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Personal Shoppers: Have you ever used one?

(63 Posts)
Issymum Thu 17-Nov-05 11:51:02

I've come to the conclusion that (1) I don't enjoy clothes shopping (2) I don't have time for clothes shopping and (3) I'm absolutely, bloody useless at it. In my fantasy world I would hand over my clothing budget to a person of style, taste and empathy who, twice a year, would select what s/he thought I needed for the next season, bearing in mind my shape, my colouring, my activities, my budget, my existing wardrobe and a nod towards that season's fashion trends. I would try on this carefully edited selection, buy most of it and the whole thing would be sorted out in a couple of hours.

Has anybody achieved this miracle? I've thought of personal shoppers in department stores, but I have a horror of being bundled into nasty Acquascutum suits by bossy women of a certain age with perma-tans and painful colour palettes.

beachyhead Thu 17-Nov-05 12:15:55

I used one just before I went back to work after having ds (now 4) and I'm going again to the one at JL just before Christmas to find a 'party' dress...... I think you have to try a few and then go with the one you like....I think a friend of mine swears by the HoF one in Guildford and I remember you are in Surrey....might be worth a try. I'll let you know how the JL in Bluewater one goes

Issymum Thu 17-Nov-05 12:21:36

Thanks Beachyhead. I live in central Guildford but have never actually darkened the doors HoF - no particular reason, just never thought to. I might give it a go. Perhaps start off with one item and take it from there.

Anybody else?

acnebride Thu 17-Nov-05 12:25:20

Ask yourself a question - when the unemployed lads come to your door flogging teatowels, do you always buy something? Because if so, you may find that you don't enjoy the personal shopping experience.

Sitting in a large dressing room not having to dress/undress fifty times was fabulous. i was convinced, however, that I could have done better than what she brought me, and I ended up spending more than I meant to. I would agree that it must depend on the individual - the one I used was Debenhams in Oxford St so, although it was years ago, I'd say try somewhere else.

You could try finding an image consultant in yell.com although I'd be really wary of the shoulder pad factor as well.

Anchovy Thu 17-Nov-05 12:26:09

I have - its brilliant! Have only used it for work clothes, but would definitely extend it once I was happy with the individual - bit like finding a good hairdresser, I think you should let them start with something straightforward (I wouldn't go straight to a new hairdresser for lifestyle changing cut with a side order of highlights, to follow my analogy).

I need smartish clothes for work and I just don't have the time or much of the inclination to buy them myself - absolutely hate those jaunts when you go out looking for something and find yourself all hot and flustered 4 hours later with nothing to show for it and the thought of having to do it all over again. I've been to Selfridges and Fenwicks for personal shopping, both of which are very good. I've discussed what I wanted (something black and suit-like) and then sat down and read magazines while they scurry around. They come back with LOADs of things (I get "trying on fatigue" when left to my own devices) and can advise whether things fit well, what goes well with what etc. Both times I've come away with things I would not have chosen myself but have been REALLY pleased with - one was a whole new look (a move into - flattering- trouser suits) that everyone commented on (even DH, who usually asserts that all of my clothese look exactly the same).

They are particularly good at ferreting around stockrooms etc to get the right size which may not be out on the shop floor and they usually bring in the seamstress who pins you up for alterations there and then (I have abnormally short arms, I think)

Its free. And they offer you wine. YAAAAY! What's not to like?

Enid Thu 17-Nov-05 12:26:39

the one at harvey nichols is fab and the one in selfridges is crap

(never personally used it but dealt with them a lot when I used to work on fashion shoots and my sister still uses them loads in her job)

acnebride Thu 17-Nov-05 12:27:55

WOW Enid can YOU advise us on our wardrobes?

Anchovy Thu 17-Nov-05 12:27:59

Yes, have friend who swears by ones from Harvey Nichols and she is always fantastically well turned out. Thought Fenwicks was better than Selfridges.

Enid Thu 17-Nov-05 12:28:29

well it was a long time ago

look like one of the two fat ladies these days

Issymum Thu 17-Nov-05 12:37:04

Hmmm! Sounds good although the words 'Selfidges', 'Fenwicks' and 'Harvey Nichols' induce a quick budgetary faint. I suspect that, unbelievably, I should be spending more on clothes than I do. It's something I feel very ambivalent about. I guess I could start a thread on 'What's a reasonable annual budget for clothes' and await the cat-fight?!

Issymum Thu 17-Nov-05 12:38:11

Anchovy: Maybe we could do a mini-meet-up in the personal shopping department of Fenwicks?

