It's something that either thrills or terrifies women of a certain age: shopping.
When we're girls, shopping is all fun: afternoons at the mall giggling with friends, under-appreciating our pre-pregnancy bodies and the relative ease of finding closetfuls of cute jeans, tops, and accessories.
But then, we become women, and many of us, mothers, and therein lies the challenge. Suddenly, buying clothes isn't as carefree as it once was; the stores we used to frequent seem too juvenile but the alternatives feel too mature or too expensive. It's tricky to find the balance between trendy and age appropriate. Jeans shopping (especially post-baby) is terrifying...unless you have help.
For many women, the growing trend is finding that help is in the form of popular online personal shopping "fashion fix" services. I've done it myself, with marginal success, filling out an extensive questionnaire about my “style” (ha ha), size and color preferences. But, it's been largely unsatisfying for a couple of reasons: sizes and selected styles can be hit and miss, and it's really expensive. What's more, I like to feel fabrics, compare colors, and shop sales racks before I hand over my credit card.
“Designer fashion, closeout prices” is the name of the game at this Fargo, North Dakota born business, and the physical stores live up to its billing. There are currently 11 stores located in six states, with franchising on pace to expand those numbers quickly.
Bismarck's independently owned MODE franchise on South 7th Street is bursting with racks of high quality jeans and versatile wardrobe staples that are both stylish and heavily discounted. It's a designer outlet, but that doesn't mean items are flawed; most pieces were overproduced by manufacturers, overbought by retailers, or in some cases, came directly from designers's workrooms (evidenced by occasional design notes inside the garments themselves). Much of the inventory is a "one and done" shipment of particular items, meaning if you see it and you like it, your best bet is to snatch it up since restocking is unlikely.
Heather Pitsiladis owns the Bismarck MODE store with her sister, Andrea Birst. Pitsiladis left a career in social work last year for the opportunity to manage the store, and it's a move she doesn't regret for a moment. “Sometimes, I wonder how I got so lucky,” she laughs. "I love coming to work here every day."
And she's doing more than ringing up customers and sorting through inventory; Pitsiladis and the staff at Bismarck's MODE are putting their own spin on the personal shopping service trend. “We send out a short questionnaire to get a feel for a customer's tastes, what she likes and doesn't like,” she says. “Then we pull a few outfits and make an appointment for her to come in, try them on, and get some feedback and fresh eyes on her wardrobe.”
The experience is a fun way to experiment with new styles and learn a little something, too. Pitsiladis says one of the most common shopping mistakes women make is buying jeans a size too big. "They should be a little too snug in the store, because jeans relax and stretch as you wear them," she explains. "So, if the jeans you're trying on fit perfectly, you should definitely try on a size smaller."
Pitsiladis is the first to admit the leap from counseling to fashion is a bit unconventional, but she says she's confident in her new role. “I know what I like, and I think I know what looks good on other people,” she says. Plus, her ability to connect with customers and make them feel comfortable and confident only adds to the experience of shopping at this fun, local boutique.
MODE also offers after-hours VIP parties with incentives for party hosts, and flexible scheduling for parties and personal shopping experiences. The goal, Pitsiladis says, is to create a place in the community where women of all ages can go for a fun, fashionable, and affordable place to shop—and if our experience at Bismarck's MODE is any indication, it's a goal this franchise is achieving with ease.
Special offer: 20% off everything at the MODE Bismarck store, just tell them you are a Bison Booties fan. Offer ends 9/12/15.
randomly selected winner will receive a designer Spartina 449 Hipster + $50 Bison Booties credit.
To enter, just follow these two easy steps:
1. Comment here with your favorite fall fashion item.
2. Visit the Bison Booties Facebook page for additional entries.
Be sure to 'like' the Bison Booties page + Bismarck MODE on Facebook.
This giveaway is open to residents of the USA, where laws permit. Giveaway ends at 5 pm CDT on 9/4/15. Winner will be randomly selected and announced on Facebook.