Wednesday, 24 August 2016

In Conversation with a Fashion Stylist

Sarah Clare, the blonde goddess behind What Sarah did…has been delivering style and fabulous brands from 4 Bancroft since November 2010. Her store came about because she’s a qualified fashion stylist who wants to share what she knows with as many people as she can. She’s handled the wardrobes of singers, actresses and playwrights while still managing to empower the women who walk into her Hitchin boutique everyday.

I chatted to Sarah on a warm summer evening over delicious French food to see what its like to be a shopkeeper of a much loved lifestyle store and synonymously deliver her knowledge as a qualified fashion stylist…

Why did you want to become a fashion stylist?

Having worked in the retail industry for some time I felt that there was an underlying need for women to feel comfortable in their own skin. I believe that the superficial world we live in dictates that our wardrobe choices make a huge impact on how we are perceived... rightly or wrongly it's a fact. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to present your true fabulous self.  I strive to bring a newfound confidence to those I style and make everyone feel worthy and accepted. I trained and qualified as a fashion stylist so I’ve got the certificates to prove I know what I’m talking about but I also have the experience of encouraging women on a daily basis when they walk through the doors of What Sarah did...

How do you stay updated with current trends?

For me there’s an element of following trends but my priority is keeping in touch with our WSd customer. My mantra has always been ‘It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it’. This belief doesn’t correlate with fast throwaway fashion where you buy a top for Friday night…and Friday night only! The advice I give and live by is to make clever investments that work for your lifestyle and that you can wear time after time. I don’t want to dress someone for one night out; I want to dress them for what’s going on in their world right now. Trends are there to work with, not live by. I buy each season to complement my ladies and to keep the store current but wearable. WSd aims to bring information, style and trends to you, taking the hard bit out of shopping while injecting fun!

What sets WSd apart from other fashion retailers?

We are totally honest with our customers and its honesty that customers return to first and foremost. It’s a harsh reality but too often we’re upsold lies for commission and fashion is falsely sold to us to get numbers in the till.  Wsd is built on foundations of honesty- more often its not about what something costs, its about how it works for you and if its worthy of being in your wardrobe. As women we face so many adversities and our wardrobe should not hinder us from growing. Confidence is not an arrogance it's a super power that we all have the right to own and yes once you *feel* amazing, you can do anything you choose. I’ve also trained my team about body shape, flattering cuts and colours and as stylists we’ll not only take all of this into account for every customer who seeks our advice, but we’ll also try to get an understanding of their lifestyle and interests so whatever we recommend is guaranteed to work for them. We get to know our customers and have running conversations with them- you can often hear us saying ‘That will go really well with that skirt you’ve got” or  “those shoes you bought last season will really work with that”. We can offer multiple outfit suggestions for each piece of WSd you buy, thus making it wardrobe worthy.

What services do you offer as a fashion stylist?

I offer VIP evenings in store, which is a great way to get the girls together as well as getting a professional fashion stylist to yourselves for a few hours. Play dress up, sip on fizz and shop ‘till you drop! You and up to 6 friends will have WSd HQ to yourselves with just myself on hand for advice, so the setting will be a tranquil hub in which you can discover your wardrobe needs.

I can also come to you- a wardrobe edit is a relaxed way to re address your wardrobe to make it work for you and you alone. It's fab, easy and not just about getting rid of what's there, it's about re discovery, ensuring you wear everything you have in your wardrobe and making it work for you on a day-to-day basis. 

We all have an unbalanced wardrobe, too many of this, nothing to go with that... During the edit, we discuss your body shape, any changes to your world that could affect your wardrobe, lifestyle and current wardrobe needs to figure out exactly what is needed in these areas... 

It's a beautiful fact that we all have too many evening/going out outfits sat there like the ugly sister waiting to be taken from the depths of the wardrobe, whereas we have over worked work wear like Cinderella by day. So it's a case of looking at day to day versus nights on the tiles and making each outfit work in several different ways to ensure its worthiness in your wardrobe. 

It's a cool and therapeutic exercise to re work existing staple pieces that can perform year after year. My guidance just puts the confidence back into you and therefore your wardrobe and adding a few key pieces per season keeps it all current but still wearable. Reinventing pieces does this too and I give ideas on how to do so.  With a fresh set of eyes you’ll be surprised what you actually have hiding in there that’s wearable and on trend... 

