Shop Like A Pro
Personal shoppers can be a lifesaver for women who are running short of time, energy or fashion ideas—and their insights can help us all.
Ever thought about retaining a personal shopper? They’re not just for the “1 percent.” For a broad range of grateful clients, these fashion experts find clothing and accessories that are stylish, flattering and within the budget. They have a trained eye for what looks good, and they know what outfits work for a given individual at a given time. While you’re deciding, check out some free advice. BERGEN caught up with Kristen Robertiello, head stylist at Park Ridge’s KR Wardrobe Design, and Neepa Sikdar of Oakland-based Accessible Style. We asked the two personal shoppers to open their fashion playbooks and offer a few tips to help you look smashing this spring—with minimum headaches.
TWEAK THE TRENDS
Fashion trends come and go, and we always see celebs and models flaunting them in public. But they needn’t dictate what you wear. “Trends keep fashion relevant and interesting and certainly can be fun to follow,” says Robertiello, “but not every trend is for every woman. Stick to what feels right and resonates with you.” If you’re not fully comfortable with a current trend, tweak it! “A perfect example is the cropped shirt,” she says. “To avoid showing too much skin and to be age-appropriate, I always paired that with a high-waisted pant. Don’t be afraid to experiment and change it up. Fashion should be fun, and the most important thing is that you feel great and confident.”
BE COMFORTABLE—AND CONFIDENT
Comfort goes beyond finding soft and cozy fabrics— it’s also feeling good about how clothes fit your body and minimizing self-consciousness. How? “The important thing to keep in mind when dressing for your body type is to draw the eye away from the largest section of your body,” Sikdar suggests. “If puffy sleeves are a trend, and your shoulders are wider than your hips, don’t wear that trend.” Pant rise (the distance from the top of the waistband to the bottom of the crotch seam), particularly a low rise, is another trend that can be flattering for some but not for others. “If you have a short torso and longer legs, this rise can help elongate your torso,” says Robertiello. “Experiment with different brands, hues and hem cuts to see which ones feel and look best. Fashion is personal. It shouldn’t be scary or stress you out.”
KNOW WHERE TO GO
Bergen County is a shopping mecca, and both large department stores and independent boutiques always have fashion finds. Sikdar suggests visiting downtown Westwood’s stores, including Ginger N’ Cream, Hartly and Market House, as well as its consignment stores. “My favorite day to shop is Thursday,” she adds, “as that’s the day inventory is usually the strongest in a store.” While supporting local merchants is important, Robertiello says the experience at a big anchor store like Bloomingdale’s in The Shops at Riverside is unmatched. “Very rarely is there a crowd, and parking is always easy,” she says. “Of course, arriving at opening is ideal. They have a great selection of high/low, so if you are sourcing designer staples and also hoping to add in a few affordable trends, you can accomplish both in one location.”
SPLURGE ON STAPLES
Certain items—heels and dresses, for instance—are classic and timeless; you’ll want to keep them well beyond the lifetime of a typical fashion trend. “Shoes are an investment in your future feet, so you should always strive to buy the best quality you can afford,” advises Sikdar. “Not investing in quality shoes can lead to knee problems and hip pain and can ultimately prevent you from wearing heels.” Robertiello also recommends paying a bit more for a pair of designer sunglasses and a white or cream handbag. “I also prefer to spend money on my bathing suits, as the fabric is usually a better quality and tends to fit more properly,” she says. “And I always invest in an elevated staple blouse, blazer and one designer handbag.”
Let’s face it: We’ve all been tempted by a cute sweater or sandals at a big-box store. There is indeed a time and place for fast-fashion pieces like these, as they “allow us to look stylish at every budget,” says Sikdar. “They’re great for someone who recently entered the workforce, and they’re a great option for trying out trends.” Just remember that these garments are not meant for the long haul. “The quality of the fabric and overall construction is usually compromised to keep the price down,” Robertiello adds. “My suggestion is to invest in higher-end staples and fill in with some trendy fast-fashion pieces that won’t break your heart when it’s time to retire them.”
ELEVATE DRESSING DOWN
Even before the pandemic shifted our fashion attitudes, athleisure was one of the hottest styles—but that doesn’t mean wearing old gym shorts. “There are many fabulous athleisure looks out there; I love a matching set,” Robertiello says. “Accessorizing with a trending designer sneaker, handbag and some jewelry can definitely elevate this look.” Sikdar also recommends matching sets in black or gray, dark plum or navy. “Wearing the same color head to toe really elevates your athleisure and makes it look sophisticated. Pair the set with a leather jacket.”