I need to build a capsule work wardrobe and I'm overwhelmed
April 7, 2022 3:02 PM   Subscribe

You may remember from previous posts that I lost all of my stuff in a moving scam. Until February, I had a full-time WFH job, so I had been getting by with random thrifted stuff. But now I'm interviewing for hybrid office work and temp jobs, and I don't have enough appropriate clothing for even a single five-day workweek. So, I'm looking for a service to help me curate a well-fitting capsule work wardrobe on as reasonable a budget as possible.

I'm not easy to fit: I'm an older cis woman, 5 foot tall, around 140 lbs., and bottom-heavy. I wear 5-5.5 size shoes, which have also been challenging to source.

And I need EVERYTHING: Full outfits including underwear, shoes, jewelry, and accessories appropriate for office work. I don't even know what size I am anymore, and I haven't worn fitted clothing or outside shoes for entirely too long. What should be kind of fun and an opportunity to update my style has turned into an overwhelming chore I've avoided until the absolute last minute.

I used to have Infinitely LOFT account before they went out of business, but they were better for filling holes in an existing wardrobe, not creating one from scratch.

Can anyone recommend a service that you have used personally and enjoyed? In-person in the Oakland area, or online is fine. I don't know if it's possible to do this for under $750 but I'd like to and hopefully look a bit stylish and not broke?

posted by Space Kitty to Shopping (32 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
On impulse I googled [oakland ca clothing stylist] and found this person. It looks like she does a lot of 'fancy' styling, but also professional clothing too, and shopping. Maybe see if she will work a deal for you and/or recommend somewhere to shop? I'd definitely call her. I know your budget might not seem (or be) in her usual range, but OTOH maybe fancy high-budget jobs aren't that common and she does less high-profile stuff frequency.

Honestly I have no idea. It would probably be very interesting to talk to her, though!
posted by amtho at 3:15 PM on April 7, 2022

Assuming Oakland California, there are several thrift stores and discovery shops in Oakland worth visiting, along with ones in Piedmont and Berkeley.

There's a charity "Dress for Success" in San Francisco that'll donate you an interview outfit, but I doubt they'll redo your whole wardrobe.

San Francisco has a couple thrift stores and outlets worth visiting as well.

I'm not aware of any style consultants that donate their services in your area. MAYBE dress for success in San Francisco can offer some style advice.
posted by kschang at 3:29 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

$750 is a tight budget to find someone to help and for the clothes too. Do you know someone who loves fashion or shopping? I have known people who love this kind of challenge and would do it for free.

I hope you're able to find a solution!
posted by jraz at 3:40 PM on April 7, 2022

FWIW I once called a hair/image stylist (professional, upscale, owned his own shop with other hair stylists) in Chicago who actually offered to do the transform _for free_ and suggested I contact clothing stylists. I promise I'm not famous; he was just excited at the idea of a total transformation. Also he seemed very, very cool.
posted by amtho at 3:51 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Also: ask culture FTW! (I didn't ask him to do it for free though; he offered. If I'd asked for a "free" think I don't think it would have gone nearly as well. I guess I sounded scrappy. I also was up front with being the opposite of a model).
posted by amtho at 3:52 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Is there a Value Village type thrift store near you? Wear a slim, fitted tank top and go try on blouses and blazers.

Don’t bother with the change room- it’s exhausting - - - just slip the items on right on the sales floor.

I would aim for 8 blouses and a few sweaters and blazers to wear over them.

Fill your cart with tops and sweaters and blazers that look good, then park at a mirror and try on the outfits in store. Try to assemble each outfit as you go: like if you find a blouse you like, keep it on and try to find a second layer that matches that blouse, too. Take a photo of each outfit that looks promising.

If you see tops or blazers from a good mall shop, try them on (even if you don’t love the item) and take a photo of the garment on you and the tag so you’ll remember your size for that brand and can try shopping online, too. But on a budget, thrifting is probably a good plan.

Then head to the jewellery area and get a couple of interesting necklaces and bracelets, and see what’s happening in the shoe area in your size. Note that heels, flat shoes, and boots may be in three different areas.

If possible try on some pants too or buy a few pairs and plan to return.

Pro tip- Bring a small bag of random stuff to donate and donate before entering the store- sometimes they give you a good coupon when you donate.

