stands still in a special cubicle whilst 88 measurements of their body are made by laser. This enables a pattern to be made for the person, which they receive in approximately a month. The customer has a catalogue and can order custom made patterns by entering a code. Customers using this system report that the fit is perfect. So this is great if you are a dressmaker but what about the rest of us? Could such technology not be used to make clothes for us?

Selfridges, in London, in 2004 launched a similar system to this for making the 'perfect' pair of jeans. A large number of measurements are taken in a few seconds and then the customer chooses the denim colour, style and waist height - from a given range. The cost of these is approximately 250. The jeans might fit perfectly but are they flattering to your shape? Anyone who has had a style and image consultation knows that there is more to looking good in jeans than having them fit perfectly. For example, is your body shape crying out for minimal detail in the hip area? If so, you would do well to avoid the very noticeable fly fronted zip, the numerous pockets and the studding that are part of so many jeans. If you spend a lot on jeans or even if you only wear them at weekends, getting impartial advice on how they look can be vital and certainly worth the cost of a consultation- and that is without considering all the other advice which would be part of your session with an image consultant. Many large stores seem interested in this type of technology. Possibly this is the result of the current economic difficulties, the need to attract more trade and the high proportion of clothes that are returned because they do not fit. The Heinrich-Hertz Institute in Berlin has developed a 'magic mirror' for trying out new clothes. A customer can see how designs and colours of an item will look, having for example just chosen one top. As the person moves round, the image of the movement can be seen. This development is a refinement of the system used for shoe fitting in the Adidas store in Paris. This embryonic technology could lead to just such a the system that is being used in Canada for home dressmaking being used for 'off the peg' items.

Unfortunately though clothes such as this should fit, the technology will not choose the shapes that are flattering to a person's body shape, proportions, scale, colouring and style personality which are all important points to take into account when buying an item. Here is where a consultation with an image consultant and the written advice that you are given in a personalised style booklet will really pay dividends and enable you not just to have clothes that fit but ones that suit the whole you. Style is so much more than just a good fit, but style is nothing without a good fit. If you find this confusing then rest assured that your style and image consultant can sort this out for you and discuss with you the main features that you need to consider for the unique you when you go shopping.

Janet Major is a Senior Image Consultant with Colour Me Beautiful Image Consultants. Located on the South Cheshire/North Staffordshire border, Janet offers advice on all aspects of personal and corporate image, such as colour analysis, style consultations and make-up lessons for women; colour and style and image for men and tailor made sessions designed to improve the personal image portrayed by individuals in business. She carries out one-to-one consultations, group workshops and presentations. She contributes to magazines and newspapers on these aspects.

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