If you follow me on Insta you will know that I recently attended NHJ Styling Academy run by the one & only Nicky Hambleton-Jones, renowned Stylist and TV Presenter from the UK’s leading makeover show Channel 4’s 10 Years Younger……and was asked to blog about my experience so here goes…….

So I have always been into fashion, however a career in Advertising & Media sales has been my main path over the years, until last summer when I started started posting my #outfitoftheday on Instagram & set up this blog a few months later. As of today I now have over 5,500 lovely insta followers and this has shown me that I do have a pretty good eye for this fashion malarkey and so I decided to invest in my dream and took the plunge and signed up for Nicky’s Course.

I’d done a fair bit of research on all of the other Styling Courses in London and although not the cheapest I felt that the NHJ Style Academy seemed the most comprehensive and below was a list of everything that they promised to cover over the 4 days intensive training. The course is designed for those that wish to launch themselves as a personal stylist or just redefine your own personal style, discover or develop your own style identity.

What does the Personal Stylist Course cover?

  • The foundations of style
  • Trends and how to use them
  • Women’s body shapes and how to dress them
  • How to do a bra fitting
  • Wardrobe essentials
  • How to successfully edit a wardrobe
  • Outfit planning
  • The importance of accessories
  • How to incorporate colour into a wardrobe
  • How to prepare for and manage a successful shopping day
  • How to use Instagram to raise your profile and your business
  • Certificate endorsed by Nicky Hambleton-Jones

Day One…

The most important question was what to wear??!! Arrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the pressure was massive however I thought I’d go in gently as didn’t want to blind them with my usual rather colourful get up, so went with my standard go to… Leopard & Red! 😉

The course is held in a gorgeous old Victorian building in Cavendish Square, bang in the middle of the vibrant & busy Oxford Circus shopping hub. I was super excited to meet the other 9 ladies on the course as well as Nicky & the team and plonked myself right at the front of the boardroom table like a proper keeno beano! The morning was kicked off with a brilliant ice breaker, which quickly got us in the styling mode. It was really interesting listening to the girls explain why they were here and what jobs they currently do, we had all sorts from Air Hostesses to Bankers. We were immediately put to the test and asked to style an item. I was given a red bell sleeved top, which if you know me, is exactly the sort of thing I would wear & suggested pairing either with a leopard belt & the denim skirt I was currently wearing or white jeans and red Adidas trainers to dress down for the weekend. I was from that point on banned by Nicky (who also follows me on Insta & knows my style) from using red & leopard in my future styles!! 😩

The rest of the morning was spent discussing what it takes to be a Personal Stylist, which apart from brand, product & retailer knowledge you also need buckets of passion, performance & perseverance….all of which I think I have shed loads of, so was feeling pretty confident I was in the right place!!

We then talked through our trend homework which was really informative listening to everyone’s learnings.

Here are my mood boards I put together for this session;

I had no idea that there were so many trends out there at the moment; then finally lunch, but no rest for us stylista’s. We had another task to do, for which I headed to Reserved which quite frankly has now become one of my top fav stores, however as you can see from the pics below it’s not for the faint hearted!!

The afternoon was taken up with a Body Shape Master Class where I was delighted to be informed by the fabulous Nicky that I’m not the big bottomed, out of proportion “Pear shape” that I’ve always thought I was…. and am in fact the sort after “Hour Glass” that apparently is the best shape to dress! Who knew??!!! This was an incredibly eye-opening session about one of the key factors in styling other people. If you don’t get this part right, then you can’t take advantage of the many different styling tips to dress each individual shape to flatter & compliment any lumps & bumps that they have or think they might have!!

We then all practiced styling different shapes which was more challenging then I expected it to be. This is also where I leant that I may need to improve on my delivery and learn a little more tact & decoram to work with clients moving forward!!What an incredible first day, so much to take in and we were sent home exhausted with a little bit of home work and the best selfie with Nicky to post up on my Insta!

Day Two…Day Two…

The day started at 9.45am back at Cavendish Square, where we got straight to work with a bra fitting session. This was hilarious as over 75% of us were literally wearing the wrong sized bra. My excuse is that I’ve lost 1.5 stone over the last 6 months (on Slimming World) however I was wearing a 36C and really should be a 32D…….which again I was pretty happy with😃

We were also asked to bring in some items from our wardrobe for the Wardrobe Masterclass Class. This was one of my favorite parts of the course, I brought in an orange H&M dress that I’d bought in the sale for £15 and was both not sure if suited or very sure on how to style

I was paired up with the fabulous Sheena (pictured here) it was her job to transform this rather unflattering number into something NHJStyle Academy worthy.  With a little help from Nicky & the rest of the girls on the course, Sheena really did transform this dress into a well styled, total head turning outfit which, when posted up on “The Gram” later, received over 430 likes!!

We were then split in to our pairs for our Personal Shopping day on day 3 & the rest of the day was then spent finishing off our client background forms and prepping for the big day ahead.

