You don’t know how crazy you are until you get a personal shopper

June 7, 2011 | 61 comments

This is not the post that was supposed to be here today. You see, I’d been using my free time to dabble at a reflection about recognizing Christ in others in the modern world. It was shaping up to be halfway holy and interesting. But then I had an idea!

My friend Hallie Lord recently started a thriving little personal shopping business, and I had a flash of inspiration to offer her a trade: She could take the time to do a super quick and easy session with me, and in exchange I could mention it in one of my community bulletin board posts or give her some temporary ad space or something to help her promote it. What a nice tradeoff for a short, easy, fun bit of work for her!

“The great thing for you is that I am totally low maintenance, ” I said in my pitch to her. “I’m completely detached about clothes and stuff. I’ll be the easiest client you’ve ever worked with!” [Cue ominous, foreboding music here.]

She agreed to the deal. And the plan couldn’t have been more simple: I wanted her to help me pick a cute but cozy ensemble for me to wear during the three days that I’ll have to be in the hospital after the baby’s born. Since I’m always in a ton of pictures during that time, I wanted something equally comfortable yet cuter than my usual oversized t-shirt and sweats. Those days in the hospital can be stressful, and having a snazzy outfit to look forward to wearing might help boost my spirits.

So we got on the phone for the consultation. It was supposed to take 30 minutes, after which I could get back to writing my post, and Hallie could get back to…not dealing with people like me.

Let me just say: If you ever want to get a gauge of how neurotic, issue-riddled and/or bizarre you really are, schedule a consultation with a personal shopper.

Hallie’s first clue that her day was about to take a turn for the absurd was when I casually threw out the following caveat: “Keep in mind I have a 37-inch inseam, so normal pants won’t fit me. My arms are the length of some circus side show freaks, so sleeveless is out. I wear size 12 shoes. I have a pear-shaped figure and have the complexion of the Pillsbury Doughboy. I need a complete outfit that’s as stylish as it is comfortable and is conducive to nursing. Other than that, I don’t have any specific requirements.”

Hallie was undeterred. In fact, the consummate professional, she thought she might start our session by saying a few words to make her newest client feel good about herself. “Hey, Jen, look at this — Zappos carries women’s shoes up to size 15!” she reported with glee, clearly proud of her discovery. “You always make those comments about having Sasquatch feet, no women have bigger feet than you and all that, but here is proof that you’re wrong! Your feet are downright petite compared to some gals’!”

I wasn’t sure how to break it to her. “Hallie. Did you notice anything about those size 15 shoes in the Women’s department? All the leopard skin, the platform heels, the free Lady Gaga poster with purchase?”

“I’m not sure what you’re saying…”

“Very few ‘women’ with an F in the gender box on their birth certificates wear size 15.”

“You mean…”

“I mean it’s me and the drag queens, Hallie. I really do have the biggest, most gargantuan feet of anyone without a Y chromosome.”

Her attempt at cheering me up now officially an epic fail, Hallie changed the subject cheerfully to announce that she’d already gotten the pants out of the way. “Check your email. I managed to find these great yoga pants, in a tall length, exactly your color, and they’re on a 50%-off sale to boot!”

I clicked on the link. Indeed, to the untrained eye, they would appear to be exactly what I was looking for: Ultra-comfortable, polished, and even long enough. But then I saw the problem. “They don’t have pockets.”

“Oh…pockets are…really important to you?”

“I like to wear ear plugs when I sleep, because I don’t like to hear extraneous noise. And I keep my ear plugs in my pockets. The other day I accidentally put on pajama pants without pockets, and at one point I went to slide my ear plugs into my pocket, but it wasn’t there!”

There was a moment of silence in which you could almost hear the realization descending upon Hallie that this consultation was going to be neither short nor easy nor fun. Finally she suggested we approach it from a different angle, and started talking to me about getting a maxi dress. She pointed out that these often work well for tall women with my proportions, since they define the upper half of your body and let the material gracefully flow over the bottom half.

I made the mistake of forwarding the link to my husband. Normally he does a “duck and cover” maneuver when I bring up fashion, but he surprised me by weighing in with a firm opinion on the subject. “That’s a muumuu, ” he wrote.

“Joe says this is a muumuu, ” I reported to Hallie.

“No, it’s a maxi dress. Muumuus aren’t fitted at the top.”

I typed up her reply for Joe, then read his reply aloud to Hallie: “He says: ‘They always say that. I lived through the 70’s, where an entire generation of women was tricked into wearing tents by being told they were the latest style from Hawaii. Don’t be fooled!'”

