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Ready for a fashion reboot?

If you're flat-lining when it comes to fashion, help is at hand. Muddy meets the high street personal stylists.

These days personal styling isn’t just for A-listers or ladies who lunch – and then drop £10k in Selfridges. High street retailers are increasingly waking up to the fact that almost all women, whatever their lifestyle or budget, crave styling advice when they go shopping for clothes. Anyone can buy a nice top, but it’s working out how to wear it that’s the tricky part, right?

We recently discovered John Lewis’s personal styling service at Westgate Oxford, and we’re seriously impressed. There’s no minimum spend, no obligation to buy and guess what? It’s totally FREEEEE! That’s up to two hours of brilliant styling advice. And of course, John Lewis has a large choice of brands so there’s something for all tastes.

The five free styling services are: Wardrobe Refresh, Workwear, Social Occasion, Holiday and Perfect Pair of Jeans, all of which take place in the ground floor Style Studio (there’s also a men’s studio upstairs if you can persuade him). It’s decked out with the stylists’ favourite pieces, plush sofas and flattering lighting – always handy, lets face it – plus a private changing room.

L-R: Lindsey and Annie

We nobbled two of the store’s personal stylists Lindsey and Annie for a chat – OK, to pump them for advice. And, yes, I know they are ridiculously fresh-faced but these ladies, both of whom studied fashion at university, really known their style onions and are brimming with brilliant ideas for women of all ages. Style rut, be gone!


Is there one piece or trend that looks good on everyone? 

A: I think certain pieces can work for several different body types . For example, we recently had a floaty dress with buttons down the front which can be left to hang loose or you can add a belt if you have an hourglass figure or if you’re busty you can unbutton it. It’s all about styling and adapting your clothes with accessories.


Is less more? Or should you throw everything at an outfit?

A: Definitely less is more. Often we see people who’re trying to keep up with current trends but wear them all at the same time!


Any memorable requests from customers? 

L: I had an amazing one recently where a lady came in for a big birthday. Her guests were dressing as her from different decades of her life and I was styling her as herself in the present day. I chose vintage-style pink earrings, a shift dress and sparkly shoes.


Any funny changing room stories?

A: People will put a dress on and think it’s awful but it’s actually on backwards. It happens more often than you’d think.


What are your favourite brands right now?

A: Warehouse and Whistles are my go-tos.

L: John Lewis’s own brands do great basics, especially if you want amazing cashmere. There are some gorgeous pumpkin orange and dark green jumpers in at the moment. We have lots of new indie brands for men too, you can find some great staple pieces in the men’s studio upstairs.

What’s your favourite trend at the moment and how would you wear it?

L: I love ruffled details, it’s something so small but can really elevate your outfit. And it’s a nod to the Victorian period which is one of my favourites. There’s lots of great ruffled blouses around.

A: I’m really enjoying all the nudes and camel colours which I see a lot on Instagram. I also like the oversized look when it’s done in a flattering way – you can slightly tuck in a chunky jumper to your waistband at the front or wear a belt over a coat, for example.


What will you be wearing to Christmas parties this year?

A: One from John Lewis’s 12 Dresses edit. We’ve teamed up with brands to create an exclusive dress for Christmas occasions. There’s a Mint Velvet mini that’s covered in silver star sequins (above) that I love.

L: There’s also a lovely Ghost dress in red velvet and a dark green All Saints one with lace that’s really beautiful.


What do you do when you’re heading straight from work to a party?

L: That’s where accessories come in – a change of lipstick, shoes and bag and you’re good to go.


What are your essential pieces for a capsule wardrobe? 

A: A crisp white shirt, good underwear and a well fitting bra. At the start of appointments we often do a bra fit and it works wonders.

L: The right underwear can change your outfit completely. Often people will buy the bra we fit them in during styling as it works with the clothes, it’s a great base. I would also suggest a decent leather jacket that suits your proportions, a good fitting pair of trousers for work and basic cotton T-shirts that fit your body shape. They’re hard to find but when you do, buy them in every colour!


And what about advice for men? 

L: A decent shirt is a must and getting staple items tailored is always a good idea.

A: Don’t forget that the clothes you buy might not be the perfect fit all the time. Tailoring tiny details can make a huge difference, like a shorter sleeve or hemline.


Hit us up with your best styling tips..

Image: Whistles

L: Make sure you feel comfortable with what you’re wearing – we can see it on your face if you’re not.

A: Always consider your body shape. Some people think it will narrow their options but that’s not true at all – finding things that compliment your shape. And never feel like you can’t wear a certain colour – you just need to find the right tone or shade.

L: You should consider your hair, eye colour, skin tone and veins.


Your veins?! 

L: Yes! Blue tones in your veins mean you should wear cooler colours, green tones call for warmer tones, like orange.


What’s a common mistake people make when shopping? 

A: Buying pieces that completely drown your shape.

L:  Women can get stuck in a rut but being willing to try new things can be a game-changer. You certainly get the most out of a personal styling appointment if you go in with an open mind.

When do you think you’ve made the most impact in your job? 

L: For me it’s when people come in and their self esteem is the lowest of the low, and when they leave you can see in their eyes that their confidence has grown massively. Often, both men and women, will focus on tiny things they don’t like about themselves. When you start to see what someone else might see, you stop letting those niggly bits take over. There’s real therapy to this – you’re baring all.


John Lewis, 101 The Westgate, Queen St, Oxford, OX1 1PB. Tel: 01865 203320.

Words: Nancy Serle

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