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Clothes Woes
May 6, 2014 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Please tell me about your experience with a Nordstrom's shopper and if their services would be right for my situation.

I have been saving up some money to throw at my wardrobe, but i realized i don't really have any personal style or really even know how to dress myself. I'm thinking of using Nordstrom's shopper service. Here are my problems:

1. I would like to keep this ordeal under a grand, looking for a few mix and match pieces of the "out to a nice dinner" fanciness level.
2. I'm small. I'm short and lightweight with small breasts and an slightly large behind in proportion to the rest of me. I'm about 5'1" and 105-107 lbs. I usually wear juniors clothing in the smallest size, but...
3. I'm 29 and need some more "classic" pieces with less trendiness. I want to look more "adult" and "put together" and don't know how to accomplish this myself.
4. I never really spent much on clothes or put that much thought into them. Dressing up i usually just wore a black skirt and a button down, but i'd like something more interesting and fun, but still within the guidelines of #3.

I've wished thath someone would just nominate me for "What Not To Wear" so I could have someone else help me with this for a while, but alas that hasn't happened. IT this something the shopper service would be a good application for? Is my budget too low (i looked at some other services for stores in King of Prussia Mall like Saks, but Nordstroms seemed to be the most "fancy but still on planet earth" level of affordability)?
posted by WeekendJen to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had an excellent experience with Nordstrom's shopper experience in Chicago. I called the store. I told them my budget and that I definitely needed [the three things I definitely needed], wanted to also get [the three things I also wanted to get] and could probably use [the three things I did not want to buy but probably needed]. I gave them my sizes in several manufacturers that they sell and my color/fabric/style preferences.

I showed up and walked around with the woman for about ten minutes, but she had a room already filled with things. While I tried stuff on, she went and got additional pieces (based on what I said about the things I tried on and--I'm sure--based on her immediate impression of me) and different sizes. I spent about two hours and came out with the three things I needed, but nothing else.

The shopper really knew the stock, so when I loved the jacket she had picked out--but none of the things she's selected to go with it--it took her only a few minutes to pull an alternative off the floor that worked much better for me. It would have taken me at least twice as long.

She did not tell me anything I did not already know about how clothes fit me or what I like to wear or what may or may not flatter me. I did not have one of those "I would never have picked this off a rack but OMG it was the best dress I ever had!" experiences that people chalk up to personal shoppers/what not to wear. For me, it was more convenient that having a friend with me and easier than wandering through the store all on my own. There was no real downside, because there's no fee, but I know some people feel pressured in that situation. The shopper did not pressure me and I had no trouble not spending extra or buying up, even though I had taken her time and used her services. I spent just slightly under my budget ($1500, I think it was) without feeling guilty. YMMV

On the other hand, I ended up with a good relationship with the saleswoman, who put aside some very expensive stuff for me, holding it for the sale price. That was a plus.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:13 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


I've commented on this before, i have personally had wonderful experiences with a Nordstrom Personal Stylist. A few things though
- $1000 may not go as far as you'd like. To stretch it, be very firm on your budget, and only buy a few "statement" pieces in classic profile and color, get them tailored (by the Nordstrom tailors, they are very good), and accessorize on your own
- that said, try on everything the stylist brings you. I spent almost five hours my first appointment. The stylist should know all the departments and brands, and after the first few 'rounds' of try-ons, she'll get a better idea of your likes, and of what looks good on you. That's why you try it all on, these ladies are masters at making you look not just good, but great.
- be sure to open a Nordstrom account, you'll get some "bonus dollars" that you can spend on the tailoring. Just stick with the budget.
- when you call to make your appointment, the stylist will email you with some questions. Tell her everything that is relevant, sizes you wear, brands you like, colors and textures you like, your own style ( is it classic, tailored, super-casual? Think on your favorite items in your wardrobe and there will be some clues). Also tell her things you hate/dislike - especially colors or fabrics. I'm really big on washable fabrics, so I always make sure that as many of my basics as possible are washable, the stylist knows that.
Lastly, have fun! You are under no obligation to buy a thing, so only buy items you love, and that make you look and feel amazing.
posted by dbmcd at 8:27 AM on May 6