Anchovy Thu 17-Nov-05 12:43:27

Well, not really. I've come to the conclusion that my biggest waste of money is things that I buy the aren't quite right or don't quite fit that I end up not wearing. From the personal shopper I got 2 suits that I really liked, that are well made, that I had tailored to fit exactly and that I wear each a couple of times a week. Amortise that to a "per wear" basis and its really pretty reasonable. Harvey Nicks is more top end, but Fenwicks and Selfridges have lots of the "labels" that are common to all the department stores - I'm talking maybe a notch above Hobbs/Jigsaw but several notches below Armani/Nicole Farhi.

Anchovy Thu 17-Nov-05 12:45:23

Sorry, the "not really" was aimed at the perceived cost not the Fenwicks trip.

Yes - lets put them to the test on "fashionable forty something lawyers outfits!"

acnebride Thu 17-Nov-05 12:47:56

issymum, have you considered trying a local independent dress shop? i worked in one for a few months a hundred years ago and did find that the owner was really good at buying stuff that worked together and was quite honest to people about what suited them

realised i could never do this when all the stuff i thought was awful flew out of the shop - mustard corduroy shorts with brown embroidery, anyone?

Issymum Thu 17-Nov-05 13:11:44

Acnebride: Good thought, but I think that the ones around Guildford are likely to be very very scarey.

Anchovy: I think you may have just hit on the perfect law-firm marketing function for women. I say 'bah' to your golf days and clay-pigeon shooting outings, give me Fenwicks' personal shopper.

Anchovy Thu 17-Nov-05 13:44:33

Actually we do champagne tastings, chocolate making and breakfast events at London fashion week!

cupcakes Thu 17-Nov-05 13:57:00

Anyone used Harrods? I used to work in that department and was wondering what they were like nowadays. Apparently they have a posh new department with plasmas screen somethings.

futurity Thu 17-Nov-05 14:00:49

I'm going on Saturday to see personal shopper in Debenhams as I am now (sort of!) back to pre-preg weight after 2nd child and have no idea what size I am/what suits me etc etc and someone on here recommended it so off I go...I will report back afterwards!

moondog Thu 17-Nov-05 14:02:01

Know how you feel Issymum.
I hate shopping,hate it,hate it,hate it.

Used to bulk buy from Boden for the whole family but a bit bored with it now.

Anyone got recommendations for Chester,Liverpool or Manchester?

binkie Thu 17-Nov-05 14:04:19

Issymum: go to Liberty! - lovely elegant interesting clothes. Nice clever personal shopper lady. Only done it once, but then you only need one perfect long black dress

There is also that place called Wardrobe, which from outside has quite a scary Nancy dell'Olio (have I made her name sillier than it is?) vibe, but having had a very special present from dh 5 years ago I am still wearing the little capsule of things I got then. Tip if you do go: have your appointment during Jan or summer sale.

Finally: House of Fraser in the City has nice clothes in a different league than other HoFs.

sis Thu 17-Nov-05 14:05:40

I have used it with John Lewis and Debenhams in Oxford Street London. The first time at Debenhams was fine but the second time was awful and I won't repeat the experience again. John Lewis was fantastic - I am very short (under 5') so not a huge range but she didn't try to fob me off with anything that didn't fit properly across the shoulders, back, waist etc although the trousers, as ever had to be shortened. Although I was shopping for work clothes, she helped me find stuff that didn't look too formal. In other words: go to John Lewis in Oxford Street if you can!

Issymum Thu 17-Nov-05 14:22:12

OK, so far the recommendations have been:

Liberty
Fenwicks
Wardrobe
House of Fraser (City or Guildford)
John Lewis (Oxford Street)

Given that I work in SoHo and live in Guildford, looks like I'm spoilt for choice. Aaagh. Any clear winners in the list. I guess it depends on budget which brings me on to the tougher question, but you've all done so well, perhaps you can you have a stab at it. What is a reasonable annual amount for a 40 something lawyer, reasonably well-paid but not at City standards, to spend on clothes? All up, leisure and work but taking into account large mortgage and the fact that any social life that necessitates glamour is severely limited?

binkie Thu 17-Nov-05 15:06:33

What a dangerous question!! Are you talking overhauling from scratch, or continuing to dazzle in the forefront of elegance season upon season, or Scottishly updating here and there while still wearing Perfectly Fine things you got 10 years ago? (I'm in camp 3.)

Camp 3 probably means at most two new suits a year, I guess about £180 or so each. Pair of shoes from M&S or Debenhams sale twice a year, £50 each. Nice cashmere T-shirt or two bumps it up.

binkie Thu 17-Nov-05 15:16:43

But - one of the suits from Wardrobe did cost more like £400+ (and that was in the sale) but I've worn it over & over again, and had it altered as the baby flab went, and gone on wearing it for 5 years now. So part of the issue is that "investment dressing" thing, where you amortise your outlay ...

So, maybe you should start at the other end, with what you think you need?

motherinferior Thu 17-Nov-05 15:26:26

Barging late into this thread, the glamorous Aloha is a big fan of personal shoppers. I think you should ALL go, lawyer ladies, and report back.

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