Shopping this way is a bit stressful but doable- I did this recently when I unexpectedly got a gig post partum and my usual clothes didn’t fit. I went to three V.V.s and managed to find a couple weeks’ worth of decent tops and blazers for about $300 total. Good luck!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:53 PM on April 7, 2022 [5 favorites]

I use capsules from OneRealMomma an online stylist that offers pre-built capsules (with a shopping list link) that are released on a quarterly (or so) basis. Her capsules are size inclusive and there's a small online (Facebook) community to share wins & ask questions. My style is a little more basic/neutral but I've been able to swap out pieces that didn't fit my aesthetic for other staples, infuse a couple of other items in, and generally have a proper work/leaving the house wardrobe. She also offers custom shopping & styling services. Most recent capsules will have the most likely to be available items.

What I love about capsules is that I can manage my wardrobe & shop via spreadsheet which makes clothes shopping/wardrobe management kind of fun.

If you do end up going with an online stylist and/or end up shopping online, order a couple sizes of the items you are trying -- particularly if it's a critical (or coveted) item. Return swiftly & liberally.
posted by countrymod at 3:57 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yes if you shop online always get each item in 3 sizes (if your credit card can handle it). Saves so much hassle to have items that fit in hand and then you just do one big batch of returns. That’s how professional stylists shop!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:59 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Macy's does free stylist appointments. They don't push high priced stuff, and if you explained, I bet they'd look for sale/clearance items. I wasn't replacing EVERYTHING but did get a whole new work wardrobe for around $800 a few years ago. (Open a store card to get an even bigger discount if your credit can handle it. I paid it and closed it the next month.)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:06 PM on April 7, 2022 [7 favorites]

Can't help with a shop/shopper but The Vivienne Files has some really good guidelines for how to build a wardrobe where everything goes together and can be mixed-and-matched to give you multiple days' worth of outfits. There's a lot there, but I think the 4x4 wardrobe -- 16 items that all go together -- is a super place to start.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: FWIW, I had office jobs for years where I had five days worth of tops, black and grey pairs of pants, basically wore the same shoes every day, and nobody ever commented on it. You probably need fewer clothes than you think!

Nordstrom's also has a free personal shopper service and they typically have tailoring on-site. I'm trying it out on Saturday and afraid of the price, but I have zero interview-appropriate clothes, I hate shopping, and I figure the ROI on looking good at interviews is probably high. Maybe personal shopping is a way to get 1-2 good outfits and then filling in the rest thrifting / on Poshmark / at Target will be more manageable? Get fitted for "foundation garments" beforehand so you can better tell how the rest of your clothes fit (department stores will also do this).
posted by momus_window at 4:40 PM on April 7, 2022 [14 favorites]

Have you tried Stitchfix? It's super easy and with that budget I think you'd do good.
posted by bleep at 5:10 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

I've used StitchFix, and have had good luck with it.

Also, I'd consider buying like 3 pairs of good black pants. (They need to fit you well and look good on you) Then you just need a few blazers or sweaters (if your work requires) and tops -- in basically any color.
Shoes: black flats or low heels go with all of it.
Underwear: for bras you might want to get fitted, but if you know your size, just buy what's on sale.

Good luck!!
posted by mmf at 5:25 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If I were doing this myself for ~$750 in total, this is what I'd attempt to target budget wise by item. I'm pretty boring, but have generally worked in biz casual environments. I'd pick up as much as I can from Uniqlo first (great quality; affordable; mostly everything matches or are good solid colors) and then add on sales from Loft/Lands End/Macy's etc.

+ 3 pairs of pants in black, grey, navy (~$40 each; $120 total)
+ 1 dress or skirt ($50)
+ 2 solid color cardigans (~$30 each; $60 total)
+ 2 sweaters or some other shirt you'd wear w/o a cardigan (~$25 each; $50 total)
+ 5 solid color "tee" shirts / blouses with a neckline that works for the formality of your work to wear underneath cardigan/sweaters ($15 each; $75 total)
+ 1 black / grey jacket if you need to look at bit more dressy that you can throw on easily (~$60-80, from a thrift shop/Ross/TJ Max)

+ 1 pair of black ankle boots -- I love Clarks for this ($80)
+ socks from Target/Walmart ($20)
+ underwear from Target/Walmart ($20)
+ 1 bras ($40-70+? they're all so expensive)
+ 2 necklaces or scarf ($30 total)
+ 1 purse/bag ($50)

^ The above totals about ~$700, so you'll have $50 in buffer for taxes (b/c California) or adding on whichever 1-2 items you need/want. If you buy clothes that are appropriate (but maybe not super memorable -- i.e., hot pink sweater), then you can really circulate your core wardrobe around.
posted by ellerhodes at 5:56 PM on April 7, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Being petite is hard. I think you might best spend your money working with a tailor than limiting yourself to petite sizing in the brands that offer it. That said, petite friendly brands to look for in thrift and consignment shops include Talbots, Ann Taylor, Le Suit, Kasper, J Jill, White House Black Market and Chico’s. But I have had a lot more bang for my buck getting something that fits at my shoulders and bust (in your case probably hips) and getting things shortened, arm holes taken in, darts put in, buttons moved, etc. Target has a few great basics that look way nicer with $20 of tailoring than you would find off the rack elsewhere in petite sizing without tailoring at an equal total price.

