What's Personal Style if you can't see. Part 2: The shopping trip

If you missed my first installment about this experience check this out: What’s Personal Style if you can’t see?

So after a very enlightened and inspiring Closet Consultation with my vision impaired client, I was so very excited to dive into doing some shopping for her. I knew I’d be able to find her clothes that really flattered her but this shopping trip faced new challenges that frankly excited me and reminded me why this is my purpose and passion.

I had to find clothes that Fit and Flattered, but the Function part of it really had new elements involved. I’d have to find pieces that worked so well together, you could get dressed every day without even looking…literally. This meant that most items needed to go together..not necessarily be matchy, matchy because that would frankly be boring. I work hard to make my clients closets efficient and interesting but this wardrobe had to be efficient to the next level. Whatever that meant. I also had to take into consideration her seeing eye dog and his hair, as well as her commute since she walks to and from work in this Portland tropic:) So much to consider but that is not uncommon with what I do. All of my clients have lifestyles that are complicated and have many many things to consider when choosing a wardrobe. This situation, however, these circumstances, are a little different. Maybe more sensitive.

So I begin my pre-shopping with a real purpose and driven intention. I pull different silhouettes that will make a wardrobe interesting…pants, skirts, tunics, cardigans, blouses but all in colors and patterns that will work together for the most part. I find a number of things and I shop at Nordstroms and Macy’s. My client really needs everything so I grab pants, jeans, tee’s the basics but also fun pretty pieces, interesting pieces and pieces I know will Fit, Flatter and have Function for my client but will she love them? Will they FEEL good for her? I’m so excited to find out.

We meet at Nordstrom. She, her seeing eye dog (whom everyone wants to take home with them) and me. She’s as ready as I am. She tries on some pants and I’m finding that what I pulled is fitting her well. I can tell right away that she has such a keen sense of what looks good on her by how it feels. Right away. If the pants are going to ride down when she sits down she knows this the minute she puts them on. And she knows that the feeling of clothes ON her body is going to be kind of foreign since she’s been wearing clothing baggy and loose for years. She’s so ready and willing for change. What I find a little overwhelming is, my usual role of the yes or nay say’er is SO much more important. Yes, my clients rely on my opinion (strong as it usually is. wink) on whether something looks good or not but usually we come to that conclusion together both being able to see the item on. In this situation my opinion on how something looks is going to be weighed much more heavily. This is interesting to me and I have to say, my control freak really kinda liked it. No, I’m no fashion dictator, I truly love the collaboration and this is still a partnership. We’re just communicating differently. She, telling me how something really feels, which I am eating up, and me telling her (once she’s confirmed that something feels okay or good or GREAT) whether it looks good.

She tries on a few things but when she puts on this particular sweater with these leggings I’m literally moved to tears. And I am NOT a public crier. In front of me I see a woman who looks so beautiful, her curves complimented so perfectly but she’s a woman with style. I can envision the boots we’ll get for her to wear with this and the earrings she has at home that will add color and interest to this outfit. It reminds me just how remarkable and powerful clothing can be.

We try on a number of items in a flurry but still an hour or so has passed. I lay out all of the items we like and I’m absolutely amazed at her ability to recall. She knows exactly what we have that we love and exactly what she wants to keep for sure. I just love her decisiveness and her appetite for change.

I have those boots on my mind so we head up to shoes. I see some boots and shoes that I think would be really cute so ask for some help. I notice right away that these two women I’ve approached don’t know what to do with themselves. I think they want to help us out but see on their faces they almost don’t know what to say so I ask for someone to get us the appropriate size in a few boots and a couple of shoes and that shoe shocks them back into their role.

I notice right away that the sales woman has a dance she has..she knows how to pull out a boot, take the stuffing out of it and and hand it to you in one fail swoop. It’s impressive. What I find interesting is she keeps holding out the boot like she would anyone else so they can grab it and put it on but my client can’t see she’s doing this so I have to, a number of times, take it from the sales associate and put it in my clients hand or push it towards my client so she can feel the boot to take it. She, the sales associate finally get’s the clue, apologizes and starts to follow suit. Again my client is so perceptive and quick to know whether something feels comfortable or not. I make sure we’re choosing appropriate heights as well as a stacked and solid heel to give her ample support that she needs. We find the most amazing pair of boots as well as another pair of super cute shoes.

