Busted! If you saw this month’s Chicago Agent magazine, you know that Lindsay Wolfe from my residential real estate sales team and I recently attended a shopping event.

Truth be told, I hate shopping. I would rather visit the dentist than the average department store. With three young children and a full-time career, I just don’t have the time to shop. Moreover, I find the volume of options in most stores completely overwhelming. So instead, I have a closet full of dusty clothes I don’t wear, with just a few things that I love and wear frequently.

Held at Nordstrom’s Chicago downtown store, the cocktail event was sponsored by the Women’s Council of Realtors, but it was not just any shopping event. The presenter was wardrobe consultant and personal shopper Julie Watson, and she talked about how to build a wardrobe. She explained that the architecture of your collection (I laughed, because my wardrobe is hardly a “collection”) should be comprised of three layers in the shape of a pyramid: a base layer of essentials, a second layer of novelty style essentials, and a top layer reflecting today’s trends. (You can read her full strategy here).

Better yet, Julie is not just all talk. She will come into your home and go through your closet, helping you decide what to keep and what to give away. She will then work with you to make a list of what you are missing and schedule time to take you shopping to buy exactly what you need. In the meantime, Julie will deliver your better quality hand-me-downs to Bottomless Closet, a charity that assists under privileged women by providing business attire for their interviews and new jobs, as well as image and career skills coaching. She’ll even mail you the receipt so you can take the tax deduction for your donation.

As Julie explained her services, I could not help but remember a classic scene in the hilariously funny play about the differences between men and women, Defending the Caveman. Rob Becker was explaining the difference between how women and men shop: women are “gatherers,” he said. They go to the mall, look around, and gather ideas of what they might buy. They touch, smell and try on all sorts of clothes. He said that in contrast, men are “hunters.” In his finest caveman voice, he explained that if they need a shirt, they go to the mall, buy their shirt, and then leave.

What I find appealing about the idea of working with Julie is the idea that together we could efficiently “hunt” for the basics I need. The idea of spending hours or even days checking out every possibility is torturous.

In many ways, Julie and I offer the same professional service to our clients. One of my roles as a residential real estate agent is as a “personal shopper” for my buyer clients. Time is our most precious resource, and I do my best to respect my clients’ time and not drag them though every available house or condo in the city. It is my job to understand “what’s in stock” and what is a sound investment and to efficiently present only those options that meet my clients’ needs and tastes. I am definitely not an expert at when it comes to assembling a wardrobe, but I know Chicago like the back of my hand and feel confident my buyer clients would whole heartedly recommend my services.

Update (10/08/08): I’ve just learned about another charity similar to Bottomless Closet. They’re called Bridge to Success and they provide a similar service but to both women and men.

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  • Jean Cohen

    I have an alert on real estate from Google and this came up today. I can see your blog is working.

    Your kids are so-o cute and good.

    See you soon.


  • Thanks Jean! I am really enjoying writing my posts. It is encouraging to know that friends like you are finding and reading them.

    Thanks too for the compliment about my boys. They are really getting into everything these days!

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  • Loved the story, Jenny! I am the same way with outfits, I don't know what I would do if a wardrobe specialist ever showed up on my doorstep!

    You sure are right though, real estate agents are often little more than personal shoppers, the biggest difference being that our clients typically spend a bit more…

  • Wow this is awesome, Julie must be really an expert in this case, I hope I can meet her too,