I think you should try to get just two bras and two pairs of work shoes. You can swap them each day to give them 24 hours to air out and they will last much longer, until you can afford a bit more variety. Then all you need to get are clothes which are simpler to get via styling services and deals, instead of an everything all at once situation.

I have very particular bra needs but you may be able to get away with something a lot cheaper. To extend the life of any bra, be sure to wash in a mesh bag and let them air dry. Go to Nordstrom’s and give them your budget for two bras and tell them you have absolutely no wiggle room. If something fits you perfectly but is out of your budget there, write down the brand and model and size and then search for it online.

For shoes aim for seasonless work shoes like a black loafer and a neutral oxford. You can find a lot of wonderful shoes at consignment shops but also just 6pm.com or Zappos lets you search by size and often has small sizes on significant discount from past seasons. Again, Nordstrom has a large selection of extended sizes so double check there just in case.

If you hang up your worn clothes and brush them down to remove dust and spot clean any little mishaps, letting it air out for a day between wearing, you can extend your wardrobe a ton and need way fewer clothes and way fewer laundry trips. Of course change your underpants and socks daily, but those you should be able to pick up at target or similar for a reasonable cost. If adult sized socks are all too big on you, you can try bigger kids sizing because they still make plain black socks for them. I suggest getting an over the door coat hook and keeping it on your bedroom door with some hangers to hold clothes that are airing out.

Go for dead simple at first. Pick one neutral and stick with it (I suggest black as it is most common) and don’t bother with jewelry at all. If you really want accessories, Target actually has some nice simple necklaces and bracelets for cheap these days, just get something in a plain metal tone you like (I like gold, you might be a silver person, but you can mix metals these days no problem) but I would suggest waiting until after a paycheck or two. Most of the time nobody is going to notice your lack of accessories at all. Because of your hips, you may find skirts easier to find than pants, and skirts are easier to tailor for a petite frame too (and therefor cheaper). If you do skirts or dresses, go for a basic a-line or sheath silhouette, which will work with most styles of tops and jackets. Add colors and patterns later, when you are less stressed about it.
posted by Mizu at 6:13 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I love all this advice! I truly do have the thrift options covered, that's fun when shopping recreationally* not so much when I have to find specific things quickly.

I'll check into Stitch Fix and Macy's and all the other links, but @momus_window - please let me know how your Nordstrom experience goes!

[*Ironically, my daughter is actually the best stylist I've ever met, and we thrift shop together all the time. She's currently about a week from her due date, and somehow has other things on her mind!]
posted by Space Kitty at 6:21 PM on April 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I don't think this is a one-stop service right now, unfortunately, and while thrifting can be really rewarding it is too time-intensive at the moment.

Piecing together a couple of immediate steps: Go to Nordstrom for professional bra, shoe, etc. fittings; buy one well-fitting skin-toned bra, and get additional ones on discount elsewhere (eBay, for instance). Book a free session with an in-store Nordstrom stylist to find sturdy basics (trousers, skirts, a suit), in your capsule's neutral colors, for less than half your budget. Then onto Nordstrom Rack, Marshall's, and TJ Maxx for underwear (multi-packs of seamless briefs, socks), more bras, tops, shoes, accessories. Nordstrom & Nordstrom Rack carry petite sizes and shoes in 5 and 5.5. Nordstrom's anniversary sale is in July (when you'll have a bit of a budget to expand on the basics).

If you were comfortable with a Loft account, look into Nordstrom's credit card. It offers benefits including early access to sales, points, discounts, expanded alteration options and a personal stylist service ("Trunk Club styling") which mails curated items and may help in your wardrobe rebuilding process.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:24 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

A few notes to add to everyone's awesome advice:

Anne Klein shoes are standard issue office wear and the majority of styles run in your sizes. If you are considering heels, I can vouch for the Fabulist pumps. They are cute AF and since they're a known corporate staple, they are basically always in stock. They are sadly $80, so perhaps an investment purchase after the first paycheck, but they are super durable. I have worn them while teaching for 8 hours straight, and despite having old lady joint problems, felt just fine that night and the next day. If they are too distinctive to serve as your "every day" option, there are useful wedge pumps on sale and several other options of corporate-friendly flats.

