I’ve always wanted the process of personal shopper explained, but never had a good reason to go and find out more.
When the new Debenhams opened in Watford and I was invited down, I finally found out all there is to know.
I went with the intention of simply updating my wardrobe with a few key pieces that were on trend. As I have aged and my body has changed, I find it much harder to know what suits me than I once did. Where I used to reach for skin tight jeans and dresses, I am now stuck in a rut of hiding below flowing skirts and baggy jumpers. Not because I am scared to show my body, but because I struggle to figure out what suits it.
I met with Giulia Coppola, who looked intimidatingly glamourous with her gorgeously garish shirt over a black outfit and bold makeup. She has worked in fashion for many years so she knows her stuff and was enthusiastic, but stressed that, while it is good to be on trend, it is best to buy pieces that will last forever.
All I had to do was tell her my size and she was off, leaving me to enjoy a glass of Prosecco while she scoured the shop floor on my behalf.
She returned with a rail of clothing, already sorted into outfits, and talked me through each item. Some of it I loved, like burgundy cord culottes with a brown jumper – perfect for autumn – and other bits I didn’t love – like a mustard yellow blazer that I thought was vile.
We went through the outfits one by one, starting with that yellow blazer. She paired it with dark blue skinny jeans and a pair of killer black stilettos and, guess what… it looked great. It was a chic ensemble perfect for an evening of dinner and cocktails, perfect for the kind of night when you want to look polished but not too put together. I bought that jacket with the knowledge I had a pair of bluejeans and black stilettos waiting for it at home.
I didn’t hate any of the outfits but I didn’t buy them all either – at no point did I feel the slightest bit of pressure to buy anything, in fact. The experience was much more about discussing things I did and didn’t like, shapes that did or didn’t suit me, and how to pair colours together in away I never would have imagined.
With each outfit I tried on Guilia would pick out certain pieces and tell me what else they would go with, to give me a broader idea of how to incorporate them into my wardrobe. More so, how to create a capsule wardrobe.
As I finished off my Prosecco and Guila packaged up my new bits, she advised me to go home and go through my wardrobe and start thinking about what would work together.
As well as that yellow blazer, I left with a black and white, tweed skirt suit that had strong Chanel vibes, paired with a bright red turtle neck. I also bought a black slinky top that would go wonderfully with just about every skirt and pair of trousers I own and a very on-trend brown jumper that would create a wonderfully autumnal look with a burgundy scarf or hat.
Above all, I left with a new found curiosity for items and for colours and a burning desire to return for every special event coming up at Christmas and beyond. The idea of having a carefully selected outfit, rather than going through a ‘clothing crisis’ and trying on everything I own and hating the lot, seems far too lavish and yet too desirable to ignore.