25 August 2013

Secrets From the Floor-Front

Last September, me and my faithful nude pumps stumbled into the Prudential Center in Boston for my first day as a stylist in (what the managers called) an “affordable luxury” clothing store. As a saleswoman for clothes that still had a hefty price tag, I learned some very valuable lessons from my time as a stylist, even though the gig was pretty short-­‐lived.
I’m here to share my retail-­‐working-­‐survivor wisdom with you, and hopefully spare you some of the same tragedies I suffered!

1. Styling is Key.
Many times I’d see something hanging on the wall or folded on a table and wrinkle my nose, thinking it was absolutely hideous and that no one could ever possibly buy it.

...But then the visual team would work some magic and drape a mannequin in said horrendous sweater, and my world was turned upside-­‐down. It was gorgeous. I had to have it. I’ve folded that thing a thousand times and never imagined it could look like THAT!

LESSON: You can make almost anything look amazing. Be open-­‐minded and creative with your clothes; you might come up with an unexpected masterpiece!

2. Fit does NOT equal size.
Every time a new collection arrived, all of us stylist had to try on every single piece in the store. It sounds like fun, but really it’s a few hours spent sweaty and locked in a tiny dressing room. By my third pair of pants and fourth dress though, I had zipped and buttoned my way into a startling discovery: my “size” was all over the place.

One pair of pants was too tight while the next fit perfectly; the second dress swum under my armpits while the sixth made me look pregnant. Even in one store with its own in-­‐house brand, 

I was fitting in everything from a 6 to a 12!

LESSON: Try things on, and don’t pay attention to the number on the tag!  

3. Don’t Splurge on a Silk Blouse and Ruin it with Chinese Takeout
Minutes after my first training session, I emptied my wallet and splurged on a gorgeous cream-­‐colored silk blouse that had caught my eye during my first interview. I needed it! I could wear it to work! Who cares if the price tag made me want to vomit!

Well, I toddled on out for my lunch break wearing that blouse and scurried over to the food court to scarf down some Orange Chicken before I had to be back on the floor. Eating fast and messily, it was only a matter of time before a giant, oily splotch of Orange Chicken sauce splattered riiiiight down the front of my brand new blouse.

Even after a panicked trip to the drycleaner, my beloved shirt was ruined. I literally wore it for four hours.

LESSON: Wear a bib. Or eat a salad. Either way, protect your special pieces.

4. Just wait...it’ll go on sale.
Perhaps this is an addendum to my last lesson... If I had only cooled my jets with that silk shirt, I could have saved a TON of money, and maybe I’d keep it safe from stains.

By nature, I’m impulsive and impatient, so it makes waiting for a sale difficult—especially when, as a stylist, I was surrounded by the same temptations for hours upon hours every day.

I’d break. I’d buy. I’d kick myself when it was 30% off two weeks later.

 LESSON: Take a deep breath and settle your racing heart. Keep an eye on what you love and take your time—chances are, you can probably save some money. But if you see something going fast and you cant get that dress out of your head, make your move before its too late!

5. To Thine Own Style Be True!
Every time “Employee Day” rolled around—the magical day when we all got 60% off everything in store—the floor was electrified with excited whispers and planning and debating as stylists scurried to grab everything they wanted.

More than once, I felt a lot of pressure by others to buy a certain dress or skirt—“That’s alllllll over the lookbooks” “We really want to up our sales on that one” “What do you mean you don’t like mustard yellow? It’s one of our key colors this season!”

By the end of the day, I had dropped a ton of money on clothes that I didn’t really like. I’d let my environment and my coworkers talk me into buying things that weren’t really my style. Being surrounded by things that I really didn’t love suddenly became all I ever saw, and I lost sight of myself and my style.

LESSON: Trends are overwhelming, shoes blow up on Pinterest, and every blogger seems to have those pajamas—but that doesn’t mean you need to like it. Know who you are and what you like, and dress with confidence!

(image cred: Club Monaco)

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