I don’t believe I’m a candidate for a TV makeover show, yet I recently went shopping aided by a wardrobe stylist. The results were great – and not just fashion-wise.
A stretch of Damen Avenue on Chicago’s near northwest side, located between North Avenue and Fullerton Avenue, is known for quality clothing boutiques. Many of the stores carry affordable fashion by local designers, which is why Bucktown has long been one of my favorite shopping destinations in the city. Whenever I’m in the neighborhood, I stop by a few boutiques to browse, get inspired, and sometimes put a slight dent in my travel budget.
In for a surprise
On one such day, I was headed home from one of my frequent stops, Michelle Tan, when I noticed a beautifully-decked mannequin next door at Claudia Kleiner. The retro-looking, long pencil skirt in light gray, paired with an off-the-shoulder red top and a black belt immediately caught my attention and prompted me to go in. There I was greeted by a sales representative and wardrobe stylist, Emmanuel. I asked him about the gray-and-red look and, before long, I was trying on the ensemble.
Soon the dressing room filled up with more choices. The clothes kept on coming and I enjoyed myself more and more as the time went by. Emmanuel found pieces that I had missed on the rack, yet was eager to try once I saw them. I ended up buying an item that reflected my preferred style well and would be a great addition to my closet.
This was a fun and effortless experience (at least on my part), and I had my new acquaintance to thank. After talking some more, we decided to meet again for a full-blown shopping spree in Bucktown.
You pick, I’ll try it on
When the day came, Emmanuel had a list of stores to show me and knew what items to look for in each one. Due to our schedules, we didn’t have much time to shop, so we had to hurry before the boutiques closed. We must have been a curious sight, running up and down Damen Ave. with shopping bags in tow…
Despite the time constraints, our mission was successful. When arranging for the personal shopping outing, I wanted to find pieces that I knew I needed, plus some that might be fun additions and perhaps expand my comfort zone. The latter was a deliberate experiment on my part.
Not just dressing up
As a traveler, I enjoy exploring, be it new places, new sounds, flavors, or ideas. When you’re on the road, you open yourself up to experiencing the world in new ways, or looking at the familiar from a fresh perspective. Sometimes, you find something you like, something that aligns well with your personality, even if you previously didn’t know of its existence. That can be new music, new cuisine, or new fashion.
I often incorporate shopping at boutiques into my travel itinerary, because they offer another glimpse into the local culture. They can also be cutting-edge, daring, and creative in reinterpreting tried-and-tested styles. Much like traveling itself, they inspire me to find out what else is out there for me.
During the shopping spree with Emmanuel, I enjoyed letting go of my preconceived ideas of what I should or shouldn’t try on, or what I might feel comfortable in. Many of the pieces he found were very “me,” yet with a few twists here and there (e.g. a new color or shape). There was also one that I am unlikely to have chosen myself , but one that I have since successfully incorporated into my wardrobe.
The striped, knit tunic in my closet serves as a reminder to stay adventurous, even without leaving town.
What are some things you like to explore most – at home or on the road? Have you experienced going out of your comfort zone at first, but then liking it? Share your thoughts below!