If Madewell's Virtual Styling Appointments Are the Future of Online Shopping, Sign Me Up

POPSUGAR Photography | Dana Avidan Cohn
POPSUGAR Photography | Dana Avidan Cohn

Online shopping is the preferred method for most. As a culture, we've come to expect convenience, quality, and instant gratification. However, there is something lost with ecommerce. You sacrifice the interaction with shop owners and sales associates and the advice and intimate knowledge they have on the products they sell. There's also the constant issue of fit challenges when ordering online. With stores all over the country shut down, brands have had to quickly adapt and engage with their customers in new ways. We've seen virtual wedding dress fittings and online sample sales, and now virtual styling sessions are beginning to emerge.

I recently tried my first one with Madewell and found it struck the perfect balance between online shopping and the in-store experience. Not to mention the pleasure of having lighthearted conversation with someone new, an experience social distancing has made challenging. Even as some states begin plans to reopen stores, shoppers may be hesitant to enter anytime soon. A simple Zoom chat with a stylist provided personalized attention from the comfort of my own home. So, what was it all like?

How Do You Make an Appointment?

It was easy! I set up a free appointment with an online Madewell stylist using this link. Then, I got an email confirming my appointment along with a questionnaire about what I was looking for and a brief description of my overall style. It took less than five minutes to answer. I also shared my Instagram handle so she could see a bit more of how I dress.

What Does the Styling Session Entail?

I (virtually) met with my stylist for a one-on-one consultation. The call lasted about 30 minutes. My stylist, Kerri Curtis, who is based in Austin, TX, works in one of Madewell's currently closed stores but has been helping with virtual appointments during this time. She came prepared with mood boards of new shoppable products, broken down by category. She also took cues from social posts, adding in a tie-dye sweatshirt because I had posted a homemade one the day before.

POPSUGAR Photography | Dana Avidan Cohn

Pictured above: One of the mood boards my stylist made for me ahead of our session

I took the call next to my closet so I could reference pieces and accessories I already own. It was such a pleasant experience to connect with someone new and talk about a light and fun topic like clothing! We went though each item, and I was able to ask questions about fabric, fit, comfort, even sheerness of a pair of linen pants. It takes the guesswork out of online purchasing when the person recommending the items knows the products so well. She had a rack of new arrivals at her house, so she was able to actually show me items on the video chat.

Do You Have to Buy Something?

I got a follow-up email with links to all the pieces I liked. The service is free, and there is no pressure to purchase — although I did get two things. Overall, I found the process easy and very personalized. It's much different than chatting on messenger. This is much closer to the experience of working with a sales associate in-store. I can definitely see this becoming the new normal even after we leave our homes!