The three of us then engaged in a lengthy and detailed debate, made a little awkward by me typing and reading emails to and from my husband, about what, exactly, the difference is between muumuus, maxi dresses, and tents. Joe refused to back down on his stance that all three are the same thing, despite reporting that he was laughing so hard he could hardly see to type. We eventually cut him out of the loop when he said that if it were true that these dresses were actually in style, he was going to start a clothing line using nothing more than burlap sacks and a Bedazzler.

“What do you think of the maxi dress I picked out?” Hallie asked.

“I actually think it’s perfect for my figure. It would look great on me.”

“Oh, wonderful! I can send you –”

“Except that it reminds me of hippies. I hate hippies.”


“Well, I guess ‘hate’ is a strong word. It’s just that I’ve had these experiences…” and from there I proceeded to unload all my emotional baggage involving my various negative interactions with Austin’s hippie population, ending with a story about the time at Whole Foods that I got chastised for referring to a type of cookie as Gingerbread Men, when they were in fact Gingerbread People.

“So you don’t want the maxi dress…even though you agree that it looks great and meets all your needs…because it reminds you of bad experiences with hippies?”

“Exactly.” I said, quickly adding, “Normally I just think all of this stuff in my head when I shop.”

We took a break while I went to relieve my babysitter (and Hallie probably went to pour herself something strong to drink). When we resumed, she tried a different angle.

“I found some beautiful earrings. If we get a shirt that –”

“My earrings are stuck in my ears.”

Stunned silence. “What?”

“I got incredibly tight backs to keep my diamond studs from falling out, but now they won’t come off. Do I risk breaking the earrings to get them off with pliers? I haven’t decided what to do about it. I need to analyze it some more.”

“So, umm, wow. How long have the earrings been stuck?”

“Five years.”

If Hallie’s Will-to-Live-O-Meter had been waning over the past hour, it now plummeted to zero. If I were to turn my entire blog into a redirect to her business page, it would surely not even come close to being worth it.

Two hours of phone calls later, we’d meandered to the subject of swim suits, and Hallie, perhaps forgetting that it’s no longer Lent, signed herself up for the penitential act of helping me find a swimsuit to my specifications. After pointing out that the only option that technically meets all my requirements is a swim burka, she found an alternative that would bring me a little closer to the 21st century.

“I like it…” I began.

“Oh, great! And at that price –”

“Except that the pattern is too colorful. It might give off the vibe that I’m at the pool to have fun, whereas I only go when my kids get in heated arguments about what the world outside of our living room might look like. When I’m at the pool I try to find the darkest shaded corner and sit really still so nobody will see me. This suit might draw too much attention.”

Oddly enough, Hallie had something come up that demanded that she get off the phone immediately (she said something about the house being on fire and an impending phone-eating zombie attack that required her to hang up immediately and could perhaps mean that she’d never, ever be able to talk on the phone again).

But then, a few hours later, she did it. In my inbox I found the most awesome inspiration board for my “hospital chic” look, complete with links to where I could buy each piece, in my size, at prices I could afford! Check it out:

A loose Old Navy tank to go under a light Gap sweater, with a Bella Band underneath for discreet nursing. Loose cargo pants, slip-on shoes and a headband complete the look!

I’ll post pictures of me wearing the completed look from the hospital!

And so, here is the promised link to Hallie’s personal shopping page. If you would like help finding the perfect style for you, complete with real outfits for specific occasions, you’ve found your gal. She is, without question, the best in the business. As my husband commented (still laughing from the Great Muumuu Debate of 2011), “Hallie has a very special gift that she can work with people like you.”

(If you would like to read of another time I sent Hallie blog traffic as the only possible way to repay her for a horrible situation that I foisted upon her, you can read all about that here.)


  1. Mary

    That is hilarious! She really pulled out a great casual look. I never thought of getting dressed at the hospital beyond a robe. Poor,poor Hallie! πŸ™‚

  2. Amy @ Finer Things

    I know neither of you personally, but oh my word I am laughing!

  3. Claire

    Wow, she is gooooooood! πŸ™‚

  4. Sara

    I think you’d look adorable in a maxi. Perfect for post-baby and summer…maybe reconsider. Great hospital outfit!

  5. Kristen @St Monica's Bridge

    Jen, you need to have Halle forward you the link I tagged her in from Seinfeld about sweatpants on facebook LOL. I love you both so much, I’m with your husband, laughing through tears πŸ™‚ You are going to look so beautiful. Which you already do, Hallie is a genius at making you believe it about yourself though!

  6. MelanieB

    Jen, you are too funny. And Hallie is the sweetest, best friend! I just read this out loud to my sister and Dom. We’re all laughing so hard. And for the record, I am positive I would be just as neurotic to shop for.

