How a Nordstrom personal stylist saved me from looking like a fool in front of Cam Newton

Michelle Crouch and family with Cam Newton. Mom’s matched dress is thanks to Belinda Ugarte, a personal stylist at Nordstrom.
Michelle Crouch and family with Cam Newton. Mom’s matched dress is thanks to Belinda Ugarte, a personal stylist at Nordstrom.

I’ve never been especially fashion conscious. Now that I work at home, however, my wardrobe has really tanked. So when I learned I was going to be on national TV with my daughter as part of Cam Newton’s All In show on Nickelodeon, I knew I needed to up my style game.

“Just wear something professional,” the producer said. Not a problem, I thought, mentally reviewing the contents of my closet.

But there was more: “No black. No white. No patterns. Bright colors are best. A dress would be great.”

And then, the kicker: “Try to coordinate with your daughter’s dress.”

Ummm, what? My daughter was planning to wear a flashy number in bright blue and neon green.

Over the next few days, I hit Belk, Ann Taylor, Stein Mart and a few other favorite shops. I tried on dresses, suits, blouses – nothing was right. With only a few days until the taping, I was frantic.

Then I remembered: didn’t Nordstrom offer some kind of free personal stylist service? Nordstrom had always seemed out of my league price-wise, but I was desperate, so I made the call. I gave a brief rundown of my query to the woman who answered. “The only time I can come in is at 10 a.m. tomorrow,” I told her.

No problem, she said. A few minutes later, I got a call from personal stylist Belinda Ugarte. She had me text her a full length picture of me, my sizes and a photo of my daughter’s dress. In addition to the producer’s guidelines, I threw in one more requirement: I didn’t want to spend more than $130.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I have the perfect dress.”

I was skeptical, but I dutifully showed up the next day. Hanging in the dressing room was a bright blue dress. Yep, that’s right – only one dress. That’s awfully confident, I thought, noting that the dress didn’t look like anything I would have picked out.

Then I slipped it on. Whoa. It smoothed over my middle-aged lumps and bumps. It looked nice against my skin, and it matched my daughter’s dress. Best of all, it fit my budget.

I bought it on the spot. I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.

“People don’t believe this, but we really can save you time and money,” Belinda told me. “We have a lot of different price points. And when you’re shopping alone, you may buy things you don’t end up wearing. I can help you stay focused and make sure you’re getting high-quality items that are going to last.”

Most of the people who use the service are simply too busy to shop for themselves, Belinda says. Many come in once a season to update their wardrobe with just a few pieces. Others come in only when they have a special event. If there’s a brand you like, she can even text you when it goes on sale. The service is totally free, but the stylists do work on commission.

As for me, the taping went well, and the producers said the dress looked great. Cam Newton was funny, kind and even better looking in real life than he is on TV. And I almost forgot to mention one last thing I loved about my new dress: it was the exact same shade of blue as Cam’s gingham shirt.

To schedule a session with a Nordstrom Personal Stylist, call 704-442-6000. And to see the trailer for “All in with Cam Newton” click here.

Michelle Crouch is a Charlotte-based freelance writer. The All In episode featuring her daughter, Rosie, will air on Nickelodeon in August.