“It’s kind of an art”: Life as a personal shopper

Miriam Robinson is a fashion consultant and personal shopper who helps busy mums and divorced men upgrade their style. She tells us about late-night emails, affordable shopping and how she found her calling.

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Born in Singapore and brought up between London, Bonn, Washington D.C. and Paris, Robinson is the child of a smart German diplomat who “used to wear hot-pink socks with a simple suit or casual wear”, and a stylish Parisienne, whose simple elegance has always inspired her fashion sense – and her career. On the day we meet, she’s oozing classic French chic with her navy wool jacket over a dark-blue knit, understated gold chain necklace and a simple pair of jeans – “It’s all H&M, Uniqlo, & Other Stories!” she laughs.

Robinson moved to Berlin in 2008, after studying fashion at Studio Berçot in the French capital. She worked her way through the Berlin fashion world, starting as an in-house designer at KaDeWe, when they still had their own clothing line, before working as a stylist for the likes of DW or Galeries Lafayettes, and even publishing a book on “Drawing Fashion” (Mode Zeichnen), a skill on show in her illustration work. But her favourite gigs are the private consultations: those one-on-one sessions as a style consultant and personal shopper.

“I get a lot of inquiries in the middle of the night. When the children are asleep and the chores are done.”

For some, shopping for a living might just sound like a dream job, but Robinson’s work actually begins in front of her clients’ closets. “We start with a wardrobe check, where I teach them to use what they have and give them a push to throw out what they don’t need and never wear,” she explains. “It often turns out that their clothes are great, they are only missing very few things, like rolling up a sleeve or undoing a button.” Among her clients are fellow mums (she’s a mother of three), women returning to work or wanting to reinvent themselves and find beauty in their changing bodies.

“I get a lot of inquiries in the middle of the night,” she laughs. “When the children are asleep and the chores are done. Most of them hate shopping with a passion. Some never had a mother or anyone to really go shopping with, so it’s often a very emotional trip.”

Other clients include the shy twenty-something who was gifted her dream makeover for her birthday, divorced men looking for an upgrade on the single market and transgender women in search of their new looks. “I am very lucky with my clients, all lovely people that I totally get along with,” Robinson says. “No snobby, high-end types – it’s not what I am aiming for anyway. I like to send my clients to places that are affordable for them with good basics to choose from.”

Those places include Robinson’s personal favourites like H&M and Uniqlo, or Galeries Lafayette and Kauf Dich Glücklich, for clients after a more boutique look. Berliners can just book Robinson for a three-hour-long wardrobe check for €200, and, if their budget doesn’t allow for a shopping session, she’ll provide a list of pieces she feels are missing. “I want to make people look great without spending a lot of money,” she concludes. “It’s kind of an art.”