Fashion might not be the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Boston, but Kathy Benharris wants to change that.
The 52-year-old is the personal shopper of Copley Place, where Benharris says dozens of high fashion designers such as Versace, Chanel, and Burberry can be found. You just have to look.
Part of Benharris’s job is to help customers navigate this haute couture mecca.
Though she’s paid to help people find a style that suits them for various occasions — whether it’s a new job, fancy party, or a wedding — her taste leans toward luxe. Among Benharris’s favorite shops to take clients are Neiman Marcus, where a pair of Valentino ‘crackled’ leather booties cost $995, and L.K. Bennett, the sophisticated womenswear chain favored by Princess Kate Middleton.
If opulence isn’t in your budget, Benharris said she also enjoys mixing in pieces from more affordable stores like J. Crew, because unlike many personal shoppers who work for a certain brand or store, Benharris is free to take her clients all over the mall. She’s not compensated on what the mall sells, but the customer service she provides.
Ultimately, Benharris said she just wants her clients to feel confident in whatever outfit they choose.
“There’s nothing worse than going somewhere and feeling like you don’t look as good as you should have,” Benharris said. She likes when customers try on something they normally wouldn’t choose for themselves, and step out of the dressing room “with their shoulders back,” she said.
Sometimes Benharris has just a single phone call from which to glean as many details as possible about her client.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as asking them which “Sex and the City” character they are, or who their fashion hero is, and who isn’t,” Benharris said, listing off her fashion icons as Helen Mirren, Robyn Wright, and Sofia Vergara.
In addition to her current job, the Rhode Island native also styles and produces fashion events in New York and Boston, including a recent fashion show sponsored by the Boston Bruins that supported The Boston Bruins Foundation and the Friends of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Benharris also occasionally styles individual brands and designers, international charities, and retail stores, but loves that her job at Copley Place lets her interact with real people who probably don’t look like models.
Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye.
“I guess I would kind of love to continue to work with people because I often feel like we’re starting something,” Benharris said. “This job is not hard because I love doing it. There’s no pressure, I’m just connecting them with the best options here. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what else is in their closet that I could help with.”