She Loves Fashion but Hates the Hunt. Can Two Personal Shoppers Help?
If you could see my closet, you’d be surprised — and not in a good way. As a fashion editor, it’s my job to pore over the most ravishing clothes and accessories you can imagine. Bubble skirts molded out of glossy strawberry satin. Quilted handbags worthy of a 50-person waiting list. Dresses dusted in sequins, edged in tulle, lathered in eyelet, dipped in gold. I may write about how to wear such clothes (or at least the knockoff versions), but I’m not good at taking my own advice. Year-round, I stick to baggy sweaters, blousy tops, ballet flats and jeans I’ve had since college. And when I’m at a store, I overthink everything. Confronted with styles that I’ve focused on too much to appreciate in purely personal terms, I look at little and try on even less. This is why my closet (while including a few nice items, such as perfectly weathered motorcycle boots and a vintage coat the color of a ripe tomato) currently contains: K Ten almost-identical tunic tops in gray or black. All are long and droopy. (And, no, I am not expecting.) K Ten cardigans in varying shades of cream, brown, gray and black. K Seven pairs of jeans, one of which fits as it should. K An expensive evening dress with a ragged, asymmetrical hem that strives for avant-garde but, after only four wearings, says, “Send to Goodwill, stat.” K A curious (and somewhat disturbing) number of items that would be appropriate on a 12-year-old, including a Boy Scout shirt, Kangaroos sneakers and a baseball T-shirt with unicorns and rainbows on it.
Equally bad is what I don’t have. For someone who works in an office, I possess a startling lack of Grown-Up Clothes. This is probably because I used to work at a fashion magazine where everyone strove to look like stylishly disheveled art students. I’m not there anymore, but I still dress the part: slouchy layers, thrift-store jewelry, the kind of lank hair and chipped nail polish that make people wonder if it’s Take Your Daughter to Work Day. It occurs to me that it wouldn’t be so bad to invest in a few polished pieces: structured jackets, pants that aren’t jeans, shirts that fit and don’t have unicorns on them.
As it happens, the D.C. area is home to several personal shoppers who are only too happy to help people like me. They can be found at department stores, in boutiques and on the Internet; their levels of experience vary widely; and their fees range from free to you-don’t-want-to-know. I decide to seek out two wardrobe wizards: a personal shopper at Lord & Taylor, whose services are available to customers gratis, and a freelance shopper who charges a cool $100 an hour. What does each teach me about adding some chic to my closet? Find out on Page 4.
This might be a casual Friday outfit for some, but for me it’s a work look that’s a dramatic shift from my usual T-shirt and jeans. It’s all
about baby steps, right? Cynthia Steffe jacket, $285 Club Monaco blouse, $89 Tevrow & Chase slacks, $225