Observing and capturing a day of styling and fashion
Rebecca, the lucky winner of the Quedam's #StyleMe competition is with their dedicated stylist, Emmeline, when I find her. They are knee deep in fabulous clothes in the River Island dressing room, and it's not even 11am yet! The smile on Becs' face is completely contagious, and when I ask her how she feels about winning the competition, she tells me that she is over the moon.
"Shopping is my favourite hobby!" she tells me. Other than spending time with her family and friends, it's the one thing she enjoys most of all. A mum of two, Becs has a daughter of 8 and a son of 6 years old. She works as an Events Manager in Bristol and acknowledges that she doesn't often find the time to indulge.
"Time is precious" she says. And to top it all, Becs admits to having sleepless nights over the guilt when she does buy clothes – feeling that she shouldn't be spending money on herself.
"Having a personal stylist has been my dream since I was a teenager!" she enthuses. She tells me she can often be found online at home looking at Pinterest and other sites that focus on fashion.
"It's my guilty pleasure." she tells me. According to Becs, her husband doesn't 'get' clothes so she frequently disappears to check out the latest trends in secret, and when her kids find her the response is usually "Mummy, why are you looking at clothes again?".
So. A real fashion fan has won the competition. Perfect! Winning for Becs means she can indulge in her favourite pastime with no guilt whatsoever. In fact, she likens winning the prize to being able to "eat a huge Christmas dinner with no calories!"
Emmeline, the Quedam's stylist, is delighted to be working with Becs for the day. She tells me that their winner is bubbly and excited – and that much is easy to see! Emmeline's job today is to guide and encourage Becs in her choices. She tells me that Becs already has a good eye. She chooses well and the places she wants to visit in the centre are spot on.
"There are just a few pieces of the puzzle missing." says Emmeline.
Becs, who recently turned 40, tells me she thinks it's easy to get stuck at her age. With kids who are no longer babies, and being back at work, she wants to stay trendy but needs to be able to pull something straight out of the wardrobe to wear in the mornings, without having to think about whether or not it'll work – or suit her. She wanted to achieve a smart casual look that she could take from day to evening.
While all this excitement is going on, Brigitte – another fabulous stylist we are lucky to have for the day – is pre-selecting outfits for the Yeovil Town and Yeovil Ladies players who will be joining us a little later. She has seen photographs of the two footballers, and received their sizes, but she tells me how tricky it is to select clothes for someone when you haven't actually met them. It's a great deal about knowing their personality and specific wants and needs, she explains.
"They're both athletes so they should be easy to dress." she says. When I suggest to her that athletes or not, everyone has a part of their body they want to hide, she agrees.
"So part of your job would be to help someone hide the parts of their body they don't like, and help them accentuate the positives?" I ask her.
"Yes" agrees Brigitte. "Somebody will always have a positive feature that you can draw upon." Brigitte adds that she is "definitely a winter fashion person", so all in all, the timing of this competition is ideal!
Kieffer arrives next. He's 22, very tall (6'6") and plays professionally for Yeovil Town FC. He's into clothes and enjoys shopping but has never done anything quite like today before. When I ask him who usually chooses his clothes, he says that he chooses his own, but that his girlfriend, who is a model and therefore knows a little something, often has a say when she is with him.
Sarah, a Yeovil Ladies FC player arrives while the team is taking a much-needed lunch break. She is 22 and petite – a complete contrast to Kieffer. She admits to not being particularly great with fashion – although her dad who has come with her, disagrees!
"I can pick something for a night out" she says, adding that as she is a football player and part time coach, she spends her working life in sportswear. She, like Keiffer, is looking forward to a brand new experience being styled by the talented Brigitte.
I follow the team all day, taking some fun and funky Instagram photographs and leaving the harder job of the fashion shots to professional photographer, Deb. Chatting to the three lucky 'stylees' it's easy to ascertain that they are all relaxing more and more as the day progresses, and having a wonderful time.
"I couldn't tell you which has been the best part of today!" says Becs, when I ask her as we set up for the final shoot. She proclaims she's been "thoroughly spoilt" and has been made completely comfortable and at ease. She's tried things she never would have thought to try, many of which will apparently be going on her Christmas list!
"I've got work, going out and weekend wear today!" she enthuses – and announces that she's had a wonderful day.
Becs, Sarah and Kieffer all get to keep the clothes they have chosen – not to mention the expert advice they've received from Emmeline and Brigitte. And to top it all, they'll have some amazing photographs to remind them of their day.
When I ask each and every person in the team how they have felt about the #StyleMe day, there is no need to quote them all individually. Without exception, they all agree it was a fantastic day and they've enjoyed every moment. That goes for me, too!