Shopping with experts: My Sugarland



It is with great sadness we have to tell you this shop has now closed. Zoe can still be reached on the website Zoelem

As a fashion retail journalist I am often asked what my check list is for a good shop, what a store has to do to be judged ‘great. Well, there’s only one thing it has to do, it has to make my heart beat faster. If my heart starts to race then I know the shop has made an emotional connection with me, I’ve either spotted great clothes, wonderful displays or an amazingly unexpected retail surprise. It doesn’t happen that often but it’s like a drug rush when it does (I know, I know, it’s sad and I should get a life but there we are).

So when I visited the recently opened My Sugarland on St John’s Street, London this week and started to hyperventilate before I was even through the entrance I knew I was in for a treat. Wonderful window displays designed with a sense of humour and lots of style lead you through to a store jam packed with an intelligent mix of beautifully displayed clothes and accessories. The atmosphere is calm and spacious and not at all precious, it’s almost the perfect clothes shop.

Founder Zoe Lem (she was the style brains behind Trinny & Susannah) has curated a mix of cool (but not scary) labels, vintage and new talent by using her expertise as a stylist and lecturer on body shape to dress her customers. Not only is the range of product highly desirable, Zoe is doing everything right in terms of retail trends to stand out from the boring, overcrowded high street.

She offers free body shape assessments and styling half hours to all her customers (book in advance) and gives sound, expert advice on what works and what doesn’t. “I opened the shop to correct everything I hated about shopping for clothes,”she said, “the bad lighting, rubbish changing rooms and crazy atmosphere.” She does lots of events in store to educate her customers on shape analysis, how to buy and mix colours and she brings embroiderers and jewellers in store to demonstrate their skills and offer one-off designs.

I asked my usual Woman’s Room question about advice to women of our age and she replied firmly that for her it was about shape first, then making it age appropriate and demonstrated by whipping around the shop picking out styles that would work for me. “It’s really all about understanding your shape, get that right first and get help if you’re not sure. Once you know what suits you, balance that with your lifestyle and concentrate on styles that you know you will get lots of wear out of. Learn how to promote your good bits and stop highlighting your bad bits”.

All Zoe’s staff are stylist and I spent a glorious hour, once they had assessed what would suit, trying on clothes from designers such as Hoss Intropia, PPQ, Armand Basi and vintage, which resulted in me spending more than I should have. I bought a vintage fitted day dress with hand embroidered floral scrolling at the neckline. I fell in love with the internal details, which feature bra strap holders, waist enhancing petershan braid and lovely lining.

Get your pulses racing and head down to My Sugarland and we suggest you book a session with Zoe to understand your shape and get some great styling tips.

My Sugarland, 402 – 404 St. Johns Street, London. EC1V 4NJT: 0207 8417131


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