Client for a day: my NYC personal shopping experience
A dream came true a couple of weeks ago, when I had the opportunity to spend the day as a client, shopping with NYC Image Consultant extraordinaire, Carol Davidson. Carol was my instructor in my original styling training in New York City in 2011. I have admired her over the years and have taken a number of follow up courses - she is a wealth of knowledge, experience and is truly the loveliest person!
My extremely thoughtful husband set it up as an anniversary gift, once we'd confirmed we'd be spending a week in the city. Not only did I LOVE being a client for a day (as well as my purchases which I am sharing in a separate post!), I learned so much from Carol and from being on the other side - typically it's me handing over the clothing for someone to try on!
Here are some main takeaways:
1) Shopping with a plan and purpose is the key to a well-rounded wardrobe you love.
While my wardrobe is working well for me, I didn't treat this shopping expedition mindlessly. I know from my training and experience with multiple clients, the first stop to having an overstuffed wardrobe that leads to confusion is the result of shopping "just for fun". The problems that arise from that kind of shopping are worthy of their own post down the road - stay tuned.
Carol and I met a month prior over Zoom and she asked me pointed questions, very similar to the types of questions I ask my own clients (no surprise there - she trained me!). It got me thinking about what I wanted from the experience. What was my budget? What were the key pieces I was looking for?
The specific item I noted was a pair of pants/trousers that I could wear to work (or to dress up) that aren't black, that would combine well with my existing wardrobe. Other than that, my hope was to pick up some pieces that feel special/unique that I couldn't necessarily find here in Vancouver - without ordering on line. And, even though I wanted them to feel unique, they would need to combine easily with my current wardrobe. It's also important to me that new additions work seamlessly with my lifestyle and, ideally, suit multiple lifestyle needs (can be styled for work, social or weekend). I was willing to spend a little more than perhaps I typically would as I was shopping with her in New York, and because I am trying to work toward purchasing the best quality I can afford and to invest in pieces I will wear and love over time.
2) The pre-shop is magic!
Prior to our shopping day, Carol reached out several times to chat about our proposed plan. She pre-shopped the entire route and went into the shops more than once to check out inventory (supply chain issues remain). I know that many hours were put into this process and it certainly showed on my end. She frequently checked my Instagram so was familiar with several of my current wardrobe items as she was unable to view my closet. This is a huge benefit of working with a stylist. We research beforehand and make sure there are pieces worth trying on - to maximize your time so your aren't just aimlessly walking through shops that may not have pieces that suit your needs. I too commit several hours into a pre-shop for my clients. It was so nice to actually feel from the client's perspective what a game-changer that is! And, I am someone who loves shopping - and this made it so much more enjoyable. I can only imagine how much better it is for the typical client who is a reluctant shopper...
Here is the shopping plan she emailed the night before our session:
3) Working with a personal stylist is a collaboration:
Carol pulled many pieces for me to try, that I wouldn't have necessarily picked for myself. I love that. And, while not all of them worked for me (thank goodness as I couldn't afford that!), there is so much learning in the discussion as to why. Why didn't a certain piece flatter my frame in a way that I liked? Why did it not necessarily suit my lifestyle or combine with my existing wardrobe? The more I tried on, the more we both learned about my personal style as we chatted through pieces and how they would relate to my current wardrobe. There were lots of gorgeous garments I needed to leave behind due to budget constraints, but these also added to my knowledge of fit, colour, personal style preferences, new brands etc.
I often feel pressure that every piece I pre-select needs to work for the client. This experience illustrated and reaffirmed all that can be learned from the garments that aren't an exact fit. As a stylist, this was very reassuring - and important for me to also experience.
Of course lots of tips and tricks were shared along the way: for example, I am a real hands in the pockets kind of person, Carol quickly pointed out as I was trying on the fuschia trousers that I needed to try and not put my hands in the pockets as that was causing them to lose shape - I quickly saw what she meant. She reminded me to do the "sit test" before deciding to purchase any bottoms so we could see how they fit and looked after a bit of a wear. She would look at a garment and ask "how else could this be styled", "what would you pair this with from home?". Her bag of tricks: measuring tape, hem clips (which she kindly gave me to take home to use with my own clients in fitting rooms!), and size inclusive belt came in so handy when I needed to envision tweaks to a potential new piece - it is so important to consider tailoring to make garments fit us perfectly - we are not cookie cutters.
4) Stylists are emotionally invested in the process.
It was clear that Carol was driven to ensure that I left feeling my goals had been met and that I would be bringing something home that I was not only excited to wear, but that would meet my wardrobe and lifestyle needs. It was evident she had put so much thought into our day together. It felt comforting to know that someone who has been in the business so long, with so much experience treats each client with so much care, effort and love. I've been styling a long time now, and spend so much time thinking/worrying about my clients' needs and whether the appointment will meet their expectations - it was refreshing to see that this is also the case for such a leader in the industry.
Not only did I feel so pampered on my special day, it was also such an educational experience. I picked up so many gems/tips that I will be sharing over the upcoming weeks.
Of course, Mike and I continued to eat and drink our way through the city the remainder of the week (while putting in a ton of steps to balance things out) - and I enjoyed taking some of my new gems out for a first wear!
I've come back rejuvenated and not only excited to wear my new pieces (in multiple ways!), but to help others find pieces they love that will compliment their existing wardrobes. Feel free to reach out if you are interested in a personal shopping experience - my Sort, Shop & Style is my favourite and most comprehensive styling service and perfect to set you up for the Fall.