If you've been thinking of hiring a personal stylist to take you shopping but you're not exactly sure how it works, and whether it's worth spending your money on, then I hope you'll find this post useful.
You might feel in need of a shopping trip because you've put on weight, your work dress code is going more casual post lockdown or your Zoom tops are getting tatty, but you dread the thought of clothes shopping as you hated it before the pandemic, let alone now.
So I thought I'd go through it step by step in detail. to let you know exactly how it works when you come on a Personal Shopping trip with me and also to let you know what I experienced in the shops after the last lockdown and how we got round any problems.
First up - after you've bought your Personal Shopping session, I'll contact you asking you to fill in a questionnaire and send it back to me with a couple of photos of yourself. I've compiled the questionnaire to give me enough detail to work with you if we've never met, but not so much it overwhelms you (at least I hope not!).
If there are any questions you don't know how to answer (people sometimes struggle with the public figure/celebrity one) just leave them blank and I'll ask you if I feel it's essential, or I might have enough info from the other questions anyway.
If you'd prefer, we can have a chat on the phone and I'll note down the info I need then. With regards to what photos you need to send - I'd like to see a recent full length shot of you and a head and shoulders one in one of your regular outfits (there's no need to wear swimwear or underwear in case you're worried!). It's just so I can get an idea of your overall look, body shape and colouring before the session.
If you'd like to, you can also send me pictures of looks you like from Instagram or Pinterest etc to give me an idea of what you'd like to go for.....but if you don't have a clue, no worries!
We'll agree a mutually convenient date and time to go shopping - if it's difficult for you to get away during the week, I do work in the evenings and at weekends, but just be aware the shops are likely to be busier then. If you want to book in last minute, it's always worth contacting me too, and I'll see if I can fit you in.
The shopping trips are between 4-6 hours - that might sound like a long time to go shopping but believe me, it goes really fast! I'll try and make it as quick as possible but I also want to make sure we get everything on our shopping list and have explored all the options so you make the most of it and don't have to go shopping again for awhile....as I'm sure, if you're like most men I know, you probably don't want to!
We can stop for coffee / lunch if you'd like to or just power through....it's up to you. I understand you might not see it as a fun experience and want to 'make a day of it', but please let me know - I don't want anyone fainting or getting "h-angry" on a shopping trip and making bad decisions!
Before each shopping trip (usually the day before) I go armed with your questionnaire and photos to the shops to suss them out.
If there's specific items you'd like me to find, then I'll check out where we can get them and note them down, plus any other things I see that I think will look good on you and may enhance your wardrobe. If you haven't got anything particular in mind and have given me 'smart/casual' or 'dating outfits' as your brief then that's fine too. I'll create my own wish list for you and make notes, and then once we've met up I can show you what I suggest and we can take it from there. If it takes a slightly different direction to what I'd initially thought, there's room for some flexibility.
I'd suggest a budget of around £2,000 upwards, but if yours is less then I can work with that too. If it's a strict budget you need to stick to, then I'll average out the amount we spend on each item which will give us some guidelines and make sure we stay within it.
Sometimes I use Harvey Nichols personal shopping space if I think they have the right things for you. I can then put by everything in your size in our private room, ready for when we meet. Some people like doing this as they're able to stay in one fitting room (handy whilst we still have some restrictions in place) and try everything on together, and some people prefer to go to different shops and see what's out there.
Once I've finished my recce for you, then I'll let you know where to meet.
4. Shopping day
I usually shop in Central London around Regent Street / Bond Street / Oxford Street / Marylebone area or Knightsbridge / Sloane Square area, but let me know if there's somewhere else you'd prefer and we can discuss.
When we meet up, we'll head straight for the first shop and I'll show you the items I noted down the day before. If you like them (and sometimes even if you don't but I do!), we'll take them to the fitting room for you to try on. If they fit and we both like them, then we can discuss whether they'll be useful, what you can wear them with and if they're different enough from things you already have or a good replacement for something.
Plus, we also need to take into consideration whether they're creating the look that you want to go for. Ideally, we want to go for things that are different to what you'd pick for yourself but not so different that you won't ever wear them.....we're looking for the best, most enhanced version of you. So I want to challenge you a bit to try things you wouldn't have considered, but I won't be forcing you into buying anything you don't feel comfortable in.