We discard anything that doesn't fit, is worn out, faded or you have multiples of. Be it to be offered to a friend, charity or re worked into something fresh, it's not a landfill moment it's an efficient way to wear all your purchases. Ultimately with my professional styling advice, we’ll use what's there and works for your body shape, lifestyle and needs. It’s so therapeutic…I bloody love my job!

Once I’ve styled my customers (angels as I like to call them) on a 1-2-1 basis, they have me on hand to assist in the future. Prices are upon application and we can accommodate birthday parties at WSd HQ too! I’m also happy to research that special something that an angel may need for an upcoming event.

What can we expect from WSd in the future?

There’s loads to come! We’ve got some really cool projects in the pipeline that we’re so excited to share soon. I’ve been working on exciting styling developments too. Everything I’ve mentioned today is just the tip of the styling iceberg but gives an insight into the WSd ingredients needed to create the lifestyle cake (and yes we’re excited that Bake Off started this week!). There’s lots more on the horizon so watch this space and subscribe to the blog if you want to know more…

Rachel x

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Fresh Danish

If you’re a regular reader of the WSd blog then Becksöndergaard needs little introduction. We simple adore this Danish brand and the zeal with which we blog about their super luxe accessories proves our unwavering desire.  Well we’re still following our hearts…. here’s a peek of the new season drop of deliciousness now in store…

Inspired by the New Yorker lifestyle, the Cascade (£145) tote combines plush suede and leather. It’s easy to see why the city that offers a crash course in life is the inspiration behind this beauty, when through its construction BSG offers a definitive lesson in how to do the tote. If this bag epitomises the big apple then Becksöndergaard has just whole-heartedly convinced us to book a ticket, our hand luggage is sorted after all…

The delectable combination of soft ‘rabbit’ coloured suede and rich black leather continues with the Cassie bag (£169). This treasure is the perfect size for when you’ve got a fabulous Friday night planned with the girls but have to get through work first without drawing too much attention to your fizz bottle clashing against your perfume. Ok so it will serve many more purposes than this but seriously its perfect for work and play.

Bring joy and colour to a rainy day with the Petunia umbrella (£26).

Remember the mustard masterpiece that sat perfectly poised in the WSd shrine? Well if the Adrienne pulled at your heartstrings then brace yourself for her equally as hot sibling in the sumptuous shade ‘ashes of roses’ (£109). Decorated with cuts on the front, a chain/leather strap and a decadent tassel, this stylish everyday bag is simplicity at its finest.

Famed for their sensational scarves, Becksöndergaard hasn’t lost its touch when it comes to blending wool and cashmere. The Aurora (£65) combines a palette of dusky autumnal shades and will instantly update last year’s trench coat for the cooler months ahead.

Small in size but dramatic in style, the Juniper box clutch (£32) has been crafted entirely from paper straw.  This beauty will add a new dimension to your much loved LBD and is roomy enough for your evening essentials.

The heels and sock trend is still going strong and whether you think it’s a fashion faux pas or utter genius, you’ll love these Becksöndergaard glittertastic numbers (£7). If you choose to channel the 70’s retro trend then these socks will add colour and texture to your elevated (and cosy) look. Skeptical? Dip your toes into the trend and pair with ankle boots to reveal a tantalising hint of fun glitter edging.  

If you’re looking for a beautiful storage solution for your make-up or cosmetics then look no further than the Petunia wash bag (£26). Not just for trips away, this beautiful piece deserves a bathroom shelf of its own.

Becksöndergaard exudes style and quality in every stitch and each piece is truly a wonder of design. We’re pretty sure you’ll dream about these beauties tonight so pop in store to take a closer look. 

With any Becksöndergaard purchase this weekend What Sarah did is offering double loyalty points to add sugar to the sweetest things in life!

