The Style Counsellors (RTÉ One, Tuesday, 8.30pm) has had a makeover since first stomping down the catwalk three years ago. In its opening season, the series was a two-hander that playfully pitched the youthful sensibilities of presenter, blogger and businesswoman Suzanne Jackson (in her 30s) against the more traditional fashion perspectives of late-blooming influencer Eileen Smith (who started blogging about style in her 70s).
But Smith exited in 2022 and the format now sees Jackson joined by guest stylists parachuting in to deliver rapid-fire tips before departing just as quickly.
This deprives the show of its original conceit: that good style is a mix of old and new. But The Style Counsellors still surfs along on an air of positivity and mutual appreciation: whatever this is, it isn’t the fashion equivalent of Room To Improve (which shines when everyone is passively-aggressively disagreeing).
Feel-good, forgettable and thumpingly unobjectionable, it’s the kind of disposable entertainment at which RTÉ is accomplished (having had lots of practice). There is also a sweet human interest story at the heart of the first episode of the new season, as Jackson helps Catherine Connolly from Newbridge, Co Kildare reboot her wardrobe.
Connolly has been through a challenging several years. She lost her mother shortly before the pandemic and her father passed away in 2021. Fashion-wise she meanwhile admits to having both feet in the past. “My wardrobe is nostalgic to say the least,” she says.
With her amateur drama club set to premiere a new production (Catherine is director) it’s time to overhaul her dress sense. Jackson presents several options – each inspired by Connolly’s “style icon”, Nicola Coughlan (as seen in regency romp Bridgeton, rather than Derry Girls).
She starts with a pink smock dress with two enormous bows on the back. Then there is a sparkling dress with flared sleeves. Finally, a midnight blue dress. “Very Grace Kelly,” Connolly says.
In the end, she opts for the sparkling number with the vast sleeves. In the meantime, guest stylist Mandy Maher weighs in with advice on picking a good coat (military chic tops her list) and sings the praises of sequins. And then it’s back to the makeover, where Connolly turns emotional seeing her “new” self in the mirror.
It’s all massively formulaic. Her family is nonetheless thrilled to see her so happy. “She is always so concerned for everyone else,” her son, Gary, says. There is nothing earth-shattering about any of this. And yet it would take a stony heart to begrudge aspiring director Connolly and her family their Hollywood ending.