She won, we came and we styled

A very excited stylist at the train station near Reading.

I keep going on about work wear styling, hence why I’ve enlisted the help of a professional stylist at, the very talented Gabriella Lundgren. As some of you know, we recently ran a competition where we shamelessly pimped out Gabriella’s services. The idea was to give away a free 3 hour styling session to one lucky winner that I drew out of a classy, and not at all tacky, zebra printed martini glass. The winner turned out to be this awesome and lovely person, Colby from Reading, so off we went on May 15th to rummage through her wardrobe and give her some insider tips and tricks. Here’s what happened on the day.

8am – Paddington station

Gabriella and I meet in Paddington Station, before either of us had even woken up, to take the train to a place near Reading. Both of us sleepy yet super excited. So with Scandinavian style strength coffee in one hand and Colby’s address in the other, we skipped onto the train.

10am – Meeting the client

We managed to walk straight past Colby’s house twice before finally knocking on the door. We were greeted by a really lovely chatty blond woman who we then got to understand, is starting a new job in a couple of weeks. Impeccable timing for some work wear styling.

10.10am – The beginning

The 5 signs of a wardrobe detox

As she’s insanely organised, way past the verge of being weird, Gabriella laid out 5 pieces of paper on Colby’s bed. Each piece of paper representing different piles of clothes. We had:

  • Doesn’t fit/don’t know how to style
  • Alteration/dry cleaning
  • Staples
  • Party
  • Haven’t worn in 1 year or more

We’re already going through Colby’s wardrobe and with her help dividing everything into the different piles.

11am -The assessment

Going through everything, one by one.

Once closet is empty and all pieces are on the bed, Gabriella takes us through Colby’s items. Where she’s not sure why it’s in the “never wear” pile or “doesn’t fit”, Gabriella asks Colby to try them on. So a few things happened. We found out that Colby has a lot of work dresses of a similar style. It’s something she buys quite often so top tip here was – step away from the dress shop! We then discovered 4 cardigans. This surprised both us and Colby as she’d pointed out this was something she needed to buy more of. We all agreed 4 is enough. There was also plenty of casuals like jeans and t-shirts, all useful stuff. We only saw one blazer, one pair of work trousers and one or two work skirts. We started seeing a pattern.

11.30am – Initial take

Colby’s wardrobe was already pretty well organised. There are some reoccurring usual suspects like t-shirts, jeans and also – so many dresses. And somehow, a severe absence of work trousers, skirts and blazers. We are now under the impression that Colby is in favour of simplicity, quite understandably. After all, she has 2 kids and doesn’t want the hassle of putting outfits together in the morning and a dress is so easy. And in all fairness, it looks nice too. She’s stylish though so she can afford to be a bit more adventurous with her outfits and as such, we want to leave her with some ideas to expand her fashion repertoire a bit more. I realise as I’m typing that I sound a bit like Gok Wan which with all due respect, really is something I’m striving for!

12noon – Eureka!

Jeans and a nice blouse is a great go to smart/casual look.

Challenge 1

We unveiled 3 key styling challenges in Colby’s life. Firstly, the in between looks, bridging smart and casual. The “go into town” look without being too “worky”. So we dove into a drawer and dug out a pair of plain jeans. Styling it with a cream bow blouse and some patent flats made Colby look super stylish and smart enough for a drink or dinner in town. Colby agreed this was also a winning concept for her figure.

Challenge 2

We notice that she likes to hide her hips/thighs by wearing mid rise jeans and longer loose tops. She has a tiny waist though which if shown off, would attract attention more than the hips and thighs. The result is that on the list to buy is now a pair of high waist jeans. To go with those, shirts that can be tucked in for an hour glass silhouette. Also, it was recommended to invest in fancier materials and designs for shirts that can be work casually as well as at work. Double use is double value, at least I believe that makes complete sense.

Challenge 3

Wearing something else than dresses for work. The reason she throws on a dress is because, as we all know, it’s so easy. But Colby looks great in trousers and skirts so again, with the nice shirts and blouses we recommended Colby to buy, she will easily be able to style both skirts and trousers. We also noticed that high waists work really well here too, especially with the skirts. Trousers look great at a 7/8 length on Colby as she was a bit concerned about looking short and square if the trousers were too cropped. We also advised to go for a pair of trousers with a fold at the front as it makes them look more dressy for the office.

12.30pm – Party time

We’re off to the races. Oh, and the cat makes a guest appearance.

To my excitement, Colby reveals that she is going to the races in a month’s time and need to find shoes and accessories for the dress she’s got. We decide that she’s already got 2 different pairs of shoes and one bag so she doesn’t need to buy anything new. It’s then time to discuss jewellery and found that there was a lot in Colby’s jewellery box. Earrings seemed to be something of an enigma and she tends to wear studs. But Gabriella had some great ideas on very clean cut and minimal dangly earrings so we think there’s a chance we’ve now created an earring monster!

Just after 1pm – The good bye

With the knowledge that Colby’s wardrobe is immaculately organised, anything she doesn’t wear safely in the donation pile and nothing has been returned to the closet that needs alterations or dry cleaning. We’ve left behind a couple of Polaroids to remind Colby about the outfits she felt most comfortable in and also, the promise of an e-mail re cap with a shopping list, some styling ideas and where to find different items.

We’d like to thank Colby for welcoming us into her home, she was an absolute pleasure to work with and such a good sport when it came to being open to new ideas and concepts. If you think you’d benefit from a styling session, you can book Gabriella via Prices start from £150 for a 3 hour booking.