Discovering the Portland Anthropologie Department Store, Part 2: In this Anthropologie Heaven, there are angels to help you put together outfits...

Monday, April 25, 2016

click on any image to zoom || all photos: Stark Photography
The delight of opening the fitting room door and loving the first thing you've tried on!
jacket // dress (on promo!) // shoes

As I wandered around Anthropologie's first-ever department store in Portland, Oregon I was mesmerized. The sheer amount of clothing, accessory, shoe and beauty goodies both delighted me and somewhat overwhelmed me! What's a girl to do when she wants to buy a new outfit, is in the right store to do it but doesn't know where to begin?

She calls on the personal stylist, of course. The Portland Anthropologie Department Store simply wouldn't be complete without personal styling services! And while this isn't a new service to Anthropologie -- many stores have personal stylists/personal shoppers whom you can drop into the store to see or book your appointment with online and they even offer the service on their website for Anthro lovers in a no-Anthro zone -- it takes on a new exhilaration in a store so big!

During my visit to Anthro Portland a couple of weeks ago I had the delight of working with Eulalie, one of the mecca's personal stylists.

Everything you've ever wanted to know about a personal styling appointment at Anthropologie, inside..





After walking around about 10,000 square feet of store downstairs, Portland manager
Mackenzie (right) takes me upstairs to 8,000 more square feet and the fitting rooms,
where my personal styling appointment begins!

The first question I usually get about Anthro's personal styling service is: don't you feel pressured to buy when your appointment is over? No, I do not feel pressured to buy. Ever. Firstly, every personal stylist is a salaried Anthro employee. So they are not making their living on whether I buy or not. That takes a ton of pressure off both me as the customer and my personal stylist as a 'salesperson.' In fact, they don't really play a sales role at all. Most of the personal stylists I've worked with at Anthro, from my home base of NYC to Boulder/Denver Colorado, to the Grove in Los Angeles, to the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu and everywhere in between, the styling appointment is just as much fun for the stylist as it is for the customer!

There's a playful aspect to personal shopping and styling at Anthropologie. The personal stylists want to see what items look like on different body types, different ages, different anything and everything. It gives them a better feel of what to recommend for customers who come in and ask, "What can I wear with this?" During my appointment in Portland several staffers (whom are called SAs in Anthro lingo) stopped in to try on items too, or see which items Eulalie and I were combining into outfits. It's fun, it's easy, and at the end I felt no discomfort in leaving nearly 50 items behind.

Another question I get often about personal styling appointments is, don't you feel pressured to try on items you don't even like? Again, the answer is no silly! Before arriving in Portland I coordinated with the store via email -- which any customer can do! I sent them a list of specific items I was interested in trying on, as well as the usual sizes I wear in Anthro brands and my comfort zone of items I like to wear (i.e. fit-and-flare dresses, skirts over pants, no boxy tops!). From there Eulalie picked out the items I requested and built upon it with suggestions to complete outfits or items that would work on me that perhaps I'd not thought of. You can also stay in your comfort zone by saying things like "no items over $250 please."


Waiting for me when I arrived, a fitting room chock full of goodies to try on!
On the left is the beautiful and very flattering Knotted Cutout Dress ($548)
with the Leather Midi Jacket ($550) over it. On the right is the Ardmore Dress (now $100)
with some items behind it and the Peyson Crossbody Bag ($128) slung over it.
The Seychelles Detour Mules ($110, left) and Kelsi Dagger Irma Wedges ($125, right) also await.

Usually the way a personal styling appointment happens is that we're browsing around the store, perhaps with an armful of stuff to try on, and a SA or the store's personal stylist asks us if we're interested in some styling help. (When asked, I nearly always say yes!) The other way is to pre-schedule the appointment either by calling the store or using the Anthro website form I mentioned above. No matter how the appointment is initiated, prepare to have a really good time!

My appointment began with a fitting room overflowing with goodies to try on. Just out of the frame were water for me to drink (much needed and appreciated!) and a couple of beauty products the store's beauty specialist thought I might like. Eulalie is one of three personal stylists in the Portland store and was excited to show me items that are exclusive to this store as well as items I'd requested and items she thought I'd like.

The room chosen for my appointment was at the end of a row, near the three-way mirror but a little out of the way so that other customers would not be disturbed. Also, there was plenty of seating nearby for our friends, family or partners to sit on as needed. So if second opinions were needed our friends would be comfortable waiting for us to try things on.


Eulalie and I look over a rack full of items for me to try on.

Just outside of my fitting room was another huge rack of clothing to try. Eulalie got a better feel for my style by going through the rack with me. I told her yes to things I was definitely interested in trying on, maybe to other things, and no some things as well. She didn't take any of it personally -- in fact she told me it was great to work with someone who was clear on their style so she knew what not to grab for me.


