Learning to Style

Clare Edwards Personal Styling

I can't believe it's been about a year since I last shared my random thoughts with you. Well, ok, not quite that long but you know what I mean. I do have a good excuse, honest. Back in October I signed up for a Personal Styling Course run by NHJ Style (remember her off the telly from Channel 4's 10 Years Younger? Well, she's the 'NHJ'). After a hugely enjoyable and informative week, I was offered an internship by the company. Obviously, I said yes. In fact I think I may have bitten someone's hand off in my eagerness.....

So for the last two months I've been learning all I can from the best in the business. From wardrobe detoxing to personal shopping to group styling to brand events I've had a fabulous experience and can't wait to share all I've learned with you. That's right, I've been shopping with other people's money!

Firstly I'd like tell you a bit about the course itself. A week of highs, lows and everything inbetween. The course was fabulous and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Day 1 and it's raining. Not the ticket when I've got to lug in 15 outfits from my wardrobe, my newly assembled stylist kit and my AW14 trend look book. Not to mention a whole host of other things in the 'well you just don't know when you might need it' category. I've given myself plenty of time to get there but I'm still in a panic. Remember my suitcase, check. Attempt to look vaguely stylish, check. Drop my son at school, check. Buy my train ticket, check. Get my elbows at the ready in order to get a seat on the train, check. I make it into London only to discover that the Underground station has been closed due to over-crowding. A walk to Warren Street in the rain isn't really what I had in mind but needs must. Out in the rain again I go. By this point my hair has already done the Monica-from-Friends-as-Diana-Ross thing and I am looking less stylish by the second.

It's ok, I've made it with some moments to spare. Phew. I meet one of the other students in the waiting area and thankfully she looks as harrassed as me. We are then called to go upstairs to the training room. This is our first encounter with our trainer, uber-stylist Isobel. As expected she looks amazing. Damn her on-trend blue leopard shirt, leather trousers and silver heels - why didn't I think of that? I take some consolation in being able to recognise where a couple of the pieces of her outfit are from. And that we are very obviously going to be trained by the best.

There are 6 of us on the course joined by Isobel and one impossibly cool slip-of-a-thing in a bright yellow skirt who turns out to be the current intern. She's French. She's called Malory. We all look ourselves up and down and feel slightly inadequate.

Our first task is to stand up in front of the group and explain our outfit choice. Oh dear. Malory starts. None of us wants to follow. As she talks us through her outfit we realise we have a lot to learn. My turn. I have chosen a vibrant green silk shirt, dark wash denim jeggings, a gold necklace and ring and black biker boots. Even as I'm writing that down I know it's not remotely stylish and very safe. I had intended to wear my lovely leopard print shoe-boots but it was raining....I didn't want to ruin them....not a good excuse in Fashion World. "All I can see when I look at you is green. And you've chosen a shirt with pockets on the chest. All I can see when I look at you is green boobs", is the assessment. You may be surprised to hear that wasn't the impression I was planning to make on my first day. The trouble with being sartorially judged straight off the bat is that you've got to sit there for the rest of the day fully aware of your crimes against fashion. I can tell this course is going to be worth every penny.....

Our lunchtime task is to go and buy a statement item and sell it to the rest of the group. I decide to go to Zara as I know a lot of their stock and I know they have some good pieces this season. However I soon realise that finding something I like and finding something I can sell to the others are not the same thing. I decide on a pair of snakeskin ankle boots as they tick the animal print trend box. As I return to present them to the group I realise that I don't have much to say about them other than they tick the animal print trend box and, um....they have a heel. Everyone loves a heel.... don't they? One of the others picks a fabulous red poncho. Shucks.

Now it's time for our wardrobe items to be hung out (to dry) and judged in all their glory. As we unpack our suitcases it's an interesting insight into everyone's personality. I have to do the wardrobe analysis for one lady and she asks me how she can make her cream culottes more versatile. Oh goodness, the only culottes I've come across since I was 15 are part of my 3 year-old niece's school uniform. I pick up a pair of high strappy sandals and say to Isobel, "What do you think about pairing the culottes with these shoes?". "I think that would be a car crash," is her response. Onwards and upwards....