Personal Shopping: The Push We Need To Try Something New

Wide leg trousers! Polka dots! A crop top!?!

When I originally thought of personal shopping, I thought of Rhianna slinking around in some fabulous frock and a crowd of assistants, hairdressers and personal masseuses cheer and applaud at just how darn fabulous she looked. I thought of personal shopping as one of life’s ultimate luxuries; like how the Kardashians seem to forever avoid communal air travel, or the stories you hear of celebs who have their very own chefs who act as 24 hour room service. I pictured it to only happen in rooms with extremely plush carpets in unpractical colours and to cost an absolute fortune, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to cost the earth and actually it’s one of the most exciting moves I’ve made in my wardrobe in the past 12 months.

Now before I crack on, I should say that the Topshop personal shopping appointments are part of my ongoing work with them (THANKS GUYS!), however this post is not part of that work, more just a topic in general that I don’t hear many people talking about and is one to listen up to if you find yourself in a never-ending style rut.

So here’s the deal. Over the past year I’ve regularly dipped into the Topshop personal shopping service. Mainly it’s fun. A lovely stylist picks out items for you based on the information that you provide and then you get to spend the next hour trying everything on, taking a million selfies that you daren’t post and pretending you’re in a music video. It’s really quite great. And as someone who is the ULTIMATE FAN of online shopping, it takes a lot of me to say that. Usually I head to the Oxford StreetΒ branch and work it in to a day of meetings, but the last time I was styled by the lovely Carla in the Brighton store and let’s just say we’re now Instagram besties. I’d told her before we met that I was hosting a meet-up the following week and fancied something fresh and different to wear. When she pulled out polka dot heels, a wide-leg nude trouser and a polka dot crop top – three things that I wouldn’t even pick up, let alone wear all together – I raised an eyebrow but you know what, I bloody loved it. Since then I’ve worn the outfit all together, I’ve worn the top and trousers with flats, I’ve worn the top with jeans, the bottoms with a black shirt and my mate borrowed the polka dot heels on a night out and loved them. Basically the three items were completely out of my comfort zone, but thanks to Carla’s eye she saw the potential of how they were still very ‘me‘ just different cuts and fits than I was used to. The appointment actually was like having a proper stylist.

And that’s what I think the real draw of personal shopping is. If you find yourself a gem of a stylist who knows their stuff, they’ll be able to make suggestions that pull you out of any rut or safe outfit space that you usually inhabit and gently lead you to a rack of clothing that you still feel comfortable in, but perhaps you never would have even looked twice at before. It’s like going shopping with your trendy mate whose spontaneous streak means that you’re always about two shots away from getting matching tattoos, but without the tequila and bum tat part – just the good stuff instead.

Although my only experience with personal shopping so far has been with Topshop, I’ve done some digging and there are a tonne of other options on the high-street. Topshop offer appointments in their stores with personal shopping facilities (super swanky GIGANTIC changing rooms, sectioned away from the hustle and bustle of the store) and are complementary with no minimum spend. River Island offer a personal styling service at three stores nationwide and Miss Selfridge offer their own ‘Dressing Room’ service across the country. If it’s a swanky outfit that you’re after and you’re London-based then REISSΒ offer personal shopping in their Regent Street store, again that’s free and with no minimum spend required. SWEET.

Whilst the standalone high-street stores are a good option, especially if you find yourself a loyal purchaser from one, if you’re a little more undecided in your tastes and fancy trying on clothing across brands then head to a department store to get the best of both worlds. Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser all offer complimentary services at various different store locations and durations, with no minimum spend. Selfridges being the most high-end pick out of the ones that I’ve found isn’t available to book online and there’s some discrepancy over whether there’s a minimum spend or not, so it’s best to call up and check; however is the obvious choice if you fancy something well, fancy.


Have a budget. It’s a bit of a obvious one, but making sure you have a set budget in place before you even step into the changing room, will not only help the stylist to pick out a selection that’s within your price range, but will keep you on some kind of leash spending-wise.

Have an aim in mind. The most successful appointments I’ve had are when I’ve had a clear idea of what holes need filling in my wardrobe, so arm yourself with a shopping list that you can pass on. Maybe you need an outfit for a wedding or a big event? Or perhaps you’re lacking the denim department and fancy some new ideas. Being specific will make the appointment even more tailored to you.

Communication is key. Usually you’ll be sent over a form to fill out before you appointment so that the stylist can pull clothing in the relevant sizes. If the form is a little scarce then load it up with info. The more the person picking out the clothing knows about you, your tastes and preferences, your likes and dislikes; the more personalised and hopefully spot-on the edit will be.

Be honest. The same goes for during your appointment. If an outfit isn’t your cup of tea – just say so! The same goes for if you love something – TELL ‘EM! Be vocal, ask to size up or down if something doesn’t feel right, give feedback, just imagine you’re out shopping with a mate and have fun. You’re basically Rhianna, right?Β 

Photos by Amber Tanc

*Sign up to my monthly newsletter ‘An Edited Life’ here*