Almost two weeks ago I challenged myself to do something that I never do: Go shopping.
I detailed the ‘whys’ in a previous, “Dusting Off My Parachute” post the night before my adventure. The boiled down version is that I hate shopping. I find it completely overwhelming both in terms of the sheer number of choices available and also because I am incredibly thrifty (okay, cheap).
If I were a computer and you could search my ‘history’ of clothing purchases in the past year, you would see:
- Jeans that I bought about 5 months ago (four pairs for $8 total) off of our neighborhood Facebook Garage Sale list.
- An Old Navy shirt that I bought 2 months ago for my headshot photos (and promptly ruined by getting a big stain on the back during the 2nd wearing.)
- Another Old Navy shirt that I bought for our family photos last year which ended up being a maternity shirt….because I am that bad at shopping.
Since I am that bad at shopping, I decided to enlist the help of a professional stylist who lives in my neighborhood, Shelley Riley at Shell Styling.
If you’re like me, you probably have no idea what shopping with a stylist entails. In a nutshell, Shelley took care of all the stuff that I hate: sorting through all the racks (and racks, and racks) of clothes, picking out coordinating pieces and filling up a giant, special “stylist area” fitting room at Nordstrom for me before I even arrived at the store.
To prepare for the event, I got dressed in the finest outfit that was in the clean laundry basket and took a ‘Before’ photo.
Now I was ready to face my nemesis.
I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived to discover that it just happened to be Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale. I don’t know that I have ever paid full price for an item of clothing (or an item of anything), so this would take some of the sting off. Another good sign, Depeche Mode was playing as I rode up the escalator to meet Shelley. I was ready!
I met up with Shelley at 12:30. I allocated two hours, (despite the fact that Shelly had told me that it typically takes first timers four hours.) Lesson #1: If a professional in any field tells you that something is going to take a certain amount of time, do not half it and then not have alternate plans in place for after-school childcare or you will be placing some desperate texts from the dressing room around 2:30.
Shelley led me into a special dressing room area which is apparently reserved for stylists, royalty and the Kardashians. The room was already jam packed with clothing, accessories and shoes that Shelley had spent the past hour selecting for me. (And of course water to help fight off shopping dehydration.)
It was my intention to have Shelley take a bunch of photos along the way and post them to Instagram, etc. What actually happened is that I spent four solid hours in a tornado of taking clothes on and off, sending rejects off with Shelley’s Nordstrom stylist partner in crime (who also returned with new sizes and alternate items.)
It was an aerobic event. I needed that water. I also consumed two granola bars over the course of our session.
Somehow we managed to get in a couple of photos before I just gave into the frenzy of just yanking stuff off and piling it up for Shelley to magically clean up and cart away (it’s kind of like hiring a mom to come take care of you for the day.)
Four hours later, we had our winners lined up. Shelley wisely suggested that we go downstairs for a moment while her helper rang up my purchases and placed orders for the items that I needed in other sizes.
Lesson #2: When you have not shopped at a real store in a year and end up buying all of this…..
…….you darn well better expect to receive this email on the way home…..
I can’t stress enough that although for most people this shopping spree would be a dream come true (and don’t for one minute think that I don’t appreciate the fact that it’s even an option for me to do it,) this was really hard for me.
I had the 1,000 yard stare for the rest of the night. Even after my favorite Maudie’s margarita which usually fixes everything, my mind was racing, I hardly slept that night with my mind filled with buyer’s remorse and thinking of all the stuff that I should return.
I didn’t even open any of the bags for two days and that was just to take out two shirts. I haven’t touched the rest of the items until tonight, (two weeks later) to try them on for these photos.
As I put them on, I couldn’t remember which item was supposed to go with what, and as you’ll notice, I didn’t even get to the accessorizing part. (I welcome tips and know that Shelley will also be reading this to chime in with helpful reminders.) Please note that this is not a statement on Shelley not doing a good job communicating all this stuff. Shopping is a serious anxiety trigger for me and despite all of the great coaching and support she gave, I think I went into a slight state of clothing-shock.
Although I promised I wouldn’t be returning any items, I have three that are definitely on the chopping block. I’m not saying which ones because I’m curious if you’ll have the same feedback without me swaying your vote.
As you’ll see, these photos were taking with super-professional lighting and the maximum number of cats allowed for a photo shoot.
Just like Annie Liebovitz, I set up my photo shoot by balancing my iPhone between a bunch of end-of-year gifts for my son’s teachers:
This is what I look like when I accidentally take my photo while trying to set the timer on my iPhone camera. (It happened way more often than you would think.)
I also prepared my photo setting by shoving all of the books and shoes to the other side of the couch and by shoving all of the stuff from the counter bar on to the counter to reduce the clutter of my backdrop. I was not as lucky in my attempts to remove the cats.
