Sunday, July 1, 2012

Workin' it with a Personal Shopper

Find someone whose style you admire

I've written before about the benefits of working with a Personal Shopper. Almost every store at any price point has one person or even a team dedicated to the task. The Personal Shopper experience can be a godsend, a problem solver, a confidence booster and an overall step up into the wonderful world of looking fabulous. Imagine someone whose sole purpose is to use her skills to enhance you. Instead of thinking Cinderella (you) and Fairy Godmother (her), consider this a partnership. Like any good working relationship, communication is key. Herewith to remember:

A Personal Shopper is not a fortune teller.
She may predict the future ("You are going to love dancing in this dress") better than she can look into your past to read your fears and foibles. So be honest with her. If you hate to show your arms or never wear brown, tell her. Then be prepared to just try a piece that cleverly bares-yet-covers your arms in a lovely shade of cocoa. Part of the Experience is the just try it part.

Give it time.
Don't run in last minute on your way to the dentist. Even if this is not a full-blown Personal Shopping Appointment, allow a stylist time to work with you— to read you and between the lines. It might fit, but you might not like it. You might like it, but it may not fit. There's a measure of give-and-take even in working with a Personal Shopper, so don't let that long list of chores get in the way.

Be realistic.
You shouldn't expect to emerge fully transformed from one styling session. This is not "What Not to Wear". You will still have your other wardrobe (and attitude therein) to deal with, as well as the new hair and makeup that often accompanies a transformation. Not to mention the ever-important new foundation pieces. You may think you are shopping for a look for just this one special occasion. The results may open up a whole new look at your closet and your style. Even if you're a butterfly already and are using the Personal Shopper in your favorite store to add to your fabulousness, she can't make you ten years younger or ten pounds thinner. She can make you look your very best with the magic of illusion, but the age and/or the weight will still be there. In the case of A) get over it. In the case of B) if they bother you so much... you know what needs doing.

Make an appointment.
Or call ahead if you can. The Personal Shopper may have a standing appointment or stylists may be busy helping other customers when you "drop in". Even a heads up call— "I'll be there in fifteen minutes; can anyone help me?" will allow management to organize floor coverage to welcome you. The more notice you give the more efficient will be your experience— a fitting room set up, items pulled in your size, etc.

Find someone you relate to.
It's worth trying to find someone whose style and/or manner relates to you. The Personal Shopper doesn't have to have gone to high school with you, but if your personalities mesh she may be twenty years your junior or senior. A good PS has the knack of relating to women of any age, but the ultimate connection is the one which makes you feel most comfortable.

Come prepared.
Wear or bring the shoes you will be wearing. Nothing looks good in the socks and athletic shoes you have paired with your workout clothes (which you shouldn't be wearing unless you are truly going to/coming from a workout)(even then why are you shopping??????????). If you are coordinating or finishing an outfit, bring the relevant pieces with you. Foundation pieces. Enough said.

Let's face it— we all have dreamy looks we've cut out of magazines or remembered from movies, celebrities whose style we like, fashion icons we cotton to. If you're more Stevie Knicks than Jackie Kennedy, let your stylist know. And a picture is always worth 1,000 words.

Be adventurous.
Of course you will try on something unexpected. It's practically a mantra that what looks good on a hanger may not look good on you— and vice versa. Just try it, just try it, just try it. 

Spend some moola.
This is not the time to pinch pennies for the sake of being parsimonious. Sometimes the right frock is just NOT on sale at 40% off with an extra 10% using your Macy's card. The right piece will never be a regret, even if it requires a little self-administered psychology to convince yourself. Although it's hard for this inveterate shopper to remember, it really IS better to have fewer pieces you love than a closet-full of ok things purchased because space abhors a vacuum.

If you have a limited budget, let her know what that is. No PS worth her salt is going to "ply" you with luxury goods— the sure way to lose a customer's trust, but if $$ are part of the equation, be upfront about it.

Don't be discouraged.
You may not get the results you expected. You may be more entrenched in the Usual You than you thought. You might need a little time to get used to new looks the Personal Shopper has suggested ("Jeans at my age????). Habits die hard (think habit in its most clothing-centric definition). There may not have been the right pieces in stock the day you visited (which will be as frustrating for the PS as for you). Your shopping session may have produced only one workable piece, but you can build on success. Try again, try again, try again.

Woo her back.
The Personal Shopper will woo you of course. Her job satisfaction and possible remuneration come from a satisfied and repeat customer. But it wouldn't hurt to let her know you enjoyed her services with a thank you or quick drop by to tell her you were, indeed, the belle of the ball. Don't even think of tips or gifts; those are no-nos under the tenents of her employers. But a note or a referral— priceless!

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