There is quite a lot of talk about going to see a stylist in the comments section of this blog. I have only had one experience, at TopShop and it was actually pretty good.
But a reader, Cia, went to see one of those super-stylists – she’s called Victoria Genevieve – and had what sounds like a superb experience. I asked her if she would mind if I shared it with everyone and she said no – go for it!
“My biggest problem was that as a new (ish) mum – my son is 8 months old – I had kind of lost sight of what suited me, what looked good and what was practical.
In my day job I was used to dressing quite glamorously and before I met my husband I was never seen in flat shoes or trainers. Now I’m spending my days at baby classes being judged by other mums for shovelling chocolate brioche into my son in exchange for some peace and quiet and heels aren’t quite the thing.
I met Victoria at Bluewater first for a coffee and a chat, we spoke about what I wanted from the session and what my issues were.
She said the first thing to address is that I don’t really like like dressing super-casually, it’s just not my style so to stop forcing myself into it, sounds simple but actually a revelation! I had prepared a Pinterest board of styles that I liked and after a quick look, we were off.
In each shop we went to Victoria would choose items and so would I. We then went to the fitting room where I tried them all on, (this was a serious workout), and Victoria talked me through why things did or didn’t work, have me tips on how to style pieces together and little tips and tricks on how to make each item work better for me and my shape and style.
Of all the items I bought, not one was chosen by me and not one was an item that I would have even tried on.
One of the best things about it was a change in mindset. I really wanted a pair of wide legged trousers, after trying on a few pairs I was ready to give up – “maybe they just don’t suit me,” I thought, “maybe I’m not the right shape for them”.
At this point I would usually have gone home feeling a bit deflated but Victoria’s mantra was “It’s not you, it’s the trousers” until we found the most incredible pair that fit me perfectly and make me feel amazing.
I came home with bags of clothes that I’m actually excited to wear and a different attitude when it comes to shopping. I’d always vaguely followed the ‘rules’ from fashion magazines and things my mum had told me but shopping with a stylist really showed me that those really are outdated and often wrong.
The session was expensive** – my husband bought it for me as a Christmas present, probably fed up with watching me order and return clothes online, but I would say it was definitely worth it especially if you’ve lost your way and feel not quite right in the clothes you have.
I think it would also be great for building a capsule wardrobe if that’s what was needed.”
How about you? Have you seen a personal stylist you can recommend? Please leave a comment in the handy box below.
**Victoria Genevieve charges £295 for a 4-hour session
I once did a stylist at House of fraser for a posh event (unlike the blogpost I’m super casual) there were lovely and helpful and didnt judge me for not having a fucking clue about what I wanted to wear. I ended up in their cheapest option (just because I liked it) and have worn it to loads of different functions since. It’s free, I was probably lucky to get someone nice, and I’m not sure I could have had the guilt of two hours of them finding me stuff and not buying anything.
This sounds like such a good idea for an event, I always think I know what I’m going to wear, decide it looks terrible and do a last minute dash to find something else which is usually just a variation of the thing I had in the first place!
Have also been to HofF twice. It’s greT. No obligation to spend anything and they bring all the clothes to a room. Very peaceful,
Louise K says
I did this at John Lewis oxford st last year, to buy new work clothes for a new job in a smarter office than I was used to. It was great. I came out with about 8 items all of which I have worn to death, from brands I would never have looked at. And it all goes with each other/thins I already have. I would totally recommend for anyone who isn’t a brilliant shopper!
I did this too, when I started a new job post-maternity leave. The whole thing was brilliant, John Lewis carry so many brands. And it was free.
Victoria Usher says
I see a lady called Lynne Meak based in Kent, who is a fantastic stylist – I can hand on heart say that she’s changed my life.
I first visited her when my youngest daughter was about 5 years-old. I was lacking in confidence and relied on a post-baby wardrobe of Cath Kidston and Boden. I had no sense of my new identity or style, and I felt frumpy and old.
Lynne firstly did a wardrobe edit that opened my eyes. Amongst all the clothes piled on my bed she counted 27 navy blue Boden dresses, colours that looked completely hideous on me becuase they were the wrong cut or colour (who knew that colour was SO important), and clothing from my 20s raving days … they were all thrown out and replaced with colours and cuts that I felt super comfortable with. This included clothes for work (I run my own business), as well as going out with friends, or being down the park with my girls on the swings.
The stylist session and wardrobe edit also had unintended consequences. The purge on unsuitable clothes led me to do a full purge in my house, which led to me throwing out about a third of my ‘stuff’ – mainly things crammed into wardrobes or cupboards that I couldn’t bear to part with but – let’s face it – was never going to use again. A friend had exactly the same experience after a session with Lynne.