Without further adieu….Here are the photos. Please comment, vote, give yays or nays, tell me what kind of jewelry/belt/accessories I need. Things you don’t need to comment on since I am already fully aware of them:
- My legs are very white.
- I should have taken the comforter off of the railing upstairs.
- My hair gets progressively messier as I give up on fixing it between outfit changes.
- I do very unnatural things with my hands when being photographed.
- Yes, we do have giant mesh panels against the railing upstairs, and if you ever stand downstairs while my kids are playing upstairs, you will thank me.
- My cats are annoying.
Here it goes:
I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to wear on the bottom with this so ignore the shorts and focus on the shirt (and the cat, of course.)
Ignore how wrinkly this shirt is – I wore it the other day and dug it out of the laundry for this picture. 🙂
Outfit #13 has a few cover-up options since even though I’m literally covered from head to toe I feel a little naked in this maxi dress.
Are you starting to see why this took four hours???
Help me pick a denim skirt (or talk me out of a denim skirt.) One is a darker ‘dressier’ one and the other has some fading and is a bit more casual.
Outfit #18 is intended to help me figure out what the heck you’re supposed to do with your shirt. I always leave them hanging out in an attempt to cover my tummy-stuff, but I was told to try the half tuck or a full tuck. How do you tuck?
As much as I love the fabric of these shorts, I’m thinking they may be a little too shorty-short for a 43 year old. They also cost more than any pair of jeans that I own, which seems strange since there’s only about 2 square feet of fabric.
Oh, and I also have all of these shoes that I need to decide on. I’m not much of a shoe-girl, but these make me want to change my mind.
Please help me. I would love your 2nd opinions before I go and start cutting off tags.
Be honest (but be gentle with me.) 😉
Once upon a time, Susanne Kerns was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency working for two of the top brands in the world. Nine years ago she traded in her corporate life for a life as a stay at home mom, raising two of the best kids in the world. She started her blog, The Dusty Parachute as a way to dust off her online advertising skills and begin her job search. Instead, she now uses it as a way to spend lots of time on the computer so her kids think that mommy has a job.
Susanne’s essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and she is also a contributor in the upcoming books, It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery and Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?! You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Come Check Out My New Place! SusanneKerns.com - May 23, 2017
- Don’t Miss “Touch a Truck” Austin! - May 11, 2017
- The Priceless Benefits of Having a Pen Pal - May 7, 2017
27 thoughts to “I Went Shopping – Help Me Pick the Winners”
That denim dress….LOVE!
Thank you so much. Wore it to Blog U the other day & can officially report that it was even comfortable for all day wear!
Damn you got some gams! I love the #2 and #3. And hope the cat did not in fact barf on the sofa.
Surprisingly, he did not barf on the sofa…but the next morning he did poop in the living room. They really need to make geriatric kitty diapers.
Your picks are great, but I must say the sandals in you outfit #16 are the sandals of summer because I have seen them everywhere. Nordstroms posted that style on their IG a few days ago & I posted them in my 100 sandals under $100. They are perfect. Love the denim dress and the black romper/dress. You are stunning in anything. Enjoy your purchases.
Thank you so much! Gotta tell you, I loved the *look* of the sandals, but I just wore them for two days straight walking all over the place at Blog U and never had sore feet ever – pretty impressive for someone that usually wears flip flops. I give them 5 stars!
#8 (denim dress, adorable) and #12 (the top, looks great on you).
Whew, good – because I already took the tags off of those! 😉
So much cuteness! And you have great legs!!! My absolute faves are outfit #3 (I love me a good pair of patterned shorts!) and #8 (classic and flawless and SUPER versatile!). Also, keep those brown sandals you want to make babies with. And if you do make babies with them, send one of those baby pairs my way! 🙂 Have so much fun at Blog U!!!
You kill me. I should just come over! I love the #15 shirt no on the denim shorts or buy them bigger and wear with a top like the one in your headshot or just tighter. yes on #13 no on by 14 I really like 16, no on 9. I say get more fitted tops. You have a nice rack friend. Stop hiding it! 🙂 do you know how many women on Texas pay good money for that?!! 😉
P.S. JCREW 4″ shorts are my favorite 😉 and I wait for them to go on sale so they are like $30 something. I also love JCREW Factory. I love Nordsrom and lots of what you got but so much of it really is never on sale or in my opinion worth it unless it’s jeans or shoes or a super special piece that is particularly flattering. But try LOFT and JCrew too.
I like the shorts in 2,3, the shirt in 4. 8 and 12 look great. The black dress is good (13) and I don’t like the grey shirt as much as the blue. The denim skirt looks good, but only tuck the dressier shirt. I agree the shorts seem a little short ( I feel the same way) but you have good legs and carry them off well. If it helps Walmart (I know) has Levi Strauss shorts that are very similar but a tad longer and much less expensive. Thanks for making us all feel better about going shopping.
