I used to love shopping. When filling out forms, I'd list it as my hobby. Finding a perfect new outfit that made me feel pretty was the worthiest of pursuits and gave me such a rush.
That all changed when I had kids.
My post-baby body was a lot less fun to dress, but even if I coated myself in spray tan to brave the dressing room mirrors, it was nearly impossible to get any shopping done with my rugrats in tow. I remember putting the baby on the floor so I could change, only to pull a rogue safety pin out of her mouth (stupid price tags!) Another time, I straight up lost my toddler in Bloomingdale's. Shopping hardly seemed worth it anymore, so I consigned myself to a limited and clichéd wardrobe of workout clothes and stretchy jeans.
Then something wonderful happened. I got a gift certificate to a private, appointment-only boutique in West Los Angeles. I'd never scheduled my shopping before, and I wasn't sure what to expect. But as I entered the girly paradise known as Spool, I knew I was home. Like the walk-in closet of my dreams, there were fresh flowers, sparkly chandeliers, Tiffany blue walls, vintage purses, shiny baubles, and well-curated racks of trendy yet wearable clothes. My hands began fondling a stack of Monrow vintage sweats before I even said hello.
"You're not allowed to buy sweatpants today," owner Gina Lamanna teased. She sized me up quickly and saw that I was a workout wear queen who needed to get out of my rut. And given her true passion for fashion, she wanted me to go home with something a bit more special. Luckily, at Spool, there was no time pressure and no hard sell. I was free to browse and experiment, with Gina gently guiding me towards the looks that would flatter and delight me. A freshly made latte helped me keep my energy up for the hard work of indulging myself.
Before opening Spool, Gina studied fashion, worked as a stylist and owned a posh retail boutique. Then around the time she became a mom, she had the brilliant idea to turn a cozy guest cottage into a haven for busy fashionistas who want to look great but don't have time to pound the pavement or comb the mall.
Gina gets to know her regular clients' tastes, sizes and preferences so well that eventually she can pull together a bag of selects and just leave it outside for pick-up, which is why some of her devotees jokingly call Spool "the crack house."
Hip moms flock to Spool not only for the streamlined shopping experience and personal attention but because it's totally okay to bring your kids. Now that's what I'm talking about! I actually felt guilty that I'd gone while my 5-year-old was still at school. She would have loved the Fancy Nancy vibe. There's also a secluded outdoor patio where kids could run around.
Like me, Gina is the mother of two young girls, so I didn't feel at all weird saying that I needed clothes that covered my muffin top and had easy access for breastfeeding. The teenagers in Victoria's Secret do not understand this. But she totally got me. Plus, she was tactfully direct about the looks that didn't suit me, even warning me not to rely on a certain "skinny mirror" for final decision-making. She really wanted me to love what I bought. I walked out with a versatile Ulla Johnson dress, the softest Raquel Allegra muscle tee and a flattering romper for my upcoming vacation. I've worn everything twice already. This could become a habit.
Although there is only one Spool, Gina does service some out of state clients whom she's never met in person, but styles via Facetime. She sends them "memo boxes" of hand-selected items; they keep what works and return what doesn't. Another cool option for busy moms are online personal shopping services like Stitch Fix and Le Tote. They work on a subscription basis and you can specify your price point. If I can save up some mad money, I'm going to be trying all of it. After getting a little taste of the personal touch, I'm not sure I ever want to go back to picking out my own clothes!