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As the fast-paced world of fashion grows more complex, some people have a tough time keeping up. Trends may come and go, but, as stylist and personal shopper Aricia Symes-Elmer tells us, it’s not always about the trend—it’s about a combination of feeling good and looking great.

Since 2008, Symes-Elmer, owner of the personal shopping and styling company Shift Your Style in Andover, has helped clients of all ages, shapes, and sizes revamp their closets to build practical, stylish wardrobes. The aim, she says, is to leave her customers feeling confident by wearing what looks great on their bodies.

To determine what fits and feels the best, Symes-Elmer always starts a new project by getting to know the client, his or her closet, lifestyle, body type, and the clothes he or she likes. Then, it’s time to get shopping. If necessary, Symes-Elmer will shop for a client and find the best-fitting styles out there. Depending on a client’s budget, she can integrate different clothing items without breaking the bank or even setting foot in a store.

“I don’t care what size or shape you are, how tall or old you are; you can look fantastic,” she says. “When I see women who haven’t bothered for a while, and I put them in a blouse, a dress, or a pair of jeans that looks great and I see their faces light up…[I think] ‘Explain to me why you wouldn’t just wear these jeans every day.’”

Symes-Elmer also works with shoppers at Northshore Mall in Peabody. In an initial briefing, she and her clients work together to determine a budget and shopping list. They then take to the mall to tackle the racks while keeping smart spending in mind.

Although Symes-Elmer started her fashion career in shoes and spent years traveling to Asia and Europe for her work in operations and manufacturing, fashion is where she knew she’d end up. It’s in her current line of work that the sartorial wonder woman and mom of three boys has been helping people realize that, no matter what, they can look and feel great.

“There are so many people who struggle with getting dressed,” she says. “For me, it’s creative, fun, and easy. I wanted to share that ability with people, but to also teach them how to do it themselves.”



Symes-Elmer’s ten essentials for a mid-season getaway.

1. A scarf to use as a pillow on the plane, tie your hair, add pop to an outfit, and wear as a wrap.

2. An extra top in your carry-on in case of spills.

3. Simple dresses: with bling and heels for night, or flats for a stroll.

4. A patent leather oversized bag that looks great and cleans with a quick wipe.

5. Layers! They give you lots of options.

6. Pack neutrals and complementary colors with pieces that pop.

7. Accessories that go from day to night.

8. A pair of flats and heels.

9. A metallic belt.

10. Go with your favorites. It’s fun to think you’ll wear those  “special” items that have been dormant in your closet, but stick with what you know best.