My first makeover--be gentle
June 29, 2007 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I have an appoinment with a personal shopper next week at a high end department store in NYC--what should I expect?

Never did this before and I wanted to see if anyone has any tips (Besides wearing proper underwear) or suggestions on what I should ask and what exactly goes on?

FWIW, I'm a guy.
posted by zeraus to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Never experienced it myself, but I'd hope that they'd ask for some info about the kind of places you go, and things you do, more-so than the type of clothes you like or already have.

The reasoning would be that they should be able to spot things that will look good on you (even if it isn't something that you'd normally pick yourself) but will need a bit of information to ensure that the selections are appropriate to where they will be worn.

It may be sensible to take along some of the pairs of shoes that you expect to wear with the outfits (unless you're getting new shoes too!) as they can dramatically change a "look", and also change how trousers hang somewhat (i.e. where they break, whether they catch under your heel, etc.)

Maybe also bring along any regular accessoris that you wear - watch, necklace, rings, earrings, etc. to ensure that the personal shopper can try to match things up nicely.
posted by Chunder at 6:58 AM on June 29, 2007

It depends on where you're going - is the shopper part of the store's services, or an independent? For some reason I'm thinking Barneys. If it is Barneys, they take you to a private shopping area and ply you with goodies while the shopper brings you clothes and even has a few people model things, just like you see in the movies.

Not sure how Barneys does it now but they used to do this in three stages - the first being a get to know you stage in the private shopping area, with questions about your needs and tastes (what colors you want to work with, what sorts of occasions you need clothes for, etc.), getting your measurements, finding out your budget, and getting your comments about specific garments and looks and whatnot, and possibly a walk through the store to see what's available. The second stage would be you returning to the store for try-ons and fittings of the clothes the shopper's picked for you, and the third would be having the clothes delivered to your place with another fitting (although that second fitting might take place at the store now). Once they have your sizes and tastes they might ring you up or email you when something new comes in that you might like to add to your closet. A nice benefit for you might be getting one-of-a-kind samples and goodies from trunk shows and things that haven't hit the stores yet.
posted by iconomy at 7:38 AM on June 29, 2007

It's either Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdales--not actually sure which one.
posted by zeraus at 7:50 AM on June 29, 2007

The company I used to work for did this kind of thing in Saks Fifth Avenue. Biggest thing to remember is the word "no." This may be a really great personal stylist you're working with, but that doesn't mean you should throw down for expensive items just because you're told they'll look good on you. This may sound obvious, but I've seen lots of people trying to pull off things they just aren't comfortable in, especially guys that don't see themselves as very savvy when it comes to personal fashion.
posted by undercoverhuwaaah at 8:00 AM on June 29, 2007

When you go, try to remember (you can even make a list) of the nice things you already have that you want your new clothes to go with. You can tell the salesperson what kind of outfits you want- business casual, something for a nice dinner out, something for a fancy event, etc- and tell them what you own (I need some pants to wear with my white button-down to work, for example). Then they will bring you more of the things you need and will really wear, and less of the new hotness that might not be practical for you. Also, don't be shy about telling them how much you want to spend on certain items, what line of work you are in and what types of places you like to go out to; that may influence what they show you.

If you give them good guidelines, you don't have to worry too much about upselling and getting excited about things you can't afford or won't wear- they want your repeat business, not your one-time big sell. They know you will be wearing clothes for a long time, and they want you to have a good experience so you will come back to them again. (My friend was a personal shopper for Saks, I will see if he can recommend anyone who still works there.)

I second bringing the shoes you plan to wear with your new threads. Have fun!
posted by rmless at 8:40 AM on June 29, 2007

Second on the suggestion of bringing shoes. You won't know if your pants actually look right, if you don't try them on with the shoes they're meant to go with.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 8:42 AM on June 29, 2007

If this isn't a Pretty Woman "ZOMG money is no object" sort of trip, tell them about how many things you want to get, and about what you're hoping to spend.

e.g. "I need two weeks of business casual, and four or five outfits for a night out with the wife, and I'm hoping to keep it under 5."
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:52 AM on June 29, 2007

I did this once at Nordstrom's in San Francisco, when I wanted to buy a whole lot of new clothes. It was great and a bit overwhelming.

I called the concierge department at the store and got someone random assigned to me. She asked me over the phone what I was looking for, what was my size, and attempted to understand what style of clothes I was looking for. (Answer: I have no clue. Help!)

Then I showed up at the store on the appointed day to be greated with a private dressing room full of clothes. 15 pairs of pants, 20 shirts, a bunch of jackets, etc. With more to come if I wanted. It was a bit overwhelming but she did a great job organizing and walking me through it. I brought a friend with me for consulting as well, but I think I would have been OK just on her advice.

All this can take a lot of time. Even with a lunch break, I cried uncle after about four hours and scheduled a return visit the next weekend. And was back two weekends after for fittings, adjustments, etc. Overall I probably spent 15 hours with my personal shopper.

Looking back on it, the best thing she did for me was introduce me to other salespeople in the store who were really good at their jobs. I needed some shoes, so she took me to a shoe saleswoman who turned out to have been there for 20 years and knew her business. Same deal with suits, and now I have a guy to go to for suits. Before this experience, I never knew the folks on the floor could actually be helpful. The good ones are.

Nordstrom's does not charge for this service. Presumably the concierge is on commission. I didn't quite understand how this would work until I realized that the whole time I was selecting clothes, price was not part of the conversation. The price tags were there, and a couple of times I turned something away because it was absurdly expensive. But basically items were shown and chosen based on whether they were good, not whether they were inexpensive. So that's how they make their money. But they're all about repeat business, so feel free to tell them about your price range. I'd do that as early as possible, before they start selecting things for you to try.
posted by Nelson at 8:56 AM on June 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

Be careful and don't be afraid to walk out if they get snobby and indigent over the fact you're not a hedge fund manager. They're there to help you, which doesn't mean forcing the most expensive things on you, anyone can do that. They're their to optimize your spending to fit within your budget and expectations. Don't be afraid to say something like, "I need 3 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, a couple shorts and a belt." Being specific helps them help you and you get out of their faster.
posted by geoff. at 10:36 AM on June 29, 2007

err, there
posted by geoff. at 10:36 AM on June 29, 2007

I'd be curious to know how this all worked out for you.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:56 PM on June 17, 2008

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