When you walk into a boutique, you know the drill. A peppy girl, probably younger than you, wearing the store’s clothes will instantly flash you a smile and welcome you. Approaching you as you carelessly flip through a rack by the door , she asks if she can help you find anything today.

Here is where you must decide which shopping experience you want to have. You can accept her help, explain what you're shopping for, and within seconds have a dressing room with your name on it filled with the season’s latest trends; or, you can say “I’m just looking, thanks!” and browse on your own. 

I’ve always been the person to opt for the latter. I’m a pretty independent person, and I’ve always enjoyed sifting through hanger after hanger. And, for the most part, I’m not looking for anything in particular, so a response of “I’m just looking, thanks!” is honest.

Then one day, spontaneity struck, and I accepted help from a shopgirl. Now, I rarely decline their help and I accept a complete “yes man” personality when going to a shop. I’ll try anything on and listen to any advice. What I found, rather than persistent salesmanship was a friendly, educational experience.

5 things I learned from a shop girl:

1. The latest trends. Anyone can open up Vogue and turn to the fashion feature to see what’s stylish in New York fashion circles, but Houston has its own scene, and these girls will know what’s flying off the shelves.

2. “That would look great on you!” is not a line. Sure, it’s used heavy-handedly, but a well-versed shopgirl would tell you if a look wouldn’t work on you, although they’d sugarcoat it and offer something else instead. They will really try to help you find a color and style that's right for your body type.

3. You get a personal shopper for the day. While you browse, she’ll browse. And, the two of you will rack up tons of merchandise. Cue the dressing room montage.  

4. Pairing ideas. While you’re trying on the tens of dresses and sweaters, your shopgirl is buzzing around the accessories rack and jewelry tables, passing you belts and heels that would work perfectly for a dress you’re trying on. They will demand you step into some sandals and twirl you in your sundress.

5. Where to go next. After combing through all of their store’s clothes, shopgirls will likely recommend somewhere else to you, either a sister store or a place with great boots to go with your new outfit. Plus, they’ll tell you when to come back next—i.e., when they get a new shipment or when the next 1-cent sale starts.

Throwing caution into the wind and trusting your shopping excursion to an experienced salesperson changes your experience completely. Typically, after an ill-fated shopping trip I’m exhausted, empty-handed and feeling terrible about myself. When I make shopping a team sport, even if I buy nothing from a boutique, I’m chipper and uplifted from the pleasant conversation.

Don’t believe me? Try it.


 

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