This is a sponsored post in partnership with John Lewis and Partners
So I’m guessing most of you will be aware by now that there’s a new kid in town. Whether shopping for kitchen utensils is your thing or you’re a techno queen, there can’t be many people in Gloucestershire who weren’t excited to hear that John Lewis and Partners was opening on Cheltenham’s high street.
I was excited to visit the store a few days before opening and see firsthand just what a lot of work has gone into creating amazing retail space with, of note, a discovery room for the local community to use for events.
When the big day came it was pretty clear from social media that there was a hell of a buzz and now that the dust has settled, us locals are getting the opportunity to really explore all that the store has to offer and I was beyond grateful to be invited to experience a personal styling consultation with one of nine in house stylists serving men and women who prebook a completely free of charge appointment (no commission either) and make full use of the shiny new style suites. I knew it would be a fun afternoon but the reality (I’m writing this fresh – same day while I’m still buzzing) has kind of blown my mind.
My stylist was Carrie. I’ve not met any of the other stylists so I don’t know if they’re all authentic, kind, warm and non judgemental or if I just lucked out, but she was my kind of gal. Beautiful and stylish in a unique and edgy way but without a sniff of pretence or condescension.
A couple of days before my two hour appointment Carrie had dropped me a line to get my dress and shoe sizes and to ask me if I had any particular requests or likes and dislikes. I’ve been coveting a really lovely leather jacket for a long time but being of average height and far from waif like I was worried that it would look a little boxy. I challenged Carrie with helping me find one I loved and showing me how to make the most of it. I explained that I had had my colours done before and knew what I was supposed to wear but actually even though I should be wearing navy, I just love black. I explained how over the years I have become really drawn to my brand colours too.
When I entered the styling room I was immediately blown away by a rail and display with the clothes of my dreams (recognise the colours?) beautifully placed together to showcase how they could all compliment one another. It was like she was inside my mind! A cup of tea was swiftly summoned to calm my excitement and we sat down to chat about how the styling team operate.
So appointments are for men and women and can be booked online and I remind you that they are free and there is no expectation that you will buy. As per my appointment you’ll get a call a couple of days before so if you’re looking for a wedding outfit some inspiration will be waiting for you, work clothes – same, if you’ve lost or gained weight the stylist will pick out items to compliment your new figure. Remember that they know the store stock inside out so can save hours placing their hands on just the thing which means you don’t succumb to that feeling of overwhelm.
We discussed fast fashion too and I’m pleased to report that they are all over this. By working with stylists you’re less likely to buy items that you wear for 8-12 weeks and more likely to buy statement pieces that have been made to last and will provide you with a timeless wardrobe. They also work hard to work with brands who are committed to using less water and use only the better cotton initiative. If you’re vegan or have any other ethical needs for them to consider when picking out items for you – you only need to shout.
Carrie then talked me through the pre picks as she called them. She’d mainly chosen pieces from John Lewis and Partners’ own range as well as other brands that fall under their umbrella ‘And Or’ – a range of jeans and pieces that sit perfectly alongside them, ‘Modern Rarity’- their premium range featuring luxury fabrics and ‘Kin’ a modern collection inspired by Japanese prints and structure. Carrie has a career history in art and design and this really came across in her eye particularly for texture – she’d chosen some stunning pieces of knitwear including the cashmere range from the core John Lewis and Partners range which she pointed out is great value and comes in a range of brilliant colours.
So we started with the leather jacket and dress combo. Two great jacket options but I fell in love with the And Or. I really wasn’t sure whether I could pull off the long, whimsical dress with jacket look but Carrie proved that I can (though I actually preferred teaming it with this amazing mid length chiffon skirt and a separate top). Being curvy I just felt more definition at the waist worked better for me and Carrie loved that I loved this look!
Carrie had also picked out some waxed cotton jeans which I would never have pulled off the hanger. I told her as much but was more than happy to give them a try and was totally blown away by how flattering they were (and wipe clean guys!). Gloriously high waisted and so comfy! This red coat was also dreamy and I may need to go back for it.
I tried on loads and Carrie gently nudged me in a the direction of a few more uncharted territories and challenged a lot of my negative self beliefs about my body which I was really grateful for – can you tell we hit it off?
Sadly the two hours came to an end but I left the style suite with a few key pieces that I know will last me a very long time and the confidence and knowledge that will maybe just help me up my game in the style stakes.
While Carrie bagged up my new pieces I enjoyed a Shellac manicure at the Nails & London concession on the beauty floor. Again another gorgeous member of staff, Evie, looked after me really well and the smell of the hand cream they used lingered all day leaving me feeling relaxed and like the luckiest girl in the world.
John Lewis and Partners have brought more than another department store to Cheltenham. They’ve brought the opportunity to discover, learn, experience and spend quality time with those you love. Though it was a real treat spending time just focusing on myself, I would be equally as happy to go along with a great friend or my mum and just have fun. As I said the styling is totally free and there is no expectation that you would buy from the store (though you’d be much stronger willed than I am if you managed to walk away treat free!)
Big thanks to Carrie, Evie and the John Lewis and Partners team for making me feel so welcome.