The Sierra Maxi Dress ($198) is the kind of item I wouldn't think to try on,
but having a personal stylist's eye helped me open up to something outside of my norm.
I felt excited! I felt open to trying new kinds of clothing.

It may feel a little scary to see items that aren't our style initially, but Eulalie has seen lots of customers try these items on, and once she met me and saw my body construction she confidently spoke about what types of items would look good on me and what sizes of things to grab.

I can't tell you how lovely it was to have someone who knew that "this dress runs two sizes small" or "everyone's been wearing three sizes above their norm in this top, it runs super small" or "this dress looks amazing on curvy bodies" or "these pants are really ideal for a straighter shape, so I'm going to have you try these other pants instead..." and so on. Stylists are in the store nearly everyday and watch hundreds of customers come through. They have valuable insights into making Anthropologie items into outfits in a way no one, not even Anthro-addicted bloggers like me, do.


Eulalie explains why she chose the outfits she did for me to try on.
I love the little welcome note for me on the mirror! 
(Roxy is my nickname, and Thea is my first name.)

Often we customers will give the personal stylists a theme in mind, such as 'I'm looking for two casual outfits and one work outfit' or 'I'm going to a cocktail party and I'm not sure what to wear.' I'd told the Portland store I wanted to purchase at least one casual look and one work look. So the items pulled for me were based upon those guidelines.


After going over the rack of items pulled for me, Eulalie and I walked around the store
to grab a few more items that might meet my needs. By a 'few', I mean about 20! :)

The first 20 minutes or so of my appointment were mostly devoted to getting to know my style. We took things out of my fitting room that weren't appealing to me and switched in other things from the rack outside my room that I was excited about. Then we walked around the store to grab things I'd noticed while walking around before the appointment, and things that Eulalie thought of once she'd met me.

I felt so well taken care of. There were no items forced on me. I didn't have to try on a bunch of crazy, trendy stuff I'd hate. I felt very well heard by Eulalie, and even when I wasn't able to articulate what I was looking for well she still seemed to understand what I wanted. It was like shopping with a friend. A very stylish friend!


Wearing the Cafe Dress ($148), the Pilcro Denim Jacket ($138)

There is no denying that wonderful feeling when you step out of the fitting room in an outfit you really like! I had this rush of happiness many times over the course of my appointment. I can usually feel it if I look good in something, but Anthro's personal stylists are great at this too and won't push something on us that doesn't look right.

I never felt over-styled during the appointment either. I could have walked right out of the store in the look above and been ready for the rest of my day. I wasn't overdressed or cajoled into putting on pieces that make too much of a look. Instead, I tried on lots of versatile pieces mixed with a few special items that serve multiple or different functions in my wardrobe.


Eulalie shows me how changing out the denim jacket for the Museo Blazer ($138)
makes this outfit work-ready for my casual office setting.

When we find an item that we particularly like, our stylist can help us come up with multiple ideas for it. With the Cafe Dress ($148) for instance Eulalie showed me pieces to wear with the dress that accented my waist, or created a great casual everyday look, or brought the focus to the dress or up towards my face. I probably tried on six or seven pieces with the dress as well as several pairs of shoes.

It was through all this fun experimentation that I was able to start seeing the outfits come together. I felt thrilled when an outfit came together nicely! As the appointment continued we set aside a couple of outfits I liked a lot to accessorize. For now, it was time to try more clothes.


Trying on another look with the Museo Blazer ($138) to test its versatility.
This is the Rosny Skirt ($128).

Sometimes an item I hadn't expected to like, such as the Museo Blazer ($138) ends up being a real winner on, and we'd take a pause of sorts in the appointment to go off on a tangent and see what else I could pair that item with. Much like wandering through an Anthropologie store itself, there is no set agenda to a personal styling appointment. We took twists and turns and gave ourselves time to focus on items that I was interested in seeing more of.

Other times I'd think of a staple item, like a denim jacket. Eulalie put me in a white denim Pilcro Denim Jacket ($138) with the Cafe Dress ($148). I mentioned that I already own a blue denim jacket (the AG Robyn jacket, which is currently on sale here and here). I asked if we could build a couple more outfits around the Robyn jacket and even though Anthropologie doesn't currently carry the jacket Eulalie was more than happy to comply.


The Knotted Cutout Dress ($548) was an item that immediately came to Eulalie's mind
for pairing with a denim jacket. This is a very popular dress with Portland customers,
and it's easy to see why!

With a strong grasp for my style building ever more, Eulalie was smiling as she walked the Knotted Cutout Dress ($548) towards my room. When I saw it a huge smile was on my face too -- yes, this is for surely my kind of dress! At the time this dress wasn't even on the website yet so I would not have known to look for it.

