Entering The Dressing Room’s spacious atrium I instantly feel a desire to explore. A huge selection of clothing from international designers hangs on rails all along the length of the walls, from lightweight silky occasion dresses splashed with stars to trendy faux fur jackets. I enjoy standing under the soft lighting soaking up the feminine ambience of this chic emporium buzzing with activity.

Large bevelled mirrors adorn the walls alongside black and white fashion photographs from the 1950s and 60s. Bird cages, plants in golden pots and small leather handbags decorated with gold stars rest upon glass shelves. Metallic glitter socks with a turquoise stripe and bamboo lingerie are neatly displayed on tables.

If you were in one of those “I have nothing to wear” moods your dilemma would soon be resolved by stepping into this oasis of handpicked designer collections. I notice Brit brands like a Lily and Lionel Dakota dress and a Mercy Delta shirt with a hummingbird print.

I try on a bubble-gum scarf and a matching Alice band before looking in the mirror. The scarf looks great, but I quickly whip off the hair band remembering when every ‘haughty Pippa’ used to wear one back in the 1980s; it’s funny how it all comes around again.

The Dressing Room was established in 2005 and moved to High Street in St Albans shortly after in 2006. Being a local, I’m aware of the numerous fashion awards that the boutique has won and it has been referred to as “a shining star within its sector” by Drapers Magazine. I watch the stylists interact with the customers with skill and enthusiasm, their instant advice and engagement is impressive and customers are encouraged to combine styles or dare to experiment with more flamboyant pieces.

Deryane, the owner, explains the importance of The Dressing Room service, saying: “Our customer service has a personal touch and we love styling our customers.”

Styling services include 'new season – new you', 'occasion dressing' and even ‘find the perfect jeans’. The Dressing Room website was launched back in 2010. I find ‘Deryane’s picks’ page of interest and wouldn’t mind joining her on one of her buying trips to Paris or Milan!

I learn about the importance of layering and ‘mixing it up a bit’ by creating a sophisticated look with an edge, maybe combining a pair of trainers or ankle boots with an occasion dress and oversized knit top.

“In more recent years we have noticed a trend in dress and trainer dressing,” she adds.

Deryane has been in the retail business for many years. "I left school at the age of 16 and started work. After travelling the world for a few years. I came back and continued working in the retail industry.” Deryane’s drive and experience along with her business acumen have been the secret of her sustained success.

I chat with a couple of staff members who feel inspired by the challenge of helping customers to look and feel beautiful and self-empowered by answering their style questions, whether it’s just to refresh their wardrobe or to get some ‘workwear’ ideas. The Dressing Room is the perfect place to update your wardrobe after having a baby or moving into a new chapter in your life.

“My staff have been trained in personal shopping and styling. I encourage them to build a career in fashion and not to view their role here as just a job,” says Deryane.

I pause when I hear these refreshing words. “What a fantastic opportunity for them!” I reply, thinking how unusual that scenario is these days and respect her for that.

I try to keep away from the long silver chains sparkling with charms but the temptation is too strong and I try on some Anna Beck styles from her Pacifica collection. I love some of the full-length dressing gowns and the idea of lounging in a silky black gown with gold stars on a cold winter’s night.

Deryane stresses the importance of sustainability within the fashion industry and I discover that they stock around 100 global brands and are active on social media.

I try on a ‘Fabien Chapot’ dark blue blouse with fuchsia dots. I love it and contemplate buying it. Of course, I could just pop into H&M, give in to fast fashion and purchase four tops for the price of this one, but this makes more of a statement, will last much longer and flatter my body shape in subtle ways. I may even get the odd compliment when I wear it which will make me feel good. Even fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has admitted that she hates having too many clothes. As she says: "Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity.” Absolutely Vivienne!

  • Marisa Laycock moved from south west London to St Albans in 2000. She enjoys sharing her experiences of living in the city.