Save time and effort with a personal shopper

I’m not someone who enjoys spending time shopping for clothes. When I need to update, enhance, or replace items in my wardrobe, I write the information down on a list that I keep on my computer. Then, usually twice a year, I will go shopping to collect the items I need from my list.

In every sense, I am a utilitarian shopper.

One of the frustrating things about being a utilitarian shopper, however, is that fashion trends and my list usually don’t mesh well together. Styles, cuts, and colors change from season to season, and I don’t keep up on these things so it takes me days to find matches for my list.

Recently, I discovered that I can greatly improve my shopping experience with the help of a store’s personal shopper. In every case I have encountered, the service has been free. And, in all but one case, when I offered the shopper a tip, the shopper refused to take it. Free help is my kind of help!

Here’s how it works: You put together a list of what you’re looking for and take your measurements. Then, call your favorite department store and ask to speak to a personal shopper. The shopper will ask you basic questions about your life and your price range, and then you give him or her your list and measurements. You’ll also set an appointment for when you will come in to meet with the personal shopper. At your scheduled time, you arrive and the personal shopper will have clothes already pulled for you that you can try on and see if you like. You have no obligation to buy any of the clothes, and the shopper sticks around while you’re trying on items to see if you need different sizes or different cuts. Usually, at least some of the pieces work, and you’re out the door and on your way home in half the time of a normal shopping experience.

I’ve even tried this process in shops that don’t officially have personal shoppers. When a clerk in the store asks if he or she can help me, I whip out my list and discuss what I’m looking to buy. Nine times out of 10, the clerk will ask you about your size and then go and find some pieces for you. I’ve even had clerks tell me to go ahead and make my way to the fitting room and they brought the items to me. The clerks know their merchandise and find items much more quickly then someone coming into the store.

I also feel that I dress a little more hip now than I used to. The personal shoppers and clerks know the latest trends much better than I do, and they always seem to find things that flatter my body better than I find when I’m left to search a store on my own. For a utilitarian shopper like myself, a personal shopper saves me time and energy when I need new pieces for my wardrobe.

And, it should go without saying, but only use these services when you need to replace or improve your wardrobe. I like to follow the one-in-one-out philosophy with clothes: If I bring something new into my wardrobe, at least one old piece in my current collection has to go to charity or the rag bag.

30 Comments for “Save time and effort with a personal shopper”

  1. posted by izzy on

    I’ve never heard of this! I probably need this more than I think, since “utilitarian shopper” would describe me quite well :) I’m going to have to give this a try.

  2. posted by Scarlett De Bease on

    As a Personal Shoper and Image Cnsultant, I could not agree with you more about the time saving and convenience of using a Personal Shopper. The true advantage of hiring a professional, as opposed to using the free service of the store, is that we are trained to select pieces that work on your body, with your coloring and your own distinct personality and lifestyle. When working with a professional stylist, you end up saving money and space, as you only have what truly looks good on you, and will not be another item in the closet with the price tag still attached. I also help my clients look stylish without looking foolish. My motto is to wear a trend when it works on you, but never let a trend wear you!

  3. posted by Jack on

    I would argue that dressing “trendy” or “hip” does not fit with an uncluttered lifestyle. To truly be uncluttered one would wear timeless or classic clothing that would not go out of style.

  4. posted by Minimalist Me on

    Clothes are clutter.

    Extreme Minimalist ain’t got nothin’ on me.

    Come to think about it, neither do I.

  5. posted by Andy on

    I’d say that a well-crafted stylish wardrobe of things that one actually *wants* to wear is better than add things in dribs and drabs to one’s wardrobe – none of it works together properly and it winds up getting out of control. Or, to look at it another way – having to pay a certain level of attention to your appearance may be a necessary expenditure; keeping the process efficient and uncluttered like this can’t be a bad thing.

    Are the shoppers ever on commission?

  6. posted by Red on

    I am horrible about dressing myself in a way that, as my mother would say, is “presentable”. So the last few times I’ve walked into a large, higher-end department store, and when approached by a clerk essentially said “dress me”. The last time I did this I told the woman that I had started a new job that needed me to dress more business-like and I needed to put together enough inter-changeable pieces to have 3-4 days of outfits including shoes. Told her I had $500 to spend. Two hours later she had me set up with everything I needed, including shoes, hose, socks, etc and we came within $25 of my budget. It was the easiest shopping I have ever done. I highly recommend doing this – pulling on the strengths of others instead of me trying to do it alone wasting time, money, and resources.