This is another great thing about personal styling appointments -- the stylists know very well the items they have in-stock at that moment. And they can surprise you with delights like this!


Eulalie helped me get the look just right with all the little details, from potential hairstyles...

...to cuffing the jacket. I'm in the Pilcro Denim Jacket ($138) here, and it's so soft!
If I didn't already own a denim jacket in this shade, this one would have come home with me.

Sometimes when we're dressing ourselves we don't think of little ideas, like cuffing our jackets or wearing two necklaces layered instead of one. I know that I'm often in a bit of a rush in the morning when I get dressed for work, so if I haven't laid out my outfit the evening before simple ideas like this don't cross my mind. But in working with a personal stylist I see how these little tweaks brighten the overall look, and then it's easy to remember for myself even in the rush of getting dressed later on!

So, working with a personal stylist at Anthropologie not only helps us to combine items into an outfit, it also helps us make that outfit look as good as possible. It's the little things!


Eulalie helps me accessorize an outfit I liked. Details on the outfit below the next photo.

Once we'd put together multiple outfits I liked, it was off to the enormous shoe room to grab some coordinating accessories. Beyond shoes this bag also holds some of the Portland Anthropologie's massive bag selection and scarves and hats.

While discussing which bag to pair with this look I felt enticed by so many of the Portland-exclusive collaborations, like the Loeffler Randall items everywhere, and the online exclusives right in front of me to try on. I thought I was spoiled living in NYC but the Portland Anthropologie is a must-visit destination for any true Anthropologie lover. Being able to feel and touch shoes and bags makes a world of difference in deciding whether to buy or pass, and the largest selection of in-store items lives here. (And the newly re-opened Newport Beach Anthropologie which is their second Department Store concept.)


Outside, for some shots in the fresh air. See the detail shot on my Instagram.
jacket // dress (on promo!) // shoes // scarf //
bag: a Portland exclusive. Call for details, (503) 274-0293.

This is one of the outfits we put together during my personal styling session. I had requested the Ardmore Dress (now $100) and Eulalie built an outfit for me around it. How cute did I feel in this outfit? SO CUTE.

While my photographer Daniel (more on him later) and I were walking around to find a spot for this photo, someone stopped me to ask me where I'd gotten my cute outfit! Mission accomplished -- I felt great and looked great too.

I texted pictures to my boyfriend as well, and he gave it the man stamp of approval. This dress is fun and for us bustier gals it shows a hint of cleavage. Work-ready, but also date-nite ready.

Sizing details: Dress runs true to size, a 6 for me. The jacket runs large, I'm in a small instead of my usual medium. The shoes run true to size, a 9 for me, and are exceptionally comfortable on.


Getting a little beauty freshen thanks to the Portland Anthropologie's plentiful selection,
their staff beauty specialist, and Eulalie's application skills.
This brush felt like a teddy bear softly rubbing my face.

By this time in the appointment my poor body was confused from the time change, and after a late-night cross-country plane trip the night before the jetlag was setting in hardcore. So we took a break from the clothing try-ons to head downstairs to the Portland Anthro's beauty section. Much like in a department store you'll find lots of brands to try here -- the section is about three times bigger than the beauty sections I've seen in other Anthros.

Unlike other stores, the Anthropologie home office worked hard to select beauty brands with an ecologically ethical ethos. So you'll find products leaning more towards the organic here. Beyond that, much of the store staff had a two-week intensive training on the beauty section before the store opened which included many of the beauty brand's founders coming and speaking to the staff about the products and how to best use them. So this Anthropologie store has some of the most knowledgeable SAs you'll find anywhere in the country.


Trying out some mascara with a sample brush.

I spoke with the store's beauty specialist who was able to guide me through any item I was curious about (and I was curious about a lot!) and I was very impressed by a SA I spoke with on a return visit later in the week, who was able to answer some follow-up questions I had in-depth.


Talking beauty regimens with Eulalie (right).

How does this tie into personal styling, you may wonder. One of the really cool things about this department store is that we can walk in or schedule a personal styling appointment, put together an outfit or two, accessorize the look completely via the accessory rooms and then come downstairs and put together the makeup for the look.

I was able to build a second outfit from head to toe, from hairspray to shoes. Could you do that at other department stores? Sure. But other places aren't Anthropologie. There wasn't an endless amount of brands to choose from. There were thoughtfully chosen brands and color palettes to work with the clothing that Anthro carries. That made my choices all the easier.

Among the beauty section highlights for me were the Artis brushes, the FACE Stockholm Matte Lipstick ($22) in Sangria, and the totally totable mini Love & Salt Hair Mist ($12).