  7. Leila

    You are so funny. You have very long legs! I would be this crazy about a personal shopper, but shorter.

  8. Catherine

    I have absolutely got to call her. Other than being completely opposite body types (5’4″, hourglass, otherwise built like a keg-tosser, size 8 shoe), we could be twins when shopping!

  9. Christina

    HAHAHAHA!!! You’ve had earrings stuck for five years and you still have to analyze it more??? XD

  10. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I have total sympathy for big shoe problems. I went on a student exchange trip to China after high school and asked my host sister to translate what her mom said shortly after meeting me (the comment had involved a fair amount of gesticulation at me).

    My host sister told me, “She said: Maybe if you go to America for college you’ll have an easier time finding shoes. Leah has shoes and her feet are MUCH larger than yours.”

  11. Barbara

    This was hilarious. One minor (!) kvetch: not muumuus. Caftans. I’ll never forget reading about Liz Taylor in Time Magazine. It was the ’70’s and for those of you who didn’t live through them, the retro shows don’t do it justice. Anyway, she appeared at some high-profile shindig in a brown velvet caftan. And, in keeping with the times (early decade), she was not wearing a bra. The write up of the event included this description: “It looked like two young boys fighting under a blanket.”

  12. Allie

    Aww, poor Hallie. ^_^ I can’t wait to try out this consultation business sometime when I can find the time/money!

  13. Martha

    Hallie did great! You’ll be beautiful! Wow, though, real-people clothes at the hospital? To think!! I always bum through that horrible dressing gown thingy they give you, and try desperately to keep ‘the girls’ from giving my unwitting visitors a peep show!

    How will you wear the earrings, though? You really ought to finalize your analysis. I have a good one… leave them forever and ever (obviously they’re important to you), and just get NEW holes pierced. Yay!

  14. Leila! That is the best story I have heard in a long time! Just what I needed to make me feel hope and joy again after battling the Culture of Deathers on my blog… THANK YOU!!

    HA HA HA!!

    PS: You and Hallie are the best chicks in blogland.

  15. Michelle

    Awesome post, Jen. And I think I need her to pick out the same sort of outfit for me (well, not size-wise as you are tall!) but for me to wear that first week post-partum…

  16. Jenna

    I just laughed SO hard! This is hilarious! I especially LOLed when you talked about the gingerbread people.

    Now I might have to call Hallie to figure out my hospital outfit πŸ™‚


  17. Las Vegas Mama

    Oh my goodness, I love love love her tag line “modesty with a vintage twist”!! I want to sign up with her just for that tag line!

  18. Danielle G

    That outfit is so cute! I love shopping at Old Navy and Gap because they are one of the only places I can find clothes with length that are affordable, too. I wear a size 11 shoe and hate shoe shopping because I’d love cute shoes that are sensible but I can never find any. Thanks for making me laugh, it’s been a long day!

  19. Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    Oh, Jen. Poor Hallie! LOL I’m glad that you finally got exactly what you wanted. Can’t wait to see those pictures!

  20. Marie

    I agree with Leila – best post I have read in a long time!!! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the inspiration, I already sent an e-mail to Hallie and am excited to talk with her. I love the looks she put together for you, and I don’t know anyone that hates shopping as much as I do, so I am hoping she can help me too. Thanks again for the link!

  21. Rose Atwater

    I laughed til I cried reading this!! SO FUNNY!! Thanks for lightening up my night – I was having a rough one until now!

  22. Amber

    Wonderful post!! I shared it with my husband he was laughing out loud too.

    I so want to try Hallie’s consulting business! If only I wasn’t at that awkward pregnancy stage where the “bump” is no longer cute but I’m not too huge and tired not to care anymore. And after three previous pregnancies, I have far too many maternity clothes to justify buying any more… even though I already can’t stand them. *grin* I can’t wait to get out of the second trimester and fall into the third trimester too huge and tired to care about such petty things mindset.

    I love the outfit she put together for you – she did a great job!

  23. Elisa | blissfulE

    What a brave woman Hallie must be! Love the look you ended up with.

    Maxi dresses are essential summer wear here in Perth, Australia. The best one I have found that allows discreet breastfeeding is the Dote Noir. It has cap sleeves so just qualifies as not sleeveless. Of course, most maxi dresses aren’t actually long enough for me, and I’m not convinced that head-to-toe black is the right everyday look for ame, so my dream is to sew something like it for myself.

