Saturday, March 27, 2010

In Kelly We Trust, or Kelly McPheters, Nordstrom Personal Stylist Interview - part 1

Hi everyone!  Hope you all had a great Friday and are enjoying your weekend.  We apologize for the brief hiatus - things have been pretty crazy with work, family commitments, and going out "to the field" (as we call it in social science research...which you could sort of say this is?) to gather material for you, our wonderful readers.  Today, we're posting the first of two transcripts (some of it paraphrased, for sanity's sake) of an interview we conducted with Kelly McPheters, Personal Stylist Extraordinaire at Nordstrom in the Fashion Valley Mall, here in sunny San Diego.  Kathryn came down from Orange County to help me with this, and is responsible for the wonderful photos.

Kelly Interview - Part 1
(PT = Pretty Things, K = Kelly)

PT: So, we had a reader submit a question asking, do you work full time as a stylist?  How do you acquire clients? Does the store attract clients for you? Or do you seek them out on your own?  How does that work?

K: So, I do work full-time as a stylist - it is my actual 9 to 5, 11 to 7, 12 to 9 job that I have.  I work five days a week at the store, and basically the way that I attract my clients is that there are call-ins to the store by people requesting a personal stylist's help.  Or, I might just be working on the floor, grab a customer in any department, and be able to assist them with their shopping in that department, and then educate them to the fact that I can actually help them outside that department, throughout the whole store: through shoes, accessories, jewelry, and then help them do their whole outfits from head to toe.  Nordstrom does marketing on our behalf, through  They are advertising in the catalogues now, that personal stylists are of no charge and are available at any and every store.  At our store, right now, there will be a personal stylist available every hour that we are open.  That's a new thing - not all the stores have it yet - but as of this week, [the Fashion Valley Nordstrom] will have a personal stylist available every hour that we are open.

PT: Wow, that's great!

K: (Nods, smiling) Mmhm!  However, since we do work by appointment, even if there is someone here, if that person is booked, then you might just have to call back and make an appointment.  It is an appointment-based service.  Oh, and referrals are a great source [for clients].  (Laughs) My favorite clients give me their friends.

PT:  How popular has the service been since Nordstrom started advertising in their catalogues?

K:  Well, what's changed is that people have realized that it doesn't have to be, "I want to come in and spend $3000." People have realized that it can be, "I need some new pieces for my wardrobe and I've got $300 to spend."  Or, "I just had my kids.  I haven't shopped for three years.  I have a $1000 to spend."  But not everybody thinks now, that they have to have either a) a special occasion or b) a whole wardrobe overhaul to need a personal stylist.  We're more well-versed than most of the other store employees in [what] the whole store [has to offer], and that makes us a little more educated at the one-on-one styling.  There has been an increase in business, and it's been great, because people are believing it's more accessible and something they deserve and can have, no matter what their budget is.

PT:  Well that leads us to another question that we have, which is what is the range of services you provide?  For instance, I know that you work in the store, but I've also heard that you've gone to some clients' homes, and worked with their closets?

K:  Yes...doing the closets is really kind of up to the personal stylists.  Some store managers encourage it, and some store managers, not as much.  You could say it's kind of a gift of the stylist to the client, but it's also a great way for the stylist to get to know a client's wardrobe better.  When I do come and "do" a closet, I'll have the client clean their closet from head to toe, really gutting it, and organizing it to the best of their ability.  Then, I'll come in and take their existing wardrobe, put outfits together, and find out where the holes are - what we need to shop for on their next shopping trip, basically.  The range of other services include helping you, one-on-one, to put together outfits, helping you find great pieces during the sales, keeping an eye out for any special needs, so that you don't have to come in and hunt for your own pieces.  For instance, if there's a shoe that's calling Carol's name or Kathryn's name, I'll call and let you know that there's this amazing shoe that's waiting for you in the store.  You have me, looking out for your wardrobe.

PT:  Let's say you're going to build someone's wardrobe from scratch.  What are the essentials every woman should start with?

K: Ah, you need...there's actually a great list in InStyle: The Style Guide, of all the pieces you need for fall and all the pieces you need for spring.  (Begins listing things on fingers) You need a great pair of dark-washed trouser-cut denim; you need a great pair of casual jeans.  You need your best pair of black pants.

PT (Carol):  I need a pair of dark-wash trouser-cut denim!

K: (laughter) It's on your list!  A good dark wash is great.  You need the perfect cardigan you can throw on with everything, and then probably a black blazer or something along those lines - usually a black suit  that you can take the pieces - the black pencil skirt and the black jacket - and swap those in and out of your wardrobe.  You need a perfect black pump, and a perfect black boot, and then probably the same thing with a neutral pump or a brown boot as well.  You need a great pair of wedges, open-toed, and a great pair of flat sandals.  You need t-shirts in your best colors.  A good crisp white blouse, and then a couple of "pop" pieces, pieces that just stand out and scream your name.  I'm trying to think of my staples this staples this year for my wardrobe have been my black ponte-knit pants and my knee-high boots, oversized sweater, my boyfriend blazer...during the summer I need any pair of lightweight Theory pants that I can find, with my Jimmy Choo espadrilles.  Then I like to get a pop of color through the blouse, and then a cute little lightweight jacket over it.  The long-layered necklaces have been essential for fall and we're getting those pops of color in the long-layered necklaces for spring.  Don't forget the accessories - the jewelry and scarves that you can add in to make those pops of color.

That's the first portion of our interview with Kelly.  In the second half, Kelly will give us her favorite recommendations for all the essentials - black pants, jeans, etc! (Part 2 of the interview now available here.)  Meanwhile, here are our OOTDs:

Dress: Matrushka Construction, Veritian Dress
Shoes: Charles David (2006?)
Necklace: Nordstrom, Brass Plum (March 2010)

Dress: Anthropologie, Color-Drenched Dress (2009)
Cardigan: Banana Republic, cotton, 3/4 sleeve (2006)
Belt: Forever 21, red faux croc, skinny (2010)
Earrings: "So Good Jewelry," (a little shop on Melrose), rhinestone hoops


  1. Thank you for asking my questions! I always thought a personal stylist was for someone who was dropping a lot of money (and often!) and woah, she is gorgeous! Looking forward to the second half of your interview :)

  2. You're welcome! You know, I thought that too, before my friend June introduced me to Kelly. And yes, I think Kelly might be one of the prettiest Personal Stylists on the planet...hahaha =)

  3. Yes - isn't it nice to know that the services of a personal stylist are available to anyone? I'm so happy Carol introduced me to Kelly (and that June introduced Carol to Kelly!)

    Another side note: Kelly also teaches Spin Classes, and I was fortunate enough to be able to take her class right after our interview. And let me tell ya, she's as gorgeous in gym clothes and pedaling a stationary bike (while leading an entire class!) as she is all dressed up for work at Nordstrom!

  4. The personal Stylist craze is truly in full swing, they are popping up everywhere...

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