In case you weren't already aware, "liner socks" are a godsend for comfort and extending shoe life for flats and loafers (the linked ones stay in place like magic and tend to run smaller.)

And if you happen to pass an H&M while shopping, you might want to see if their fitted blazer works for you. It's probably not worth an extra trip, but at $35, it's a big boost in wardrobe flexibility for a small price.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 7:38 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

A few points:

1. Nordstrom opened a store in NYC pre-pandemic and their business model appeared to be Sell Everything to compete with the online brands. I don't know how well it's done, but they have been one of the most famous stores in America for their their free styling services for years now and, in DC, they were, famously, where Condoleeza Rice shopped. Long story short: They are conservative, yes, but markedly nicer than Macy's, and most/all of the Mall stores. So if one is available, go there first.

2. Pro tip — go for a bra fitting at Nordstrom or wherever. Get one or two bras from them, buy the rest new on ebay. A good bra will make you look youthful and slim, whether you already are that way or not.

3. Get your measurements — You can go pretty upscale on ebay if you know your measurements, and as a petite it's **easier** to shop there because nearly everyone sells according to measurement. So unlike the in-store experience where half of what you try on doesn't fit, and you end up buying something because you like the color and overlook the pinch at the waist, you end up, ironically, with considerably more success that way, and often with far better brands.

4. Don't try to get all of your clothes at once. It'll be more fun if you're able to add things as you go on. Too much neutrality makes Jill a dull girl.

Good luck!
posted by Violet Blue at 7:59 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

I follow this person on Facebook: ClassyYetTrendy. She has a capsule for work. Women of varying sizes post to the Facebook group in the capsule outfits and she goes for different price levels. I think this probably would fit your needs and is a genuine capsule - in that you just buy what is in the capsule and you are good to go.
posted by Toddles at 10:51 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

ThredUp is bit pricier than thrifting in person, but still pretty affordable and has the benefit of letting you search for items (e.g. black wide-leg pants with an inseam between 27-29 in your size). Their garment measurements aren't always right (hello "30 inch" inseam pants with a 36 inch inseam), but, in my experience, they're usually close enough to work out. Definitely filter on "new with tags" and "like new" - once you get to the other quality categories, there will probably be a visible issue (wear, a hole, etc). They do offer returns but the returns aren't free unless their description was wrong. Wait until they have a promotion -- they run them all the time and you can get 20-40% off just about everything, plus I think they have a new customer promotion if you haven't given them your email before.
posted by snaw at 3:51 AM on April 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Nthing the "you probably don't need as many clothes as you think." I temped for years in the corporate finance world, and was outfitting myself on a temp's salary and I did fine.

The thing I did was to sort of take a "French" approach - the French have just a few pieces, but they go bugnuts with accessories. For me, it was scarves - I still have only a few pair of pants and a few tops, but a LOT of scarves, and a lot of necklaces. Not only is that simpler, it's VERY budget friendly.

So to start I would get maybe only 2 pair of pants - one dark neutral, one light neutral - and then maybe 3 or 4 dressy cardigans in solid colors. Then a couple shirts/tops/tanks/blouses that can be either solid color or patterned. Then go crazy at the jewelry counter and the scarf section at your thrift store; pick colors that coordinate with the tops.

Then you can do something like:

MONDAY: black pants, white top under red cardigan, red/white/blue long necklace.
TUESDAY: khaki dress pants, beige top under blue cardigan, scarf with blue and gold pattern
WEDNESDAY: black pants, beige top under beige cardigan, chunky brown necklace
THURSDAY: khaki dress pants, beige top under beige cardigan, big scarf with blue and gold pattern
FRIDAY: khaki dress pants, beige top under red cardigan, scarf with red and gold pattern

That's only 2 pairs of pants, 3 cardigans, 2 tops, and you've gotten five outfits by just mixing and matching and adding different scarves or necklaces.

