News & Politics

Best of Washington 2012: Four Winning Personal Shoppers

Local style blogger Tammy Preston tried personal shoppers at seven department stores and boutiques looking for the perfect anniversary outfit.

Need help finding a dress for a special occasion? Many stores offer free personal shopping. Tammy Preston, who runs the style blog A Loyal Love, tried shoppers at seven department stores and boutiques, in search of an outfit for an anniversary celebration with her husband—dinner out and a show at the Kennedy Center. Here, in her words, is where Preston had the best experiences.

Straight Shooter

Saks Fifth Avenue

In a dressing area, Barbara Barnett walked me through each piece she’d pulled—she’d asked me to e-mail her links to dresses I liked online at Saks so she could get a sense of my style. I appreciated that she wasn’t afraid to tell me when a dress, once on, didn’t work. I never felt she was just trying to make a sale. When she showed me a pale-pink, sequined, V-neck dress by Parker ($330), she predicted I’d love it. She was right. Of all the shoppers I tried, Barnett chose dresses that most closely matched my style. 5555 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-657-9000.

Fitted to a T

Neiman Marcus

With 16 years of experience in personal shopping, Jan Batch had a knack for picking things that fit—everything I tried on looked good. She chose the dresses based on our initial phone conversation, then continued to pull selections after meeting me. I’d asked for a unique dress that made me feel elegant, and she opened my eyes to the structural designs of La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni. This fuchsia dress ($565) is one of several Chiara Bonis she chose for me. How could anyone not feel elegant in it? Tysons Galleria, McLean; 703-761-1600.

Colorful Experience


While most department stores have personal shoppers to give customers individual attention (by appointment), boutiques rely on salesclerks. I popped into Muléh on a Saturday, curious to see what its staff would pick out for me on the fly. After asking if I wanted to wear color—yes—Flannery Horwich selected several gorgeous 3.1 Phillip Lim dresses. With each, she suggested different styling options. I swooned over the color and cascading drape of this silky lemon number ($525). 1831 14th St., NW; 202-667-3440.

Surprise Standout


I was surprised that Anthropologie offers a personal-shopper service. I scheduled an appointment for the Georgetown store on its website, providing my sizes and a description of the occasion I was shopping for, then got an e-mail from Lara Licciardi. She prepared a dressing room with six outfits—complete with cardigans (because theaters can be cold, she said), shoes, and accessories. I liked that she selected a few items I wouldn’t have picked out myself, such as this flirty LeifNotes mini-dress with cutout shoulders ($288). 3222 M St., NW, Suite M301; 202-337-1363.

Best of Washington 2012