My experience: Personal shopper for the fashion challenged

Let me start of by saying, I’m fashion challenged. I await the day fashionable means pajama pants and funny shirts. When that happens? I’m on top of the world! Until then, I struggle. Last spring I set off on a nearly two month expedition to find clothes that look good, were versatile, and didn’t break my budget. The journey had some up and some major downs! Today I’m just going to touch on what worked for me, as well as what didn’t, and what I can recommend.

Above you see me as I was walking down the path from our house to hop in a car and head to Europe. The skirt was a Nordstrom Rack find, the jacket a Stitch Fix pick, and the top recommended via ModCloth stylist. The brown purse hilarious as I found it at Target for $15 having given up on something that would look photo pretty and work for my traveling purse.  The results of my months long painful efforts DID pay off, I learned a lot, and I’m happy to pass along what I learned.

Here’s my disclaimer right now. Every photo you see in this article is me, sending selfies to friends for input. These aren’t posed for instagram or social media “edited” – it’s raw, it’s me, it’s all 100% real. I hope you enjoy…

First: We Stitch Fix

Over the past five years or so, when I need some specific fashion I turn to Stitch Fix, a locally based company. So I began with them assuming I’d get pieces that fit that I wanted… I got the denim jacket you see above. I LOVE this jacket and I’m so glad they sent it… however in NO way was that something I’d asked for nor did it make sense in context of my requests for the box. They sent me a super short Tshirt dress ($100, no way), and some really basic tank top nonsense. None of it flattered, none of it made sense given what I asked for, all of it looked like stuff I might see way cheaper at Target.

When talking to friends who have used this service they all said the same thing: it has gone from special unique pieces to very generic and not at all custom like it once was.

Verdict: You might get lucky and get an awesome piece… but more than likely you’ll strike out.

Something New: Nordstrom Trunk Club

The short version is, this was 100% fail. The stylist spent all this time talking to me via the app, and I was really excited! I was sure that this was THE ONE that was going to dress me and make me feel fantastic. The previews made me a bit nervous but I assumed that was normal because I am not the best at seeing potential from clothes on the rack – so I figured it would be better than I thought. Then I got the box.

The stylist completely ignored where I was going and what I was wanting, and sent clothes either not at all my colors/style, or clothes that would only be flattering on a thin person. The fabrics were NOT travel friendly, 100% had to be sent back. To make matters worse 1/2 of the items were too small, and the earrings that were to be in this box weren’t. That matters because there was a $25 styling fee that you can apply to a purchase and the $30 or so earrings were a fail safe that I wouldn’t lose money. The company was great about noting that the earrings weren’t in the box – but they wouldn’t send them. They did, however, suggest I get a new stylist and pay them to try again. yeah right!

Lessons learned: Some brands run SMALL, and styling and truly listening to a person takes skills! 

After the shock of being sent a white tulle embroidered dress that was 2 sizes too small (seriously guys – how would that be a good touring/vacation outfit?!) I was very near giving up. I had already been to every store in town and struck out. I was terrified I’d have to go to a big city and hit a real mall. Oh the pain! The horror! Then I thought I’d try a few more things…

No photo, just fact: Amazon Wardrobe

We used Amazon Wardrobe to find the girls and myself walking sandals. We probably ordered 30 pairs between the three of us before we each found our own perfect (wide width!) pair. I strongly recommend this service for shoes especially. You do not pay in advance – you pay once you’ve decided to keep thing(s) and it worked well, though it was slow about 10 days order to arrival.

Pictured above: All of us at Disneyland Paris and me in a VERY COMFORTABLE outfit! My passion is elastic waist khaki light weight pants. Great for travel and big eating!  

Mod Cloth Stylist

I refused to try any more boxes/risky companies so I went on the ModCloth website and intended to make a huge order, returning what I didn’t want quickly before the credit card cycled through. I was sure I didn’t have to look awful and could find some reasonable offerings! That’s when I noticed they have a FREE AND NO RISK stylist service.

You fill out some information and schedule a time to chat. IT IS FREE AND NO RISK. This was by far the best hour of my entire life clothes wise. The stylist who called me clearly had her head in the right place and she advised me on cuts, lengths, fabrics, and details to watch for. She made me feel SO CONFIDENT in what I needed, as well as showing me that what I wanted (short sleeve not sleeveless, modest but fun, etc) does exist!

