Despite having been to fashion school and having subscribed to any number of glossy, expensive magazines, I dress like a messy child.At work, I can often be found in kilts not dissimilar to those worn by convent pupils, or three-quarter high waisted jeans off of the ’80s.It’s not entirely my fault; the vast majority of my wardrobe is comprised of hand-me-downs from my parents and neighbours. I’m also quite short, small-boobed and have a mop of unruly hair.
So when my editor said that she’d booked a personal stylist through an app to dress me, I was pretty apprehensive.The whole Uber-for-stylists vibe sounded a bit odd.Where they going to try and make me wear something ridiculous that would show my bony chest? Where they going to make my legs even smaller? Was I going to have to go around in long, flowing dresses that I’d inevitably trip over?
ShareStyle is an app which boasts a broad range of style and lifestyle professionals who are experts in personal style, interior design, nutrition and balance.Founded by Anna Jones (former CEO of Hearst UK) and Debbie Wosskow (tech innovator), the app allows you to book stylists to come and do a more socially acceptable Trinny & Susannah-style wardrobe overall, come on shopping trips or simply help you put outfits together.Before the session, I was sent a lengthy questionnaire to fill in, including my sizes, style influencers and rather profound questions about what my ‘best self’ would look like if there were no boundaries.
‘What were my boundaries which were stopping me from being my best?’ Jesus. Money? Time? Sheer laziness? Having a too-long torso and not-long-enough legs?
Anyway, Boo Attwood turned up equipped with about a hundred bags full of exciting goodies.She’s a freelance stylist who’s been doing editorial, commercial and costume styling over the past 11 years. Before that, she was the in-house stylist at Heat Magazine.How would she be able to dress me, simply based on my Twitter profile pic (two years old), my measurements (which don’t take into account my big bum and thighs), and my rather vague answers which included FKA Twigs as the nearest thing to a style icon I could think of? I prayed that she hadn’t come equipped with a load of faux septum rings and sports bras.
But no. In fact, she brought me all kinds of beautiful clothes that I definitely would have never picked out for myself but that I desperately now want to own.
She walked me through four outfits she thought would best suit me. There were massive coats. Frilly tops. Beautiful jeans. Mel C-type polo neck dresses. All gorgeous.But if you don’t have a spare few grand in the bank, how are you supposed to revitalise your wardrobe like this?
Boo tells Metro.co.uk that it’s all about spending wisely.
‘Mixing in a great pair of shoes, a handbag or a new coat/jacket to your regular wardrobe is another way to update your look from season to season.’
Of course, one thing stylists can do is help you to recognise and dress for your shape.Few of us look like the models used by brands in campaigns and on catwalks and yet somehow, fashion trickles down and we try and force our curves and muscles and short legs into clothes designed for gazelle-like teenagers.
‘The trick to dressing for your size is to eye up what you feel are your best assets – legs, waist, bust etc – and then look to making the most of that part of your body through the clothing or accessories you wear,’ Boo advises.
‘Short legs benefit from a high waisted trouser or skirt. A good bust suits a v-neck or scoop front top.
‘Also, when you’re out shopping, try and opt for stores that have mirrors all around so you can check out how you look front and back, and both sides.’
Like that doesn’t sound completely terrifying.
But I guess it’s best to face up to reality.
It was only when I was getting dressed with Boo that she pointed out bits of my body in the mirror that I’d previously never really studied. Sure, I’m quite short but I do have a pretty small waist.And I might not have big jugs, but that means that I can wear flowy shirts that just tie with a little bow, without worrying about flashing someone with an eyeful of boob. So, swings and roundabouts.
When it comes to bargain hunting, Boo says that she heads to sample sales in and around London.‘These have amazing discounts of up to 70-80% on top designer names.’ So the crucial question is how low can you realistically go when it comes to price? Is it possible to dress well for £50 and look every bit as good as a magazine editorial?
‘That’s a tricky one as I’d love to say yes…but the truth is that £50 isn’t really enough money for an entire outfit and cheaper clothing just doesn’t look as good quality as what you see in the pages of a magazine,’ says Boo.‘Having said that, if the budget was a little close to £150 for the entire outfit, then I’d say yes!’
While the clothes Boo dressed me in might be well out of my price zone, I know what I’m looking for – should I ever end up at a sample sale, high-end vintage shop or some high street place like Cos. Simple cuts, good quality fabrics.
And maybe that’s the point of an app like ShareStyle. It’s about inspiring you to look the way you want to but don’t quite know how to or are stuck in a rut that you can’t get out of. Actually owning the clothes is sort of beside the point.
Having someone else cast their eyes over your wardrobe or your body to then go find bits for you can be really instructive.Most of us are super-critical of the way we look and stylists are less so. They’re pragmatists who like playing around – they’ll look at you, your budget, your lifestyle and work out a way to make you look fantastic.
Now, if anyone could find some spare cash to get me that jumpsuit…