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pink orange sweaters and blouses hanging on rack

Shopping, “Geralin-style” involves finding your shopping soulmate to help you locate wardrobe essentials that both delight you and fill an actual need. Only then can you progress to experiencing the follies (and occasional indignities) of the dressing room and making your final selections. But the ideal shopping experience doesn’t end at the cash register.

Many Happy Returns (And Exchanges)

No matter how perfect clothing or accessories may seem, it’s a shopper’s prerogative to change her mind. Perhaps an item found on a later shopping trip may be a more suitable color. Maybe the event for which you purchased it has changed themes or was rescheduled for a completely different season. A store’s return policy can enhance its relationship with its customers, charming them anew, or it can taint the memory of past shopping experiences.

When you shop, make a point of asking your sales associate about the store’s return and exchange policies. Consider entering a reminder task in your calendar or phone to prompt you, a few days before the expiration of the return period, to review your satisfaction with your purchases.

Nordstrom, which sets the Gold Standard for customer service, has a simple policy: “Don’t love it? Don’t worry — returns and exchanges are easy. Simply send your item back or bring it to a store near you”. Other stores differ regarding whether, or at what point, items may be returned. Check their policies – cash vs. store credit, though thirty days is a common return/exchange period.

Take note of the return and exchange policies for some of these popular stores:

The Benefits of Loyalty

Stores want to curry your favor and build a sense of brand loyalty. Think how online retailers (as well as brick-and-mortar shops) encourage you to visit their Facebook pages and “like” them. How much more can you show your like – or your love – for a store than by visiting often, and hopefully, making purchases?

Indeed, some stores reward their faithful shoppers with a wide variety of benefits, like free shipping, no-hassle returns, free alterations (Yes! Even for women’s clothing!), and loyalty points or “bonus bucks.” Ask your sales associate about the store’s loyalty reward options, so you can be aware of the wonderful perks at your disposal.

Not My Department

In past posts you may have noticed that I’ve focused on the benefits of finding the best sales associates and policies in department stores. Why no mention of independent boutiques, consignment stores, and thrift shops? Certainly, these shopping venues have personality, variety, and bargains. However, I focus on department stores because several of my clients have items shipped and want to be able to return items. Boutiques often have stricter return policies and charge for shipping.

Except on rare occasions, I need to maximize my shopping efforts by focusing on “sure things.” This includes locations that carry designers I know make clothing and accessories that fit and flatter. If I find the ideal piece, I want to ensure that I’ll be able to acquire it in a specific size. This is far less likely in stores that carry more limited or eclectic inventory.

The key is to find stores and sales personnel who can help ensure you find the wardrobe pieces that best suit your life.

If you’d like to build a practical and elegant wardrobe that fits you and your lifestyle perfectly, check out my Wardrobe Wisdom Workbook, download my free Clothing Capsule Planning Worksheets and Checklist to Pack for a Vacation or Business Trip. Also, make sure to listen to these interviews on planning a Capsule Wardrobe.  They are part of the Smead ‘Keeping You Organized’ video/podcast series:

Need more help? Book a one-on-one wardrobe, closet, and clothing coaching call to answer your specific questions and get my one-on-one advice.

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