I don’t know about you, but my sense of style has certainly changed since becoming a mum. As much as I’d love to have a wardrobe full of the latest fashions, these days I’m more likely to hurriedly pick up my clothing on the weekly grocery shop than spend the day browsing clothes with friends like I used to do back in the day. I often opt for clothes that are practical, rather than pretty; outfits that won’t show the dirt if my baby decides he wants to cuddle me mid-way through eating pasta and tomato sauce; clothes that I don’t mind sitting down on the floor in at my local toddler group; coats that will withstand the elements on the school run. And even though I swore it wouldn’t happen, I’m more likely to be found in flats than heels, as regular readers of my blog will know. Considering I spent many years writing about fashion for a living, it’s rather embarrassing!
I’ve also spent much of the last six and a half years either pregnant or breastfeeding, so my body shape has been all over the place, which has made buying clothes difficult. However, now that Little Man I, my third child, is almost 18 months old, I’m coming out the other side and am determined to rescue my wardrobe with clothes that are practical as well as stylish.
So, when Gap in St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff invited me along to the launch evening of their new personal stylist service, I couldn’t wait to put them to the test.
My stylist, Lucy, was a warm and friendly fashion promotion graduate who has worked in the store for three years. Despite being at a completely different life stage to me, she understood my desire to combine fashion with motherhood. My challenge to her was to find a selection of outfits I could do the school run in that would make me look stylish but not over-the-top or as if I’d tried too hard, and certainly no clothes that would prevent me from playing with my children.
Knowing the clothing so well, Lucy easily pulled together several outfits. I loved that she pushed me out of my comfort zone, suggesting pieces to try on that I might not have picked up myself, or putting them together in ways I’d not considered. I was also grateful for her honesty, and if something didn’t suit me, she told me straight away.
I absolutely love this first outfit. It’s a simple striped jersey dress, £29.95, worn with a brown braided leather belt, £22.95 and a denim jacket, £54.95. The dress is so versatile as it’s perfect in warmer weather with bare legs or nude tights, but would look equally great with opaque black tights as the weather gets colder. I already own a denim jacket but I bought the dress and the belt.
The star of my second outfit is this striped tunic top, £19.95. I must admit, this didn’t look like much on the hanger, but I tried it on and loved it! It has an amazing flow to it that is so flattering. I bought it and have been wearing it all day today and the material is incredibly crease-resistant and has kept its shape. Lucy teamed it with a pair of skinny black jeans, £49.95. These are part of Gap’s Resolution range, which promises to snap back into shape after you’ve worn it due to the stretchiness of the fabric. I’ve always been put off buying Gap jeans because they don’t do a 28″ leg length for shorties like me. However, the store now offers a hemming service where they will tailor the jeans to fit within an hour, at no charge. What a brilliant idea!
I had worried that the clothing would be too casual. Gap is well known for its jeans and logo hoodies and t-shirts, so I wasn’t sure if I would find such sleek looks. I’m glad that Gap proved me wrong!
The one downside for me was that Gap’s sizing is a little odd. Their sizes – which are XS, S, M L etc – are quite generous for a start so while in theory, I should have been one size, I actually needed to go a size lower. There also seemed to be a bit of inconsistency between items in the same size too; some fitted perfectly, others not. But the great thing about having your own stylist is that they can go and find you exactly what you need, while you wait in the changing room.
The personal stylist service is free at Gap. It’s best to phone the store to book, or you could just turn up and chance the stylists being available. Allow at least an hour for your consultation. It’s also worth signing up to the email service on Gap’s website as they regularly send out discount offers to use in store.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the Gap Cardiff personal stylist launch and given a VIP discount on the clothes that I bought.