By JULIA ANDERSON
My first box of clothes from Stitch Fix,
the online clothes styling service, arrived this week.
Of the five items in the box, I kept three, a pair of dark blue Capri pants and two tops, one with quarter-length sleeves with white stripes on black,
he other a tailored, lighter summer blouse. Total cost -- $190.
I signed up in desperation.
Nordstrom abandoned me a couple of years ago when the company closed its mall retail store nearest to my house. To shop Nordstrom, I now must drive an hour, one-way.
The change has been a difficult adjustment. I have been a card-carrying Nordstrom shopper since the ‘70s when I lived in Seattle. Sadly, I care about Nordstrom, which has faced challenges with the shifting online retail environment and its marketing strategy.
I loved the stores. Going to Nordstrom-land always made me feel better. I could usually find something of quality, something in my price-range (my upper price range). Of course, there were the extras – tissue-paper wrapped items, fragrances from the cosmetic counter, accessories and superb customer-service.
As a full-time working baby boomer, Nordstrom was my go-to place for business-dress suits, shoes and blouses. And when I needed the occasional elegant dress for a fund-raiser gala, Nordstrom would come through.
The chain began my abandonment long before the mall store closed. The merchandising mix changed as an attempt to attract younger customers. Prices moved higher. I began to walk out of my favorite store without finding something that “brought me joy.”
An unsettling disappointment.
Then Nordstrom was gone from my town. Since then, my purchases at Nordstrom have dropped to one or two items a year. Stores can still have what I need when I want quality -- a pair of well-made black leather sandals (for $200), for instance, or a black all-occasion wool scarf for travel ($100). A pair of fleece-lined green suede boots caught my eye, but that $230-purchase was more than a year ago.
Honestly, Nordstrom is too expensive for most of us. I've been priced out of its market. The mailed catalog has always been out of reach.
Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s are all I have left. But Macy’s just turned the upper half of its top floor into a junky discount bin. Seems like a race to the bottom. I've never bought much at Target or Kohl’s or J.C. Penny’s. The quality is not there.
I have done better finding what I want at a curated consignment shop called Gather in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood when visiting my son. A couple of locally owned women’s shops in my hometown offer some hope.
Since the Great Recession I've saved money on clothing by buying workout clothes, outdoor zip-up sweatshirts, outer rain wear and stuff for gardening at Goodwill. Why spend $30 on a cotton blouse or $20 an exercise bra when I can find them for $5 each at Goodwill?
Full disclosure: I no longer need business suits or heels for work. I retired from the full-time job nine years ago but continued to work from home (sometimes in my bathrobe). Lately, I have been writing and publicizing my book, “Smart Women Smart Money…..”. When I speak to groups of women about financial literacy or host my monthly Smart Money public television show., I want a look that says I'm on the ball. (click here)
But as the years have ticked by I have found retailers no longer take me seriously. They are missing the boat. Baby boomer women are NOT OLD and do NOT want to look frumpy and old.
Enter Stitch Fix
Clothes shopping was once fun for me, a stress-reliever, a way to find something nice, on sale. I could be in the moment, day-dream about what might look good, give my work-a-day world a lift.
I’ve told Stitch Fix everything about me….my weight, height, hip measurements, bra size, how I like to dress. There was nothing in my first box that knocked my socks off.
My hair stylist (nearly 20 years younger than I) told me last week that she quit Stitch Fix because she found the clothes a bit boring. “They just couldn’t figure out that I wanted more style, a more edgy look.”
Hum, if she can’t find happiness with Stitch Fix, I wonder can I?
A new box of clothes arrives next month.
Meanwhile, I just clicked the buy-now button at Amazon.com to replace the Estee Lauder lipstick I’ve been wearing this year. That’s better than driving into town, searching the cosmetic counter at Macy’s for someone to help me, only to find out that that particular shade of lipstick is not in stock.
The lipstick ships tomorrow!
I meet women all the time who face job and money transitions and who want to do them right. It’s about building confidence and taking charge of the future. This is your money. No one cares more than you do!
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