2013 Fashion: Product Guide

Find fashion and style resources that can help you build or rethink your business wardrobe.

September 18, 2013

Skip right to the shopping help section you need:

This product list is a little different from what we normally compile for our buyer’s guides. Stores and clothing options vary so much across the country and online, that we figured a list of places where you can buy business attire wouldn’t be all that helpful. Instead, we’ve put together a list of outside-the-box fashion and style resources that you might find helpful in building or remanufacturing your business wardrobe.

Online Shopping Services

Stitch Fix
This service sends women five hand-picked items based on their price range and style survey. Return shipping is free, but if you decide to keep all five items, you get 25 percent off the total bill. The stylists promise to push you outside your comfort zone a little, including items that you might not have picked for yourself. They also include tips for how to dress up or dress down each item. The distinguishing factor here is that you choose the frequency of shipments.
The initial styling fee is $20, but that becomes a credit toward your first order. Their items are $65 each, on average.

Trunk Club
It may be a stereotype, but this company is counting on the fact that guys hate shopping enough that they’ll pay someone else to do it for them. They give you a full 10 days to try on everything that comes in your trunk shipment. Each trunk comes with a prepaid label so you can send back what you didn’t like after that initial 10 days, and you won’t pay until after you send the rejected items back. The trunks are divided up by product category (shoes, accessories, shirts, and so on).
Trunks range from $40 to $300+, depending on the product type.

Elizabeth & Clarke
This subscription service delivers one to three women’s shirts at the beginning of each season. They focus on neutral, work-friendly choices. The subscription price includes sales tax, returns, and shipping, and they appear to have a pretty generous satisfaction policy. One fun element is that they use their customer’s self-portraits to show how their picks look on real people.
$30-$60, depending on subscription level.

Keaton Row
After taking their “style quiz,” women are connected with a choice of Keaton Row stylists, who will create five to seven personalized looks and a couple of “express boutiques” to help them fill specific wardrobe holes. You then shop online, with your card being charged directly by the retailers from whom you decide to purchase, with free shipping and returns included. Their product prices are synched with those of each retailer, so you’ll pay the price that you would if you were shopping online by yourself.
The styling service is currently free, but isn’t guaranteed to stay that way forever.

Online Shopping Tools

 

Shopstyle
This tool is helpful if you’re looking to fill a specific hole in your wardrobe. Just type in “little black dress” or “navy striped tie” and the site will bring you results from all over the Web. You can filter by size and preferred store, as well as be notified when the items go on sale.
Free

PS Dept.
This iPhone app will connect you to personal shoppers at boutiques and department stores alike. Users create a list of their favorite retailers, with assistance from PS Dept.’s “Window Shop” gallery. Then, they send an inquiry for what they need. The personal shoppers at each store respond to the request with suggestions from their store.
Free

Shop It To Me
Fill out your Shop It To Me profile, including which brands you like, your size, what percentage of discount you’d want to know about, and the frequency of e-mail you prefer. Shop It To Me will send you alerts to those specifications. The e-mail gets specific, letting you know what is a special, one-day-only sale and what is a final markdown. Their search functionality appears to be pretty robust as well.
Free

Wantworthy
The cool thing about Wantworthy is that you don’t have to trust that all your favorite things will show up on one aggregated site. Cruise Amazon, Etsy, or your favorite department store, and as long as you’ve installed the “Want” button in your browser add-ons, you easily can save any product to your list. The site also has a social element, where you can add shopping pals. They’ve also recently released an app.
Free

Personal Stylists/Shoppers

Most department stores have personal shoppers on hand to help you find the perfect outfit at no additional cost, so if you have a favorite store, that might be a great place to begin. Keep in mind that these shoppers restrict themselves to the inventory available at the store they work for, and they may or may not spend time combing the sale rack for your size. If you’re looking for wider options or more personalized service, there are a couple of options for finding and hiring your own stylist near the bottom of this section.

Macy’s
Macy’s product lines are a little bit more budget-friendly than some of the more luxury-branded stores, and they offer advance warning on exclusive sales and events. They also offer a gift shopping service that will keep track of birthdays and anniversaries and even handle wrapping and shipping for you. Be sure to watch our video of Macy’s By Appointment in action.
Complimentary service.

J.Crew
The store’s “Very Personal Stylists” are advertised as being available 24/7, and they’ll open the store early or stay late to work around your schedule. They also offer free shipping on any full-price purchase made through the service. Because it’s not a traditional department store, however, designs and styles will likely be limited, so make sure you really like the J.Crew style.
Complimentary service.

Nordstrom
This large, upscale department store has plenty of different style options. Be prepared to give your personal shopper more information than just your shirt size, though. The stylist we talked to asked us about our favorite outfits and whether or not we had a “style icon.”
Complimentary service.

Bloomingdale’s
As a luxury department store, Bloomies doesn’t offer its “At Your Service” shoppers at every store. But where it does, the shoppers promise to pre-shop the whole department store for you, later presenting you with an array of options to review in a private in-store setting. They will create and retain a register of your style preferences as well as important dates in your life. They also offer to coordinate alterations, among other add-ons.
Complimentary service.

Association of Image Consultants International (AICI)
Search this database of the largest professional association of personal and corporate image consultants worldwide. This nonprofit organization counts approximately 1,300 members across more than 40 countries. Keep in mind that these consultants are qualified to help you refine not only your wardrobe but also your behavior, communication skills, and etiquette.
Free to search.

Style for Hire
This national stylist-finding service was started by Stacy London of TLC’s What Not to Wear. The interface is detailed, offering the ability to sort by location, hourly rate, specialization, and more. The booking process will delight online shoppers, and the try-before-you-buy types will love the free stylist introduction feature.
Free intro; stylist charges vary.

Books

 

Dressing the Man, by Alan Flusser
This step-by-step guide addresses each major clothing classification and helps you apply your own specifics to a series of dressing options. You’ll also learn the art of pattern-on-pattern coordination and how to choose the most flattering clothing silhouette for your body type.
Price varies, but the author will personalize a copy of the book for you for a premium.

Things a Man Should Know About Style, by Scott Omelianuk and Ted Allen
This short and funny handbook is based on the popular “Things A Man Should Know...” series in Esquire magazine. Expect quick quips targeted to a more high-end set.
Because it’s been around awhile and it’s not very substantial, you can find it really cheaply online.

Andy’s Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothes, by Andy Gilchrist
This compendium offers a bounty of information on every article of men’s clothing, including the history of certain garments. There are also chapters on fabric types, clothing care, foreign size conversions, and grooming.
Available in either PDF or ePub format for $28.99.

Standout Style: The Shopping and Style Guide for Real Women, by Tamika Maria Price
This book outlines 27 must-have styles for women and includes a notes section in the back that readers can use to conduct a closet audit and then rebuild their wardrobe without doubling up or leaving style holes.
$4.95 for the e-book or $12.95 for a signed paperback.

Business Wear Magic: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Effective, Profitable Business Attire, by Diana Pemberton-Sikes
This e-book promises to help women take the guesswork out of shopping by showing them how to find the best clothes for their bodies, lifestyles, and budgets. The target audience is wide, so expect much more than just advice on suiting and business attire.
$29.

Meg White

Meg White is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.