A decade or more ago, personal shoppers were almost always perceived as sartorial servants of rich old ladies. In the last decade, however, men have sought out the expertise of one-on-one professional salespeople because the pressure to look good—on the job, on dates, and on Facebook—is mounting. I should know: I was a personal shopper at Nordstrom and Bonobos. Stats back up my observation.
Reuters reported that the global luxury-menswear market is growing twice as fast as womenswear, while more men’s-only online companies like Bonobos and Trunk Club are sprouting up to accommodate this newfound growth.
If you’ve never thought about procuring the services of a personal shopping assistant, now’s the time, but there are a few things every guy should know before embarking on a spending spree. Here are answers to the questions I most often get.
What does a personal shopper do exactly?
A personal shopper (PS), also known as a stylist in some circles, is the liaison between you and your closet. His job is to make the connection between man and wardrobe easier by identifying trends, gauging fit, and developing overall looks that work for you.
The goal is to give the client the proper tools to dress himself (and to help with buying gifts for others, even if that means remembering your loved ones’ birthdays). And let’s be honest: He’s selling clothes, too, and getting either a commission or a bonus based on sales.
What’s an appointment like?
Typically, appointments are 60 to 90 minutes long. A stylist will grill you about your lifestyle, work environment, hobbies, and anything else he or she believes will influence your wardrobe. It takes several questions to paint a picture of what the “new” you should look like.
Which company should I try first? Nordstrom, Topman, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, and Neiman Marcus all have personal shoppers.Mostly, it depends on the budget you have in mind.
How do I make an appointment? Call or arrange online?
E-commerce retailers like Bonobos are equipped with an online appointment-booking tool, but most stores have an e-mail or a phone contact that customers can find on their sites to inquire about setting up an initial consultation.
What’s the least I should plan on spending?
There aren’t any minimum spending restrictions, but I would suggest consulting only when you want to update a complete wardrobe. Sure, some personal shoppers can help with the little things, such as finding the right fit of jeans, but that’s usually left to an on-floor salesperson, not a PS.
How much does a typical session cost—or does the personal sales assistant just get a percentage of the sales?
More often than not, personal shoppers make a commission. There’s no out-of-pocket fee for the client.
Should I tip? How much?In most cases, personal shoppers don’t accept tips. The next best thing is referring their services to others.
How often am I expected to come back?
Seasonal consultations are the norm. At the very least, you will want to have semi-annual consultations. A good stylist will alert you to trends or new items you may like.
Can I come in with my spouse?
A personal-shopping experience is just that—personal. An additional body should not be present at the appointment. This is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make during the appointment. The third wheel only adds friction.
What online options do I have, and how do they work?
Online personal shoppers, such as those offered at the Trunk Club, take a “We’ll do it from here” approach. First, you fill out a visual online questionnaire indicating some of your style preferences (see photo above). Then you discuss your interests with a live personal shopper via Skype, e-mail, or phone. He/she will update social media with a few outfits. In case you decide to update your clothes only with the luxury brands, expect to sepnd anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000
What can you ask and how to prevent any doubt from a third party?
You can ask druing this interview if there are any general instructions for a product or what brands are the best for your type of body. Also, you can check what pieces of clothes are cool for work and play. Of course, always let the gentleman discuss the style but never let them doubt in anything. That is where you jump in and help them.