Personal shoppers: help or hindrance?

I don’t know about you, but retail therapy is most definitely something I embrace when I need a bit of a boost. It is also a particularly good procrastination technique (one that I recommend you try). Strolling around Westfield with a friend, student loan at the ready and a Starbucks in hand is my idea of a Saturday well spent. My preconception of personal shopping, i.e. someone doing this task for me, was not exactly my idea of a great time.

Styling appointments have always been a service incorporated within high-end stores and to an extent, they alter my rather negative perception on stylists. A stylist aims to make the shopping experience an effortless pursuit by considering the customer’s needs and coinciding this with their expertise of current and upcoming trends. Consequently, this service can aid in eliminating the pressure of finding that faultless outfit. However, although a large number of stores offer this service free of charge, a minimum spend tends to be a hidden clause. For example, Selfridges in London stands at two thousand pounds – a price tag that my student loan certainly couldn’t fund!

The idea of an expert advising me about what would compliment me best always seemed exciting and glamorous. Yet, as a student, I have been hesitant when considering a bespoke appointment as a) I thought my bank balance would never cover the cost and b) I have always deemed these services to be aimed at a certain (yes, privileged) clientele. However, with the service now becoming readily available in a number of high street stores, I cannot deny that my initial assumption of what I once deemed an out of reach service, has somewhat changed. As a Sales Advisor at Topshop, I am constantly being exposed to this relatively new concept and it has changed my perspective of personal shopping as a whole. Topshop, alongside a number of other mainstream affordable stores, offer free appointments with no minimum spend – yay! Consequently, this makes the service seem much less intimidating.

But are these appointments necessarily a good idea? I am all for them, in terms of relieving the headache of finding the ‘perfect’ outfit (cut, colour and style) for a one-off special event. However, I do not agree with having these appointments on a periodic basis. They are not needed every time you desire a wardrobe update. We must not forget that style is a form of expression and is unique to each individual. Personal style should not be dictated – one’s style should be recognisable and distinctive to them. If, on a whim, we all decided that we were going to have a stylist, everyone would be ‘on trend’ and quite frankly that would be beyond boring. If you fall in love with a fluorescent piece, which you have politely been ‘advised’ to steer away from, I say stick your fingers up and buy it. Style is about how you make pieces work for you. If you do wish to stick by the rulebook, stick to the basic rule of going for what you like – you really can’t go wrong!

Some will say that personal shopping on the high street is set to revolutionise our shopping habits. It is true to say that I applaud the fact that it is becoming accessible to those who don’t have an endless stream of disposable income. Having said this, I have managed to get this far in life dressing myself in a way which I think (or rather hope) makes me look relatively presentable. I have come to the conclusion that white jeans are a definite nono and I have done so without this being pointed out to me by a professional. Most importantly, though, I am not willing to ditch my girly shopping days for a personal shopping service, thank you very much. Each to their own though.

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