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Q: I've just been promoted, which means it's time to move beyond my standard shirt-and-khakis combo, but I don't know the first thing about fashion.

A: After a day with a personal shopper, you'll accept the executive-washroom key with pride. These image consultants can tune your style up a notch without doing anything so drastic that your dog won't recognize you.

In order to help shape your outer appearance to your best advantage, personal shoppers need to know your personality. Industry vet Emily Cho (212-289-7807) sees herself as a kind of therapist. She'll meet you in your closet, notepad in hand. "Then," she says, "everything comes out. Your clothes tell the story of your life." One intense shopping session later, your look will be drop-dead chic and foolproof, thanks to the list of outfit combinations Cho tacks up in each client's closet.

Betty Halbreich (at Bergdorf Goodman; 212-753-7300) doesn't have the platinum-card attitude you'd expect from someone who's dressed Candice Bergen and Meryl Streep. "I can do your whole wardrobe off the markdown rack," she boasts. You won't end up with a closet full of castoffs -- it's just that she's more concerned with fit and fabric than with labels.

Mona Reilly at Paul Stuart (212-682-0320) has turned many clueless men into savvy shoppers during her seven years at the store. Spread collar or straight? Pinstripes or checks? "Just ask," she says. "I love shopping with men. They're so open to my suggestions."


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