I love window-shopping. I don’t mean that I spend my weekends browsing double-glazing. I love wandering around shops and looking at things that I would like to buy: books, cds, homeware, toiletries, handbags, shoes and accessories and making the occasional purchase.
But not clothes. I hate going shopping for clothes.
It’s ok if I’m not looking for anything in particular: if I see something that I like and it fits great, if not, no problem. But when it comes to shopping for clothes that I need, I dread it.
I hate being in the changing room, under the horrible fluorescent lights that make your skin look terrible, trying to find something that will a) fit, b) do something to hide my lumpy bits and c) look somewhat fashionable. I usually find that anything that does fit is unflattering and anything that has the possibility to flatter they don’t have in my size.
Several shopping trips for interview or wedding outfits and the like have left me in a foul mood, close to (and in some cases, in) tears and with nothing to show for it except for a shopping companion who cannot do or say anything to lift me out of my pit of despair. That sounds a tad melodramatic reading it back, but it’s honestly how I feel.
During the Christmas holidays, I realised that I’d got less than a week until starting a new job and that my work-wardrobe was in dire need of an update. Add in to the mix the fact that prior to Christmas my weight had crept up somewhat even before any mince pies or Celebrations had passed my lips, and you can probably imagine my state of panic.
I had two options:
- Brace myself and face the madness of the
JumbleJanuary Sales with someone sympathetic; or
- Stick to my old stuff.
So what did I do? I actually chose secret option number 3: I booked a session with a personal shopper.
I hadn’t used a personal shopper before but I had booked a session with one for my mum to help her choose an outfit for my wedding 18 months ago. It was a really positive experience and I knew from booking it that they also offered the service for updating your ‘work-wardrobe’. So I booked an appointment and off I went. I dragged my mum along as I always find a second opinion to be useful when purchasing important outfits and I know I can rely on my mum to be brutally honest about how I look.
As is our habit, we arrived about 20 minutes early for my appointment and we spent some time having a quick browse as I also wanted to buy a new pair of jeans. Although I picked up a pair of jeans that looked promising, nothing stood out in terms of work-wear and I thought that I was likely to spend the next hour and a half trying on things that looked far too old and conservative before making my excuses about not buying anything.
Luckily, I was wrong. After a chat about my job, dislike of my big hips and the kind of clothes I feel comfortable/uncomfortable in, the lovely personal shopper, Stacey, went off to find me a load of clothes leaving me and mum to relax in our own personal changing room. When she came back with a rail full of clothes, my heart sank. I didn’t like the look of anything. There were a few pairs of trousers on the rail though so I thought that I might at least find one pair that fit and were kind to my shape.
Then I started to try things on and was pleasantly surprised: I loved loads of the blouses she had chosen and all the trousers not only fit but also looked fab. I was spoiled for choice! I ended up coming away with 3 pairs of trousers, 3 blouses, a pair of shoes (which she nipped back out to get for me to demonstrate what kind of shoe to wear with the ankle-skimmer trousers she’d picked out – I really am pretty clueless when it comes to these things!), two bras (which she fitted me for after it became apparent I had no clue what my actual bra size was – more about that soon) and a pair of jeans (not the first ones I picked as they were too short but another pair that Stacey suggested would flatter my shape and dutifully went to get for me).
So, far from ending the day distraught and clothes-less, I ended the day feeling good about myself and looking forward to wearing my new clothes. I was also excited to have some new styles and colours in my wardrobe that I never would have thought to put together.
In short, I’d recommend anyone book an appointment with a personal shopper if they’re looking for an outfit for a special occasion or a wardrobe update. Mine was booked through Debenhams and was free. When we booked my mum’s we thought there would probably be a bit of a hard sell as it was a free service but this wasn’t the case at either her or my appointment. A quick bit of research shows me that they are also available at House of Fraser and Topshop. John Lewis offer 2 complimentary appointment types as well as a paid ‘Style Profile’ appointment which costs £125 but is redeemable against spend over £500 when booked with one of the complimentary services.
I’d definitely use this service again. I’m actually considering booking another one for late Spring to update my summer wardrobe. I might even save up and get my colour profile done at John Lewis. I’ll let you know how I get on.