And off to Macy’s we go.

Now I have to mention. I’ll call out a few really ignorant, stupid people in this piece but I refuse to excuse myself for my own wrong doings so here we go.

You see I live at malls all over town. You’ll see me at Bridgeport one day and Washington Square another, Downtown Nordies the next and Lloyd Center after that. I sometimes have a difficult time remembering where I’m at much like a pilot can forget often what city he/she is in. And what do I do? I lead my client all the way downstairs and down the mall just to realize I’m on the wrong floor and we have to find the elevator.

As we navigate to the elevators I notice that we are taking up the entire isle. I mean it’s my client her seeing eye dog and me. There are so many people who will so politely get out of our way. And then there are the teenagers. I can’t believe how disrespectful they are. They bump into us or are so unaware of their surroundings that I have to politely ask to get around them. Well I guess I shouldn’t expect any more from an adolescent should I? Or should I. I’m reminded to teach my own boys respect. I mean if you don’t teach them, they may not know how to respond.

I digress.

Once we finally make it to the correct location and we’re set up in the dressing room she starts to try items on. Her energy level is inspiring. In a time when I notice some of my clients would be getting tired, she is ready to go! We try on a few items and I tweak a size or pull a different color (noticing I have too much mulberry I’ll pull another complimentary option) When we’ve narrowed our choices down to what will coordinate well with the other purchases as well as items that she loves, we go to buy. I find that the sales associate is a little more than nervous and becomes a chatter box. My client has decided to open a Macy’s card to get the discount and this sales associate is having a difficult time in figuring out how to go about some of the steps that you have answer on the little computer thing. You know that electronic gadget that you swipe you’re cared on. In conversation she asks which one of us is Sara and which is “Client” and after we make it clear who’s who, she continues to get us mixed up. I notice that I really start to become rather protective of my client as I notice she has to hand personal information cards to this sale associate. You have to be really trusting in a way to be blind in this world. After we get her all set up we head to the Macy’s shoe department to do some more damage.

I take her AGAIN to the wrong level and have to back track back to the elevators! Really. She is such a good sport.

After we find the shoe we want that will look SO good with that skirt we found, she gets in line to buy. I stand off to the side with the three huge bags from Nordstrom. When it’s her turn to pay the sales associate literally yells Ma’am are you ready? It shocks me but what she said next shocked me more. “Oh I’m sorry for yelling, I know you’re not deaf too”. Seriously. I couldn’t believe my ears. No lady, she’s not deaf just blind. I actually said out loud “Did that just happen” and once we were on our way my client assured me that, that happens all the time. People just get so nervous NOT to offend that they end up sticking their foot in their mouth. I was dumbfounded. She proceeds to tell me that the most frequent question she gets asked is if she knows sign language. Now I’m not the brightest earring in the case but COME ON!!! Her attitude about it all though…so cool. She just laughs it off.

Heading to the jewelry counter I, myself being unhappy with busy noise and crowds, notice that the mall is getting pretty busy and knowing my client doesn’t dig crowds much, and understandably,I ask her if she’s doing okay. I notice she humming a tune and wonder if maybe it’s a way she can tune out all the noise. She says she’s doing ok though and I believe her, I truly think she’s a remarkable woman could and would stand on the front lines of a war if she wanted to or could. She’s got gusto baby!

After buying a bobble or two we head back to Nordstrom where her husband is called to come pick her up. I’m so impressed with how willing Nordies associates are to help my client out. THAT is customer service.

I walk my client out to her husband and load her purchases into the car, say my good byes and head back to my car. It’s been a six hour shopping day and I’m exhausted and starving but I walk back to my car a little better of a person. Not by having just gone through this experience. But from just getting to know and from working with this amazing, beautiful and now stylish woman. As I drive out of the parking garage I figure that most anyone who gets the privilege to know this woman, must feel the same way. Fortunate.