Once we've bought a few things that you're happy with then we can start putting outfits together.....we might be able to do this in the first shop or we might need to visit a few before this happens. I'll make notes as we go about what we have and what goes together, and whether we need to get something specific to finish off the look.
We should then end up with a great mix and match wardrobe, which we can create lots of outfits from. If we see something along the way that you're not quite sure about, I'll make a note of it and send you a link afterwards in case you want to revisit it or order it to try at home with some of the things you have.
5. Post lockdown concerns (see below for update)
At this precise moment, I can't let you know exactly how it will be in the shops but I can go through how I found it last time.
Firstly, as I'm sure you're aware, we'll all have to be masked up (although I did take someone shopping last year who couldn't wear a mask and there were no questions asked, so if you're exempt too, it shouldn't be a problem). Every shop has hand sanitiser which they encourage you to use and I'll have some on me too, so we won't be short of that!
Some of the fitting rooms will be open and this is something I'll check whilst doing my recce. If not, a lot of the shops before were allowing you to try on shirts, jackets, knitwear over your own clothes on the shop floor in front of the mirror. I'd advise you wear a t-shirt to make this easier. With shoes, most places were asking you to put on those weird cut off tights / socklet things over your socks - not the most elegant but it's hard buying shoes without trying them on so worth the weirdness!
Last time, if there were shops I thought had specific items we'd like to try - especially trousers - but the fitting rooms were closed, we got round this by buying them and taking them to another store where we could try them, and then just returning what we didn't want. Obviously I'll be checking the refund policy first to make sure there won't be any issues but in the majority of places I'm sure this will be fine.
Thankfully before, I encountered very few queues, so hopefully it'll be the same this time round. It's possible now the vaccine has been rolled out, that more fitting rooms will be open and things will be more relaxed - I'll update this post after I've done a couple of shopping trips to let you know.
**** Update 19th April 2021
Things seem to be a lot less restricted this time and in all the shops I went into the fitting rooms were open.
We tried shoes in a couple of places and the socklet things have disappeared!
We also didn't encounter any queues (during the week at least). The only places I saw queues for were Nike, Footlocker and the Apple store.
6. Post shopping trip
As I mentioned, I like to shop with people so they have a range of items that work together, so as we go along I'll be checking what works well with what, so afterwards I can put together a list of outfits for you. I usually do this in a written format, but if you'd like it in image form then let me know and I can do so for a small extra charge.
If you'd like me to come to your house and put together outfits from the new items you bought, plus mix them in with what you already own, then we can book in a Wardrobe Edit, and spend the time photographing all the combinations so you have a visual record to refer to.
My past clients have particularly liked the outfitting aspect of the shopping trips, so they know exactly what they can put together and if they forget a few months later (or years in some cases!) they have the list to refresh their memory.
Afterwards, I'll also send over the links to anything we saw but you couldn't quite decide on and might want to mull over and buy later on. Also if there are any other outfits that needed finishing off, I'll make some suggestions, and I'll send over anything else useful that we may have discussed.
A lot of the shops offer an alterations service but if we haven't managed to get those done and if we have time during the shopping trip, we can take things to an alterations tailor I use on Tottenham Court Road. Otherwise I can send you his details and you can visit when you have more time. It's best to go in for a fitting but if you don't have time to pick up the things afterwards, he'll send them to you.
I do hope that's helped to explain in detail how a shopping trip works and what things might look like once the shops open again on April 12th.
If you like the sound of it and you'd like to book in, you can do so directly by pressing the button below or if you have a few more questions first then email me (Sarah) on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07739 469088 and I'll be happy to answer them for you.
And if you're still not sure, this is what one client said about his shopping trip!
"Sarah was well prepared and had researched well before we met. She had a plan right from the start and was full of enthusiasm and ideas for the next 6 hours! We worked through her list and had found all that we had set out for by the end of the day. Her confidence and rapport with the sales staff eased all the usual tension from the clothes shopping experience and all I had to do was try on clothes. Sarah even managed to secure a couple of discounts for me.
The day after the shop, Sarah sent me a comprehensive document listing the various 'outfits' suggesting the various sensible combinations from the items I had bought. The number of different combinations testament to the thought and care taken when selecting individual items to ensure a cohesive and flexible wardrobe.
Here are a few other things you might like to read for a bit more info:
Personal Shopping trips post lockdown (the first one!)