....Also, why count underwear in this? Unless your workplace is VERY weird, no one is going to see it, and you can get away with the 3-packs of cotton Hanes briefs you can find at the drugstore. I'm assuming you HAVE underwear, just use what you've got.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:37 AM on April 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

I tend to buy multiples of the same item. I'll get the first one in-store, so you can do all of the trying-on, etc. Then I use poshmark or mercari to buy a few more. The apps are really overwhelming for miscellaneous shopping, but great if looking for a specific piece. This is my current strategy with Eileen Fisher's washable crepe pants (highly recommend btw). Eye-searingly expensive new, but very affordable second-hand.
posted by ailouros08 at 4:55 AM on April 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Hello! I'm not momus_window, but I have done Nordstrom personal shopping and been very pleased, so this is to help you get an idea of what that was like.

I went in with "I need doctor wife appropriate clothing for things like dinners out" because I had a last-minute day when I had discovered I owned nothing appropriate for going out to dinner that night with my spouse and his colleagues. (I ended up going to Target and finding the least bad option there for that evening: do not recommend as a strategy.) I had jeans, and I had a little black dress for funerals, and nothing in between. The reason for this is that I'm primarily a stay at home wife; I also work with kids and at a coffee shop, but I can wear whatever I want to those outings; and my weight has fluctuated immensely since I last worked in an office.

So I scheduled a personal shopper appointment to avoid such a situation in the future. Note that I do not like shopping.

There is a questionnaire to fill out beforehand, with size guesses, style preferences, reason for shopping. Be thorough - it helps. There is a question for your budget. The personal shopper also texted me a few days in advance with any further questions.

They pulled a bunch of clothing for me - tops, bottoms, sweaters, etc - in a variety of styles, colors, sizes, and I tried them all on and gave feedback about sizes and details and what I liked and didn't, and they found other items for me. I tried on different items together to see outfit ideas (they were helpful with suggesting outfit ideas). Then they brought in the tailor for the pants that were too long - this was not included because the pants were on sale, I think. There's a way around this - perhaps a nordstrom credit card? Perhaps paying full price on the clothing item? Can't remember.

The personal shopper did not tell me what they thought looked good or didn't (which I found a bit surprising), they were there to help me find "I like these pants, but they are too expensive, do you have a similar style that's cheaper?" or "I like this top, I would like it in a bigger/smaller size/different color".

This was the most efficient shopping experience I've ever had. It was great. It was not overwhelming like shopping can be, I actually felt like I had options and could dress situationally-appropriate. The shopper was also more than happy to take me to other parts of the store and hand me off to a shopper in that department, which you could do for undergarments/shoes/etc. If you would like this, I'd recommend putting all the detail in the questionnaire, that you will probably need shoppers from multiple departments.

It was not cheap. But I think you can stay within your budget for clothing. I ended up with enough items that I could probably mix and match and do just fine for a week of office work, and it was around $500 (including tailoring). I did not purchase undergarments, shoes, or accessories, though.

Now, thoughts about office clothing:
When I last worked in an office, at one point I had one pair of work-appropriate pants, and that was good enough. I had 5 tops - all polo shirts, I think. Nobody cared. (This is separate from when I taught high school and owned one sweater and wore it every day, and my students commented, but hello! They wore a uniform! They wore the same thing every day, too!) You can absolutely buy 2 pairs of pants, 3 tops, and mix and match, and if your colleagues are adults, they won't comment and won't care. Plus if you're seeing different people every day, they won't even know.

Good luck! I'm happy to answer more questions about my experience. It was a giant relief to hand the "pick stuff out" job to someone else.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:53 AM on April 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

+1 that you don't need as much initial attire as you may think and that I would approach this task in batches. Right now focus on an interview outfit(s) that can easily transition to daily wear. Which to me sounds like one pair of slacks, skirt, or sheath or similar simple dress that suits you in a color like black, grey, or navy, along with a pair of shoes, an appropriate bra, a nice blazer or cardigan, a suitable basic bag or purse, 1-2 simple knit blouses to pair with the slacks, and maybe an accessory or two like a scarf or necklace/earrings but even accessories seem like bonus.

In-person interviews for a single role typically wrap up in 2 sessions. If you're interviewing for multiple companies, you'll be meeting new people and they won't know that you wore the same thing the day before. Once you've successfully interviewed and have a job lined up, then you're in a new stage. You'll have more time, energy, and funds lined up to focus on adding a few more items to help build out your capsule wardrobe.

In your shoes, I would just wear head-to-toe black, which is chic, simple, can easily mix and match across items and days without raising eyebrows that you're repeating. Mix it up with an accessory or cardigan and don't be surprised if you get compliments on your outfits!

