When I was a child, I used to get a very specific aching in my knees every time we passed a women’s fashion store. My Mum, it always seemed, could shop for clothes until the cows came home, or at least until one or both of my legs had lost all feeling. I’d stand there, shifting my weight from one side to the other as my little sister wreaked havoc in the window displays and my Mum picked up each and every garment from the rails, feeling the fabric and inspecting the seams. I think that her very thorough, leave-no-stone-unturned approach to clothes shopping very much led to my own completely opposite method: scan the rails as quickly as possible and – a bit like The Terminator – identify one or two “targets”. Snatch them up, make sure they don’t feel as though they’re made out of something that would potentially be a fire hazard and then try them on, preferably over as many of my own clothes as is feasible to minimise changing room time.
So when Karen Millen invited me to a styling session with my Mum at their Knightsbridge flagship store it was with great relief that I discovered there would not only be a special – private – dressing suite (no more standing about with what we Crilly siblings used to call “death legs”) but also a personal stylist to help advise on styles and to magically call up to the room any of the things we wanted to try on. Karen Millen are offering Mothers’ Day mother-and-daughter styling sessions in participating stores (see below) all day on the 5th and 6th of March 2016 and we were test-driving the experience, complete with brilliant manicures by London-based nail specialists Le Salon.
I was particularly excited about our styling session because I’ve been wearing the same “new mum uniform” for months now – skinny jeans with something relatively baggy over the top to hide my (admittedly now-shrinking) tum and remaining bits of love handle roll. I needed a big shove to get me out of my comfort zone and so wanted to turn up without any preconceptions or knowledge of what I might find. Mum, on the other hand (ever well-prepared!) spent days and days poring over the Karen Millen website and investigating every single item from the new Spring Summer collection. “Have you seen the beautiful lime green coat?” she said, “the striped dress? The orange trench?”
And so we found ourselves in the Knightsbridge store, one of us (me) completely without expectation, the other (Mum) knowing with almost military precision what she wanted to try on; and the remaining member of the party, Baby AMR, tagging along for fun because Mr AMR had flu.
Mum homed in immediately upon a gorgeous navy crepe jumpsuit (she insists on calling it a “catsuit”) and loved it. Job done, thanks to Mum’s prior intensive research sessions! God bless you, internet. God bless you. If only you had been around all of those decades ago, I might now be able to cross the threshold of a clothes shop without experiencing vivid, tortuous flashbacks.
Mum also tried on the “lime green coat” which was actually a soft, unstructured duster jacket and looked fabulous. I have a feeling she might be returning for that one, but first she has to look through her wardrobe at home and imagine the coat with each and every one of her existing items before she can make a decision. “It has to be an investment piece when you’re older,” she said, “you want to be able to keep it and add to it.”
Mum loved the Karen Millen flagship store because they displayed the clothes in exactly the way she finds useful, with different combinations styled to show how things could fit into your existing wardrobe. And everything passed her quality control test; “as you get older the quality and cut of your clothing needs to be perfect – it needs to look expensive, and only a good cut can be truly flattering.”
I had absolutely no idea what to try on at all, but this was where the styling session really came into its own. Tempted to just plump for denim and jersey, which is what I always plump for, our wonderful stylist walked me around the new collection and suggested things I might like. When she pointed out a buttery soft, caramel-coloured faux leather skirt I was sceptical – I never wear leathery clothing apart from jackets – but I thought I’d give it a whirl. Our stylist picked a pale blouse to go with it – again, a style I’d never in a million years choose on my own – and some camel court shoes. Miles away from my current style, but look….
Instant love! The blouse is so flattering on my larger-than-usual chest and the skirt is really ladylike and glamorous. It nipped me in at the waist but skimmed the curves rather than being skin-tight – soft and unstructured but with just the right amount of shape. I can see loads of my knitwear and my extensive collection of shirts going nicely with it and the blouse will also look great with jeans.
I tried on a lovely striped coat, too, but – one step at a time with the new wardrobe! I could imagine it getting completely covered in baby food within about ten minutes. Laundering a blouse is one thing, having to take a coat to the dry cleaners twice a week is another!
What I did indulge in, though, were the skirt and blouse – I couldn’t get to the tills fast enough! Karen Millen very kindly gifted me a wonderful black and white stretch-knit midi dress, but I want to take some proper pictures of that so I’ll do a separate post. It’s very chic, “French Riviera” and will be perfect for easy summer dressing.
You can book your mother-and-daughter styling session by using the online appointment form here. Sessions are available at the Glasgow store, at London’s Covent Garden, Knightsbridge and Westfield White City stores and then at the Manchester Intu Trafford Centre. Manicures by Le Salon will be available at the London stores from 11-4pm on the 5th March and then 12-4pm on the 6th. If you spend over £200 you’ll also receive a Karen Millen zipped pouch and canvas bag.
And whether you’re taking part in a mothers’ day styling session or not, there’s a brilliant competition running: a luxurious overnight stay at the majestic Café Royal hotel (I’ve been inside, it’s fabulous) with spa access and cocktails on arrival and a £500 gift card to spend at Karen Millen. No spend necessary – just enter the competition here, it’s running until the 7th March 2016.
*this post has been sponsored by Karen Millen. We were also treated to the most wonderful Afternoon Tea at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, I’ve written about that in Sunday’s Tittle Tattle!