How to help the world get dressed again

I was recently approached by a well known UK high street retailer to help get their teams ready for opening again on 12th April.

After working in retail management for 16 years with brands that grounded me in the importance of experience (mainly Hobbs and Anthropologie) and running my own Style Coaching business for 5 years I know the importance of making style personal.

I see first hand the challenges my clients are facing. They want quick yet impactful solutions to their style problems.

I believe the recent pandemic is going to compound the customers need for better solutions to their style challenges.

Less wastage, more fun.

There has never been a more important time to help the customer get dressed again, to help them step away from the joggers and into clothes that befit the brighter future ahead.

If you are a retailer, large or small

Here are my 8 top tips for retailers to help their teams.

  1. Experience has to be front and centre. Things to look at, touch, smell, dazzle the eyes with. Welcoming, intererested staff that are busy but up for a party. Buzz that fits with the brand. If it takes the staff trying clothes on on a quiet day or bringing a creative project onto the shop floor to add that interest do whatever it takes to invite the customer into your world.
  2. Show customers you’re interested in developing a relationship with them by helping them to maximise every item of clothing they buy from you. This is not just about the sale, those days are gone. It has to be deeper than that, it has to be about valuing them and every item they purchase from you. Empower your team to talk about the benefits of an item’s longevity, how it will enrich the customers life and wardrobe beyond this season and for years to come.
  3. Lead with empathy and kindness – some of your customers will feel anxious and overwhelmed about stepping back into store. Use phrases like ‘how are you feeling about being back in store’ or ‘when was the last time you went shopping?’ to strike up conversation. Meet the customer where they are at. Be human, hire people who are actually interested in finding out the answer.
  4. Use new questions when styling in the fitting rooms. How wonderful would it be to hear in the fitting rooms so ‘what do you want to keep the same about your style’ or ‘what colours really excite you?’. Have a fresh take on finding out about the customer so you can help her to natural evolve her style.
  5. Understand how to dress up and dress down clothing – versatility is key. Clothes are no longer for a season, they must be for life. Engage with this concept by ensuring your teams are trained to know how to dress up and dress down an item to fit with our more casualised way of life.
  6. Colour is going to be the trend of the season, perhaps the year – know what colours suit which skin and how to play with it. Colour sales have already gone through the roof, train the team to see when colours work on different skin tones and when they don’t. Get creative with colour combinations, showing people the versatility of colour.
  7. Develop confidence within your teams of how clothes should be cared for. Just like our grandmas would have cared for and treated their clothes, this is key to the longevity of an item and this is something people lack confidence in. How glorious would it be if retailers even offered this in store – ways to give old clothes new life.
  8. Bodies will have changed shape during the pandemic, develop your teams confidence in dealing with their customers inner critic. A great example of this is if a customer says ‘I’ve put on a lot of weight’ the assistant could reply ‘let me help you feel amazing in your new body’. Don’t dismiss the issue but make it a problem that you have the solutions to.

I really believe the time is now for retailers to set a new and exciting tone. Retail is definitely not dead but it can’t go back to the way it worked before with boring phrases like ‘are you looking for anything in particular?’.

People have learnt to live with less during this time, every item needs to be valued, every customer cherished and cared for, every day a celebration. I believe the profits and loyalty will come if you make your shop an engaging, welcoming and interesting space full of interested people that find the solutions to your customers problems. Lead from there.

People will be feeling lost when it comes to getting dressed, seeking out comfort but a bolder version of themselves – Be the knowledge they are seeking and they will come to you.

We are in a time where fashion, retail and stylists need to show the power of dressing for a happier world. For true progress we must show how we can lean into a more sustainable, circular model where we truly maximise our clothes and wear all our wardrobe.

So can I help you? If you would like me to come speak to your teams, to develop that experience in store and to re-engage them with a new tone of empathy and postivity then get in touch.

And finally, please share this article & let’s help more of the world get dressed again.