Someone asked me the other day what I think it takes to be a great salesperson within the framework of fashion. At that moment, on the proverbial spot, my mouth opened and all of nothing brilliant came out. And then, weirdly, almost exactly 24 hours later, I walked into My Dressing Room, a new consignment store on Queen Anne, and found the answer.
Bea McCammon used to work at Mario’s in their Hugo Boss store, and while I can’t speak to her ability to put a man in a suit (I always deal with Luke, who’s The Guy to See when it comes to men in Hugo Boss suits), I can tell you now quite confidently that if you’re looking for a never-been-worn Chanel sweater dress from two seasons ago, McCammon will let you know, no bones about it, whether or not the one she has in her store is a good match for you.
When I walked into her then three-day-old, closet-sized shop last Friday, she was mid-sentence with a brand new client, basically talking her out of two or three items (’it’s not the season for this jeans jacket,’ she explained in her rich Hungarian accent, ’I can find you a better one in the spring.’ and ‘This will be one of those pieces that you put on in the morning and then take off again. Too hard – doesn’t work right for you.’). You just don’t hear that very often, right?.
What I do know of McCammon from her days at Mario’s is how sweet and approachable she is. Down-to-earth. A stranger you meet while buying a latte only to spend all day thinking about how you’d like to be friends with her. And now I see that her kind and friendly way is, in the framework of fashion, rounded out by a sharp, Eastern European ability to tell you that that Lanvin top, while yes, a great temptation at that price, doesn’t do any special favors for your forearms.
‘I tell people that I speak a little differently because of where I’m from, so please understand that I am a little bit more honest,’ McCammon told me. Smiling serenely all the while.
And consignment affords a special distance, too. There’s not as much pressure to sell through a current collection and move on to the next.
Here’s the other thing: McCammon does closet clean-outs. That’s how she found herself in the perfect place to open My Dressing Room. She consults with women — the kind who shop at places like Mario’s and have closets that many of us dream of — about their overstuffed dressing rooms and helps them figure out why they feel they have nothing to wear. The first hour-long session is free, after that it’s $55 per 60 minutes. After meeting with and helping a whole group of women who needed someone to tell them that the Marni jacket they bought and hadn’t worn probably would never see the light of day, or that the orange-red Oscar de la Renta sheath is gorgeous, yes, but not their color, she decided to open a shop to help them liquidate the pieces they didn’t need, and get a little back (40 percent, to be precise) from the errant purchase.
See: That woman who was getting talked out of the denim jacket? She was interested in having McCammon come over and clean her closet, too. It’s in our shopkeeper’s best interest to both sell and refrain from selling because she’s also selling herself as a discerning eye.
So there we are. And there you are. Or you should be. It’s astonishing, really. Numbered YSL and Prada — items so special that they are treated like art. And Stella McCartney dresses. And Lanvin. Lots of it. And Miu Miu. And Celine. And, on the lower end, little knit capes an brands like Vince, Lauren Moffet, J Crew, and the Gap. And Bea McCammon, your new very discerning, honest, and kind friend.