Dress to impress in Dubai

Image consultant Marissa Woods on how to coordinate your outfits

Interview
Interview
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At some stage in our sartorial lives, we all reach a point when we feel uninspired by our clothes. The honeymoon period is over and the outfits you once loved are no longer doing it for you. But instead of buying entirely new get-up, image consultant Marissa Woods, director of new Dubai-based service Image Factor, says her online styling service can refresh your wardrobe and open your eyes to how you can rework pieces you already own.

‘There are a lot of styling tools out there, but what’s really different about this service it that it’s not about selling more clothes to you,’ explains Marissa, who has clients across the Middle East, Europe and the US. ‘It’s about holding your wardrobe and reworking it.’ We invited her into our closet to do some sorting – and were impressed by her knack for getting it spot on.

How does it work?
You upload images of the star pieces from your wardrobe to our partner website, www.closetcouture.com, and we do the rest. We don’t even have to come to your home. Set yourself a registration and password and then start uploading the clothes, or we can come and take the photos for you if that’s easier. Then we pull looks together according to the way you want to dress. We can do it for special events, or even for a week’s worth of dressing. First, we go through a quick questionnaire to find out what kind of preferences you have. Once we get an idea of your overall style, we know what to suggest for you.

How did you get into this line of work?
I started 12 years ago in London and I set up Image Factor to show people how to shop more effectively. It quickly progressed into people saying they wanted a capsule wardrobe, and wanted to understand exactly what a capsule wardrobe was. I looked at ways to reach my clients based in the Middle East, the US and London. The internet seemed the quickest way.

So what is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of up to 25 basic pieces that you can combine together to create another 40 to 60 looks. They include investment pieces such as jeans or a jacket, and then you add something to those. It’s your rescue wardrobe. It’s what we call the building blocks. We look at the basic accessories and shoes you need. On top of that, it’s about dressing up and making those outfits look really, really expensive.

What’s the difference between an image consultant and a stylist or personal shopper?
An image consultant will have taken a formal qualification to a benchmark of standards in a set process. They might not necessarily work in the fashion industry – they’re more of a consultant that can give advice on everything from make-up to colours to style. A stylist will look at fashion from a retail perspective and say, ‘I know what’s in the shops and can give you a look that suits your personality’. A personal shopper is someone who makes their living out of structuring someone’s wardrobe to suit their lifestyle for an occasion. An image consultant might cover all of it.

What if there are pieces that are completely missing from the wardrobe?
Ideally I want to make outfits from someone’s existing wardrobe, unless they’ve had a huge lifestyle change, weight loss or weight gain. We like to take key pieces and build around what I call ‘star’ pieces. That might be a jacket you love or those jeans you adore. Most people don’t know how to coordinate a day-to-evening look, or they can dress for evening but they’re not really sure how that translates for them during the day.

How much do the consultancy services cost?
If we come to someone’s home to take the photos, it can cost more than Dhs500 an hour. It depends how big your wardrobe is. If you can take the pictures yourself and you want just one outfit, it’s Dhs350 for one full outfit coordinated online and then Dhs500 per hour for up to five outfits per hour.
For info, call 050 953 2134 or visit www.imagefactoruae.com.

The verdict …

Marissa sizes up Shopping & Style editor Jenny Hewett’s wardrobe to give her a few pointers.

‘Your style is like a young Kate Moss. You love prints – but more geometric prints. You’re a real investment buyer. You’re into pieces with unusual details and hemlines, but you’re not a girly girl. If anything was missing, I’d say a statement necklace or studded leather bracelet. That could bring all your pieces together. If you want to add anything, I’d say you need more colour: red is safe for you. I’d try a bright red tuxedo jacket.’

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