What it’s like shopping with North Carolina’s only mall personal shopper
When Ted first passed Suzanne Libfraind’s name onto me, I was insulted. Suzanne is a personal shopper at SouthPark mall. Does Ted think I needed fashion help? Does he think I wear too many Bojangles’ t-shirts? Is he doing this as payback for dressing up like him for Halloween last year?
Ted claims he was just passing along an interesting story. Although I have my doubts, I’m actually glad he sent this story my way. Suzanne is one of the coolest people I’ve met in Charlotte. And she also happens to be the only mall personal shopper in the state.
But this isn’t a new gig for her; Suzanne has been running her own company, Wardrobe Consulting, for over 24 years. She even wrote a book, Portraits of Lifestyle Dressing, which teaches you how to unclutter your closet and refashion trendy items so that you don’t look like a Kardashian.
The best part about Suzanne? Your first consultation with her is free. Yes, you read that right: FREE. Clearly the price tag was right for me to try Suzanne’s wardrobe consulting for myself.
Before we went on our SouthPark fashion journey, I interviewed Suzanne to find out more about her. Here’s our conversation:
Me: What brought you to SouthPark mall?
Suzanne: I have always had Charlotte clients because I work throughout the state. My dream has always been to be a personal shopper. I literally brought my book into the people at SouthPark mall and said, “Let me work with Simon.”
Me: Is it okay if someone has a low budget or only wants to buy one item?
Suzanne: I don’t work on commission; you will still get the same level of service from me whether you need one garment or 20. The benefit of working with me is that I have access to all the stores in the mall (including the strip outside Cowfish) – I know what’s available and I’m fully aware of all the deals.
Me: What kind of clients do you work with?
Suzanne: I work with everyone, men and women.
I’ve worked with the elderly, women whose bodies have changed after having children and even young people with anorexia and other body issues. My personal approach is that I do lifestyle dressing. I work with all budgets and I focus on what your specific needs are.
For example, you, Mary, need to be casual, comfortable and approachable. This is especially important so that you’re not intimidating when you interview people.
Me: Crap, I try to be intimidating.
Suzanne: You’re not.
Me: Fine. Do you feel pressure to look good all the time?
Suzanne: I used to feel a lot more pressure than I do now. However, people do look at what I’m wearing.
Me: In your opinion, what is the worst fashion faux pas a person can make?
Suzanne: Wearing crocs.
Before Suzanne and I went on our fashion excursion, she wanted to learn more about me. She asked me to fill out a Client Profile, which included questions about my style, my sizing and where my wardrobe is lacking. In the Client Profile I spelled out our mission: to find a dress that I can wear to summer weddings for under $150. The challenge? I refuse to wear a dress without sleeves.
I met Suzanne after work at the eBar outside of Nordstrom. (Side note: It is very difficult to decide what to wear when you’re meeting a personal stylist. I wanted to be comfortable while I shopped but I also wanted to impress her. Of course I panicked and ended up wearing my “vintage” Green Bay sweatshirt that was way too heavy and sweated all over Suzanne for two straight hours.)
Our first stop was the dress section of Nordstrom. Suzanne had me try on a lace red dress that was way too scandalous but that she really liked so I pretended to consider it. For me, the open back was giving me anxiety and I could already feel my back fat rolls getting revved to ruin any event I wore this to.
Next we went into The Limited, which I literally did not know was still in business. She showed me a dress that she had set aside for me, but we both agreed it wasn’t going to work. (Side note: I loved how Suzanne didn’t make me try on anything that I didn’t like. She could tell by my face if something was a definite no and we just kept moving.)
At this point I was a little nervous that we weren’t going to find anything. Not because Suzanne didn’t pull great stuff, but because I’m overly picky and downright awful to shop with. But then we went to Belk (my first time!) where Suzanne had four dresses pulled for me. The first few were kind of lame.
But then I tried on a $70 blue dress. It was perfect. It covered my arms, didn’t have girly flowers and even matched my socks! I thought, “This is great! We’re done! I can go home and eat pizza now!”
But, no. Suzanne wasn’t even close to done. She wanted to complete my look with accessories. I had gone way under budget on the dress so I pushed my pizza dreams aside and agreed. We ended up finding cute (and cheap) earrings at Francesca’s and a majorly discounted clutch at Dillard’s.
Although I was exhausted and starved by the end of it, the whole trip only took two hours and I came in $40 under budget. To summarize, here are my three favorite parts of the day:
(1) Feeling like a baller when we walked into stores and dresses were already set aside for me.
(2) Watching Suzanne give style advice to pretty much every woman in Dillard’s.
(3) And finally, when the checkout lady at Belk asked me if I was buying a purse for prom. (She obviously has vision issues, but whatever, I’ll take it.)
I should also add that Suzanne is not playing around; she came right into the dressing room with me. But that’s cool because now we’re BFFs. (I would, however, suggest wearing underwear if you choose to go shopping with her.)
If you’re in the need of a dress with sleeves or just want someone fun to go shopping with, call 919-270-0250 or email [email protected].
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