  24. Laura

    That was hillarious! who would’ve thought that you were so ummm peculiar:P Hallie’s a saint πŸ™‚ Thank you for the laughs

  25. Katie @ Wellness Mama

    Hilarious story! A personal shopper sounds great since I absolutely despise shopping, but then again, I’m so picky, I’d probably drive her nuts too! If I ever have the money, I’m adding personal shopper to my wishlist… right after outsourcing laundry πŸ™‚

  26. Lauren

    If you feel like making the trek to Houston, there is a shoe store there that specializes in odd sizes. The name is a little drag queeny, Brucette’s Shoes, but from what I understand they have a really great selection of classy stuff in very small, large, narrow and wide sizes. I had a friend in high school who was a 10 extra narrow, and she got shoes there.

    Hilarious post, BTW!

  27. Susan

    Hi Jennifer!
    This post is hilarious! Thank you so much for allowing me to begin my day with a big laugh! πŸ™‚

  28. Katie

    Hilarious post, reminds me a bit of myself! And the outfit looks great!

  29. Theresa in Alberta

    oh my GOODNESS!! Is she catholic, because if she is and offered up her suffering she freed a few dozen souls from purgatory πŸ˜€ Thx for the link for the swim burka, truth is stranger than fiction!! thanks for the great big laugh this morning!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Smoochagator

    LOL. I actually completely understand this because I took a friend along with me once while looking for new work clothes, a sort of informal personal shopping experience. About halfway through I found myself shooting down EVERY. SINGLE. SUGGESTION she made, even though the whole reason I wanted someone else there was so I’d make an effort to try things outside my comfort zone. I’d say, “Oh, I hate the cut of that shirt,” even though I’ve never tried on a shirt cut like that. YEAH. Neurotic!

    I can’t wait to see how adorable you are in Hallie’s handpicked postpartum outfit!

  31. Rebecca

    I’m not sure what it says about me that I had the EXACT SAME THOUGHT as you did about the size 15 shoes…

    Also, even though I dislike maxi dresses, they are NOT muumuus. Muumuus are what Mrs. Roper wore on Three’s Company!

  32. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    Jen, this is awesome! I am still laughing!

    Thanks for making me feel like a regular girl with my size-11 extra-wide feet. And long arms. My friends called me Amazon Girl in high school. Or Neanderthal Woman. Yikes!

  33. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I forgot to say–that design board is adorable. And it’s so smart to use Hallie to pick postpartum-hospital clothes!

  34. Stephanie

    I am officially hooked to your blog….and you are officially my BFF because we both have “I’ll never tip over” feet- I wear size 13 !!!!

  35. priest's wife

    …so your husband knows what a bedazzler is? πŸ˜‰

  36. Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

    This reminds me of the time I told my mother that I have a 24 inch inseam (that’s right!) and she said the seamstress didn’t have the tape measure high enough. I told her that if the seamstress had had the tape measure any higher, she would have been doing a Pap smear.

    Funny post! You will look gorgeous whilst posing for pictures with your new beautiful baby!

  37. Kimberlie

    Hilarious! It reminds me about how I always used to say that I am not a picky eater when I can list at least 100 commonly eaten things that I will not eat.

    I love Hallie and can’t wait to lose a little more weight so I can send her on the hunt for me. Thanks for sharing your inspiration board. If I were about to have a baby and be in the hospital, that collection is exactly what I would want to wear. πŸ™‚

  38. elizabethe

    So funny!

    I’m in total and complete agreement with your husband about the maxi-dress. They are not flattering on anyone, not even really skinny people. They really aren’t. Next time you think you are admiring someone in one, pay attention to whether or not you’re thinking about how great the dress fabric is or about how great the person inside it looks. They may not be technically “mumus” because of the waistband, but the effect is the same.

    Actually, come to think of it, I saw a six-year old today in one and she looked really cute. But grown women should not be wearing a six-year-old’s clothing.

  39. Barbara@IntimateGeography

    Argh, hippies! can’t stand ’em. Unfortunately Vancouver Island is where most of them went to die.

  40. Beadgirl

    Oh, man, I lost it when you got to the part about your earrings.

  41. Brianna

    OH my goodness this.was.awesome. SO great!

    Super cute clothes too–you’re going to look so cute and I can’t wait to see that hospital pic! (I always look like a train wreck at–and coming home from–the hospital. It is not pretty!)

  42. Lauren

    Oh my gosh, i so needed a good laugh!!! THank you! You have such a way with stories… That was hilarious!

  43. Mrs. S.

    Too funny! On a practical note….I have, um, four of those old navy tanks (they were on sale :o) and I ended up fitting one size bigger than my regular size. Sized up, they fit perfectly and wash great.

