Clothes Shopping: Doing What I Don’t Like To Do And Telling You All About It

The Facts.  I went clothes shopping yesterday afternoon.  I dislike shopping for clothes.  Yet I forced myself to get out there and buy something to wear this fall.

I wore: Josef Seibel sandals (from Dillard’s), Diane Von Furstenberg capris (from Kohl’s), Lands End t-shirt (from Sears) + simple jewelry (from Tiffany’s*).  I was carrying a Baggallini cloth purse (purchased online) which is lightweight and expandable.  For me, this is a typical shopping for clothes outfit;  I wear clothes that I can get in & out of easily.  But in this case I didn’t have on even one piece of clothing from the stores I was going to.  This was probably an oversight on my part.

I went to a lifestyle center where I could park my car in one spot, then walk along outside to these four women’s clothing stores that are almost side-by-side.

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•  First I went to Talbots.  This is not my most favorite store, but I admit that they do have clothes that are well-made and age-appropriate in decent colors.  Usually.

A sales woman dressed in black [isn't that out of fashion?] greeted me when I walked into the store.  She then took one look at me, turned around and went to the back of the store.  After I picked up a few items to try on a young guy came over to me and offered to put my items in a dressing room.  I never saw him again.

After trying on a number of clothes, I decided to buy a few things.  So I folded what I wanted, took my purchases to the cash register counter and waited for the one employee at the register to ring up all the customers standing in line.  During my wait the first woman appeared, looked at all of us waiting to buy items, turned around and went back to wherever she was hiding.

It was a disappointing shopping experience.  I give Talbots a C-.

•  Next I went to Ann Taylor.  I love the style of clothes in this store.

A sales woman working behind the cash register counter enthusiastically greeted me when I walked into the store.  She explained the deals to me & smiled at me.  I looked around the store, but saw nothing that I needed now.  This made me sad because I wanted to buy something there.  So I said “thank you” and went on my way.  The sales woman said “good-bye” and told me to stop back again.  She was still smiling.

It was a lovely shopping experience.  I give Ann Taylor a B+.

•  Next I went to Chico’s.  I have a love-hate relationship with this store.  My style is not glittery and flow-y, but the clothes are well-made & the accessories are great. So I go in there when I’m near one just to see what they’ve got going on.

A  sales woman greeted me immediately as I entered the store.  She told me about the deals.  After I began to collect items to try on a different sales woman came over, took my items to a dressing room and then checked back as I was trying on clothes to see what I might need to resize.  She was helpful.

When I went to buy some items I did not wait in line because three employees were running cash registers.  The store was hopping and the vibe was fun which made me happy.

It was a wonderful shopping experience.  I give Chico’s an A.

•  Last I went to Coldwater Creek.  This store is popular around here and I like some of their clothes, some of the time, when the colors are not muddied and the textures are not too nubbly.

No one said a word to me when I walked into the store.  I wandered around, collecting items to try on– while carrying two large shopping bags from other stores.  No one offered to take my clothes to a dressing room for me.  No one offered to grab a blouse off the higher rack for me.  No one noticed that I existed.

I found myself a dressing room, tried on some clothes, re-dressed myself, went back out onto the sales floor carrying my two large shopping bags from other stores, found what I needed, returned to the same dressing room, and tried on some more clothes.  I then decided to buy a few items which I took to the cash register desk.

Here I found two employees at the cash registers ringing up customers while both employees carried on an involved [grandma one-upmanship] conversation with three other women who were [supposedly] shopping in the store.  I felt like an intruder within their [60-something] clique, but I have to admit that as the employee handed me my purchases she did manage to say “thank you.”  So there’s that.

It was a frustrating shopping experience.  I give Coldwater Creek a D+.

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The Conclusion.  I really have no insightful conclusion to this story.  Yes, I got some clothes.  Yes, I had a tolerable time clothes shopping.  I guess.

But what could have been one of the best afternoons of fall– filled with lots of new clothes & warm memories– was, as usual, a trial.  A struggle to find something that fit.  A struggle to find a sales employee who was attentive.  A struggle.

