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Nicky’s style masterclass

Nicky has an unbeatable knack for unlocking the inner style queen that exists in all of us. Here are her fail-safe fashion tips…

What are the first things you go through with a new client?
Meeting new clients is always very exciting because no two people are the same. At the start of a consultation, I go through a checklist of questions about the client’s body issues, gaps in her wardrobe, her likes and dislikes. It helps me build up a profile of the person and understand their lifestyle.

The next stage is to actually go through the client’s wardrobe, get her to try on the clothes and talk through how she feels about them.

I usually make a note of what she likes, what she never wears and what she thinks looks odd on her even though the items looked great in the shops. Nine times out of 10, I can show the client how to wear the clothes correctly and I try and suggest teaming it with items she might not have thought about.

Many people I meet often have a set of clothes they wear for work, a set for hanging out at home with the kids. My role is to teach clients to co-ordinate and match items from all their sets of clothes.

People understand clothes visually – it’s harder to grasp in words or verbal instructions.

And by having clients try on their clothes in front of me, it gives them the confidence to update their wardrobe without being a victim to fashion. I simply show them how ‘can’t wear’ can be turned into ‘can wear’.

What do you think is most important in fashion?
I think it’s confidence and style – that’s what makes you feel good about what you’re wearing. I don’t really buy into the idea of being ‘comfortable’ in your outfit. The concept of comfort is usually baggy, and that’s not really making the most of yourself. Then you have the other extreme which is ‘glamour’ but my fashion ideal is probably somewhere in between comfort and glamour.

What should you focus more on: the outfit or the accessories?
I believe it’s the accessories. You could wear a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with trainers and a fleece and look okay or you can wear the same outfit with heels, a bangle and a gorgeous bag slung over your shoulders and look amazing. Accessories allow you to dress up your whole outfit rather than worrying about having many fashionable individual pieces. What’s more, you can add a bit of colour which is always a bonus.

What’s your best styling trick?
Make sure that whatever you wear, it nips in at your waist. If you can accentuate this area, you’ll immediately look taller and slimmer – and you’ll feel sexier, too.

What’s the biggest fashion or style mistake the majority of your clients make?
People wear clothes that are just too big for them. I see that over and over again. I’m not suggesting everyone wears tight clothes. I think we should all wear things that give us shape. When clothes are too big (or too small), your shape is distorted.

How should we wear jeans?
This season sees the return of the lighter wash in a wide leg and high waist style. But these type of jeans only look good on the very slim and the very young. For a classic fail-safe pair of jeans – go for hipster but not low rise, a straight leg and choose Indigo or dark jeans. Simplicity is key.

How can each of us create an individual look?
It’s about wearing what you like and connecting interesting pieces that perhaps you’ve brought from your travels which all scream ‘you.’
I remember when Sienna Miller picked up a big belt from Morocco and wore it everywhere – suddenly it became a fashion item. And all she’d done was seen something unique and buy it. Creating an individual look is about staying away from the usual styles and browsing boutiques/one-off shops. A few extraordinary items keeps your wardrobe original.

What advice would you have for someone who arrives at a party wearing the same outfit as you?
It actually happened to me. Years ago, I went to a wedding and another guest had the exact same dress on. But the great thing was that we wore them very differently. Mine had been tailored to fit me and hers hadn’t plus she wore something underneath and over it so no one really noticed. There’s not a lot you can do when it happens but to avoid it in the future, why not buy the statement piece you love and wear it six months or so later. If it’s a really great item, it will always be fashionable – and you don’t lose out on wearing something you like.

Do your clients all have body hang-ups?
Very few women don’t have a body hang-up. There is always a flaw. But that doesn’t matter because no one is perfect. What matters is making the most of what we have.

What current trends for 2008 do you think will last?
Nautical, florals, corals and the safari look are all back again. So they’ll last for a long time to come. Prints are also never out of fashion.
I tend not to focus on typical trends as such but instead, I’ll invest in a durable classic that will last for years to come. I am glad that the smocks are gone though. It’s hard for any normal person to pull off that look!

Is there a look this season you wouldn’t go near?
The great news about this season is that everything is very wearable. There are some fun accessories around too so there’s something for all of us.

How big is your own wardrobe?
I have a number of fitted wardrobes – just one would be a challenge! But since I have to wear so much on television (10 outfits an episode is average) I probably have more than most people. My wardrobes are very organised though – and I wear all my stuff to death, and eventually I recycle them all.

What is your favourite look of the moment – on yourself?
I’d have to say it’s the ‘prim and proper’ look. I find a pencil skirt with a crisp shirt suits my body shape and shows off my waist.

Where do you shop for your clothes?
The UK high street is brilliant. Shops like Zara, Mango etc have such a high turnover of clothes, something always catches my eye.
I mix things up with some designer gear too – especially quality items like gorgeous handbags. They can really finish off an outfit.

Which city in the world has the most fashionable women?
For high fashion, London is hard to beat. It’s edgy and people really do make an effort.
For the chic and stylish look, Italy or France probably lead the way. New York is always a front runner and places like Beunos Aires are also up and coming. The world really is your fashion oyster.

photos Nicky Johnston

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