Thank you so much for reading & for the great feedback. I’m just amazed with all the ‘yes’ votes for shirt #12 (it was one of my items slated for the chopping block.) 😉
You look great in so many things! Outfit #12 and the baby-making shoes are my favs. As a fellow flat butter, I say no to the short shorts. You can find some that are more flattering from the back.
I’m inspired…I’ve considered doing this (even asked for Nordstrom gift cards last Christmas which have now been used to buy my kids shoes…and more shoes), but I hate shopping more than you do (I promise) and I’ve never pulled the trigger.
I cannot believe that there’s someone out there that hates shopping more than I do! Can you imagine us at Nordstrom together?! 🙂 Yeah, for as much as those shorts cost, they should come with some extra butt to make up for what I’m lacking.
Wow, kind of not fair how awesome your legs are! The only thing I didn’t really like on you was the dress with the stripes up and down, but it might be cute with a belt!
Yeah, I didn’t like that dress in the fitting room but I had two super stylish ladies telling me to go for it. Mayyyyybe it if didn’t have the boob gap issue going on….
Great seeing you at Nordstroms that day…love that store and love shopping! You got a lot of very nice pieces. But I’ll be honest with you, some of them don’t bring out the best of YOU. You have beautiful legs, show them! I would keep all of outfits #1, #4, #8, and #16. And I really love love those two wedge tan colored shoes. I would also keep the super cute and fun shorts in #2 and #3. They are perfect for night summer outings here in Austin. And keep the basic dark denim jeans in #11 – you will use them plenty of times. Keep the pretty floral top in #12 too – it really accentuates your nice shoulders. All of these items bring out the very best of you and spell ‘beautiful summer’. Anytime you need a shopping buddy, just call me. I do it for free or a nice cappuccino.
Thank you so much – You always look so wonderful so I really appreciate your feedback! Next time I get brave enough to go back I’ll have to take you with me! 🙂
I love that you did this for yourself! My favorites (because you DID ask):
#2,4,8,11,13 shirts in 14 and 15 all good, perfect casual “I just look this put together all the time.” I think you should wear something more fitted or a long sheer cardigan etc over the black dress (with accessories!!). Palazzo pants are super in right now – but do you feel comfy rockin them? If you must do the denim skirt, the more distressed one! I think your legs are rockin and you can wear denim shorts, but agree maybe there’s another pair out there to make your booty – more booty licious. Can’t wait to see all the accessories!
Great feedback! I actually do love the Palazzo pants, I’m just not quite sure what to put on top of them and I keep having this voice in the back of my head telling me that I won’t be able to wear them next year when they’re not hot anymore. My new goal is to find the perfect pair of denim shorts.
Okay so my votes are # 1. #2-3 look like pjs 5 is okay 7 maybe with a pink tank top 8 is okay 12 oh yes! 13 with blue chambray 14 better
Then I consulted my fashion expert.. My daughter This is what she said.
3 Ok I guess
7. alright for jogging
8 Come back to that , I guess its good. Yeah I like it
10 I love that!
12 Ooooooooohhh that is pretty
13 Grey black chambray with no hesitation
14 I like that one
15 Oh alright
16 On a scale of one to ten I like this one a ten
18 Don’t like
19 untucked Oh wait no tucked that is amazing.
she also said the shorts are not too short but sporty looking.
That is so sweet that your daughter voted – I wish you lived closer, I would take her with me next time I go shopping! Thanks so much for all of the great feedback!
8 and 10 are my favs… I kind of want to have babies with those shoes too! Oh yeah, and did the cat poop on your couch! Great blog! Great outfits!
Thanks so much for the vote – I think you’re my first vote for #10 – it’s growing on me. The cat did not poop on the couch but he did poop on the living room floor. In his defense, he doesn’t do it on purpose – He actually goes poop in the litter box but then it dangles there while he walks around until it falls off somewhere (I bet you’re wishing you didn’t ask now….) 😉
The awesome thing about Nordstrom is that they will take back returns even if worn, just keep the tags. They don’t really even ask questions. If they do, I just tell the truth, which is usually some variation of “I thought I’d like it, but it drove me crazy wearing it all day.”
You know I would have feedback.
I agree–the shorts are a little too short for my taste. They are cute and you look good in them, but maybe 2″ more would be more appropriate. And look cute to dress up or down–these just look like a dress down option.
Love the linen pants.
Love the jacket with the drawstring waist. Flattering. The grey jacket/shirt looks a little messier though.
Agree with the returns. The rest is totally fine. Cute shoes indeed!!!
Yay for you!!!
Woo Hoo! I got the Melissa seal of approval! I was so curious what you would think and it sounds like we’ve got the same opinion on things. Now I’ll just need you to come accessorize me. 🙂