Rachel x

Friday, 12 August 2016

Double Duty

Let’s not beat around the bush, retail can be a little confusing at this time of year…in one breath you could be contemplating a bikini and in the other a fur lined parka.  Confusing huh? Well, fear not because the new season drop at WSd gracefully transitions summer into autumn and means you can wear forward seasons now. This week’s case in point is the oh so fabulous MINKPINK…

The Now or Never dress (£50) is a fresh take on the suede trend with its vibrant red tones. Effortless yet glamorous, this beauty will take you through the balmy late summer months into the inevitable chill of fall. Satisfy your lust for feminine yet sexy and rock this staple now with bare legs and accessorize with the Bell & Fox cross body wristlet (£95) and the Moda in Pelle Larez shoes (was £69, now £55). Despite what its name may suggest this shift dress isn’t a now or never piece…when the temperature wavers pair with opaques and a roll neck. Simple.

Boho chic is typically associated with the summer months…think ethereal fabrics, celestial silhouettes and floral prints. Well the Mildly Obsessed blouse (£48) from MINKPINK proves that the land of Bohemia knows how to handle the seasons. A classic monochrome palette ticks the box for seamless transition while lightweight fabric makes this perfect to wear solo now or use as a base under a suede or fur gilet in a few months time. Showcase this pronto with cut off denim shorts and the Sol Sana Tobi Heel (now £70) then effortlessly ease into autumn with a pair of Vero Moda skinnies (£35) and Hudson Mirla boot (£150).

Transitioning your wardrobe from season to season is often thought of as a masterful fashion feat but Sarah proves its achievability by pairing the Vero Moda Poet frill cold shoulder top (£20) with the MINKPINK cord A-line skirt (£48).

Dungarees have been much lusted over this season and the MINKPINK Bibbed Skirt (£48) is a nod to the trend but with a fresh and updated vibe.The toughened up corduroy texture keeps this piece in line with autumn while the camel tones and split skirt detailing keep it current. Team with this season’s must have Bardot top and make the most of the shimmer of the sun on your shoulders. When the wind bites build up layers, starting with the MINKPINK Henley Rob bodysuit (£38).

So a heat wave is predicted for the weekend, yet what will next week bring?! Britain is a bit of a commitment phobe when it comes to the weather so there’s no right or wrong time to pick up a knit. The MINKPINK Smoke on the Water jumper (£58) will be your season-to-season staple, while the tassel trim keeps things fun and fresh for the rest of the summer.

Who knows what the seasons will bring but at WSd HQ we‘re forecasting spells of sunny pieces with scattered autumnal staples!

Rachel x

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Scotch & Soda

It’s little wonder that the Scotch & Soda collection is so beautiful when each design starts life at ‘Number 22’-their ‘canal-side design studio in a former church in the heart of Amsterdam’. The inspirations found in the picturesque Dutch metropolis have been translated into a dreamy capsule bringing the charming city to WSd HQ…

Classic stripes lend an effortless touch to any look and this long sleeve t-shirt (£60) will be your wardrobe hero. The traditional colour combination in the Scotch & Soda staple will never look out of place. Pair with skinny leather trousers or a metallic pleated skirt- these stripes are failsafe!

Chambray is the fabric of a laid-back summer and this long line shirt (£90) will be your go-to for day and night. Style a la Sarah and channel androgynous vibes with tailored shorts and the Hudson Magee brogues (£125). Exude an air of “undone chic” by rolling up the sleeves on the boyfriend shirt and teaming with the Bell & Fox Cross body wristlet (£95) and the Sol Sana Mavin Heel (was £125, now £70).

The star sweat (£90) is the definition of dreamy, with its adornments of navy interstellar and a cloud like soft inner. For your weekend sartorial uniform, team with the Veja Esplar Trainer (£82) and Vero Moda denim skinnies (£35).

The Peplum dress (£110) offers effortless style with a smart little tailoring detail in the form of the super chic ruffle. Pair with the Hudson Emmett Boot (Now £75) for uber cool city vibes or team with the Moda in Pelle Maedon (now £55) block heel for sunset glam.

Be the envy of the office with the dotty blouse (£60)- perfect with sharp tailored trousers, the Moda in Pelle Edvige slipper leather loafer (£75) and the Rains mini backpack (£65).  Take the look from desk to bar and add in a super cool handmade metallic leather cuff (wide £15 slim £12) and swap your rucksack for the Bell & Fox lavender grey clutch.

There’s a lot more of this fab brand to come and as the season unfolds it becomes more decadent! In the words of Sarah Scotch & Soda is the definition of ‘premium quality beautifulness’ and we can’t wait to watch you gorgeous ladies enjoy it.

Rachel x