Personal Stylist Anna Berkeley reveals the key to looking great.
Many years of working as a buyer for Prada, Reiss and Selfridges have shown Anna Berkeley exactly what it takes to create a wardrobe that really works. Armed with a wealth of industry experience, she recently decided to focus on developing her own personal styling agency, with the aim of helping people of all shapes and sizes to shop smarter and build confidence.
Anna has used the knowledge she’s gained to develop her unique (and highly commended) Body Mapping service which has been devised to help women understand why their natural body proportions should always act as the starting point for any successful re-style. In recent months, the popularity of this discreet, highly successful process has resulted in Anna being featured in numerous national newspapers and well-known women’s publications. We spoke to Anna about why she loves building her own business and asked if she’d be generous enough to share a few of her personal styling secrets too.
How did you first get started in the fashion industry?
I started my career as a buyer for some of the fashion industry heavyweights and absolutely loved it. My roles involved watching the shows, balancing huge budgets and travelling all over the world. I’ve always believed that the work I do relies such a lot on instinct, and even though I’ve been doing it for years, I’ve never lost the excitement I feel when I spot something really special. These days, running my own business, it’s a very similar process, but now I’m buying for clients rather than a brand or department store.
Why do so many women struggle to wear clothing that makes the best of their bodies? Why does it feel so easy to get stuck in a style rut?
There is so much choice now, but even so, it’s still very easy to get stuck in a rut. Most women are so time poor that years can go by wearing the same clothes and then suddenly there’s a lifestyle change and you realise you actually hate the way you look. I think so many women either don’t understand the reality of their own body shape, and really, that’s the first stumbling block. Once a client knows that, we’re able to decipher what works for them, and then it’s just a case of knowing which brands to look at.
As we get older it seems like the waistline becomes a zone of unpredictability. How can women stylishly disguise a changing body shape?
We get straighter and lose our waist as we age, so the key is to know your proportions and then work out where to focus your attention. If you have no waist, then there’s no point drawing attention to it! My mapping service shows you what areas to highlight and what to disguise. I measure all your key proportions - leg length versus torso, shoulders to hips etc and then once we have these, I can arm you with the information to shop with, so you can look your best no matter what. No more expensive mistakes!
We’re often told by the fashion press that we should invest in quality over quantity. What parts of our wardrobe are worth spending the most money on?
The golden rule is to always spend more on tailoring. Jackets, smart trousers and coats are absolutely worth investing in, it’s really worth it. Winter clothes take a bigger hit in our climate (normally) so it’s worth considering buying expensive cashmere or luxurious cashmere/wool blends in the sales. Look after these items and they’ll last you for years and years.
How crucial is a great handbag?
They’re essential – imagine how a great bag can round-off your everyday look. I would always advise clients that it’s important to have something in a neutral tone, and then explore colour in a smaller way (maybe with a clutch or something similar) to have some fun. Bags should always match your frame size (small, medium or large). I can help with this in my Body Mapping sessions, where I make a life-size map of the body, measure all the key proportions, lengths and ratios and then tell you how to look your best. You can only dress well if you understand your proportions. The eye wants to see symmetry and balance.
What are your thoughts on 'capsule wardrobes'? Should we believe that creating a ‘uniform’ is the answer to less stress in the mornings?
I love a uniform if that works for you. It depends on individual style and how you want to look. Less is definitely more. We all need to be thinking more sustainably, spending more on better pieces. Capsules can work for certain women, but if you want choice then it’s not for you. Be strict with yourself – apply a one in, one out policy and understand that the less you have, the easier it is to get dressed.
What's the best approach to dressing stylishly as we age?
So many women worry about looking ‘age appropriate’, but what you should be doing is dressing in a way that suits you, and makes you feel good. If that means miniskirts because you have fantastic legs, then throw away the rule book and wear them – even if you’re 80. I have so many clients that bemoan the fact they didn’t show off good arms before they turned crêpey. Seriously, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!