I haven't used the personal shoppers at that Nordstrom, but the general level of help I've gotten from them has been extremely high. They've helped me find the perfect jeans, they once directed me to try the petite version of a dress since the top was a better fit for me, and they're pretty fierce at tracking down available sizes/colors in other stores and having them shipped to you. (I bought my wedding reception dress there with no appointment and they were still really nice!) I'm not petite, but I've been shopping there with a friend who is closer to your height and she was able to get some really great pencil skirts and other office wear.

If you find lines/sizes that you like, you can also pop over to the Nordstrom Rack by Best Buy on future visits-- then you'll know what you're looking for.

I will say that some of their basic house lines are probably going to be too large on you, but they do have in-house, very reputable tailoring. (Or there's a great person in Narberth, I hear.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:36 AM on May 6


I dealt with one once last year. She was nice enough and seemed to know the store well. My only real complaint was that she was a little unrealistic in judging my size. I assume they are trained to say a customer looks smaller that she really is but it kind of backfired since I had to ask her for larger sizes a few times. I'm a bigger size that much of their clothing so my options were somewhat limited.

I'm also don't wear much outside of subdued colors and plain design. I'd like to but never feel comfortable and I don't think I'd pull it off. So the stuff she brought seemed really flashy (but probably really wasn't).

Between your measurements and your willingness to try new styles, I think you would benefit from their services.
posted by Beti at 8:37 AM on May 6


You might find Nordies a bit too old for you--J Crew, while of varying quality, skews younger and I've used their Personal Shopping service to a good end.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:01 AM on May 6


I think the Nordstrom folks are wonderfully helpful whether or not they are designated personal shoppers but . . . I'd actually suggest asking a friend whose style you like to help you out. Ideally that person would help you weed your closet, as well as come with you for some shopping outings. Also, I'd recommend checking out Ann Taylor, which manages to be a classic but stylish shop, and isn't as pricey as Nordstrom can be.
posted by bearwife at 9:37 AM on May 6


Ok beafwife, I'll throw this tangent out there- I don't really have friends I'm close enough with to invite them to what i condider to be a long chore (forgot to mention that problem _ I'm not a fan of shopping as a fun activity). I would be willing to pay a non-store associated person with style to do this with me so if anyone knows where to find those people or what they are called, I'm open to that as well.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:49 AM on May 6


Why not try one of the online personal shopping services, like StitchFix? You tell them what you're looking for and how you're built, and they send you 5 things to try, along with styling tips. You buy the ones you like and send the rest back.
posted by mogget at 9:53 AM on May 6


I've also had great experiences with Nordstrom. I have not used their personal shoppers but have had the sales assistants pick out things for me to try and they've always been very efficient and pleasant to deal with, with no pressure to buy things. Most recently, I needed a new pair of jeans, so I just went in and said I needed fairly high-waisted jeans skinny jeans, dark wash, curvy fit, not cropped in any way. The assistant picked out about ten pairs for me and brought me more as I gave her feedback. I came away with the best pair of jeans I've owned in years, after about 45 minutes of work. It was honestly painless. They've also helped my husband buy great work shirts. One of the guys at work has a personal stylist that he keeps track of items he would like and refreshes his wardrobe in one visit every six months (he always looks great!).
posted by peacheater at 10:40 AM on May 6


I did this. My tastes run towards mod/Mad Men type stuff. The first shopper I got was HORRIBLE. I am tall and curvy, she was short and very thin, and very young. She tried to dress me like a Kardashian. It was ALL clubwear, and nothing that was right for my figure. I did guilt-buy a few items worth about $1,000 total, but ended up returning almost all of them a month or so later.