  7. posted by Susan on

    If you are looking for a replacement for that dressy black turtleneck you bought 4 years ago and you can’t find one in the mall, go to a consignment shop or thrift store like Goodwill, salvation Army, etc., and you will most likely find the “out of style” item you are searching for.

  8. posted by Tabitha (From Single to Married) on

    It’s a great idea, especially the part about getting advice on what’s current. I just wonder if I would be able to walk out with less than I intended to buy? I sometimes give in to the feeling that they’ve done all this hard work so now I have to buy all the items, even if it’s past my budget. Of course that’s just me… :)

  9. posted by Sian on

    By all means ask the store clerk-my boyfriend’s one and he’s always happy to help! It never would’ve occured to me to ask them but he says he gets asked frequently (this is in the men’s dept though-I imagine there’s more clueless men who ask his advice). He really enjoys doing it as it makes his mundane job more interesting.

    As for the trends point that some people have made; when it comes to having an uncluttered wardrobe it often works out that you wear your clothes more so they wear out faster. Although buying long-lasting clothes helps (and is probably an important part of uncluttered shopping) most ‘trends’ actually last 3 or 4 years-look at straight-legged (or skinny if you’re braver) jeans. I’ve had my pair for four years and just as they’re heading towards going out of fashion they’ve finally worn out completely on me and have been consigned to my allotment wear. Uncluttered and trends can work together.

  10. posted by April E on

    Straight-legged jeans are on their way out? Holy cow.

  11. posted by Jason on

    Which stores have an “official” personal shopper position? The only one I know of is Nordstrom and they seem pricey.

  12. posted by Meghan on

    Being uncluttered and hip are not mutually exclusive.

    P.S. All clothes go out of style eventually.

  13. posted by Kate on

    Meghan — my thoughts exactly! Even though I want my closet to be uncluttered, doesn’t mean I can’t wear clothes that reflect my personal “non-classic” style!

  14. posted by Peregrin on

    I’m tempted to try this (after I have baby #4 next April), but I worry that I won’t like anything they would choose for me! I’m rather picky, not to mention kinda hard to fit, and I have a really hard time finding anything I like in stores like Penney’s, Sears, or even Macy’s/von Maur.

  15. posted by Sue on

    It’s possible to be current, even trendy, and not be cluttered. The key is to edit and purge often, and store what you have in a way that’s efficient and tidy.

    I’d argue that just about everything goes out of style eventually. The cuts change. For example, if I were to try to wear a classic black turtleneck from the 80s it would look dated today.

  16. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    I have to agree with @Kate and @Sue, being uncluttered doesn’t mean looking unhip. The two don’t have much of anything to do with each other. I tend to dress plainly, but I still want clothes that are well tailored and good quality and reflect my personal style. If something in my wardrobe is damaged or ill-fitting, then I’m going to replace it. Living without clutter has very little to do with the clothes I choose to wear.

  17. posted by C on

    I, too, would be interested in knowing which stores offer this. Anyone know?

  18. posted by Pamela on

    @C: Nordstrom’s, Saks, I even think Bloomingdales. Usually on staff at the nicer stores– just ask. Keep in mind that they don’t just shop the expensive stuff– they will shop the sales rack for you too, and can even give you advance notice when things are going to be marked down. So if it’s within your budget to shop the sale rack in one of these stores, you can definitely use a personal shopper there.

  19. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Jason and @C — It may depend on where you are in the country, but where I live in the DC area, all the department stores I’ve ever called have them: Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Nordstroms, etc. If your favorite store doesn’t have one, just go in and ask a sales associate to help you. Only twice have I had a sales associate dismiss me.

  20. posted by Pixie on

    I loathe clothes shopping, so I also do it once a year. I go to one of the two snobby malls in Scottsdale, and generally end up at the same three stores.

    Walk in, find bubbly sales girl, tell her I have 1/3 of X dollars (ie: if i’m going to spend 600 total at 3 stores, i tell the person i have $200) and need 2 or 3 outfits i can mix/match.