Finished off with more selfies with Nicky, as when you’re twinning with your Personal Stylist Teacher you have to pop that up on The Insta Grid!! 😘

Day Three…

This was the Personal Shopping Day which I was super excited about! As mentioned I was paired up with the very lovely Jules & as we’d completed our Client Background forms the previous day, I knew Jules was 36, a part-time Air Hostess with 3 kids & a size 8. Jules was looking for a couple of looks, one for the school run & another for a weekend away on a booze cruise with the girls. One of the things I wanted to do with Jules was steer her away from black & really give her a younger, more on trend look, so that everyone would know she was now a fashion force to be reckoned with and the looks we created would be so impactful they’d actually attract new styling clients, as everyone would know now she really knows her stuff!

The night before I’d done a little online research, mainly checking out her style icon Holly Willoughby on Insta and a few other fabulous ladies I follow. I also knew the looks from the key trends & seasonal must haves that I wanted to incorporate. I was keen to see Jules in either a pair or dungarees or a fabulous rainbow track suit that I’d seen in H&M which really gave a nod to the shell suits that were all over the LFW/18 catwalks.

So for Jules’ evening look, I knew I was looking for either a pencil skirt or a colourful pleated midi, however I was very keen to stay away from red, as although it’s my fav colour, I do realise I can’t just dress everyone I style to look like me!! LOL!!! 😂😂😂

So we’d already decided I’d style Jules first & that we’d meet for coffee at 9.30am so I could talk through my ideas which she was surpringly open to.

So you’d think 2 hours is a long time but oooooooohhhhhhhhhhh my goodness, this was a fabulous insight into how quickly time flies when you’re shopping for someone else! We literally flew around the HOF, I picked out a few key random items off the rails and shoved Jules into the changing room but was keen to get her out onto the high street as I already had such a vision in my head as to what & where I needed to go, however here are a few of the pieces we tried first.

Now Jules has an amazing size 8 figure, totally in proportion with a fab bust too, so like me is also an “Hour Glass”. I loved this purple pleated skirt, however felt it was a little long and although lilac is massively on trend right now, I seriously am not a fan! We also paired the skirt with this cute T-Shirt however it just wasn’t the statement piece I was looking for.

Next we tried on this super cute rainbow jumper from Oasis along with this super cool Samoe and Samoe sequinned skirt. 

Sadly they didn’t have the skirt in a small & the jumper was just too obvious but the Fabienne Chapot Lobster Shirt was just screaming out at me! Jules wasn’t a fan to begin with & needed a little persuading to try but once on, she loved it! Finally the Whistles blue flowery dress was gorgeous but we’d been advised to stay away from dresses and again I felt it was a little too safe.

So we got the hell out of there PDQ, I was very concerned that we’d wasted a good 40 mins of our precious time and rushed out along the high street. We popped into a few stores opposite as we were there, such a Pull & Bear and also Stradivarius where I was hoping to find some on trend pieces but I just wasn’t feeling it and panic was literally beginning to set in!

So we headed to my new fav shop Reserved and literally flew around looking for all the key pieces I’d seen a few days before when I’d been doing my research and again I asked Jules try on quite a few items that were well out of both of our comfort zones…..well apart from #twinning in some red tracky pants of course 😉

The Shell Suit skirt & Jacket combo was even a bit of a stretch for me, however, how hot does Jules look in these size 6 Dungarees? & just loved the pop of yellow underneath! 👌

After a quick visit to H&M we ran down to Aldo as I knew the trainers I wanted as I’d seen them a few weeks ago & literally ordered the sales assistant to grab us a size 4 in these and also an amazing lilac pair of heels we’d spotted. He literally thought we were the best customers ever!

I was really happy with the dungarees option and just had to decide on which blouse I wanted Jules to wear for the final look on Friday. I actually feel if this was a real-life styling situation all of these pieces would have been incredibly versatile, trainers for the school run with the lilac blouse …….and then swap the trainers for the lilac heels, pop in the earnings and Jules was ready for lunch with the girls or a styling session with one of her new clients.

Now who couldn’t love this Fabienne Chapot Lobster Shirt?? It’s £120 so defiantly an investment piece however at least you know no one will be wearing the same! I had managed to get the rest of the shop well under our budget so really wanted to include it in the final look one way or another.

So that was our morning and after stopping for the most amazing & well deserved chicken kebab at Maroush we had to do it all over again …..but for me this time! Now I had already pre-warned and apologised to Jules in advance that I would probably be her most tricky & difficult client to style but I promised that I would be open and try on all of her pieces that she recommended, as she had done for me. We were absolutely shattered too as had already done about 12,000 steps that day so the plan was to go back to HOF and see how we got on.

Here are a few of the looks that we tried…We both absolutely loved the Samoe and Samoe sequinned skirt so Jules styled me in this with a few different options & colours. I literally never wear black, as I always think I look washed out so this little camisole that Jules picked out was interesting to try on…let me know what you think??!!!!!

