At some point or another, every one of us has looked in our wardrobe and struggled to find something to wear. The next lot of lust-haves for autumn/winter doesn't help, with a fresh new set of trends to consider, and the styles, colours and key buys for each, there are many decisions to be made. So wouldn't it be nice to have a little help? Some friendly advice, style tips and suggestions from someone in-the-know?
In store, we have a group of wonderful expert Fashion Advisors dedicated to doing just that. Whatever your question, whatever your fashion dilemma, they are there as your guide, offering invaluable style counsel right there on the shop floor. To really find out about the service, and what it's like to be a professional style guru, we caught up with Michelle Shumin, a Fashion Advisor from Oxford Street.
So day-to-day, what does being a Fashion Advisor for John Lewis involve?
A typical day is predominantly focused around the customer, ensuring each Fashion Advice appointment is as useful and enjoyable as possible. The morning starts with making sure the rooms are tidy, refreshments are available, and checking the diary to see what appointments I have for the day. I may have anywhere between 2 - 4 per day, so it's essential I keep up my energy levels and maintain my appearance throughout. Reapplying a flash of lipstick and checking I look the part is a must for me before each customer arrives!
Other days there could be prep for special in store events, such as fashion shows or demonstrations on the shop floor, press appointments for journalists, or planning innovative new ways to keep the service exciting.
Are there any popular questions or style dilemmas?
I'm always amazed at how many times I hear the same style dilemmas and how, as women, we all have the same hang ups! The usual requests are covering up the tops of the arms, wanting to dress age appropriately, and the eternal quest for the perfect pair of jeans.
Quite often customers are looking to inject some fresh ideas in to their existing wardrobes, and enjoy exploring aspects of the latest trends to get this fashion fix.
How long do you spend with each client, does it differ depending on their needs?
Most of our shops offer a 2 hour appointment, and will cater for all needs as best we can.
We're currently offering a new Personal Styling service in our Peter Jones, Bluewater and Reading shops, which has 3 types of appointment, depending on the customer's requirements.
The Express service is complimentary, and lasts up to an hour for those who need an outfit for a special occasion, or a couple of items. The Style Experience is also complimentary and lasts for 2 hours, this is perfect for those who would like a seasonal update, or a new look. And lastly, The Style Profile is an educational session which includes colour analysis and bodyshape profiling, as well as advice on styles, cuts and fabrics. The client will leave with all of the information recorded in a Style File, and a colour swatch specific to their palette. This lasts 1 hour and is £125.
So say if I desperately needed an outfit for a Saturday night out, or wanted a quick trend fix, could I come to you for this too?
Absolutely! Every Fashion Advisor will say they love to take on a challenge, so we will always be happy to help whether you just need one outfit or a whole new wardrobe.
What does an appointment involve?
Your Fashion Advisor will spend around 10 minutes establishing what your requirements are, and what you would like to achieve from the session. They will offer basic advice about which colours and styles will suit you, and then select garments and accessories from the floor while you relax in the room with a drink and a magazine. The rest of the session is about trying the clothes on, seeing what suits and working towards ending the session with an edited selection of the best pieces.
How much does the service cost?
The Fashion Advice service is complimentary.
The Style Profile appointment is £125.
Any expert tips on the new season? What brands are you really excited by?
The new autumn/winter trends, as ever, are a continuation of last year, with some exciting added extras. This is always great, as you can build on what you already have without having to buy a whole new wardrobe.
There's a real buzz about the exciting Somerset by Alice Temperley collection. I was lucky to get a preview right at the beginning, and was so impressed with the attention to detail and quality finish of each garment. The prices are fantastic too.
My tips for this season would be to snap up statement animal motifs, from owls to flying birds, filtered straight down from the catwalk. Cosy up in the colder months with an oversized trophy jumper - oversized shapes and eye-catching detail are a must for day-to-night. And give your staple winter coat a chic update with a statement belt, cinched at the waist.
How did you become a Fashion Advisor? Did you always want to work in fashion, and particularly styling?
I've always loved fashion and was inspired at an early age by the outfits of the Hollywood stars during the golden age of cinema. It wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I decided to pursue a career in it, and took the first step by training as an Image Consultant. I worked briefly as a Bridal Stylist before joining the Fashion Advice team in Oxford Street, which has been the best experience. In my time here I've produced fashion shows for Vogue's Fashion Night Out and a West End VIP day, so I've really got to unleash my creative side outside of my day-to-day role.
What do you love most about your job?
You never know who's going to be walking through the door for an appointment, so I've met some fantastic and inspirational customers over the years. As a Fashion Advisor your aim is to always help your client feel fabulous, helping them rediscover how good they can look in the right clothes.
I also work with a great team of Fashion Advisors, who continue to teach and inspire me and are as equally passionate about the service.
How can I book an appointment with an advisor?
Firstly, call your nearest John Lewis to make sure they offer the Fashion Advice service. Once that's confirmed, our partners will be happy to book an appointment for you over the phone.