Last weekend I was invited along to Intu Lakeside, in Essex, for a visit to their personal shopper. A personal shopper is not a service I have ever used before, I have never really felt it necessary – but boy was I wrong!
I arrived at the brand new customer lounge within the shopping centre and here you can charge your phone, use their iPads or just relax on their sofas before heading back for some more shopping. Just off of the main lounge is the stylists area which is modern, bright and has some great inspiration before you even meet the stylist!
Carlene Noel is the primary stylist at Lakeside and when she arrived and bucks fizz was offered immediately – I knew we were off to a good start! To give Carlene a better idea of what I was looking for she gave me a form to fill out that detailed my sizes, the occasion (if applicable) I was shopping for, my favourite styles, least favourite body part, etc. This then gave her a great basis to get started with.
It was then on to the mirror to define my body shape. I usually don’t like to look in the mirror any longer than I have to, but taking a proper look and deciding what body shape you are is incredibly useful. It then gives you a basis to work on and to know what will and wont work for you fashion wise. Between us we deduced that I was an hourglass – my shoulders are in-line with my hips and my waist nips in.
So, on to the shopping! To get started Carlene suggested a bra fit, so off we went to House of Fraser to get that done. She suggested that it is best to get a bra fit done in a department store as they have a range of brands and not just their own – therefore sizing should be more accurate. Now, I never realised what difference getting the right bra can do but boy – when she gave me a DD bra and had me put back on the dress I was previously wearing I couldn’t believe the difference! My waist was more defined and I instantly looked smaller. I definitely won’t be forgetting to stay up to date on bra fittings in the future!
The occasion I had in mind for my personal stylist session was a wedding I am attending in August. I didn’t have too many specifics in terms of colour but I knew that I wanted my arms covered to the shoulder at least, being my least favourite body part.
We remained in House of Fraser as they had several concessions that suited my age and the occasion I was shopping for. Carlene left us to wander around and see if I could find anything that I liked whilst she disappeared to pick things she thought would suit. We then reconvened at the changing rooms and I was greeted with her suggestions.
There was a lot of colour – something I perhaps shy away from, particularly brights. However Carlene told me that these would really suit my colouring and she was absolutely right. An orange dress from Mango and a yellow one from Oasis really popped against my colourings – it is now just the confidence I need in order to pull these shades off! There were around 9 different dresses for me to try on and twirl about in, but amongst them was an absolute dream dress that I immediately fell in love with.
This dress fitted in all the right places, was the perfect length and fell within my specifed budget too! I was quickly at the cash register.
Of course, clearly this didn’t fit my brief of covering my arms. However I had specified that I was happy to get a cover-up/cardigan too if the dress itself didn’t have sleeves – which annoyingly hardly any do! So we popped to Zara and had a look but unfortunately they didn’t have any in the right shade – however Carlene gave me great tips on what colours and styles to look for and I later found the perfect cardigan in Debenhams to finish the outfit.
I really, really couldn’t recommend this service enough and will definitely be back. It was a really easy experience, with 30 minutes spent in consultation and 1 hour 30 minutes spent shopping, and didn’t feel awkward at all – even when you are standing around in your bra! Carlene is lovely, puts you at ease and truly know what she is doing.
The best bit is that she is paid no commission but stores and instead employed directly by Intu Lakeside – therefore there is no pressure to buy whatsoever!
Be sure to take a look at the website here and book your personal stylist session next time you are in the area – you won’t regret it!0