Norwich style advisor has a passion for fashion

Janette Liggins swapped the newsroom for the shop floor to indulge her passion for fashion. Now she's working as a personal style advisor, on a mission to make bad clothes days a thing of the past. EMMA LEE meets her.

How many times have you got up in the morning, rifled through your wardrobe and despaired that you haven't got a thing to wear?

Nothing seems to match. Things are either too big, too small, or just 'not right'.

You can't imagine Janette Liggins ever having a bad clothes day. She's a personal stylist and is the perfect walking advertisement for what she does.

As we meet in the atrium of the Forum in Norwich, she looks effortlessly chic in a beret and poncho.

Janette, 45, worked for the BBC for 13 years, but a few years ago swapped the newsroom for the shop floor and her passion for fashion.

She had studied art and started her career with the BBC as a secretary to Mark Thompson, who is now the corporation's director general. She worked her way through the ranks to become a studio director on high profile shows such as Good Morning With Anne and Nick, the Clothes Show, Pebble Mill and news bulletins.

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Originally from Lancashire, she came to Norfolk to work on Look East, when she met someone who was to become an important part of her life.

She takes up the story.

'I came to Norwich to direct Look East in 1994 and there was a very handsome sports reporter called Mike Liggins. I directed him a little bit too well because I ended up marrying him,' she smiles. 'I came to Norwich with my job and ended up staying because of Mike. We decided to settle down here and have two lovely children, Hannah who's 11 and Harry, who's seven.'

However, life changed a few months after Harry was born when Janette was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an auto immune disorder which can be very debilitating. Janette has been hospitalised because of it and has to take what she describes as some 'nasty' medication to keep it in check.

But she talks about her illness without a shred of self pity.

'I had to change tack a bit,' she says matter of factly, that no-nonsense northern attitude shining through.

Janette had always loved fashion, customising clothes and naming Audrey Hepburn as one of her style icons.

The perfect opportunity came up at John Lewis in Norwich for her to use that, plus some of her skills from working in TV.

'I had worked on the Clothes Show and I'd always been involved with fashion. And I had done a lot of fashion on Good Morning With Anne and Nick.

'What really attracted me to the job was that it involved presenting and directing fashion shows. I worked there for three years which was great,' she says.

A few months ago Janette decided the time had come to go it alone and she set up as a freelance style consultant.

She has clients ranging from those who are stuck in a fashion rut and want a complete wardrobe overhaul, to those who need an outfit for a special occasion, to those who just want to find a pair of great-fitting jeans.

'I launched in September and I've been non-stop, which is fantastic,' she says. 'I tailor an appointment to whatever someone wants. I have ladies who are really quite confused about what styles and shapes they should be wearing. They might want me to analyse their colour so they know what colours they should be wearing. I can go and look through their wardrobes and have a look at what's in there. And what they keep I show them how to style it up and give them an idea of how to put things together.'

In the current economic climate very few people have the money to splash out on a whole new wardrobe, and Janette is a firm believer in people making the most of what they've got. Having items you never wear, or worse have never even taken the tag off, is a real crime of fashion.

'You can make the classic pieces in your wardrobe look current by adding a new pair of boots or a bright handbag. There's ways you can put things together to make them look really interesting,' she says.

And it's much easier to shop once you know your shape and style.

'I don't think you have to be the height of fashion, like you've just stepped out of Vogue,' she says.

'I think that people have a style personality, and that's something I try and assess when I see people. I think it's important to get your personality across in your style. Some people are quite frivolous, some are quite chic. Personally, I like my style to be simple, with the odd quirky detail.

'If you feel great in what you are wearing you give off a completely different air of confidence. It really does make a difference,' she says.

'Quite often people have got a much better body shape than they think – they think they are bigger than they are. And sometimes they will wear baggy clothing

'It's all about giving people confidence really and helping them make the most of what they have got and showing them a few new ideas,' she says.

Janette says she has to love an item of clothing before she buys it.

'I have to say I would never be without my cashmere poncho. I do buy things that I absolutely love. I don't have many pieces in my wardrobe that I don't love. I really enjoy wearing everything I have got.'

And she does allow herself a few designer treats occasionally, but, practising what she preaches, they're classics which stand the test of time and go with anything.

'I am a great lover of handbags and I've got a little Chanel one, a bowling bag, which I adore. And I've got some Louis Vuitton courts. When I put them on I feel fantastic. They go with so many things,' she says, almost swooning.

For more information contact Janette Liggins on 07774 620989 or visit