The frosting on the cake

Give the founders of Individual Style access to your wardrobe and they will offer fashion advice and bring out your potential.

SHERRI GOLDSMITH (right) and Sarah Freund (photo credit: GLORIA DEUTSCH)
SHERRI GOLDSMITH (right) and Sarah Freund
(photo credit: GLORIA DEUTSCH)
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 Goldsmith.
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.
Freund says her background is more informal. She says she grew up loving to shop and dress and would always help friends who needed something special.
“My hobby 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 things done.
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 doing.”
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 years.
“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 say.
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 to jettison.
“We breathe new life into it and show how it can be worn with a full skirt and boots or something equally unexpected,” she says.
They reject rules in principle – anything goes according to Individual Style.
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.”
Once they 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.
They don’t 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 black.
“When you cover up in big clothes, you look fatter,” they say.
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.”
Do they ever disagree?
“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 to begin.
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.”