What to expect of a wardrobe review appointment
September 13, 2019 2:36 AM   Subscribe

I need new clothes for work. Several outfits. To this end, I have booked a "wardrobe review appointment" at a department store. (This is at John Lewis in London, UK.) I have questions.

Due to a job change I'll be in a proper office regularly (as opposed to working remotely). This is in a field where people dress "smart casual", so jeans, untucked shirts and sneakers qualify, but they'll probably be expensive jeans, shirts and sneakers.

I hate shopping for clothes. "Style" is a not a language I'm conversant in. I'm skinny with long limbs. When I shop for clothes I get impatient and indecisive, juggling variables like "what impression does this make", "does it fit properly", and price, which usually seems too high. I have a fairly generous budget in mind this time, in the hope of getting it over with in one go.

I have a 2 hour appointment with a "personal shopper". What will they actually do? How do they decide what to recommend to me? Should I take some examples along of things that I like and think look good on me?

Another reason I dislike shopping is that I hate being put under sales pressure. I'm worried I will accept things I will later regret. How do I avoid this? Do I need to make decisions then and there, or just take a lot of stuff home, so I try it some more and discuss with my wife and do sums, and then return whatever I don't want?

How many things do I need? I don't have to wear something different every day for 2 weeks. I was thinking maybe 2 or 3 pairs of trousers (one could in theory wear jeans every day), 2 or 3 long-sleeve shirts (buttons and collar), 1 or 2 light jackets, maybe some cardigans, 2 pairs of shoes (sneakers & brogues). That sound reasonable?
posted by snarfois to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (4 answers total)
"just take a lot of stuff home, so I try it some more and discuss with my wife and do sums, and then return whatever I don't want?"

I think a lot of people do this (my other half for example). The John Lewis returns policy says you have 35 days to return things in an unused state for a refund or exchange.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:30 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Depending your budget, I have used Sartoria Lab for exactly what you are looking for. Like you I had a budget in mind and wanted to get the whole thing over in one go. Sarah's service included questions about how many clothes I needed and so on. I recommend it. It circumvents the sales pressure problem, and allows you to shop at a range of stores.

Sarah summarises the difference between what she does and a personal shopper in a store here.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 3:49 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

So, I have used this exact service at this specific John Lewis before starting a new job to smarten up my image - small world!

What will they actually do?
- I got shown to a private fitting room and offered a cup of tea. The stylist had the notes I'd already submitted when I booked the appointment online, but spent fifteen minutes or so asking me to explain again what I was looking for, what I didn't like, what sort of brands I would normally buy and what sort of money I wanted to spend.

- My stylist then disappeared for a couple of minutes and returned wheeling a rack of clothes which broadly fitted my requirements. I tried them all on and we talked about what I liked and didn't like. She stayed with me while I got changed but she would have left if I'd asked her to.

- Based on my feedback she took a couple of things back - to exchange sizes or pick up something slightly different. She also brought some bits I hadn't asked for (jewellery and shoes I think) just so I could see how a top might work with something I already owned.

- Once I'd decided what I wanted to buy, she took me to a (private) till and rang me up.

How do they decide what to recommend to me?
I think it depends how good you are at explaining what you want. I was super specific (tops only, neutral colours, at least elbow-length sleeves) and I turned up wearing the rest of the elements of the intended outfit so she got a good idea of the vibe I wanted. If you're a bit broader (smart-casual business wear could mean they pull tops and trousers and shoes and blazers, with a likely more varied success rate) they'll probably bring a mix of stuff that fits your brief and also what they think might suit you/r needs. I'd expect you to give them some feedback ("oh I didn't think to mention it but I actually hate french cuffs, and also I can't wear stripes") and for them to do a second run around the store based on that.

I was pleased and surprised that she brought me a couple of items which were on sale - I didn't ask her to, but it definitely reassured me that this wasn't all about getting me to spend a huge amount of money.

Should I take some examples along of things that I like and think look good on me?

YES absolutely do this. I was surprised how quickly the stylist picked up on my personal style and how keen she was not to put me in something that "just" fulfilled the brief.

Don't forget that a stylist will see maybe five or six different people a day, who might want anything from a wedding outfit to a total restyle to a basic work outfit, so the more help you can give about what you'll eventually buy the better for them.

I'm worried I will accept things I will later regret. How do I avoid this? Do I need to make decisions then and there, or just take a lot of stuff home

I definitely did return some of the items I'd bought. I'm sure everyone does. I just tried to remember that it's in the stylist's interests to give you things that you like AND WILL KEEP as I presume they're all on commission - so if you do regret something, you're totes able to return it, but it's probably better to say "hey this isn't quite what I meant, do you have anything a bit more {something}?".

If part of what you're looking for is for the stylist to recommend a sort of 'framework' - some rules you can keep in mind to make buying the next work item easier - then they will probably be expecting you to buy some but not all of what they recommend. It's totally fine if they can't find something that's quite right for every single part of your remit - they are limited as to what's available to them in stock at John Lewis at that moment of course!

How many things do I need?

I deliberately run a very limited work capsule wardrobe as part of my "fuck the patriarchy" stance, and even I have more in rotation than you're proposing! I have two pairs of smart trousers, two pairs of smart jeans, three pairs of shoes (two pairs of flats and a pair of smart ankle boots), seven identical tops in different colours, and a blazer. I wear my hair the same every day, do laundry once a week and mix through tops and trousers at random. Not a single person has ever commented on the fact that I basically wear a uniform to work.

I would definitely say you need more than 3 shirts unless you plan on washing them literally every night, or don't mind wearing a shirt for two full days. I would happily have room for ten shirts in my capsule, plus a couple of sweaters for winter.

Good luck with your appointment - MeMail me if you want to talk in any more depth about it :)
posted by citands at 5:43 AM on September 13, 2019 [20 favorites]

Thanks everyone! Fantastic answer, citands!
posted by snarfois at 2:18 PM on September 14, 2019

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