What on earth do you wear when you are about to meet Israel’s style and fashion
gurus, Sherri Goldsmith and Sarah Freund, who established their business,
Individual Style, a year ago? I must have changed outfits 10 times until I
settled on something I considered stylish enough to meet Israel’s answer to
Trinny and Susannah. They were suitably impressed and told me I looked really
nice, so all the effort was not in vain.
While we have seen the British
version ad nauseam on our local TV screens, with the two plummy-voiced ladies
telling fat kibbutzniks how to dress, Goldsmith and Freund offer a different
version. They are both young women originally from New York who joined forces a
little over a year ago to help the hapless Israeli woman who doesn’t know a
Vogue from a varenike improve the way she looks.
They will come into your
home, delve into your wardrobe and tell you what you may keep and what must go.
They will question you on your lifestyle and determine your sartorial needs;
they will take you shopping and steer you discreetly away from the unsuitable;
they will show you how to enliven an outfit with a well-chosen accessory or a
daring addition you would never have thought of alone.
“Everyone has the
potential to look better,” they say. That’s why their logo and website title is
“You, only better.”
“We show you what’s going to work for you,” says
Sarah Freund is a 42-year-old mother of five who made aliya 17
years ago. Sherri Goldsmith is 44, has four children and arrived here in August
2007. They met through the welcoming Ra’anana community and soon found they both
had a passion for clothes and style. What began as a mutual expression of
admiration for what the other was wearing quickly developed into the idea of
starting a business together.
Goldsmith always adored clothes and at a
tender age was devouring her mother’s fashion magazines. She studied at the
Fashion Institute of Technology and majored in fashion buying and merchandising.
Before aliya she worked in an upscale women’s designer store.
her background is more informal. She says she grew up loving to shop and dress
and would always help friends who needed something special.
became a passion,” she says.
Even the untutored eye one can see they have
different approaches to style, but they insist they complement each other.
Goldsmith is the creative one who likes putting things together and bringing out
the unexpected, and she says that Freund is great at organizing and getting
Freund says she likes to put the basics together, and
Goldsmith will come along and make it more interesting.
“We do have
different personal styles,” says Freund. “I go for the more classic and
clean lines, while Sherri is more edgy and funky.”
So what can you expect
if you invite Individual Style into your home with the ultimate aim of making
you look better, every woman’s dream?
“First we sit down with you and talk about
your lifestyle and what your wardrobe needs are,” they say. “Perhaps you
travel a lot abroad, like to entertain, go out to the theater and opera in the
evenings. Or you work in an office and have small children at home. Or you are a
doctor and you want to look good but you haven’t got the time because you are
saving lives, which is more important. We simplify someone’s life and leave them
time to be doing other things that they would rather be
Practically, they go through every item in your closet and make
three piles. The first is a “keep” pile, the second a “give away” pile and the
third is a “sentimental” pile – things that will never be worn again but that
you can’t bear to part with.
They do not impose any set rules such as
disposing of something that has not been worn in the past two or three
“Sometimes there might be an item that has not been worn because
the person doesn’t know how to wear it correctly, so we show her how,” they
Goldsmith gives an example of a vintage leather jacket from high
school that has been loitering in the closet for 15 years and is too expensive
“We breathe new life into it and show how it can be worn
with a full skirt and boots or something equally unexpected,” she
They reject rules in principle – anything goes according to
Says Freund, “In the US there’s a rule that you don’t
wear white after Labor Day, for instance. Here there are no rules. Yes, you can
wear a jacket with sandals or shorts with boots, you just have to have the
confidence to get away with it, and we [can] give [you] that.”
have a keep pile they go through every item again.
“Everything needs to
fit and if it doesn’t we have things altered,” they say.
advise keeping things that are tight in the hope one might slim into them,
although they consider that one item such as a pair of too-snug pants can be
kept as a goal and instrument of measure.
“Ultimately it’s depressing
when things are too tight, and you feel bad about yourself,” they
say. “Everything should be wearable.”
They are also against
overweight women who hide behind big clothes and only ever wear
“When you cover up in big clothes, you look fatter,” they
You can hide the fat in a different way – wearing a longer skirt or
distracting the eye with a touch of color. And yes, you don’t have to be
stick-thin to be elegant.
“I love fashion,” says Freund, “but the more
involved in it I get, the more I understand that the magazines just make us feel
bad by showing such thin models. Even the models aren’t really that skinny,
they’ve been air-brushed. Once you realize you are striving for something that’s
impossible, you will feel less of a sense of external pressure.”
“Yes, it has been known to happen,” says Goldsmith. “If we
are with a client and I will pull something out and say she must get rid of
this, Sarah will look and say ‘wait a minute, that’s a great piece.’ I say ‘sell
it to me,’ and if she does, I can change my mind. There are no egos
involved,” she says “and most times we agree.”
A first encounter can last
three to four hours and the cost is NIS 400 an hour.
“It’s an outlay, but
in the end we save [you] money,” they say. “We give guidelines and a formula so
the client will stop buying the same wrong things over and over again. She will
go to the store and be more focused in the future.”
They point out that
they are available for occasion shopping and have helped out with panicking
mothers who have a wedding or bar mitzva to dress up for and have no idea where
They can also be a popular and way-out gift for the woman who
has everything. They also do makeovers for charity performances, and anyone who
saw how they transformed singer Sandy Cash last year in Beit Shemesh will be
left with no doubt about their talents.
“Fashion is like a cake,” they
say. “And how you dress it up becomes the frosting.”