I also lost a load of weight. Mainly I think because of my new-found confidence and desire to wear nicer clothing. It gave me me more confidence and the kick I needed to focus more attention on my diet and cut down on my chocolate obsession.
I now go out with Lynne twice a year – in May and September, mostly to Selfridges or Bond Street (but buying mainly high street brands). It’s like having my best friend with me who understands the cuts and colours that suit me, but also someone willing to push me gently out of my comfort zone. She challenges old assumptions and is always right in terms of her recommendations. The benefit is that I now have a capsule wardrobe that is full accessorised and everything goes with everything else, so getting dressed in the morning is so much easier.
I also don’t waste loads of money on poorly chosen clothing – everything fits, everything suits me, everything goes with other items in my wardrobe.
Also, Lynne realised there was a bit of an inner rock chick in me. I didn’t have the confidence before, but now my favourite brands are Kooples, AllSaints, and Zadig and Voltaire. It’s a far cry from the my mumsy leggings and smock dress look paired with Converse that I used to rock.
Our next session is booked for September in Selfridges and I’m going to focus on buying new Autumn / Winter coats and jackets, as well as jumpers. And there’s no Boden in sight.
Victoria this is such a lovely story, thank you for taking the time to write it. Mumsy leggings smock dress and Converse!! AUGH!!!
One of the main reasons I did this was because I was so sick of seeing myself in badly fitting leggings! I’d definitely like to do a wardrobe detox, I have so many things that probably shouldn’t still be in my wardrobe.
Looks like you got some great outfits – smart but wearable. Thanks for sharing. When I had an 8 month old baby I was wearing a ratty Regatta mac and a look of grim resignation, you’re smashing it xx
I’m currently cursing my lack of Regatta mac as it won’t stop bloody raining and I need to get the baby out of the house or risk insanity. I do still spend far too much time in ‘loungewear’ (my pyjamas) but at least I know what to wear when I leave the house now! xx
Jill Horne (@HornesterJ) says
I did this after the birth of each of my two boys. More than 5.5 and 2.5 years later, any comments I get on my clothes are always about the ones I bought with the stylist. It is an effort for the session but so, so worth it. I got both as presents for Christmas – my choice, not my husband’s reaction to my outfits! I used a stylist I met through work and cannot recommend this more. If you feel the same way, do it! Save up and do it! It really was worth every penny. I used a lady called Danit Levi (her website is Dress Your Way or @DanitTheStylist on Twitter). Great post Cia x
Thanks Jill! It’s amazing what a difference those clothes make isn’t it? I think my husband was very relieved to buy this as a present as he didn’t have to spend ages thinking about what I’d actually like. Also, when I got home from the session and tried on the clothes he said ‘I don’t know anything about clothes but the biggest difference is how happy your face is’ which is probably the best endoresement there can be.
Cia, this is probably an idiotic question but did you bring your baby? I’m in exactly the same predicament (with an 11 month old) but no childcare on the horizon so I was wondering whether him tagging along would work?
Hi Mills, I didn’t and to be honest I think it would be really tricky to do with a baby in tow. Mine is relatively well behaved but wouldn’t manage 4 hours in his pram without any attention- the 4 hours is very intensive! Maybe one of the at home services would be better for you to start with? Or I’ve heard that some of the babysitting apps let you employ a babysitter to shop with you and take care of your baby so you’re not leaving them completely alone with a stranger?
Ok, thanks for the intel! That’s all the justification I need. On the weekend it is to leave the baby happily with the husband…😅
That’s a very good plan. 4 hours of blissfully child free shopping! I hope you enjoy it!
This is a great post, Esther, and all the comments from fellow Spikers are really interesting.
A short while ago you did a post on tailors/alterations for clothes and everyone chipped in with their recommendations of where to go.
It would be great if Spikers who have used a great stylist could post the details for the benefit of those of us who don’t have a clue!
I had a session bought for me by my friends for my 40th birthday and it was amazing.
Unfortunately the lady doesn’t do it anymore BUT the reason I am recommending it is that colour-analysis can be really life changing. Its not all ‘Colour me Beautiful’ wafty scarves these days and once you know what colours suit you it means that you can instantly disregard half the clothes in a store and really focus on what works for you. It also means you can avoid certain shops altogether, for example anything from Jigsaw makes me look recently dug-up as their colour palate is too murky for me, whereas even the plainest t-shirt from Oasis makes me look about 15 years younger.
Also learning what shapes to wear is brilliant – I have a long back, short legs and no shoulders (very attractive) and therefore have ditched anything without a ‘proper’ shoulder seam as otherwise I look like a wine bottle with legs.
