Is a personal shopper worth the money?

A couple hundred bucks (industry rates range from $75-$150 an hour) is a lot of money for “advice”.  Is it a good investment when you can go shopping with a friend and put the money towards your new purchases?

I get asked this question all the time and thought I’d explain some facts so you can judge whether hiring a personal shopper for a few hours is going to be worthwhile for you.

Technically, personal shoppers fall into two categories – the in-store “personal shopper” and the independent “style consultant”. Each will provide a slightly different service.

In store personal shoppers

In-store personal shoppers will generally have more training than sales people on how to give style advice. They will provide a free service or charge a small fee redeemable against purchases.  They will have good knowledge about the labels they’re affiliated with and be able to save you time by pulling out the items that suit you and your needs. They can also offer advice on how to accessorise or wear your purchase differently.

Even if the personal shopper earns a commission on your purchases, you should not feel pressured into buying anything that you’re not 100% comfortable with.  In-store personal shoppers provide a fresh set of eyes to update your wardrobe.

Pros Cons Perfect when
Free advice You need to know what you want.
  • You know what flatters your shape.
  • You love a specific label.
  • You need something for a specific event.
  • You’re prepared to say “no” to the salesperson if something is not right.
Good product knowledge You need to like the label.
Save you time by trying on shortlisted items You need to be aware of the salesperson’s motivation – their commission versus your needs

Independent personal stylists

I am an independent style consultant. I take my clients on a similar experience but operate very differently. My focus is on my client, not the clothes. I am neither affiliated with or earn a commission from any brands. This allows me to source any clothes that meet my client’s style, shape and budget needs. Sometimes, I am able to pass on a discount because of my relationship with a retailer.

Because my clients hire me for my advice, I give it without bias.  (I admit at times this gets tricky.) I often have a better understanding of my clients’ wardrobe and personality because I have helped them through a Personal Sort and Shop. As a result, I teach my clients to shop strategically and to focus on building outfits not just buying stuff. This in the long-term can save money.

When we’re in a shop, I explain why I’ve chosen something from a rack and teach my clients how to check for fit in the mirror.  I ask my client for feedback and listen.  Conversely when an item doesn’t work, I explain why. In short, I don’t only help my clients buy stuff they need. I educate them and leave them feeling confident about their shopping decisions.

Pros Cons Perfect when
Unbiased advice An good independent stylist will take  more of your time to understand you and your needs
  • You’re not sure what you want, but are open to trying something new.
  • You want to make your wardrobe work better overall.
  • You want to become confident in your own shopping decisions.
Shortlisted items from any retailer that suits client’s needs and budgets You must find a personal stylist whom you feel comfortable with.
Shop strategically – outfits, not items You might need to interview a few to be certain.An upfront fee
Education – on fit, accessorising, investment
shopping

 

How to find the best fashion advice

Regardless of whether you use an in-store personal shopper or an independent style consultant, to get your money’s worth you need to find someone you can trust even for an hour. When interviewing someone,

  1. How comfortable do they make you feel? Do they say things to relax you or to explain the process?
  2. How much time do they spend asking questions about you? Be careful of people who only talk about clothes or themselves.
  3. Are they listening to you? Do they repeat things back to you so you’re certain they’ve heard?
  4. Do they acknowledge your opinions? Or do they brush off your comments and concerns?
  5. Do they offer you options?

I’ve used both types of personal shoppers myself and have found that money does not always guarantee a better result. The only way to make your investment worthwhile is to be clear on your outcome.

My most memorable and fun shopping trips were spent with stylists who helped me achieve more than I thought possible. And that feeling, to me, is priceless.