Bored of your wardrobe?
Lost your fashion mojo? Make like a celeb and book a stylist. Muddy tries the M&S Fit & Style.
London Fashion Week kicks off this weekend. Although, AW18 will be prowling down the catwalk, it’s a klaxon for SS18 shopping. If the weather could get the memo, that would be magic.
If you love a new season fashion reboot – obsessively flicking through glossy mags, stalking the most stylish on Insta – then the excitement levels and credit card will be twitching right now.
I like to think I’m pretty on it, choosing a few seasonal trends to blend in with the basics. But, and there is a big BUT, do you end up buying the same stuff? My wardrobe is a sea of blue, grey and black – denim, sweatshirts and shirts. Something tells me, I’m stuck in a rut.
At 40-er something, you might think that’s an inevitability. But there’s life in this old clothes horse yet. A personal stylist is perhaps beyond my minuscule budget, but a freeeeeee in-store styling sesh could be the answer.
Marks and Spencer has just launched its new Fit & Style Studio at Westfield White City and I whizzed down the M4 to give it a whirl. I know it means commando crawling outside of Berkshire, but it’s only 30-40mins away, it’s reasonable to park, there’s loads of fab places to eat and it’s all most impossible to leave empty handed.
Personal shopping is nothing new. But it can feel a bit weird and alienating, with a lurking fear of feeling obliged to buy things way beyond your budget. M&S is trying to do things differently. The focus is on styling, not shopping. Obviously they want you to buy, but they also want the experience to be positive and, by working with pro stylists, the aim is that you leave with something you really want, fits and makes you look and feel hot. Fashion reboot here I come.
HOW IT WORKS
Make an appointment online, fill out a short questionnaire with your size, colouring, style, things you love, hate and what you want to achieve. For me, I’m stuck in neutral, wearing a uniform of jeans, sweatshirts and white trainers. Safe, comfy and generally only given a stylish twist with a dramatic coat.
A stylist selects outfits that reflect your style and personality but will take you gently introduce pieces that are outside your comfort zone. The stylists really listen to your feedback, focus on fit and make the experience fun. It’s like playing dress up with a purpose.
The Fit & Style Studio, situated on the ground floor, is like drifting in on a beautiful cloud of greys and blush pinks. It’s an oasis of calm, but it’s the tech that’s really gets your attention. A Delay Mirror enables you to see your outfit come to life on your body at 360 degrees. No more awkward contortions to see the rear view. Basically it’s a giant selfie screen, that can also send pics to your friends and family if you need them to give you the thumbs up.
There’s also a digital mirror in each fitting room. This is the clever bit. You and your stylist can request different sizes, colours and products without even leaving the fitting room. The product requests are sent to a runner and they do the leg work. You stay put, kick back, have a natter, sling back a glass if fizz – it’s a double dose of ‘me time’. Just the way I like it! How often have you given up on something because it’s not the right size, colour but can’t be figged to wrestle in and out of your clothes to find what you need? All the time.
I’d had a sneaky sweep around the shop floor to see if anything caught my eye. And like some weird Derren Brown mind reading trick, there they were on the rail. So what had been selected: A pair of smart leggings (is there such a thing? Answer, apparently yes), a lilac shirt, checked trench, mustard heels, a navy dress, bright pink coat, nude brogues. Khaki culottes and a bright green cashmere jumper. Alternative ways to wear denim… cuddly toy and a Kenwood mixer. For fear of sounding like The Generation Game, I’ll not list it all.
I tried on everything, mixed things up, additional pieces were brought in and different sizes to perfect the look. Some of the footwear was similar to shoes I already own, but it was useful to try them on. Personally, I think M&S has massively improved its collections over the years. The difficulty is discovering it all. There are 1000s of products, but who has the time to spend hours and hours on a treasure hunt, let alone try it all on? Er, no one. It’s no wonder we all get stuck on repeat purchases.
As for fit, unless you have a tailor on speed dial, things that are not quite right get left behind. So it’s great to see an alterations studio (with cool retro styling) to provide you with a sartorial nip and tuck– £5 for a repair to £30 for a complete reconstruction. Beats sending out a seamstress SOS on Facebook when you get home.
IN THE BAG
There was a lot that I loved on the rail. The lilac and purple caught my eye from the start and I loved the trench. I thought the green culottes would be perfect but I just couldn’t them to look right on me. Not that I have given up, there is a pair out there with my name on it. Some of the looks were a little too smart for my day to day, romping around Berkshire lifestyle, but they looked great.
The jewellery wasn’t for me, but I’m going to try a little harder on the accessory front. Statement earrings, skinny scarves. Colour will creep into my wardrobe and I’m flirting with the idea of print. Woah there, let’s take it one step at a time.
I bagged the Autograph smart leggings with a small split at the front, Limited lilac shirt, the checked trench of dreams and (hold the phone) mustard yellow heels. The purple cashmere escaped the basket, but I’m going back for it. In case you haven’t discovered M&S cashmere, it’s well priced and machine washable (dull but essential fact).
If you don’t have the time, or the confidence to shop, or you just feel a bit lost, the Fit & Style Studio will help you find your fashion mojo. You’ll be surprised at how broad the M&S collections are, but even if some of the products don’t float your boat, you’ll learn what colour and shapes work for you and how to layer and accessorise.
The key is to give honest feedback, be open to new ideas and get the fit right. You’re not going to like everything, but the styling will help you shop with the confidence of Anna Wintour. More importantly, it’s fun. Book in and let me know what you think.
Book an appointment at marksandspencer.com