Dr. Elinor Greenberg, my best friend, is a busy lady. She wants to shop, but time is often a stumbling block. But she knows a few secrets. On Saturday in Lord & Taylor's on Fifth Avenue Dr. Greenberg -- "Elinor" to me – shared her secrets on the art of "aerobic shopping" and I was amazed.
"I need to go to Lord and Taylor's to check on Eileen Fisher's arrivals for fall. But it's got to be quick," she said glancing at her watch. We jumped in a taxi in Chelsea and the race against time began, but Elinor was determined to win. She had a plan – shop swiftly, smartly and specifically. "I'm on a mission," she said. I watched in wonder as she plowed through her plan and left the building in less than an hour – mission accomplished.
Elinor’s "aerobic shopping" secrets sound like a mantra:
Know where you’re going.
Know what you want.
Know your colors.
Know your style.
Know what’s on sale
Secret #1 - Know where you’re going
“Unfocused meandering uses a lot of energy from the brain,” Elinor told me.
“People get tired when there are lots of things. That’s why they get exhausted mentally. You’re asking yourself do you want it or not. You are making hundreds of decisions within 20 feet.” She focused on Eileen Fisher as soon as we spun out of the revolving doors from Fifth Avenue. Dominique Isbecque, an image consultant, says Elinor is right on track. “When you open up too wide, you close down,” Ms. Isbecque says. “It becomes ‘Who am I today?’ It’s almost a shopping phobia -- an identity crisis on some level. “
Secret #2 - Know what you want
“I work with the principle of limitation,” Elinor said, alluding to a metaphysical term related to Binah on the Tree of Life. Her technique is to totally direct her attention to specifics. Saturday all she wanted was to select pants and sweaters. “The yes and no’s are few,” she said, as she headed for a dressing room with an armload of selections. For Elinor, her Eileen Fisher slacks are part of her work uniform. As a therapist, she strives to make her clients feel comfortable. Her classy yet comfortable attire sends a message for clients to relax and release, knowing that she’s listening.
Ms. Isbecque, founder of The Image Resource Center of New York, a consortium of image consultants and communication experts, says it is crucial to “identify what you need clothing to do for you.” Do you want your clothing to increase your self esteem? Command respect? Attract a mate? Make that decision before you go shopping, she says, and you will be able to chart your course and conserve your energy.
Secret # 3 - Know your colors
“Teal, rust, green, warm brown – those are my colors,” Elinor said flipping her waist length, natural red pony tail from the inside of the top she was trying on. “I’m limited in color and styles. I don’t see anything else,” Elinor explained as I followed in awe of her fast and furious fashion dash. That’s why I can move fast,” flashing a smile with a twinkle in her eye. Ms. Isbecque agrees.” When people have a clear understanding of their personal coloring, size and shape and clothing personality that saves an enormous amount of time,” she says.
Secret # 4 – Know your size and shape
Elinor slid through the racks of slacks selecting brown ones in petite medium and petite large or mediums. Then she took a few tops and sweaters and rushed off to the fitting room. “I’m short and pear shaped,” Elinor pointed out. Eileen Fisher cuts her tops a little fuller at the hips and that works for me.” Knowing what works for you, Ms. Isbecque says, is the key to shopping swiftly and stress-free. “You want to eliminate what’s not right -- then you are less overwhelmed.”
Secret # 5 – Know your proportions
Elinor tried on tops while quickly evaluating whether they were too short or too long, or if the neckline was wrong. “I have a short waist and longer legs,” she said focusing on her proportions. Ms. Isbecque insists that knowing your shape is not enough. “Focus on the relationship between shoulder, hip and waist. It’s a matter of proportion. Use the golden mean asymmetrical.” (If you’re not sure what that means check out this website http://thefashioncode.com or view the related video next to this article.)
Secret # 5 – Know what’s on sale
Although Eileen Fisher was Elinor’s main focus, she also knew that Lord and Taylor was having its “Really Big Sale” through Labor Day. And yes, that’s exactly what they were calling it. So on our way out, we spent a few minutes getting a feel for the fall offerings of the Lord and Taylor brand of cashmere sweaters. “Close your eyes and feel this,” she said, slipping one of the store brand’s soft cashmere under my fingertips. It’s great quality for the price.”
Elinor is a person who buys for investment, and Ms. Isbecque says that how women like Elinor shop smartly. “They want to get a lot of mileage out of their wardrobe.” So if you’re looking to cut your shopping time by learning your own personal secrets of color and proportion, Ms. Isbecque, whose client list includes Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton, Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon, is available for consultations.
Elinor and I will continue our swift spins through Bloomingdale's following a quick weekday lunch at David Burke's Bar Cafe (their Kobe Dogs make me crazy). We’ll keep sniffing Jo Malone's fragrances, surveying new colors of Longchamps handbags or shuffling through rainbows of silk scarves during our lunchtime fashion runs. But when I’m ready to do some serious shopping Elinor will be my aerobic shopping coach. This afternoon as I did my 30-minute aerobic workout at New York Sports Club, I smiled thinking of Elinor – I would rather have been aerobic shopping at Lord & Taylor’s.