See the detail shot on my Instagram.
jacket // dress // necklace // bag: a store exclusive clutch from Loeffler Randall. 
Call for details, (503) 274-0293.

I love working with personal stylists, because they can help me see beauty in me that I don't always see in myself. This outfit is something I never would have tried myself but I felt amazing in it! It's casual yet work-appropriate, and all the details combine in a lovely way. It's flattering on and I can work these pieces into several other outfits.

And yet, when I decided to buy other pieces I'd tried on over these (which I'll purchase in time too), it was no big deal. I ended up purchasing the dress back home in NYC. Did I feel about waiting? Not even a little bit. Did Eulalie feel badly that I didn't buy this whole look immediately? Not even a little bit.


Talking about why this look didn't work for me. 
Eulalie and I both noted that Anthro's Moulinette Soeurs skirts are running small this spring.
I had requested the Becancour Pencil Skirt ($118) to try on but wasn't thrilled with it on.
At the higher end of the size run (8 and above), it seems to be running two sizes small.
The Tybee Tank ($68) is cute and runs TTS, but doesn't work well with this skirt on me.

Of course, not everything I tried on worked for me. The disasters were just as good for me as the successes, because they helped me realize when items weren't as versatile as I thought, weren't as good in reality as they seemed on my wishlist or simply didn't work on me.

On the other hand, Eulalie offered items to me that were close to the disasters that worked better on me. This is another huge advantage of working with the store personal stylists -- you have an expert eye who can help us get the look we're trying to achieve and help us nail down what item details and shape work best in a look.


Going through my rack of items, making sure I haven't missed any items I want to try.

My personal styling appointment lasted nearly 3 hours, until I was pretty much ready to fall over in happy shopping blissful exhaustion. Appointments can be longer or shorter than that and stores can also accommodate small shopping parties with enough advance notice.

Isn't it so fun is it to grab a few friends and try on a bunch of clothing together? I love it when 3 or 4 of my girlfriends and I grab the same item and open our fitting room doors in unison, eager to see what each of us looks like in the item!


Chatting with a store SA (left) and manager Mackenzie (right) during a fitting room break.
Here I'm in the Ridged Yoke Tee ($58) and the Calliope Pencil Skirt ($248).

Another thing that I love personal stylists for is pattern selection. Items like the Calliope Pencil Skirt ($248) do not have consistent pattern placement -- so one size 10 might have the flowers in a different place than another size 10. I email with store stylists often and ask them to send me photos of items I'm interested in buying to ensure the pattern placement is good. Faced with two of these skirts to choose from in Portland, Eulalie was able to help me choose the skirt with the better pattern placement for my shape. Yellow flower on the hip it is!


Trying on a variety of shoes with the Lanai Sheath ($378).

Earlier in this post I mentioned that Anthropologie's personal stylists often know fit details about a dress that customers will not. With this Lanai Sheath ($378) for instance, the stylists mentioned to me that the dress is running long in the torso so some customers who tried it on and purchased it had been tailoring the dress to remove some of the waist fabric from between the seams.

This is the kind of detail you're not going to get from a regular store SA, or at most department stores. Because the stylists at Anthro are so tied in to the day-to-day of the store they know special details like this about each dress.



It also helped me feel more comfortable, because going into trying on the dress I already knew the waist would be bunching up on me.

That's the kind of special touch a stylist lends. When community members of friends out in the world ask me why I like working with Anthro's personal stylists, this is one of the reasons.



One final question I get asked a lot since my trip is, 'Was it different going to Portland for this personal styling appointment?' Working with a personal stylist in Portland was especially special! Not only does the store have many collaborations that are exclusive to this one Anthro, it also carries many online exclusives in-store, and has much more product than your typical Anthropologie. As an extra bonus, there's no sale tax in Portland! What a delightful treat that was for me...I'm used to paying hefty taxes in NYC.

Not only was my personal styling appointment lovely, my photographer was absolutely amazing too! People near to Portland are very lucky to have Stark Photography around! Daniel was a total pro who captured everything from this experience I needed him too and was confident and unobtrusive in his work. I picked Stark from a crop of many talented Portland photo houses because their website had a very similar aesthetic to what Anthro is all about, and I could not be more pleased with how the photos came out.

Daniel and his wife Lindsay don't just shoot in Portland either -- they are happy to travel for shoots. I can't wait to use them again, whether in NYC or somewhere else. They do weddings, engagement photos, senior photos for high schoolers, and blog street style photos too. I can't praise them enough and I'm so delighted to use their photo work throughout this post.

My next Anthropologie personal styling appointment has already been scheduled. Have you made your appointment yet?