Lost your style mojo?
Deep diving into a new season but no clue where to start? Vanessa Bestwick, super-stylist and fashion fairy godmother at Camp Hopson Newbury, to the rescue. The aim? Shop less, wear more and feel fabulous. It's a big ask.
Remember the good ol’ days when shopping was fun? The parties were wild and you’d be down the shops on a Saturday afternoon perusing outfits? Not any more (*sob*).
These days you’re probably tucked up in bed before the 10 o’clock news and fast fashion is as unpopular as Boris Johnson and his Brexit strategy. But when you discover UK shoppers have £10billion worth of clothes that they don’t wear – all hiding in wardrobes, unloved, many with labels on (guilty, m’lud), is it any wonder sustainability is trending.
So no more wine-fuelled shopping sprees, it’s time to shop less and wear more. But if you’re stuck in a style rut and long to create beautiful outfit combos that leave strangers gasping in admiration, read on.
Help is on the horizon in the form of Vanessa Bestwick, a profesh stylist who is waving her fashion wand in Camp Hopson Newbury – one of the few independent department stores in the UK. Her mission is to turn us all into stylish, savvy shoppers – quality over quantity.
Now I’ve done personal shopping and styling a few times over the years, but Camp Hopson‘s trying to offer a more bespoke service, that creates a style portfolio based on personality, colouring and body shape. Stuck in a style rut, shopping for an event, wardrobe updates – it’s all up for grabs and totally FREE. No pushy sales patter just a brilliant service that will introduce you to the store’s brands and collections.
How does it work?
Once you’ve booked a Personal Styling appointment, Vanessa will give you a call, ask lots of questions about hair and eye colour, skin tone, current style and what you want to achieve. On the day she’ll meet you on the first floor at Camp Hopson and take you to her styling room – currently the largest fitting room tucked away in the lingerie department. It’s not a boudoir but it’s private and practical, close to the undies and women’s fashion where you’ll find brands like Whistles, The White Company, LK Bennett, Jaeger, Esprit, Oasis and a few little known Danish brands
First up, who am I? A question I ask myself everyday, but in this context, we’re talking wardrobe. There are six categories:
Creative types are fearless with an eclectic style, that’s bold and colourful, like Helena Bonham-Carter.
Classic, think Kate Middleton – timeless, elegant, and usually investment shoppers.
Romantic‘s love floaty fabrics, ruffles and ‘girlie details’, think Kiera Knightly and Alexa Chung.
Natural – It’s all about the comfort. Jeans and trainers feature heavily (*enthusiastically puts hand up*). In good company with Mila Kunis and Jen Aniston.
City Chic is a bit deceptive in its name, but leans toward a polished, uncluttered look. Think Victoria Beckham and you’ll be bang on.
Dramatic – fashion forward and loves to make an entrance (like Rita Ora).
Don’t fear being pigeon-holed. Many will have a multiple fashion personality disorder. Me? Natural with a bit of the dramatic, but with a longing to be more City Chic and Creative.
Body shape is key to understanding what clothing shapes and neat details to look out for you. Nail this and you’ll feel more fabulous and lose 10lbs without breaking a sweat. Hourglass, Triangle, Oval, Rectangle and Inverted Triangle are what you’re looking for and Vanessa doesn’t need to man-handle you to work it out. I’m an hourglass with a bit of a mum tum (the battles scars of child birth). So it’s all about showing a little ankle and a little wrist (focus on the smallest points). Vanessa also mentioned I had a long body and short legs. News to me! For the past 40 *ahem* something years I thought I had the opposite. So high-waisters are good, and a bit of heel height would go a long way. Avoid drop shoulders, as it makes me look like a linebacker and v necks to balance out the bangers. Next!
Vanessa has been trained by Colour Me Beautiful. Now before you start rolling your eyes about ‘getting your colours done’ being for women of a certain age in the ’80s, you’re right. Colour Me Beautiful spawned an army of analysts declaring you spring, summer, autumn or winter. But it’s making comeback and fashion addicts swear by it to supercharge their look. Gone are the seasons, replacing them with more identifiable phrases: Soft, Warm, Cool, Light, Clear, Dark, based on skin tone, hair and eye colour. It’s not a full analysis, but you can have that done at Vanessa’s studio before she takes you shopping at Camps. I did, and it was a game changer. Vanessa tells me that ‘it’s not about what colour you love, but what colours love you’. Good advice.
Good news for me is that every autumnal shade filling the rails this season will suit my soft warm colouring – and the rusty golds and reds, forest greens and all the camel colours will look amazing (Vanessa’s words not mine). I’m still quivering in the corner at the thought of wearing any colour.
Get out of a rut
Now for the best bit – SHOPPING! We took a spin around the women’s brands, me pointing out the things I instantly loved and Vanessa holding up colours and shapes I should consider. It was fun, and there were some real gems lurking in brands that I wouldn’t normally consider. Then a rail appears for a try-on session. I love Whistles so it’s always a go-to for me. The White Company is full of comfy, buttery soft fabrics and I’m slightly obsessed with a pair of leopard trainers in LK Bennett. But, the likes of Oasis, Wallis and Jaeger had some real gems. Vanessa pulls outfits for you to try, and although lots of it worked, I didn’t feel all of them were quite ‘me’. That said, a lot was. I can totally see that working with Vanessa in the future will help me buy better and wear more. It’s a no brainer when the service is free and you can tap into that expertise. As with all good services, once you establish good relations, spotting statement pieces that are perfect for you becomes more instinctive and Vanessa will send you a text to let you know. Love it. Imagine the hours saved trawling the internet?
What’s in the bag?
Did I buy anything? Yes I did. Step away from the skinnies, I’m living in these black pair barrel leg, high-waisted jeans from Whistles – an investment at £95. A new colour for me, but I bravely bought this silky rust t-shirt from little-known Danish brand Soya Concept (£25) and I’ve been after an investment blazer for ages. I was looking for black but went for a Whistles navy check instead, they didn’t have this in store so had to order online but they did have these gorgeous gold Jaeger wave earrings that look way more expensive than the £20 paid.
Good for: If you’ve lost your style mojo, stuck in a rut, shopping for an event or want to find key pieces for your wardrobe, it’s a no-brainer to use the Personal Styling at Camps. It’s fun, free and really useful. No minimum spend either, so go crazy.
Not for: If you’re after high-end designer pieces, or a wide variety of brands. The collection is a bit limited but I didn’t struggle to find lots of great pieces and new fashion labels had been introduced since my last visit, so stock is forever changing.