Learning to Style: The Final Challenge

Clare Edwards Personal Styling

So it's now time for the Shopping Challenge. The day past students have warned us is one of the most stressful experiences they've ever been through. How can that be? Shopping is fun. I can shop in my sleep. Where's the challenge in spending money on clothes? However by the day's end, I really am well and truly shopped out.

Our challenge is to shop for two outfits, one being a jeans look, the other being one of our choosing fitting in with our client's lifestyle. We're paired up and take it in turns to be the stylist and the client (I'll call my client Emma). I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to dress Emma in and merrily head off to House of Fraser on Oxford Street to pick out the pieces I want. Armed with a rail of options I start dressing her in the fitting room. Firstly I pick out a blazer, shirt and a pair of trousers. Oh dear, the jacket doesn't look right. That wasn't in the plan. And now the jacket isn't right neither is the top. But it all looked so good in my head, I don't understand. Now I'm having a small panic as I have realised that I have put all my eggs into the blazer-shirt-and-trousers basket. Ten jackets, ranging from leather to patterned to lapel-less to embellished, later I have found the perfect one. And Emma seems to like it too which is a bonus. Now for the jeans. Everyone hates jeans shopping for very good Selfridges there are something like 2,000 different pairs of jeans available. Where to start? A process of elimination takes me to a pair of skinny distressed jeans which I'm 80% happy with. Time is running out so they will have to do. The day of reckoning is almost upon us.....

It's Friday which can only mean one thing: Nicky Hambleton-Jones day. We finally get to meet the namesake of the course and the reason the majority of us signed up. I think back to Nicky's '10 Years Younger' days and wonder if she's going to tell me I need a chemical peel, a drastic hair makeover and liposuction. Thankfully Nicky is delightful and focuses solely on the clothes. Phew. We all take it in turns to stand up and present our clients in the outfits we have styled them in. I'm not really sure why I'm so nervous; they're only clothes. Then it strikes me that I really do care what they think and I really want that internship. One of the other students goes first and gets a bit of a dressing down (pardon the pun). 'That belt should be lower.' 'That necklace fights with that neckline.' 'Those jeans have a wrinkle across the back of the thigh.' The attention to detail is amazing. Other comments include; 'That bag is hideous and I never want to see it again,' and 'You look like the Queen Mum in that necklace.' My turn. As it turns out I had nothing to worry about and I have one little critique regarding the hem on the jeans (it's slightly too frayed and a centimetre too short) but apart from that everyone likes it. So much so, I win the 'prize' for the best jeans look which I am chuffed to bits about.

Now the course has come to an end, we all wait with baited breath to find out who the intern is. Drum roll please, it'! Hooray! I don't find out until ten days later when I am on holiday but I don't mind how they came to their decision as long as their decision was me. So now the fun begins and I really do get to fulfil my dream of shopping for a living. I have witnessed the transformational capabilities of styling firsthand and I want to make every single woman (and man) I meet feel fabulous and look their very best. I think this is what they meant when they said 'Shopping Challenge'.....