Sunday, October 01, 2006

Behold, The Personal Shopper

I never thought I would use the services of a personal shopper. I didn't think I was that kind of girl. There are just certain things you know you'll never attain in life. You know Annette Bening in "The American President," how she can dance gracefully at state functions and make clever jokes in French? Yeah, I'm not that kind of girl, either. I'm not a trophy girlfriend. I'm not a singer (I lipsynch "Happy Birthday"). I'm not the kind of girl you want behind the wheel of a bus that has to go more than 50 miles per hour. I'm not the girl who has the perfect comeback (the perfect comeback comes to me years later).

Besides, I'm a woman, and women like shopping, right? I mean, don't we? Well, okay, yes. I like shopping for certain things--the things I always buy. Funny how that works out. If you send me shopping, I'll shop for what I like, and I'll come home with the same things I've always bought. I have six pairs of jeans and forty t-shirts. It was time to call in the professionals.

Fortunately, Macy's has such professionals. For free. Yes, really. I grant you, these are not the kind of people who are going to make you undress in front of a 360-degree mirror and tear you down so they can build you up. But they are going to help you find something that makes you look fabulous, and it makes more sense than you might think.

If I went looking for something myself--say, a pair of pants that aren't jeans--here's how it would go down:
  1. Pick out 20 pairs of pants.
  2. Try them all on. Even though they are all the same size, some don't come up over the knee.
  3. Cry. Consider liposuction or crash dieting. Resolve to hit the gym.
  4. Go buy something easier to pick out, like underwear or a nightgown, or, better yet, another t-shirt.
With the personal shopper, it's more like this:
  1. Personal shopper presents a rack of whatever you said you were looking for in colors you said you liked.
  2. Personal shopper offers you champagne.
  3. You try on clothes and new things appear based on what fits and what you like.
  4. You have so many choices that you have to weed things out to fit your budget.
Did you notice that there was no crying? The whole thing was a very positive experience. I did not have to feel like I was some kind of freak--like no one makes pants for me because my thighs are misshapen in some new and awful way that scientists might need to study. The whole thing took three hours (if I had been more disciplined it could have been an hour), and I barely exceeded my budget.

Karen, my personal shopper, was warm and friendly and made me feel very comfortable. She brought me many items that were on sale. I got a lot for what I spent, and I feel terrific about everything I bought. I typically buy things one at a time in discount stores, and I'm sure the thrill of the hunt will be irresistible. But there is definitely something to be said for this kind of thing. Everything's up to date. Everything goes together. You can make choices to fill a certain gap in your wardrobe or to match something you have already. And you're not wandering through the store where you can run into another pair of jeans or another t-shirt--your whole trip is goal-oriented, so you're not distracted and can't fall back into your rut. It's not for everybody, but I loved it. I'll definitely go back when I can.

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