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For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.

A Style Secret Weapon – Go-To Stores


Go-to stores

Ok. So I promise this will be the last post on shopping – for a while at least!!

The thing is, I realised that in the last couple of posts I hadn’t actually addressed one of the most common shopping related questions I receive from Distant Francophile readers.

The question goes something like this.

How do you actually find clothes (or shoes or accessories) to buy?

Truth be told, these days I make many of my clothing and accessory buys on-line where I have a massive global range to choose from. I’m clear on my style. I know what suits me. I understand my size and shape. And I’m certain about what I need. Which means that on-line purchasing tends to work very well for me.

However, when I do feel the necessity to actually check things out in person, I’ve realised that I only ever visit a small handful of stores. My go-to stores. And that I rarely walk out of those stores without finding something that fulfils whatever need I was shopping for in the first place.

I became really aware of this point just the other day.

I was in the market for a new pair of sunglasses, and for a dressy, travel friendly top which will work on our upcoming trip to New York City and have me covered for a few fancy functions that are coming up.

For the glasses, I headed straight to the local optometry store I’ve used for years. Now this might sound strange, but I trust the owner of that store so implicitly that I let him select all my frames for me. That’s correct – I’m a qualified Style CoachTM who wears eyeglasses virtually every waking minute and I don’t choose my own styles. Sometimes, I don’t even go into his store. I just call him up and ask him to get something ready. He is a true professional who has a phenomenal understanding of faces, frame shapes and people’s colouring. And he just gets it right. I’ve never not loved one of his choices and I get compliments on my glasses all the time.

With my new sunnies tucked safely in my bag, I wandered a few doors up into my very favourite clothing and statement jewellery boutique, Jainus. Owned by the super stylish, astonishingly helpful and incredibly patient Rita, the European feel and overall quality of the stock matches my own style personality almost perfectly. I know that I can walk in, tell Rita what I’m looking for and where I want to wear it, and within minutes she will have a fitting room full of choices for me. Because she knows my size, style and colour preferences as well as I do, there are never any awkward moments where she suggests something that doesn’t fit or that I can’t stand. And we have a great time matching accessories to my outfits – it reminds me of playing dress-ups as a little girl.

It’s worth noting that I see go-to stores as being a different concept from last week’s post about my favourite Parisian stores. This question taps into everyday life and who we might rely on to help us create a look that we love. While I definitely have favourite shops in many parts of the world (including the on-line world) I have very few go-to stores that I can rely on year round.

I’ve realised that having go-to stores is one of my style secret weapons. And it’s an approach that you are more than welcome to share.

A Style Secret Weapon – Go-To Stores

Benefits Of Having Go-To Stores

  • You don’t have to browse aimlessly, hoping that the thing you are looking for will show up. You have a good feel for the styles they will have and the price points. Knowing these things can save both time and money in the long run.
  • The staff will get to know you and your style, meaning they won’t push pieces your way that you simply wouldn’t wear. And it could be that you get messages (like I do from Rita) letting you know when something new that you might love has arrived in store.
  • You get a ‘personal shopper’ experience without having to pay somebody to shop for you.

Now, can almost hear you thinking, this is a fine idea, but it won’t work for me. Because I live in a big city. Or in a very small town. Due to the fact that I’m not at my ideal weight. Or any number of other stories that you might tell yourself. But unless you are living in an extremely remote location, there are probably clothes stores that you are able to visit somewhat regularly in your everyday life. Here are some tips for helping you to find your own go-to stores.

How To Find Your Own Go-To Stores

  • Look for outlets that are small enough to deliver exceptional, personalised service, but large enough so that you have a good number of choices.
  • Check out the style of the people working in the store. Wander past and investigate. Ideally, look for someone around your own age whose look you love. Generally speaking, boutique staff wear the clothing they stock, so it will if you like what they are wearing it is usually a good sign that you’ll be drawn to the styles in store.
  • Do think about whether or not you actually click with the staff in the stores. I’m always amazed by the number of people who work in retail that don’t seem to enjoy working with the general public. Look for staff who genuinely care about people and you won’t go wrong.
  • Keep an open mind. Unless you’ve actually been into a store and had a good look, you can’t be certain that it isn’t a match for you. Stores can be like books in that regard – you can’t always judge their merit from the outside.

One Final Thought

If you want to make the most of go-to stores, it really helps if you are very clear on exactly what you want. Even the best retail professionals aren’t mind readers. Being confident enough to articulate what you are looking for and letting them assist you really does go a long way towards ensuring a result that will make you happy.

Do you have go-to stores – with super stylish professionals – that help you elevate your style? Or perhaps you’ve never considered the idea. Either way, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

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