Be Fabulous, Be You
Relaxed glamour, luxury casualwear and exceptional service await at michelle b. Stephanie Sparrow visits this premier store. Photography: Robin Lyndon
Filled with style inspiration and leading fashion brands, michelle b is renowned for bringing the wow factor to customers’ wardrobes.
From vibrant silks to easy linens, owner Michelle Berkins and her experienced, caring team offer investment dressing at its best, advising customers on outfits, separates and accessories to enhance their personal style.
Michelle sources international labels across a range of prices for the two floors of her independent store in the centre of Barrowford. As an award-winning retailer whose store recently celebrated 14 years, she understands customers’ wishes.
“Our customers are looking for versatile, relaxed glamour. That’s easy when buying the right piece,” says Michelle.
Drawing on an impressive range, from Paige jeans to Paule Ka from Paris, and sizes from 6 to 18 (depending on brand), Michelle explains that the team aim to create an individual look to suit each customer brief, not to sell that ‘one label’ look.
This is glorious fashion made accessible. In store the items are grouped by colour, theme and brand mix, to suggest how an outfit would work. For example, an Edward Achour jacket is layered with a Marc Cain shirt and Paige skinny jeans, and accessorised with Marian shoes.
“We’d like you to look as though you have thought about styling your outfit yourself,” says Michelle. “If you walk into michelle b you will walk out looking like an individual, not a brand label.”
With summer upon us, Michelle has chosen a collection of Maryan Melhorn swimwear with discreet underwiring. These are displayed with kaftans and linens from 120% lino and Forever Unique, and accessorised with Uzzuri beaded flip flops, Pranella beach bags and Max Mara sunhats.
Perhaps you’ve been invited to a wedding, summer party or day at the races? Manager Jane Holden and the team will guide you to the perfect outfit and, by working closely with Get Ahead Hats, will help add the finishing touches.
“We have just received a thank-you card from a recent wedding customer saying, ‘I’ve never experienced service like it – from my lingerie to my shoes you did it all’,” says Jane.
With so much choice at michelle b, Jane and the team will offer friendly and honest advice. “In addition, personal styling days can be booked in advance, whereby the girls select pieces for the customer, and will even reserve a lunch table at our country pub, The Fence Gate, to give them time to think over their choices,” says Michelle.
Busy schedules prevent some of us from shopping in core time – Jane comes to the rescue with out-of-hours appointments, an alterations service, posting items and even personal delivery.
And this personal service even extends to advising on lingerie as michelle b stocks the Empreinte range, and all the team are trained bra fitters.
“What is the most important part of dressing up?” asks Michelle. “Yes – you’ve got it – your underwear.”
She hopes everyone who enters the store feels special. Fresh coffee is offered and there are comfortable seating areas for shopping companions, with newspapers and even a toybox (for accompanied children). Parking around the store is free.
Michelle likes to get to know her customers and to help them enjoy their purchases: “For this reason we keep a note of girlfriends who shop here to prevent the embarrassment of them wearing the same dress to the same event,” she says.
Meanwhile, their husbands, partners and family frequently rely on the team to source gifts for Christmas and other special days.
“We shop for them in store, and then gift wrap in our boxes with ribbons in aqua blue – our signature colour. We also offer gift vouchers,” says Michelle.
She puts the fun into fashion too. Customers can sign up on michelle b’s social media for invitations to its legendary summer and Christmas parties and fabulous fashion shows.
“We love fashion, and we love sharing our excitement and knowledge to help customers create an individual style,” says Michelle.
2/3 King Edward Terrace
Gisburn Road, Barrowford BB9 8NJ