Girls night out

As much as I love the drama and impact of a huge fashion production sometimes you just can’t beat a more intimate setting. Whenever I do Style Workshops I like to keep an open mind and a loose format. It’s great for the natural banter and also for getting straight to the point of what women really want….you know….like the movie…

As much as I love the drama and impact of a huge fashion production sometimes you just can’t beat a more intimate setting. Whenever I do Style Workshops I like to keep an open mind and a loose format. It’s great for the natural banter and also for getting straight to the point of what women really want….you know….like the movie…

I was really looking forward to my latest mini production last Friday evening in MacDonagh Junction. It was meant to be, a thinly veiled, Christmas get together of some of the gorgeous ladies who have availed of the Personal Shopper service in the centre. The idea was mulled wine, gorgeous style, and some make-up tips to tickle our tastebuds. Again… a barely believable excuse to just be out!

The official line was to unveil my fab new apartment…I mean studio! The lovely girls and I have been upgraded from meeting at the bench outside Eason’s to a sumptuous, girlie room complete with dressing room called the “Style Studio”. It has to be one of the calmest, coolest rooms ever – honestly, it may just become the MacDonagh Junction Chat Room.

We must all have been on the same cosmic wavelength as lots of you fashionistas turned up looking very superlicious already and ready for some fun. First up was our lovely ‘Kilkenny People Makeover Winner’. Mary Synnott was gently pushed by her daughter to enter the competition and was genuinely delighted to win. So would I! The prize was a 200 euro voucher for the centre, a personal style session, hair done by Peter Mark and a make-up transformation by the make up artist Michael Browne using Smashbox from Health Express. Thanks to everyone who entered by the way, we had a great response. Look out for more competitions in the New Year.

Michael completed Mary’s new look in front of our audience with fantastic results. You know how it is – make-up application is always simplified in magazines and media and we got to see the nitty gritty of each stage of the glamorous end result. You girls weren’t shy either and we definitely picked poor Michael’s brain about everything from shaping brows to contouring. We even invited one of the girls up to learn hands on how to apply eye liner…..on our lovely winner Mary….thankfully it worked out ok…phew!

The other star of the evening had to be the style. As I pottered around the stores that morning I kept in mind the brief I had set myself of Festive Wear. It would have been too easy to just pull out anything red or sparkly, it had to have some genuine balance. Flirty party wear is obviously important and fun to do but I injected a healthy mix of Christmas Day and actually just some every day fabulousness that can be dressed up or down as the day takes you.

Another very important factor was price. Let’s get real here for a moment. I love designer clothes as inspiration but no way am I going to toe the line and splurge on one item when in reality it could buy a whole new wardrobe….I like fashion too much to make that sacrifice! So, in the back of my head, no look could be over 100 euro. This turned out to be the easy part, as most labels are coming back to earth on prices.

Our lovely model, Catherine, modelled some of the looks to dispel any negative hanger appeal. This can be a hard one to overcome. You know that feeling when you walk into a shop and nothing jumps out at you and everything is a blur? Just grab and try on – almost everything looks better with a body in it!

We looked at lots of different trends including great sequin looks from full on tops in Dunne’s to subtle sequin detailing in Josef and a fab full on black sequin dress in Sisley. Of course, we looked at festive red, which was especially good in Carraig Donn, and a gorgeous red wool coat that was on sale was a big hit. But as I said before, I wanted to open up other options too.

Lots of us have at least one great black dress and there are lots of ways to build on that without breaking the bank. I especially liked a hot pink tuxedo jacket and matching pink suede peep toes from Next that looked just as fab over a plain black dress as over dark denim. There was also great colour from A-wear as we experimented with purples and greens…and has anyone else noticed that they always have a great sale section?

I always relish the gasps when I show looks from TK Maxx. This time I focused on some monochrome black and white frocks and some silver and metallic body con dresses at brill prices. But not everyone needs a frock for Christmas. I love a great jeans and statement coat this time of year. River Island delivered with some indigo jeans and a foxy rust, fur trimmed coat that was very striking and the classic navy trousers from Mexx caused a stir….seriously….navy is so hard to find…

Catherine showed some pretty party looks from H & M. The stunning colour block retro inspired dresses from Pamela Scott were inspiring. I even ditched my classic black dress to don one of their royal blue frocks that had very flattering details. It’s nice to see classic cuts in hot colours like pink, blue and red, especially at competitive prices too. They were strongly influenced by looks from the series Pan Am.

It has to be said, finding fashion at great prices is not a problem. It’s opening up your mind and palette to some new ideas that can be challenging. That’s why I was delighted that after our session we had just as much fun pulling and poking through the rails. Collective styling you could say! Practically, I suggested that maybe they wait until the sales to book their next personal shopper sessions unless they were in a jam. The sessions are free…. Yep…. how cool is that…. Chilling in the Style Studio and hanging out in the shops for some bargain style…. some things are genuinely just good offers….refreshing, isn’t it?