Dress to impress

STUCK in a style rut? Help is at hand thanks to a new team of fashion experts who can transform anyone's look.

L-r: Lauren Hedley, Jennifer Smith, Belinda Alexander, Michaela Dale, Gail Little and Hollie Wiles

IF YOU’RE unsure about what you should be wearing this season and don’t want to turn heads for the wrong reason then a new team of savvy style advisors could be just what you need.

The Metrocentre has appointed five experts, headed by personal shoppers Gail Little and Belinda Alexander, to guide you every step of the way.

The group varies in age, personality and style – enabling shoppers to select an advisor who they feel best reflects their own sense of style.

Gail and Belinda have been the Metrocentre’s personal shoppers for four years.

Their service proved so popular that Metrocentre bosses decided to expand it.

The Style Team’s five new arrivals will work across the week to fulfil your every fashion need.

This service is not just exclusive to women though – many of the team help define the dress sense of their boyfriends, husbands and dads so their expertise runs across the board.

Here, the style advisors explain how they can help you transform your image.

The Journal has teamed up with the Metrocentre to offer readers the chance to win a two-hour style session with one of the team and shopping vouchers to spend on a new look.

Gail and Belinda will continue to offer their styling services at the Metrocentre on Fridays, with the rest of the team covering the other days.

For only £15 per one-hour consultation, it’s easy and affordable to take advantage of the Style Team’s expertise. The experience includes being taken for a coffee by an adviser so they can find out more about a client before starting the shopping trip.

You can also enjoy a two-hour consultation for only £30.

To book a session, call 07826 263 741.

Page 2: The fashion experts

The fashion experts

Lauren Hedley

LAUREN is in her second year at Newcastle University studying marketing. She has been interested in fashion for as long as she can remember and has enjoyed dressing her family and friends for years.

The fashionista has recently discovered styling to be a true passion. “Power dressing” is a favourite, and Lauren feels that she can instill confidence in those slightly lacking with a single outfit. She knows what looks good and what really doesn’t.

“I’m known for my collection of blazers and killer heels – two staples that define my style from season to season,” says Lauren.

“I’m always drawn to the more edgy fashion trends, such as the classic ‘rock chick’ look, which never seems to go out of style.

“The most stylish celebrity at the moment has to be Victoria Beckham. I also love Diane Kruger’s effortless glamour and cool.”

Lauren’s favourite designers are Valentino & Balmain, and favourite stores are Topshop, House of Fraser, French Connection, Zara and Lipsy.

Lauren’s style tips: “Men, don’t panic this season. Have a quick flick through your partner’s style magazines for inspiration.

“Or if you can’t get hold of Gok’s number, visit us at the Style Team and let us take on the challenge.”

Catherine Burns

CATHERINE is a fashion enthusiast, influenced at an early age by her dressmaker mother and going on to study fashion at college and university. She initially worked in retail textiles and after a career break to have children rekindled her passion for fashion, setting up as a self-employed designer/dressmaker/

A mum of two, Catherine describes her style as classic with a twist.

She says: "I like wearing unassuming, classic pieces but adding a quirky accessory to make people look twice."

Her favourite designers are Calvin Klein and John Galliano; favourite stores are House of Fraser, Dune, Boots, Marks and Spencer and Hotel Chocolat.

"Young mums need something washable and durable. A few well-chosen pieces for daytime mixed with a few cheaper fun/bright accessories can make a young mum’s wardrobe go a long way, because, let’s face it you have not got a huge amount of time for the high-maintenance look! Keep it simple."

Hollie Wiles

HOLLIE likes to keep up to date with the ever-changing fashion trends and cultural scenes. Currently studying for a degree in fashion design, her experience working for Office, All Saints and Vivienne Westwood has given her great fashion experience.

Hollie likes to wear the latest trends and her favourite looks include body con, power shoulders, statement shoes and anything lace.

She says: "If your budget is too tight for a new dress this season just wear one you already have and bling it up with some fabulous accessories."

Jennifer Smith

JENNIFER is currently studying fashion design at Northumbria University.

Having worked in fashion retail for the past four years, she understands shoppers’ needs and can demonstrate how to create personal style.

She says: "Fashion is something that has always been of great importance to me. One day I hope to create my own designs and develop my own signature label.

"Like any other shopper I like my money right where I can see it, hanging in my closet.

"The best advice I can give to young women is to develop your own individual style. You can look fantastic without having to win the lottery. Find the stores that not only suit your budget but also suit your taste and most importantly fit."

Gail Little and Belinda Alexander

OVER the past four years Gail and Belinda have worked as Metrocentre’s Shopping Angels helping hundreds of shoppers solve their style and shopping problems. From simple solutions to complete makeovers Gail and Belinda’s team of Shopping Angels has advised men and women on what – and more importantly, what not – to wear.

They say: "The key point is listening to what our ladies need, showing them appropriate clothes for their lifestyles or special occasions and being sensitive to their budget.

"We get lots of shoppers who return to us three times a year or more. A recent client returned for advice on evening tops and cover-ups to carry her through the Christmas party season.

"We are also seeing more and more men coming to us for advice on shopping for themselves, not just their partners."

Michaela Dale

MICHAELA moved to the North East from Lancashire in 1990 after a holiday romance led to a decision that changed her life. Four daughters and 17 years of marriage later and she’s still here.

With experience in modelling and fashion retail, Michaela has also choreographed dance productions, fashion shows and pantomimes.

Now that her girls are at school, Michaela is ready for an exciting new chapter in being part of the Style Team at Metrocentre.

Describing her style, Michaela says: "Being a busy mum I feel better wearing trousers and well-cut jeans accompanied by great knitwear, and more recently, blazers."

Her favourite designers are Betty Jackson, Paul Smith, Chloe and Maxmara and she frequently visits Zara, Monsoon, French Connection, House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer.

Michaela’s style tips: "Fashion can build confidence in people and make a positive difference in their lives. I feel my strengths are most suited to helping clients who need a fresh approach to fashion.

"Although I shop with my teenage daughters, I have most success with ladies in their thirties, forties, fifties and the more mature lady as well. The first advice I give is to try new stores – there’s a lot of choice, so try something new. "Secondly, I would encourage investing in new underwear and have a professional bra-fitting service; this can have a dramatic effect on shape and confidence."


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