Confession time.

Over the course of the past few weeks I admit to venturing out of my lockdown bliss to visit a handful of shiny shopping meccas.

I was wary and started small with the local pint-sized mall only later branching out to a medium sized, purely functional shopping jaunt to Southland (I feel dirty just thinking about it) and finally culminating with a Saturday (gasp) trip to the shiniest of them all, Chadstone. Albeit with a hazmat suit and a military precision style plan to be in and out by 0900 hours. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

Now I feel I owe it to you to provide some context. I was shopping for and with each of my children; one who needed a collection of work experience appropriate outfits, one who needed a completely new wardrobe due to a most rapid growth spurt during lockdown and one who ‘needed’ an Oodie (don’t ask).

Upon entry to the store, I surveyed the area for any tell-tale signs of virus infected individuals, preparing to make a hasty exit if required. Once satisfied that there was enough physical distance for everyone to avoid contamination, I moved on to a rigorous hand sanitisation procedure repeated at each and every store entry and exit, ignoring each and every one of my teenagers’ withering looks.

I navigated my way through aisles, managing not to touch fellow shoppers and holding my breath when they veered too close (please tell me I’m not the only one doing this). I handled as few items of clothing as possible and I became acutely aware that my keen ability to cancel the fashion noise with a quick scan of the racks really does come in handy during a global pandemic. A fan of a good metaphor I liken myself to a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones as I mercilessly eliminate the distracting buzz of the latest trends and the wicked lullaby of the ‘unmissable bargains’ for my ever-thankful clients.

A stickler for the rules, I adhered to the carefully spaced circles plastered to every store floor indicating how far apart I should stand from the next person in line for the fitting room. That was when I was allowed to actually access the fitting room, because in some stores fitting rooms were either closed with no try ons allowed or, not being the one doing the trying on, I was forbidden from entering the vicinity of the change area at all. Not even to assist my child.

It wasn’t lost on me that that would make an in-store styling experience with a client a little, shall we say, challenging. In pre-Covid times, the stores provide me with a separate change room for my clients which is where I place their preselected items for quick and dirty try on. Clearly now, with space at a premium, their ability to provide this service to me may be curtailed, particularly in some of my more petite boutiques.

Upon leaving the few fitting rooms I did have access to, I masterfully dodged sales assistants wielding industrial sized cans of Glen 20 behind us to purify the potentially disease-ridden cubicle and I managed to deftly pay for a range of purchases without touching the pin pad or sales desk.

It’s fair to say I was more than a little relieved when each of the shopping expeditions were over and I was safely heading for home. And a good chemical spray down.

For the most part, and despite the restrictions and potential risks, I noticed that many people were carrying on business as usual. And we were certainly not alone at the mall. It was bustling.

This was somewhat surprising, and truth be told, a little terrifying. I’m not sure that, even as a business owner who relies on the in-store experience for income, I am ready for the stores to be so full and frothy again.

At any rate, the 50% net fall in sales that the fast fashion giant H&M reported for the past 3 months, is going to be made up again in the next 3 weeks if we continue this way.

Having said that, the coming weeks might prove different as we Victorians again brace against a rising uptick in infection rates.

So, the question I have to ask is, is anyone else still shopping?

And if so, is it purely online browsing or are you risking life and limb (or at least the wrath of your friends and loved ones) by visiting physical stores?

I ask this because, like many non-essential service providers, I’m considering what I can do to support my clients and address their needs now and into the future, particularly when new clothing isn’t a top priority for most.

What I am offering

My ShopShare videos which I understand many find a very welcome addition to the week and I welcome the opportunity to continue to produce them. You can check out this week’s version of Nic’s Picks here.

With restrictions lifting around visitors to our homes I have also recently recommenced one on one style identity and wardrobe audit sessions that can be coupled with a guided recommendation for online purchases, if required.

To put it simply:
1. I come to your home for 2 hours tops (efficient) (And physically distanced but without the Glen20)
2. we get rid of the clothes that don’t work (you gain clarity without any judgment from me)
3. we decide what does work for you and why (you build knowledge and confidence)
4. we agree on any new pieces that would be worth adding to your existing collection (you are inspired and re-energised by an intentional injection of hand-selected wardrobe workhorses that you can shop for in your own time).

If this sounds like something that you’ve wanted to do for some time now, let’s talk.

What I’m working on for future offering

I’m working hard on an online self-guided styling program which will launch in August, just in time to hit refresh on your Spring/Summer wardrobe.

I’m also keen to roll out a Wardrobe Workshop and Style Bites series that will be delivered digitally as a live event once a month with an opportunity to ask your most pressing style and wardrobe questions from the comfort of your own home. Anyone on my list will be privy to a special launch offer. You can become a lovely lister here.

I have a couple of other ideas percolating (some of which scare the sequins out of me) and so I would be so very grateful to gain a better understanding of your needs to ensure I am offering services that are useful, valuable and wanted.

So tell me, despite retailers re-opening their doors, and because it looks and feels like it might be some time before most shoppers are completely comfortable visiting physical stores again or indeed, even have a need or a desire to, how can I continue to support you in your style and wardrobe?

Hi, I’m Nicole, and I’m a personal stylist obsessed with helping women in business and corporate roles to experience effortless, stylish dressing, allowing them to stand out for all the right reasons. I bring strategy, solutions and expertise to my clients. I fully understand the challenges women face when trying to achieve a wardrobe that actually works and I take the pain out of shopping for clothes and deciding what to wear. I transform something that feels fraught and complex into a streamlined solution expertly tailored to you.

Image: Canva Dome Studio⁠