LILLIAN CHARLES

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A Forever Changed Retail Landscape

Whew!  The retail market, like any other market, is constantly changing.  With an up close and personal view of the retail landscape, I'm in the trenches with a blanket over my face watching my industry turn digital.  And in almost the same breath, I can say that I feel better about helping people with their personal style than ever. Because guess who can help you, the consumer, navigate this ever-changing retail landscape? Personal stylists. Like me.

GAP, Ann Taylor and Macy's have closed massive amounts of stores across the country. BCBG Outlets (once a favorite shopping destination of mine) recently shut down and moved to online-only. The Limited, C. Wonder and Caché are now brands of the past, having gone under entirely. Bebe announced in April 2017 that they will be closing all 175 storefronts to move the brand to "online only." Anthropologie's sales have dropped every quarter since 2015 (once I read the article, it all made sense!)  I shared these facts with a friend recently and she responded plainly, "The Amazon Effect. We are all racing against the e-market." *Read more on this topic, here.

Totally. We get online and we order... and order, and order and order. Myself included! Here I am sitting in a gym below Lenox Square Mall. checking my emails and I click on a 30% off of everything at J.Crew. There's a J.Crew about 30 steps away from where I'm sitting. I almost hit order, some of that has to do with not wanting to put up with store people. Even as a professional stylist, there are loads of stores that make me cringe to walk in and out of without buying something. 

But ordering can be equally tricky if
you aren't sure what you want, need or fit into.

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You may find yourself in the same sticky situation as Stitch Fix-buying. 
You're desperate for something that is new, trendy, different;
something that works, fits and is maybe even a little bit flattering.
You order.
It fits.
Kind of.
Sort of.
Good enough.
You keep it.
The thought of spending more time ordering/returning, GUESSING, looking for deals, paying for shipping (Because chances are you didn't meet the minimum for free shipping #eyeroll) makes you cringe. It's fine, you tell yourself. Now you've got a few pieces that are all "OKAY." And they're just okay. But they're new and they fit (ish) and whatever, right?  

But do you really want to put on "whatever" everyday? Just because you didn't want to put in the effort to return it or keep looking for something better? 

Honestly, people.
Can we stop with the bull shit mediocrity for a second?

Can we please stop settling? Can we quit with the fast fashion transactions that do nothing for our bodies, wardrobes. wallets or the environment? 

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Keeping the less than awesome pieces CAN be avoided. Here are a few tips:

  • Know your brands.
  • Know your sizing -- tall, petite.  
              ex: some people need petite pants but not petite tops.
  • Keep track of what you wear in various brands
              note: I keep a file for each client with of all of their sizing details in different brands.
  • Know the SHAPES that work best for your body.
              note: four days before a big event (wedding, reunion, graduation) is not the time to try all new silhouettes on your body. That's added, unnecessary stress. 
  • Research for best prices, offers and deals. Check sites like "RetailMeNot" for discounts.

If you're in a big city where you can go and return things on location, do it. The store people hate this. I get it... I deal with them all the time. But GO! Go in and look around and see what you like. This is like trying new food or a new route to work. Go in and see what you see. 

If you don't have time for this or you can't trust
yourself to make sound purchasing decisions, hire a stylist.

It will be one of the greatest, most rewarding "investments" of your life. A personal styling service is not glutenous or over the top or selfish or a waste. A stylist helps you navigate this ever-changing retail landscape. Find someone you trust and who has your best interest at heart. I'm sorry, but this is not always what you'll find in boutiques, it's just not. Some boutiques are GREAT, others are truly just looking to make sales. You can use a personal stylist for one or two sessions... but you'll probably want to keep him or her around for a lifetime. 

EDIT: Since writing this post, my favorite brand in the world, Kit & Ace, has shut down all stores in the United States, UK and Australia. 

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