Janie’s style journey

Before meeting Jacqui

I reached a point where every time I opened my wardrobes I felt exhausted. All I could see were mountains of clothes yet I had nothing to wear. Black was often the colour of the day and possibly reflected my mood after what felt like a fight with the wardrobe! I knew I needed a new approach to tackling the problem, as I wasn't very good at decluttering and even less so when it came to clothes. I had also been on a Slimming World journey losing 1 stone 8 lbs and my wardrobe included a variety of sizes, some of which I never want to fit into again so I knew the time had come to do something different! I looked online and came across Jacqui at Victoria shopping centre in Leeds. The date of the style and colour workshop tied in nicely with my birthday so I treated myself to a day off work and the hope of a new beginning on the wardrobe issue!

On the day itself I was very excited, I was going to meet new people and talk about clothes all day, a perfect way to spend a day in my eyes! As promised it was a small group so that Jacqui could give us some personal attention.

We reviewed our favourite styles and the style of clothing that suited our shape. I was pleased that I had a good idea of what flattered my shape and what to avoid so that was reassuring. We also looked at colour palettes with a recommendation and colour swatch wallet by the end of the session. I was pleasantly surprised at how many lovely colours I had to pick from and loved the corals, reds and neutrals that dominated my palette ... I couldn't wait to get shopping! Jacqui also took us through a process to identify our style statement, which for me is: Classic/Chic, individual and confident - meaning each item I wear should meet these criteria.

Once the groundwork was complete, we headed out for a lovely lunch at Harvey Nichols which was all included in the day. Then armed with my colour wallet we hit the shops. Jigsaw was the first on the list and the brief was to try and find a couple of items in our colour palette and to select a style we wouldn't normally choose. I tried on a bottle green skirt, fabulous for Autumn/Winter and also a vibrant lime green shirt.

The shirt wasn't something I'd normally pick out, but the fit was perfect and I loved the colour. Whilst I didn't buy anything on the day I did go back at a later date and buy both items. It seems Jigsaw has become my new favourite shop with many items purchased since!! It was great having Jacqui on hand to give advice if we weren't sure and a big learning experience was how other people can often see something you don't when looking in a mirror.

For example, I have a thing for pastel/soft blue and I tried on a top in this colour thinking it looked nice and Jacqui asked the other ladies from the event what they thought of the item on me. I quickly learnt that the colour washes me out!

The more I got into it, I actually found it enjoyable and quite addictive!

I couldn't see it at first but by putting other colours against me that were in my palette I could see exactly what they meant. We headed to a few other shops and tried on several more items. Overall, it was a really fun way to spend a day whilst learning how to look your best! Now, when I'm going shopping I often take my colour wallet with me to keep me on track....no more pastel blue!!

The day after the event I was due to go to the hairdressers and Jacqui suggested that a copper tone would look lovely as a lowlight. This was actually something I'd been wanting to do for a long time but just stuck with what I knew (probably through fear of getting it wrong!). However, the following day I thought I'd bite the bullet and give it a go ... I love it and prefer it to my previous highlight tones and have had many compliments!

I came away from the session with fresh ideas of how I wanted my wardrobe to look, colours that flattered my skin tone and tools on how to make this all happen. So I began on my next journey of decluttering (which I would add, is still ongoing!). I started by writing down all of the different sections of my wardrobe I wanted to clear out, I chose to do it this way as I had too much 'stuff' to tackle it all in one go!

Section by section, I started filling up black sacks of clothes to be recycled, trousers, skirts, tops, jeans etc. The more I got into it, I actually found it enjoyable and quite addictive! I tried every item on checking for size, style, colour and how it made me feel, making sure it met my style statement. Many items I could make a decision on immediately, but there were some that made their way back into the wardrobe ready for a second review in six months’ time! At the end of the clear out, I had filled 12 black sacks of clothing yet still had full wardrobes ... where did I put all of these clothes???

One other tip Jacqui gave me was when I put the 'keep' pile back in the wardrobe, to put the hangers all facing the 'wrong' way, then when I wore an item change the hanger round the other way. A couple of months on, this has given me a clear view of what I have worn. Interestingly, I seem to have stuck with a small proportion of the wardrobe during the winter months leading me to think I can declutter more!!

Whilst I was going through the declutter process, I did have several shopping trips. I found some really good items that would form the core of my wardrobe over winter and several items that I can use all year round. I've loved buying scarves in key colours to mix up my outfit and blend the colours together.

After the experience

Overall, I really enjoyed the event and tools I came away with. For me, I had reached a point where I was ready to make some real changes so it came at a great time. I would say everyone will find value in these sessions as we all have something to learn when it comes to style and colour. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that sometimes we just need to stop, take a step back and look at things differently, which is a great way of getting out of a rut! I'm pleased to say I haven't worn black since (although must admit that I still own a few black items, ready for round 2 declutter!) and I'm loving the colours which reflect my personality more than black ever did! I'm still planning on a 'round 2' of a declutter and I'll see where I'm at after that stage and whether I may need to call on Jacqui's expertise again.