  44. Cathleen

    As someone who is 5’11, with size 11 feet, wears a size 24W, and is stylistically apathetic…I so relate to the problems of finding clothes that work for me. I was howling when I read this post. Thanks for a great laugh – and accept all my best wishes for a safe birth!
    Pax Christi!

  45. Betsy

    I probably owe Hallie money b/c I may spring for the outfit she picked for you! I’m the same build (only 35″ inseam and size 13 shoe and yes, I do check F in the gender box.) I just had a baby, already own the belly band (LOVE IT!) and always need cute clothes for this whose-body-is-this-and-where’s-mine?! postpartum period. Thanks for the laughs, and the outfit! Prayers for you for a smooth delivery and easy recovery (in style!) God bless you Jen!

  46. Cathy D

    I wear size 12 (sometimes 13) shoes, too!!!

    Do you get a Maryland Square or Auditions catalog?
    They have lots of cute shoes in our size. I’m also lucky enough to have a local shoe store that carries up to 14s.

    (Yes, I check F on the gender box. All of my family have big feet. The women are all 12s and 13s and the men all 15+)

  47. Ashley

    Personally, I’d love to see a photo of you in the “swim burka”…….and FIVE years without changing your earrings? Girl, run get you some pliers!! πŸ˜‰

  48. Manda

    Wow, I was seriously laughing so hard I may have interrupted the baby’s nap! That’s awesome, shopping with you sounds about as fun as shopping with me. I never ever going shopping with other people anymore, there’s too much “no, I can’t wear that, it has sparkles” “no, those are shorts and I don’t like my legs to rub together ever” or “eww, that would make me look fat” “that accentuates my wide post-baby rib cage” My poor husband doesn’t ever ever suggest clothes anymore πŸ™‚

  49. Linda


    Did Hallie ever figure out a swim suit for you? I’m the type who would prefer something closer to a swim burka than most of what is out there. (Preferably nursable)

  50. Elisa

    Lol..don’t even get me started on Austin hippies. I sincerely dislike the town after last weekend and the supposed Austin “Zoo”.

  51. Ann Seeton

    GASP! I had to share this to my facebook so my friends can come read it. I loved this.

    I don’t laugh nearly enough and this was wonderful– thank you!

  52. Stephanie

    Ok, tell me you have seen the King of the Hill episode where Peggy (notorious for her size 16 feet) finally finds a shoe store that has cute shoes in her size. Lol, your conversation totally reminded me of it! πŸ˜‰

    And I happen to really like certain kinds of maxi dresses, and no they are absolutely NOT mumus. I LOVE empire waists, very Regency, and very flattering for most women, I think, and that’s what maxi dresses tend to have. Mumus are shapeless bags with armholes…totally different!

  53. Kaylan

    Love the post, Jen! I have a 37″ inseam too – but I win in the shoe department – I wear a size 14! Have you ever heard of the website Oh how I wish this site was around during my teenage years when all my girlfriends had cute shoes and I was stuck in boys gym shoes! Barefoot Tess is a shoe site for women with a size 10-15 and there are some great choices!

  54. Ashley

    This has to be the funniest post I have read on your blog. You had me dying with laughter. At one point I had to consciously open my eyes so that I can see what I was reading. So funny!

  55. Amy R

    All I could think of, when I read about your stuck earrings was to look at your photo and see if you were wearing diamond studs or not. Wait a sec, while I go check.

    Nope, your hair covers your ears.

    This was one terrifically funny post!!!

  56. Betsy M

    Oh my goodness, we must be twins. My sister forwarded me this because she was laughing so hard at how similar we are. We have the same size feet, etc, except your inseam is 2 inches longer than mine. My earing are not stuck in, but the earing hole on my left one side is almost closed. Putting the earings in is difficult – I only do that when it is an event worth bleeding over. I was in your exact same predicament 8 months ago with the birth of my fourth baby and my husband said the SAME EXACT thing about the Maxi dresses. SO FUNNY!!!!!! I am going to steal your wardrobe ideas above. Thanks for the laugh. It is good to know that God made two of us similarly, fun to be able to relate. πŸ™‚

  57. Ebony@Software Reviews

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I found this in my hunt for something regarding this.

  58. Sarah @ Basic Ingredients

    Can you tell me where you buy clothes???!! I am very tall and have huge feet as well and would LOVE to know all the places you shop. It would be AWESOME if you did a separate post for all of us tall ladies out there. My friends called me a giraffe sometimes! (just to be funny, but it wasn’t that funny!)

  59. Adrienne

    I have not laughed so much in a long time. Thank you.

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