I had a very eye opening experience over the weekend when it came to shopping. I consider myself to be a professional shopper, but apparently even I have flaws, and am not as good at it as I thought I was. My main flaw is that I'm stuck in a semi-rut about what looks good on me, and what I like to wear, so I never really consider certain items of clothing when I see them on the racks, because I quickly write them off as "not me." What I needed was someone else to force me into clothing I would never even dream of trying on in the first place, to show me how good I can really look in them. I should say for the record that I am constantly complimented on my clothes by people at work and people I don't even know on the street, so don't think I am some What Not To Wear "before" person or anything like that. I mean, I know certain things I look good in. I just needed a bit of an awakening for new things that also look good on me.
This angel came in the form of a salesman at Benetton named T.
I went over there on Saturday, since it is pretty close to my house, with the intent of shopping along Armitage and Halsted at all the various boutiques. I like to support my local businesses around here, and buy at the shops around here as much as possible so they stay here. It's very nice, although a bit dangerous, to be able to shop very easily without battling the crowds on Michigan Avenue or State Street. I know that BCBG, Benetton, and a lot of the other shops aren't "small businesses" so to speak, but I like that they have stores around me, so I would rather buy at these locations than their Michigan Avenue locations if given the choice.
At any rate, I walked into Benetton, which always has very cute and fairly reasonably priced (cheaper than BCBG at any rate) stuff, and the store was fairly empty other than a couple of other shoppers. They had a number of cute sweater dresses, and I stared at them, and then remembered that I don't look very good in sweater dresses because I'm kind of hippy. My weight goes to my hips, and I have a fairly small waist in comparison, and in a sweater dress that clings the wrong way, wow that is a big fashion don't. I just look very odd. As I was looking longingly at this one sweater dress, T started to talk to me, and I spilled my guts about my hips and sweater dresses and how the two shall never meet, and he said "I think you should at least try it on." I tried to insist that it would not work, yet somehow he convinced me. And I was in that kind of a mood, so I told him I was in somewhat of a rut, and I needed some help. I said "I will put myself in your hands. Pick out some things for me to try on, and let's give it a go." I never do this. In fact, I don't like it when salespeople talk to me too much or force things on me, usually. But I don't know, I was kind of in the mood for it, so I just went with it.
Let me say, T pulled through. He brought me about eight outfits to try on, and boots and heels and coats to try them on with. (Benetton has amazing winter coats.) I'm convinced that having the right shoe is huge in trying on outfits, because it really helps you to picture the entire look, as opposed to standing there in your bare feet trying to picture something with heels or boots.
So, T made me try on leggings (gasp!) with a longer shirt that you kind of pull up a little so it sits on the hips. (Does that make sense?) Let me be clear: I wore leggings with long shirts and belts when I was 11, and I vowed not to do it at 36. Why should I redo trends I already did? But somehow, T convinced me to do this, and he gave me boots to put on with it, and....well, the result was quite astonishing. I looked very good, and I questioned fellow patrons as well as the entire staff to find out if the look was "too young." They all said it was not and that I looked great. So, I bought that outfit. And I intend to wear it when I go to Vegas in a few weeks, or possibly before. (This is not a work look. This is also an outfit I would have never, ever on my own tried on.)
It went like this through a series of outfits. He made me try on all kinds of crazy shit. Jeggings? I did not like them, but only because the rise was way too low for me. One of the other salesgirls agreed with me that she didn't like the rise on them either. Three sweater dresses! Three! Which all looked quite fantastic on me. (Does Benetton have skinny mirrors? I think they might.) I was stunned, floored, and wondered how much I have been missing over the years due to my rut. I also got a pencil skirt and silk shirt that I can wear to work, and two coats (justified since they are in colors I don't currently own in coats). There were some other things I didn't like, like a sweater coat thing that had a really crazy collar that I felt weird in, and a top that was way too much work, but I was glad I tried them on. The big prize was the last "surprise" outfit he had for me. This is another thing I would've never, ever tried on. They were black stretchy but thicker pants (very form fitting) with a turtleneck top that has sort of triangle designs going in toward the waist. The pants fit me like a glove, and the outfit was super hot. He dragged me out to the floor to show the other salesgirls, because "I just put this outfit together and I have to show them because this is so great!" The pants were pretty much made for my figure.
In short, the entire experience was unbelievable. I spent about an hour and a half, spent about $1,000 (but saved $500 since everything was 30% off), and came out with a pretty solid winter wardrobe. (And I seriously want to go back and buy this one coat in every single color. I love it and it is so warm. I will probably wait for another sale and hope they still have my size.) I also didn't buy the boots, and am kind of regretting it. Maybe I should get them, they were only $250 and were amazing. At the time, I just couldn't really justify it since I have brown knee boots, but then again, they were the brown knee riding boots, which I don't have and totally love.
At any rate, I think this is the way to go for me. What is so nice is that T put the outfits together for me, which is what I am too lazy to try to figure out at the stores. I like to buy outfits, not separates. When I buy separates, I end up wondering what to wear with them when I am fumbling around for clothes in the morning. All I had to do was try the outfits on and say go or no go. And it really forced me out of my comfort zone, which was also very nice. I am going to have J do this for me at BCBG (I don't know why I haven't made him do this yet, other than that I usually hate it), and I may book an appointment at Banana Republic for it also, since they do it by appointment, and their stuff fits me really well. Apparently you can do this at Macy's and other department stores as well. I like this. I like it a lot. It is way less work for me, and I reap all of the rewards in fantastic clothing.
Of course, this will be for spring clothes, since I am pretty well set for winter now.