Then Jules found this gorgeous Jigsaw block colour pleated skirt which she was really keen to pair with a Breton stripe (this one is actually mine) however then she pulled this royal blue Karen Millen dress off the rail and I was sold! I would never have chosen this sort of thing for myself, especially as I’m still getting my head round my own weight loss, TBH I still can’t actually believe I can get into a size 12, full stop, let alone possibly even look good in it! I’m a perfect candidate to be restyled!!

We then had a couple of hours to find our final accessories to complete our looks. Well that makes it sound like a piece of cake but under pressure when all you need is a bloody gold belt and bag, could I find one on the whole of Oxford Street!! And don’t even talk to me about earrings, by this point our poor little brains were frazzled and I just found myself staring at an array of colours and had no idea what outfit I was even trying to shop for by this point!

When we mentioned this to Nicky the next day, she laughed & reeled off a number of shops including Accessories that we hadn’t even thought of at the time! It just shows you how tricky this whole styling malarkey actually is and although I’d learnt an incredible amount over these past few days, The Style Challenge Shopping Day really showed me how much more I have to learn!

Don’t get me wrong, I bloody loved this day but be prepared to cover some serious ground and do you’re research before hand as I thought I knew my stuff and I definitely struggled….oh and wear trainers!!

Jules and I covered over 17,000 steps by the time we sat down for a well deserved glass of vino and a bite to eat at around 7.30pm.

Day Four….

So the final day & we were all super excited to showcase our outfits we’d selected from our Personal Shopping Task. Nicky had invited another of her stylists, the gorgeous Helen Canning Ford who has worked in the fashion industry for over 10 years, with a huge amount of styling experience, an award winning blogger & social media guru!

They were both very hands on, also giving very honest & constructive feedback on all of our looks. As you can see below Nicky changed my look by adding a gorgeous black Zara jacket (off her own back) to my out fit to give it a more formal day look which I loved.

After a quick change we then talked through our evening looks, mine being this gorgeous Karen Millen dress with a pair of super cute pink Zara sandals & a heart shaped purse.

Although Nicky liked the look, she reminded us that most ladies would need a jacket of some sort & then also showed us how the look could be transformed by just adding a scarf which could take you from the office to drinks quite easily and make the cost per wear of this one dress much more justifiable.

Next it was my turn to talk though Jules’s evening look where I’d decided on the yellow blouse & pink skirt from Reserved and after hunting high and low for a gold belt, we did find one in H&M however I was’t happy with it, as it looked cheap so I added a scarf from my own wardrobe at home to add a little pattern into this rather block coloured outfit.

Whilst accessory shopping we found these gorgeous daisy earrings from H&M and I also spotted the little pink flower hair clips that I cunningly clippped onto the front of Julia’s shoes to again add a little interest….these were £1 and even if I do say so myself, Nicky & Helen loved them!

Here are some of the looks the rest of the girls put together….

It was so fabulous to see so much colour compared to day one, when most had turned up in a fair bit of black and everyone seemed genuinely delighted with the outfits their partners had put together for them…..I don’t think there were that many returns let’s say!!

Justine & Tara

Charlie & Gina 

Chantelle & Sheena

Here’s Chantelle rocking her day & night looks, sadly Shenna was poorly on the last day however Nicky was there to step in and feedback & support Chantelle instead.  

The day was finished off by a fantastic Instagram Master Class held by Helen who has been blogging for 7 years & has over 10,000 Insta followers!! Helen ran an incredibly comprehensive session including using Insta for business, flatlays & how to take a good selfie……..which I obviously had a few pointers & top tips of my own, including some of the gear I use which you can read more about on my blog here. 

There is defiantly nothing funnier than seeing your whole class taking selfies all at one time!!! 😂

So there you go, that was my week in training to become a Personal Stylist & I have to say, it was the best week of my life! I just bloody loved it and it’s 100% confirmed what I now want to do with my career and it was money totally well spent to get me on the right track to fulfilling my dream of becoming a personal stylist.

I now feel I have all the tools, knowledge & clear steps in place with friends & family to do complete wardrobe edits and personal shopping days, which I”ll be documenting on my blog & Insta for you all to see very soon.

If you’re thinking of signing up, then pop over the NHJStyle.com to find out more about the next course that starts in June.

Dates: Tuesday 12th to Friday 15th June 2018, 10am – 6pm

Cost: Price £1,650. Spaces are limited so book soon to avoid disappointment.

You will get £215 OFF this price if you book by 30 April and mention ALICE when you book!

I can’t thank Nicky & the team enough for a just fabulous week, not forgetting Jules and the amazing girls on the course. I Honestly feel quite emotional even writing this final paragraph of possibly the longest blog post I have ever written ……and if any pictures could some up how I still feel about the week I think the ones above will do the trick 😜


Alice x










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