5 years later and I still carry my colour-card thing with me when I go shopping and its saved me a fortune
This sounds really great, especially knowing you can just discount or rely on particular shops’ colour palette. ‘Wine bottle with legs’ made me laugh a lot.
Alexandra Tainsh says
Such a great blog post Esther! I did a very similar thing after the birth of my first – like others have said I really felt i’d lost my way fashion wise after working in London and knowing how to do “corporate”, I had no idea how to do Mummy smart casual. I live in Oxfordshire and went to an event where I met a lady called Kate Evans who is a stylist and life coach. She’s utterly brilliant and really helpful. My husband bought me a session with her after getting fed up of hearing me moaning about not having anything to wear while hundreds of parcels from boden kept arriving (why is it always boden?!). I went to her house in the first instance and we did colours and shapes that suit along with getting to the bottom of what “look” I was after and where I naturally gravitate fashionwise. Next she came to my house and we did a wardrobe weeed where I got rid of a LOT, but then the best bit (in my mind) of the whole thing was that she goes through what’s left in your wardrobe and puts new looks together for you from your existing clothes. Genius!! It was like going shopping but without the expense and the “looks” she put together for me are fantastic and not what I would have naturally gone for. She then identifies the “gaps” in your wardrobe and suggests things and brands to go for to fill those. Or you can go shopping with her. She also offers an online shopping service where you can tell her what you’re after, she’ll do a trawl and then send it to you on a Pinterest board. A great service and a lovely girl. I definitely feel much more confident with my style now and what suits when I go shopping.
This sounds amazing, did you have to pay for different services or was it all one package?
This is a super post, thank you Cia, Esther (and Cia’s husband!).
I would say £300 for a 4 hour session is a bargain – I bet every one of us can pull out three hundred quid’s worth of clothes we don’t wear because they’re just wrong in about five minutes. I know I can. I suspect one could partially pay for some of it by selling the clothes you subsequently discard as well.
This was my exact justification. The last bag of stuff I sent to the charity shop had an embarrassing amount of tags on. I have never come home from a shopping trip with so many things that I’m actually going to wear, so nice to look in your wardrobe and feel excited about the clothes in it.
! would love to know where that fab dress in the first photo is from!
Hi Ruthie, it’s a jumpsuit fromRiver Island, not somewhere I’d usually shop but it is lovely and really flattering.
I had a ‘Colour Me Beautiful’ session many moons ago and I still have my colour chart which I stick to vehemently. I noticed that Kettlewell offer a similar colour service and have fashion stylists available nationwide on their website which is worth a look.
Once I went to John Lewis to use their free stylist service when I had a wedding and other dressy functions to attend and wasn’t feeling very confident at the time. It was ok for a free service.
The best stylist ever is libby @astylebird on Instagram. She is a mum who specialises in making other mums feel great and also does loads of fundraising and work dressing women coming out of prison for job interviews etc- so if you do a wardrobe edit with her that is where your clothes will go! But she took me shopping and I tootried things I would never have tried and was so happy with what I bought.
Thanks Jem for this recommendation x
I used Anna Berkeley (used to work as a buyer for one of the big dept. stores and now consults for Margaret Howell and also does lots of styling work). Think I paid about £300 for a 5 hour wardrobe purge (with write up afterwards telling me what pieces I was missing and and body mapping session and also lots of outfit suggestions), and then £100 for lots of swatches of colours that suit my skintone which I can take out shopping with me. I also booked a few shopping sessions with Anna which took place in a lovely private room at Fenwicks. I liked it because Anna didn’t give a shit whether I bought any of the clothes (given she doesn’t work on commission) and just made sure I was happy with the pieces I did decide to buy and that they suited me. Well worth it given I’d been dressing like an overstuffed sausage for years and at least now I actually wear all my clothes. She can be found on instagram: annaberkeleystyling
I recently did a full package of wardrobe detox and personal shopping with Karen from thestylenurse. What an amazing experience from start to finish. Karen used to be a nurse so was really patient and understanding with me and has an amazing eye for putting things together. None of the pieces I came home with would have been what I would have chosen myself and for the first time ever I feel excited about getting dressed in the mornings. My wardrobe is calm and organized and I love everything in it which makes getting dressed in the mornings a whole lot easier!
Highly recommended, it’s been a total game changer!
Second vote for Kate Evans – really talented woman, and puts together very wearable outfits.
I have used the John Lewis oxford Street personal stylist service about 4 times now. It is a fantastic service. I think it actually saves you money in the long run. The stylist that you get really matters though. It has to be someone you trust. There are two that I would really recommend- Victoria and Sharka. I want to buy a new winter coat this year so i’m Def going to book up for September.