Last week I headed to my local shopping centre Queensgate Peterborough to take part in a mystery challenge. The details had been kept top secret so all I knew beforehand was that upon arrival at Hotel Chocolat I’d receive further instructions. Verrrry intriguing!
At Hotel Chocolat I found some of my blogging friends had already arrived and we were eager to find out just what Queensgate had got in store for us. We made our way to the counter where the lovely manager handed each of us a sealed envelope with our name on it and the most decadent hot chocolate that I’ve had the pleasure to drink!
It’s their Halloween special edition and let me tell you, if you are a fan of the infamous Pumpkin Spiced Latte then this is going to blow your mind! Made with salted caramel, real chocolate flakes, lashings of cream and a chocolate vampire on top, nothing beats a Hotel Chocolat Hot Chocolate!
…but trust me to start a fashion post talking about food, let me reveal the challenge I’d been given!
Inside my envelope I found a £100 Gift Card redeemable at all stores in Queensgate shopping centre and the following instructions:
“Laura, you have a Christmas night out with the girls, involving dinner and cocktails. You haven’t all got together in ages so it is set to be a great night and the plan is to go “out out”. Use your gift card to buy yourself a killer outfit with the perfect amount of sparkle to dazzle when you walk in to the room!”
The small print confirmed that I had just 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete my Queensgate AW17 challenge – no mean feat! I decided that for an ‘Out Out’ outfit I should look for luxurious textural fabrics such as velvet and silk with bold, sparkling accessories.
Saying a hasty goodbye and good luck to each of my friends who had all been issued with their own unique challenges I rushed off, deciding that John Lewis would be my first port of call.
John Lewis is one of the places I like to shop at when I’m looking for something a bit special. It’s home to some of my favourite designers including Somerset by Alice Temperley, Whistles, Coast and Ted Baker, all of whom tend to put up collections full of feminine, fabulous dresses.
I’m not very good at shopping at speed though so I was very grateful when Senna, the clothing manager at John Lewis spotted me and asked if she could help. I explained what I was looking for and my £100 budget and she straight away said she had something in mind.
“I think this would be perfect for you!” she said two minutes later brandishing a gorgeous floor length, metallic, pleated dress from Tommy Hilfiger. I am only five foot tall with a bit of a ‘short girl’ complex and thought it seemed like a total long shot, but to my amazement when I tried it on I knew straight away that my search was over – it was absolutely perfect!
The only issue was that the spaghetti straps were too long but Senna used bobby pins to adjust the dress and show me how it would sit if they were shortened which was incredibly helpful. Even better, the dress was reduced from £205 to £61.50 and so sat perfectly within my budget!
I’ve always shied away from accepting assistance when looking for clothes but after such a positive experience I’d be much more confident about enlisting the help of an in store personal shopper now. Not only did Senna have a great eye for what would suit me but she was also fully versed on what was in their sale and the sizes they had in stock which really helped to cut down time trying to locate something within my budget. Well done John Lewis I’m impressed!
With £48.50 left to spend I decided that I’d try and find a jacket, if possible in a biker style to soften the overall look and stop it from being too formal. I made a beeline for New Look as they have a good Petite section which actually fits me! They didn’t have any that stood out this time though and I thought I was going to have to move on to another store… until I spotted this little beauty.
A buttery soft faux leather biker style jacket in a beautiful shade of green that I thought would make a nice contrast against the gun metal grey of the dress.
I have a slight confession. It was in 915; aka the children’s section! Sometimes when you’re petite it’s worth a look as every so often there’s a real gem to be found. Age 12-13 tends to fit me quite well in jackets and at £29.99 I still had a little bit of money left in the kitty too.
With just £8.51 remaining I decided to finish off the outfit with some statement earrings and found these in Claire’s Accessories for just £6. I think they work rather well!
…and with that I’d run out of time and money, but I think I did rather well! I had managed to find a versatile jacket, a stunning designer dress AND some well priced accessories for my £100 and now I can’t wait to have that “out out” evening!
In the meantime, I settled for a relaxed evening with the rest of the bloggers at Turtle Bay… watch out for more on that coming up in a post very soon!
Tommy Hilfiger Jazz Dress | £61.50 | John Lewis (sale item)
Suedette Biker Jacket (adult size linked!) | £29.99 in 915, £39.99 adult version| New Look
Small Black Chandelier Drop Earrings | £6 | Claire’s Accessories
Many thanks go to Queensgate Shopping Centre for setting such a fun challenge for AW17 and allowing me to keep my purchases. I only wish I could have made it down some of the boutique stores in their beautiful Westgate Arcade but time got the better of me. Oh well… I’ll just have to have another shopping trip there soon, won’t I?!