Here is a lesson that seems to keep repeating on me at the moment: invest in people who know what they are doing.
Cases in point — I used to get my hair appointments on Groupon or Treatwell. This is not to be advised. I followed generic food and fitness plans and wondered why I wasn’t getting better results. And I would cry every January having put off my taxes for so long – never fully grasping exactly what I was supposed to be doing with them – until the second I met my accountant, and realised this would be the best money I’ve ever spent.
What I’m learning is that experts not only save you the stress and cost of getting something wrong, they take great pride in getting it right. So why do we hesitate to reach out, or try to cut corners?
Recently I learned this lesson all over again at House of Fraser when I was introduced to personal stylist Thiaba Diallo, who was on hand to dress me for Ascot.
What you should know upfront is that I dislike shopping. I often get the urge to browse the rails, but it usually ends up with me stressed out, overheated, and SO desperate to be home that I’d sooner abandon the lot than wait in a queue. On particularly bad days, I leave not only exhausted but deflated, with some new flaw to dwell on (when WILL designers fix the lighting and angles in changing rooms?!).
But I knew immediately that Thiaba was an ally. She really wanted me to enjoy the experience from the outset – to have fun and to feel fabulous. I would do no shortlisting or traipsing about (surely the worst parts of shopping), so it became like playing dress up in the select pieces she’d chosen for me.
One of the best parts about it was that I tried – and liked – shapes, colours, and designers I wouldn’t have picked out alone.
Phase Eight is an area within House of Fraser I would have walked past before – and yet, their incredible colour-popping jumpsuit (second from left) was by far my favourite look. Similarly I would always have avoided wearing pink in case it made me look pale, but I adored the Ted Baker dress (far right) with its clashing lipstick red.
Working with Thiaba I actually enjoyed experimenting with fashion. I didn’t feel lost or frustrated, and – remarkably – I didn’t get downbeat if something didn’t flatter me or a zip didn’t go up; Thiaba was right there ready and waiting with a better alternative. It challenged what I thought I knew about what suited me, or what I could pull off – finding looks that really worked helped me walk a little taller.
With my job, I ought to know better than most that – while we might envy a celebrities ‘personal style’ – it takes a village to create that image of a person that you might see in a magazine or on Instagram. Famous, fashionable, beautiful people have been outsourcing their wardrobe conundrums since forever – they trust an expert eye to create a vision – but it’s not just for cover stars. Seeing a personal stylist and rethinking the way I shopped meant I wasn’t just leaving House of Fraser with new outfit inspiration, I was walking taller in my own shoes.
You can see all the outfits Thiaba picked out for me in the video below. Follow Thiaba on Instagram here.