My earliest memories are from the days when we lived in London in a small house somewhere between Lancaster Gate and Marble Arch.
I remember my room with no windows except a skylight that opened and closed with a rope, tied in a figure of eight way above my head. All the furniture made by my Father, bespoke and perfectly fitting me. Stairs from the front door reaching up to the heavens, steep enough to break your neck on. A cavernous garage that housed my Dad's workshop and piles of wood and the smell of wood shavings that tickled my nose. My very own mini vice and set of tools so that I could be a craftsman too.
Our house was just a hop, skip and a jump from John Lewis' flagship store on Oxford Street, my second home. I could quite easily have been born in the haberdashery department, it was (and still is) such a favourite haunt of my Mother. I'm pretty sure my first words were 'double damask'.
John Lewis is celebrating it's 150th year in 2014. I don't find it at all surprising that they've been around for that long. Some brands just get it right. John Lewis is one of them.
Quality products, exceptional customer service, never knowingly undersold, staff are effectively partners and get a share of the profits. It works. Why aren't all companies run like this?
And I need some help. Since Christmas I've lost over 20lb and I'm finally back to my pre-baby weight *punches the air*. Great right? Except that when I look in my wardrobe I see lots of clothes that are now too big. Hey, I'm not complaining, it's a great problem to have, but I still need something to wear to The Brewery that will be comfortable, stylish and make me feel great.
So this week I met with the lovely Dorothy and Dolly for a Style Profile session and an Express Outfit session. What better way to prepare for my weekend in London than by knowing which colours and outfits will suit me best on the day? In the first of two posts about my experience here's what happened at my Style Profile session...
My personal sytlist for the day, Dorothy, meets me at reception and immediately makes me feel welcome. There are two style rooms at the Cambridge store so my session is completely private. After a chat about I'm hoping to get out of the session (some clue about why I don't seem to wear half the clothes in my wardrobe please!) she moves a chair in front of a long mirror and asks me to sit down before draping a white cloth over my clothes. This is my neutral background onto which she will be laying colours to determine their effect on my skin, she tells me. The colours are outlined on a palette and match a number of different fabric swatches laid out on the glass table to my right. Dorothy lays each swatch in turn over the white cloth and looks at me appraisingly. She's so friendly, I feel like I've know her for ages already and forget how strange it feels to be scrutinised.
We cover the spectrum of colours through from deep to light, soft to bright and warm to cool. She herself is bright and cool, she tells me. Which am I? I wonder. It soon becomes clear.
Some of the colours cast a glow on my face that makes me look healthy and well, almost like I've been on holiday. Others make me look sallow and washed out. Orange is my friend. Pink is most definitely not.
Over the course of my session Dorothy determines that I'm deep, soft and warm. My look is 'rich and burnished'. Mmm...I like this. The palette of colours that suits me best ranges from deep shades to medium pastels but all the colours are muted, autumnal shades that have a yellow undertone - think browns, rusts, oranges and especially teal. Which is a surprise as I've never worn teal and wouldn't have thought of wearing it. She also tells me that I should avoid wearing colours that are either too bright or light pastel and those that have a blue undertone - so that discounts pinks, greys and light blues.
Armed with my new colours I sit sipping ice-cold water while she asks me a few questions about my lifestyle and style preferences. Then it's back in front of the mirror again and she asks me to hold a stick and a ribbon. As Coco Chanel famously said "fashion is architecture: it's a matter of proportions" and using the stick and ribbon Dorothy uses a fun and simple method (that doesn't rely on my hight or size measurements) to determine mine - I'm long legged, long waisted and a traditional hour glass shape. I'm also quite angular in my frame. All these things will determine which styles and clothes will make the best of my figure.
At the end of our consultation Dorothy gives me a handy booklet to take away that outlines my style and colour profile and includes a handy set of swatches of the colours that suit me best. It's been such a fun session and I'm excited about the next stage - choosing my outfit for BritMums Live... of which more soon!
The 60 minute John Lewis Style Profile session costs £125 which is redeemable against purchases of £500 when it's booked with the free one hour Style Express or the longer (but still free) two hour Style Experience session. It was a fabulous experience that I'd thoroughly recommend. Find out more and watch a video about the personal styling service at JohnLewis.com
Disclosure: I was generously gifted my Style Profile and Style Express consultations by John Lewis Cambridge. All opinions are my own.