That said, I continued to shop at Nordstrom. (I signed up for a Nordstrom card, so I got points for buying things like my cosmetics there. More on this in a minute.) About a year later I was looking for dresses for a wedding and found a dress I loved at Kate Spade, but in one size too small. Knowing Nordstrom also carried Kate Spade, I headed there, found the dress I wanted, and bought it with my points-earning Nordstrom card. The clerk who helped me out that time around was not a personal shopper, but she was exactly in tune with the style I liked and also showed me several other items, which I pretty much bought all of them. I go to her for everything now.

So it can be hit or miss, but the main thing is to give it a few goes.

Regarding the Nordstrom card, I don't do credit cards at all. Mine is tied to my debit account. They are a great deal because you get Nordstrom dollars to spend for every dollar you... um... spend, and you also get perks like returning a very unflattering dress you wore out once before realizing you hated it.
posted by Brittanie at 12:56 PM on May 6


Nordstrom is awesome, but if you're looking for more affordable stuff, try Macy's By Appointment (they have it in King of Prussia).

It's the same deal, but Macy's has sales and coupons that Nordstrom doesn't.

$1,000 is a fine budget and most of us who have worked in retail really enjoy helping people put together a wardrobe. I've spent all afternoon with a lady who really needed help, and I had a complete blast!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:07 PM on May 6


I went through this about two years ago. My question and follow-ups are here.

Essentially, the shopper was not that helpful, but I think it had a lot to do with that particular Nordstrom was not carrying the kinds of things I was looking for.

I also hired a personal stylist, which is helpful but kind of a mixed bag for me.

I think this can be very YMMV - depending on what you're looking for, what the store carries, the personality of the shopper or stylist. I went in thinking I was looking for a shortcut for the work of shopping, but what I was really looking for a shortcut for the work of dressing. Two years out I'm not sure there is one.
posted by jeoc at 7:38 PM on May 6


I would just say that the Macy's in KOP has been really hit or miss for me for smaller sizes; there's less of a bridge collection between juniors/young adult business wear and the fabrics and cut for some of their dresses have not been worth the effort of getting them tailored. I think this is really dependent on shape/size though. (I definitely do not recommend the Suburban Square Macy's.)

On the other hand, a colleague is about your size and she wears Banana Republic petites pretty exclusively for pants and business attire. There's a Banana Republic on the same block as a J Crew in Suburban Square in Ardmore, which is only about fifteen minutes away from KOP. Both have smaller/petite bottoms and blazers, as well as basic top options, so if you wanted to build out from a couple of foundation purchases or if you wanted an alternative (not necessarily cheaper though JCrew has great sales) then I would recommend Ardmore. There's also a Neiman Marcus Last Call, a Kate Spade, and a J Crew in the outlet malls in Limerick if you wanted to go all out.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:44 AM on May 7


Wish I would have seen this earlier to give you my story. I had a completely useless, unrealistic experience with a Nordstrom personal shopper. Your $1000 budget would have gotten me about three pieces of what my consultant was showing me. She paid no attention to the answers I provided prior to the meeting. I don't understand what the point was and it was nothing like what I expected.

What worked better for me was going to the section of the store where the clothes I liked and could afford were and getting on the radar of one of the regular associates. She set me up in a dressing room and started bringing me things she thought I would like based on what I was already trying on, including stuff from the sales racks. I spent a ton of money, but got a ton of stuff I wear and like, not just a $500 beige sweater and a pair of ponte pants. (Seriously, I still can't fathom that she thought that was what I wanted).

Give the personal shopper a try, you are under no obligation, but don't be too upset if it doesn't work out. In general, I've found the regular sales associates to be extremely helpful and honest in their opinions. Obviously, don't go at peak hours so they have more time to spend on you.
posted by mimo at 4:30 PM on May 12


My experience was exactly the same as Mimo's. That floor clerk is now my go-to girl.
posted by Brittanie at 3:50 PM on May 19


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