And I just don’t think that is how clothes shopping should be.  But it is.

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* Upon hearing this story, Zen-Den took it personally that my jewelry from Tiffany’s did not help me get noticed or good service in two of these stores.  From his POV, this shopping trip did not offer the predicted ROI that he was expecting from sinking his monies into platinum & diamonds!  He’s so sweet.

[Well hello there FTC!  It's been a long time, hasn't it?  But today, because I'm talking about specific stores, I want to let you know that I was in no way compensated for my opinions about what happened to me when I went clothes shopping.  We're good, FTC.  Right?]

15 thoughts on “Clothes Shopping: Doing What I Don’t Like To Do And Telling You All About It”

  1. The smile on your face when you look at your Tiffany jewelry gives me all the ROI I need. A shame that the shopping world lacks the duty to customer service it should have – and retailers wonder why they aren’t selling enough.

    1. Z-D, you make me laugh! And you’re so right about stores not getting it. Be nice to the customer and get more sales. Seems self-evident to me. But apparently that is much too logical for most stores.

  2. I also don’t much like clothes shopping, because I’m torn between not wanting to buy anything that isn’t on sale (gah) and the whole having a hard time finding flattering clothes that are also somewhat comfortable issue. It stinks that there is such a wide range of customer service experiences out there. Stores don’t train their personnel like they used to: I don’t go to Coldwater Creek often but when I do, the experience is pretty much the same for me as you described!

    1. Melisa, I think that you nailed it: “Stores don’t train their personnel like they used to.” I really have very low expectations when I go clothes shopping, so finding even a few items was a good thing. But I really don’t understand why it must be such a struggle. *sigh*

  3. I loathe shopping for clothes. I love the Coldwater Creek catalog and if I were the right size and could afford it, I’d buy a lot from there. The only time I went into their actual store, I was looking at bags. I felt like Julia Roberts in hooker clothes as I was completely ignored the whole time I was there. It kind of surprises me that you would get treated like that especially when you were carrying bags from other stores. Maybe it’s not us, maybe it’s just no one caring about customer service anymore.

    1. Zazzy, love that scene in Pretty Woman when the sales women ignore Vivian. I’ve felt like that so many times in my life.

      The Coldwater Creek store here is lovely. Large & beautifully merchandized. But if showing up there on a slow Tuesday afternoon with the obvious intention of shopping doesn’t garner attention, then nothing short of showing up with Richard Gere will!

  4. I hate, hate, hate clothes shopping. If I try on a few items and nothing fits or looks good, I leave with zero. Not good because I could use some new clothes. Coldwater Creek is a weird store here with a strange vibe. Sort of intimidating and snobby.I don’t know that I’ve been in a Chicos; Ann Taylor doesn’t usually have many clothes that interest me. Sometimes I find pretty shirts at Christopher& Banks. (their clothes can be really cute or really ugly/old ladyish)

    1. Margaret, I don’t know why it’s so difficult to find clothes that fit, but it is. Before writing this post I had no idea that Coldwater Creek was so consistently weird. We don’t have Christopher & Banks around here– or maybe I just don’t know where one is.

  5. I really liked this post. It’s all about what experiences we provide to people that will determine if they return. I think you should do another post just like this one next time you shop also!

    1. Cheri, thanks for your support. I don’t leave the house looking/hoping to be irritated by my shopping experiences, but somehow I often end up confused/saddened by what happens to me. I know that I’m not alone in this, but always wonder “why?”

      [To be fair I also have some hilarious shopping adventures that I talk about here and here and here, too.]

  6. Ally, it could be worse. My town is so small we have Wal-mart and one clothing store, which you pay nine prices for anything. The nearest town with larger stores is 75 miles away. By the time you get there you are already tired and hungry. So, you just go to a nice restaurant and enjoy your meal. You did make me feel better knowing that it is not just me being ignored when shopping for clothes.

    1. Betty, it’s amazing, isn’t it? I find the whole process difficult and defeating. I can only imagine how much more tiring it is for you after a long drive. And then retailers whine about their sales being down! No kidding, really?

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