Tag Archives: J Crew

Nordstrom’s with a Personal Stylist

 Following my experience with the stylist at J Crew, I felt like actually experiencing working with a personal stylist would give me a better understanding of the premium apparel market. Beyond this, I really needed a few more pairs of pants for work, so I thought this would be a good way to hit two birds with one stone.

I’ve always liked Nordstrom’s. In terms of department stores, they are likely the highest end store in Pittsburgh (comment on this entry disagree). My thoughts about their brand and service made picking Nordstroms for this experience an easy choice.

I went to Nordstrom’s website and set up an appointment with a stylist for an appointment (I allowed their system to randomly assign me to a stylist). Soon after setting my appointment, I was greeted by the stylist named Susan.  She sent a brief email introduction asked for some basic information to get an idea of my style.

I explained that I was looking for pants that I could wear to work in a business casual setting and provided by pants size. In response, she asked me for my shirt size, shoe size, and a few other measurements. I knew that in setting up this appointment she would attempts to sell me things I wasn’t asking for, but I had no idea what I was getting into.

We exchanged a few emails and I attempted to paint a picture of the current state of my wardrobe.  I thought doing this would give her a better idea.  I also described the environment I dress up for at work (business casual except for Fridays).  With that information, she went about her job of picking out out some things for me to try.

 I got to Nordstroms about twenty minutes early, because I didn’t want to be late. I walked over to the section where the stylist told me to meet her and spent about fifteen minutes looking around. There was no shortage of sales representatives walking around offering to help me. I felt like I could have jokingly asked for a cup of coffee and would have found one in my hand before I could blink. About five minutes before my appointment, I let someone know I was there to meet with Susan and gave my name.

Timberland Boot Company ‘Wodehouse Lost History’ Boot (loved them, but a bit out of my price range)

My stylist took me to a dressing room filled with shirts, jeans, pants, shoes, and a few jackets. It was a little bit like walking into a dream filled with clothes that I would like minus a few of the shirts.Timberland Boot Company ‘Wodehouse Lost History’ Boot (loved them, but a bit out of my price range).  She was pretty spot on with my taste minus about two or three shirts that I just didn’t like and one of the three pairs of shoes. Unfortunately, I am not made of money, so I wasn’t going to buy most of the things she pulled.

After looking around the dressing room for a minute, we walked out to look around the store for anything else I might want her to pull. I looked at a few casual jackets and sweaters that were far outside of my price range, but wanted to try them on anyway. I asked about peacoats since it was the end of the winter season and they might have some on sale. I found one I liked, but of course it was one of the few that wasn’t on sale and far beyond my price range. At this very moment, I am wishing I had bought it, but there is always next year, right?

  I wanted to take a look at sports jackets and we both looked over there. She pulled a beautiful Hugo Boss sports jacket for me to try. It was slim cut navy sports jacket with side vents. I don’t know that I’ve ever put on a jacket that has looked as flattering as that one did. I asked her to pull it and started thinking to myself, is there any chance I am really going to buy this?

‘The Keys’ Trim Fit Check Sport Coat by Boss Hugo Boss (the jacket I loved that was too expensive) 

        Going back to the dressing room things were pretty simple. I tried something on and asked her opinion about the fit. I found that a few things were a size too big and she ran to find me the right size. I feel in love with a pair of wool pants by a Ted Baker London.

They were incredibly light, but still felt warm. They were exactly what I was looking for to wear to work and my stylist let me know that they would hem them for me for no additional charge. That sold me on them pretty quickly.

Ted Baker ‘Jefferson’ Flat Front Wool Trousers in Grey (bought these)

 I found another pair of pants I liked as well as a really sharp pair of Cole Haan dress shoes she picked out. I had no intention of buying shoes that day, but they were too perfect to say no to. I wore them while the seamstress there chalked the pants I was buying to be hemmed.

            I let the stylist know what I was buying and that I just couldn’t buy the Hugo Boss jacket that I adored and she told me she’d let me know if it went on sale. I’m crossing my fingers the jacket will be on sale for the anniversary sale, but I’m certainly not holding my breath.

Cole Haan ‘Lenox Hill’ Wingtip in milled black (bought these)

  Overall, I can see why someone would use a personal stylist or personal shopper. Having someone who can size you up and help pick out things that will look flattering on you and have them ready for you before you even step in the store is a really nice experience. There was something so simple about this shopping experience. It was so personal, but that may have been helped by the fact that she told me she had a son about my age.

  During this whole experience, I started asking myself if this service would live on. My idea from J Crew that stylists get most of their clients from recommendations was reinforced. She wanted to know what my experience was like using their website to be routed to a stylist since she wasn’t familiar with the process. She also seemed to have little knowledge or was unwilling to talk about the relationship between Nordstroms and Trunk Club.

J Crew: A Women’s Store with a Stylist

As I said in another entry, my want to learn about fashion was related to my goal to reinvent my personal brand. This goal has included a complete rebuild of my wardrobe. While this wasn’t a cheap thing to do, it was way overdue. At 25, it is sadly time to retire the t-shirt from a college basketball game sponsored by Mellow Mushroom. My t-shirts from high school youth group probably need to go too.

Along this journey, I’ve been looking for my own style and started to really like J. Crew’s shirts. I found a number of them at a second hand store in Squirrel Hill called Avalon Exchange (they are on Forbes Avenue between Murray and Shady if you are interested). With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to find someone who could help me put together my own “style guide” so to speak. I went up online and found that J Crew offers a personal stylist service and decided I’d check it out. I knew there would be no pressure to buy anything and thought it would be interesting to write about.

Without doing much research, I called the J Crew store in Shadyside only to realize that the store is a women’s only store. After talking to the personal stylist for a minute, I decided that the academic value of visiting a women’s store provides an already well-segmented market. I agreed to meet the stylist on a Sunday afternoon just top get a better idea of what personal stylists do.

Outside of J Crew on Walnut Street

Going into the meeting, my knowledge of personal stylists consisted of Rachel from Friends working at Bloomingdales. I showed up to my appointment a little bit early since it was snowing out and decided to sit in my car for a minute to really survey the location of the store.

The J Crew store in Shadyside is located on Walnut Street along with a variety of other high-end retailers. The Apple Store is basically across the street from J Crew and a block away is a jeweler that sells Rolex watches among other things.

This J Crew location had a bright lighting design. The floor layout was clearly designed with female customers in mind. I can’t imagine a men’s store being set up the way this store was. It had warmth to it with clothes, shoes, and accessories arranged attractively.

I sat down on a couch by the shoes to talk to the personal stylist and get an idea of what a stylist really does. Some things I learned seem to be standard across the industry. For one thing, personal stylists at brick and mortar stores tend to get most of their customers by word of mouth and recommendations.

Personal stylists also deal with several different kinds of customers. Some come by when they need something for a special event like an interview. There are some customers who come in once per season looking to add a few outfits or items to their rotation. There are still other customers who want to know as soon as new items they might like come in.

I talked to this stylist about the future of retail, since I have an interest in some of the technology of tomorrow. I asked if she had any fears related to the smart dressing room of the future. Her answer was simple, some people will have trouble in that world, but others will sell a lot more because of those tools.

Technology in retail has the potential to really change the landscape as it already has, but my experience talking to a stylist at J Crew made me realize that at this level, the personal touch that a stylists gives is not replaceable by a computer. The question for the future is if people will value that the same way that I do. Is the service at a store worth the extra money?