Shopping & Style

Scene & Heard: Adventures of a Personal Shopper

Kellie Burns dishes with Saks Fifth Avenue's Victoria Black on her role as the go-to personal shopper in Lee County.

BY July 1, 2013

Call Victoria Black a personal shopper-plus as she goes about her business at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Bell Tower shops. Yes, she outfits her clients with the latest styles that suit them best. But beyond that, with her signature bubbly personality, Victoria has created a kind of salon within the store. One minute, she’s creating a charity fashion show or other fundraiser at Saks; the next minute, she’s got girlfriends gathered there for some good old-fashioned bonding. These good times started or her at the store six years ago. Her husband had retired from his orthodontist practice in Richmond, Va., and she decided that while staying home was good for him here in Southwest Florida, going to work was right for her (good strategy, girl)

I sat down with this mother of two grown daughters for a little dishing on the scene here—everything from fashion faux pas to the antics she sees in the dressing rooms. She was getting ready for a trip to Miami the next day to help a client celebrate her birthday with visits to a few custom fashion houses and the Saks store there. That’s signature Victoria—going the extra mile in personal service. Below, she goes the extra mile in talking about fashion and our local fashionistas.

Raimonda Childress, Tadashi Shoji Creative Director Leon Talbot and Black at Saks Fifth Avenue.

What should every woman have in her closet?
    A well-made, tailored black suit and a good-quality leather jacket. The suit is the one thing you can pull out of your closet at any time, and feel dressed up and elegant. The leather jacket can change up any outfit, whether you wear it with a pair of jeans or throw it over a sparkly cocktail dress.

Hottest fashion trend?
    Super-saturated color. Whether it’s bright patent-leather shoes, a belt or bag, every woman should accent her neutrals with a bold, bright accessory. (But just one or two. Don’t overdo).

Biggest fashion mistake?
    Too many animal prints. Tacky. Skinny jeans on older woman (age-inappropriate dressing). Nothing is worse than seeing low-cut jeans with a woman’s muffin top spilling over. And the tight legs and ankles just accentuate a larger rear-end. Spanx should be in every woman’s wardrobe.

Most embarrassing moment?
    Walking in on a husband and wife in the dressing room, while she was dancing for her husband in the outfits I had set up for her to try on. I quietly shut the door and waited outside.

Best piece of your wardrobe to do “on the cheap”?
    Scarves, for men and women. Everyone should have a bunch of different-colored, different-textured scarves in their repertoire. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. They come in handy when the air conditioning makes you cold or if it starts to sprinkle and you forgot your umbrella. It changes your look in an instant, giving your neutrals a pop of color.

Why are you so active with local charities?
    My clients are very philanthropic, usually board or committee members for many local nonprofits and galas. Any time you expect loyalty from your clients, you need to give it. They support me, so I support them.

Something people might not know about your job?
    It requires a lot of psychology. Many times women come in looking for a confidant, a soul sister, someone to listen to their insecurities about their bodies and their taste. I often have to get inside their heads to figure out what they can wear on the outside that will make them feel good on the inside.

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