Why this rules: You’re speaking with someone who knows the inventory inside out, and can guide you towards long time classic pieces they stock as well as new fun options and will help you feel good about YOU. She didn’t try to steer me towards pants (I had that covered!) or tight tops that made me feel like I couldn’t eat. She pointed me to and explained the ‘why’ of the pieces she recommended for me. She convinced me I do have a style and it is ok to be eclectic! At the end of the call I hopped on the website and made an order – and I was delighted by what we settled on! Below you see me in the dress that rocked this vacation from ModCloth (here’s a link).

Becca and I both rocking our Clarks sandals that saw 50+ miles of action and never stopped being super comfortable!

Let me put it to you this way – I felt so good about the ModStylist call and how much she helped me, that from now on if I need fashion help I will be going directly to them first! They may not always have what I need, but I’m a devoted fan after an experience that was by far the best fashion experience of my life.

Heading out on my own…

Confident I could find the missing tops myself I tried Nordstrom Rack and ran out with a headache. It’s just so intensely overwhelming. That’s when I came home and hopped onto Nordstrom Rack ONLINE. Aha! With a few clicks I could zero in on my sizes, and hopefully find some good things. If it didn’t work I could go the 2 miles down the road to the store for returns! I found the top you see me in above as well as the skirt pictured in the very first photo of this long winded article.

The top you see above and my face? That’s true joy. I found a top that I could wear and be happy in – that wasn’t low cut or sleeveless. The brand is Lucky, and it was in the plus size department online on super deep clearance!

Eating Berthillon ice cream in Paris. The best ice cream I’ve had in my entire life, no contest.

So there it is, the journey that took too many hours summed up. The great news is that I feel set clothes wise for the next few years and I don’t have to freak out when someone invites me out and I have so few things to wear it’s likely I wore what I did the last time I saw that person. While I know they say ‘just make what makes you feel good’ – but the truth is if I get photos back and cringe… I no longer feel good. To end up this article (bless you if you made it this far!) let me share my top tips – for all lovely ladies of all sizes:

May’s tips for clothing purchasing:

  1. Keep it simple. I wear my solids or tops with subtle detail way more than I do heavily printed/designed
  2. Accessorize! I much prefer to dress up with a fun necklace or some such vs
  3. Take a photo before you buy! Sometimes the mirror lies – a photo with my iphone often tells me the real truth!
  4. Think about wearing it. How will it be sitting down? Walking? What if you get sweaty?
  5. Love it, or don’t buy it.

My closet is a pretty light/sparse place. I learned long ago if I don’t love it, I shouldn’t buy it! Better to make do with a few great things vs tons of “eh” stuff.

Final Bonus Tip: Loft is great for tall/thin ladies. Miss Elizabeth is so thin and tall and impossible to shop for… except at Loft! Found her a beautiful dress, etc. all looks lovely on her and looks age appropriate. 

3 thoughts on “My experience: Personal shopper for the fashion challenged”

  1. Loft now has plus size. Finally found a dress that looks good on me in the loft. What do you think of LuLaRoe…??? I found a consulted ordered a top then decided it was rather crappy made. the consultant went out of business in the process. I do love the dress you have on. It looks GREAT on you!

  2. I think about you and your clothes search every once in awhile and hoped you found some things that you enjoyed for your trip. You really look fabulous in the things that you got and liked. i read your whole article a few times, lol. I am still losing weight, but its getting cooler here so i have a much easier time in turtlenecks and some sweatshirts in beautiful colors that I got from amazon. I wear the same black wool skirt all winter (i have a burgundy one also, if I get sick of the black one) I just keep making it smaller. When I find things I like i tend to get them in a bunch of colors. I love your jean jacket! Its really a keeper. when i get closer to my stay at size i am going to try the mod cloth stylist. Thank so much for saving me all kinds of time and energy. Hugs, treen

  3. Love these tips May. I’m a very fashion challenged person myself – and I’ve just noticed that my favourite pants are wearing thin and will need to be replaced soon

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