    Next store, same deal, but I’ll whip out what I bought next door and say “and it needs to work with these”.

    They’re always willing to help, and love that you’re there to spend a chunk of money, rather than just get one thing.

    However, I do NOT throw away clothes when I get home. My sizes fluctuate, so I’ll only toss or get rid of clothes that just don’t suit me/were leftover from highschool. And you never know when you’ll gain or lose weight, so a lot of it gets kept for future.

  21. posted by MM on

    Do they do this for men as well?

  22. posted by Tara on

    I have experienced style-coaching from a personal style coach, and it made a big difference to my approach to buying clothes and over half my wardrobe went to the charity shop or friends. It has made the whole shopping experience easier. Now I know what suits me in colour and shape I’m more confident about buying and I don’t end up with things in the wardrobe that I hardly or never wear. Also I am still wearing many of the things I bought at the time – 3 years ago.

  23. posted by Denise on

    I’ve become more “utilitarian” in my dressing as I get older. I think a person can be really fashionable and uncluttered and it’s probably makes for the most creative designs. I’ve also used sales people a lot for shopping, asking their opinion and putting together outfits, because I’m usually in a hurry and really don’t enjoy clothes shopping for me.

    For me, though, as I’ve grown older life has become less about “me” physically. Like I don’t really care if people look at me and think I look great but I don’t really want to look bad either. It’s difficult to keep that balance between paying for haircuts and clothes for me, or buying a new computer or yarn, or buying toys and video games for my son. (All neatly organized.) Somehow spending money on me always comes last with what is leftover (not much).

  24. posted by JustMinn on

    Where the hell do I get that job. I love to shop, it is not about the buying stuff it is about the hunt for the stuff and the successful purchase at the best price possible. I would actually like my job. pity.

  25. posted by AW on

    I don’t know what stores offer this, but let me tell you this works. I’m not a big shopper nor am I really into clothes. But, I needed to buy an outfit for a wedding I was attending. I went into a small boutique in my neighborhood and basically said “help”. Before I knew it, the shop girls placed 15 dresses and several top/skirt combinations in a dressing room. They picked out great items that I wouldn’t have even noticed. I ended up with a great dress that received tons of complements. I will definitely do this again.

  26. posted by Moxie on

    I’ve found that the clerks at Ann Taylor Loft (and probably regular Ann Taylor) are *extremely* helpful! They do know their merchandise well. Not only have they helped me not only put together some great outfits, they’ve helped me focus on the right size and cut for my body shape.

    While they aren’t technically “personal shoppers”, they have always been glad to help put together outfits and also help me evaluate the options in the fitting room when I try them on.

  27. posted by Stylist on

    nice post, thanks for sharing!

  28. posted by Courtney on

    I think “classic” clothes are good. They’re usually inexpensive, conservatively cut, go anywhere, blend well with others, and never go out of style.

  29. posted by Danielle on

    Loehmanns has personal shoppers, too! For men and women for every bugdet.
    I work at a store in down town San Francisco, and I helped a young woman pick out an outfit this weekend that suited her style and body type. She could not BELIEVE how young I was. She asked me several times how long I had worked there because she had never had an experience like that where someone fit the clothes to her body, and gave her sizes that looked perfect on her.
    That made me feel like I’m doing my job right!!! (But I know I am because my clients always look awesome!)
    So, I suppose I’m a personal shopper, too.

  30. posted by Anita on

    I’m one of the (apparently few) people who have trouble comprehending the utilitarian shopping method. I like dressing well, and having many different types and styles of clothes to suit my taste on any day. That being said, I also have my distinct style and adapt trends as I see fit. To me, shopping for clothes is a way of expanding the range of my wardrobe, not just replacing what’s worn out.

    Even so, one thing I despise buying is dress pants; especially when I have to go through 14 pairs of virtually identical black dress pants to find one pair that fits properly and looks decent. For that, I wouldn’t mind a personal shopper, if they had one at any of the stores I like. But… they don’t. Sigh.

    Also: as long as you manage your wardrobe well, keep it in good condition, purge frequently and organize it in a way that makes sense to you, trendiness and clutter have nothing to do with one another. If your definition of uncluttering means reducing your wardrobe to neutral, timeless pieces, so be it. But to me, that would make wearing clothes deeply, deeply boring.

Comments are closed.