Your target is to look presentable and professional and if you achieve that you're golden. Un-noteworthy is to your advantage at this point and I just want to emphasize that repeating items and outfits in a week is fine! That's why sticking to basic colors and styles is your best best to start. Until you're well settled into a job, I would not worry about having flair or finding that Perfect Item. Most (decent) people will just be happy to have a competent, reliable person on their team to share the workload.

And finally, after everything we've all been and continue to go through, I suspect most people have more on their minds than what your wore the day before if they can even be bothered to notice at all. And if they do notice, you have this internet stranger's permission to fully and cheerfully ignore them and go about your day and doing what you can to live your best life.
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 8:37 AM on April 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

You might get some inspiration from the 100-day dress challenge.
posted by oceano at 9:14 AM on April 8, 2022

Your local Buy Nothing group will be hit and miss but a lot of people in our area are not going back to an office after all or have due their old stuff no long fits.

If you can be choosy, you could score some things and also get some things tailored.
posted by vunder at 10:07 AM on April 8, 2022

Thirding Stitch Fix. I subscribed for a couple years as my work style changed and because I HATE shopping and only paused it because I felt I had a substantial work wardrobe. You may have to do 2-3 boxes in a month to acquire everything you need, but that's not necessarily a bad thing since you'll be able to give feedback on each box.

As someone with a weird body shape, I was not happy with my ThredUp experience since there was no information on actual clothing inch measurements. A size 12 blazer in one brand from 15 years ago is not the same as a size 12 in the same brand today.
posted by mostly vowels at 6:43 AM on April 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you are someone who can buy shoes without trying them on, you might have success with ThredUp for shoes. They might also work for clothes if you know how a certain brand fits you, but otherwise I wouldn’t recommend them in your circumstances. I’ve had the same issue with measurements as snaw.
posted by Comet Bug at 3:33 PM on April 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was really happy with my personal shopper appointment today. The stylist did say that they’re very busy since people are returning to being seen in public again, and also there are stock issues. She’s going to send me a link to a style board of things available on the website that she’s picking out as well. She texted me a couple questions based on my questionnaire answers this morning and I sent her my measurements and a photo of me in an outfit I have to help her get my coloring / shape / style. I also went in wearing an outfit / hair styled in the general look I was going for, which was helpful as I wound up using the pants I brought in my outfit. I plan to go again in a few months for a date outfit.

As Ms Vegetable said, the stylist is mostly going to ask if things fit and what you like / don’t like about items, not tell you what cuts to wear. They do have tailoring on-site, but I’m lucky to have a body shaped like the size chart so I didn’t need it. Everything got a “that looks cute,” but there wasn’t any sales pressure. Having limited options was helpful, if I just went shopping myself I definitely would have left with nothing, I’m picky about clothes and I’m always waiting to find my perfect whatever. I also hate shopping and find stores kind of overwhelming.

I told the stylist the price range was “low end for Nordstrom” and shells were around $50, tops $70-90, pants $70+. Apparently the shoe stock was pretty limited and mostly sandals - she couldn’t find anything in my size that wasn’t black. There was no suiting, only separates. She also found no bags, but also I was running out of time by then. She suggested coming back in a month or so when inventory has turned over a bit. I have shopped other department stores and found Nordy’s stuff nicer (cut better, better design choices) and not crazily more expensive. My thought walking into the store was literally “oh, this is where all the good stuff is.” I’ve heard that their cheapest stuff is not a good value, and the own-brand shell I tried bore that out, the cut felt like it was designed to save fabric. I got an own-brand blazer that I quite like, though!

My appointment was in a large dressing room with a nice lighted mirror setup at one end. I wore a mask in the store, but felt okay taking it off in there. I also took a bunch of full length selfies to compare items.
posted by momus_window at 7:14 PM on April 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: FUNNY STORY.

What prompted this question was realizing that I didn't have enough interview outfits. Well, I got the job, and there's NO DRESS CODE!

Between that and putting on weight, I am just going to get some basics for now and build a proper wardrobe when I see where my weight settles. Thanks for all the good resources!
posted by Space Kitty at 10:15 PM on May 4, 2022 [2 favorites]


And you're actually doing 100% EXACTLY what an adult suggested to me when I was just out of college and job hunting - get maybe just one or two "interview outfits", because no one's gonna know if you re-wear the same thing 3 days in a row for 3 different interviews, and then wait to get more stuff once you GET a job because a) you'll know what the dress code is and b) you'll have money coming in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:24 AM on May 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

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