I’m a project manager for a software company and often work from home. I’m a people person and always have been – but that has been my issue. The past 10 years have seen me put companies back on their feet, and care for my late mother who suffered a stroke five years ago and later died in the summer of this year at the age of 91.
I lost myself and, with that, my dress sense was left at the bottom of the pile. I was drawn to baggy, sombre-toned pieces to get me through.
But I’ve always been mad for clothes – heck, I wanted to be a fashion designer growing up (there’s maybe still time). But I forgot how clothes can act as panels of armour to take on the day.
In my 40s I had never felt more confident. I know that a career shouldn’t define you but, for me, the day job puts a pep in my step and a zing in my outfit choice. Tottering around in high heels back then didn’t phase me, and an outfit from Reiss or Hobbs was my capsule wardrobe – I knew my sense of style inside out.
Like many women, I enjoy the ritual of clothes shopping – trawling independent stores to match my classic-with-an-edge style. But along with my tired eyes and endless to-do list for work and family, my usual high-street haunt had become uninspiring.
Make-up: Amalie Russell, Bobbi Brown make-up artist; Nails: Mya Pham, nail technician at at Iris Avenue; Clothes: Nicola Rose, stylist; Hairstylist: Caterina Landi, at Neville
So when I came across The Telegraph’s call out for readers to undergo a makeover, I applied before hesitation could stop me from clicking “send”.
A wardrobe re-route was just what I needed, and a beauty refresh too. I often found myself watching make-up tutorials online, with all the products to hand (Bobbi Brown and Dior), yet the overall finish never looked as polished as it did on screen. So I was excited and ready to meet the experts.
I was asked if I had ever considered having a tweakment. I had, but didn’t know where to call in to or, most importantly, what or how much to have done. Turns out I apparently made the ideal candidate for Morpheus 8, which is a radiofrequency procedure known to believably turn the clock back, by tightening and smoothing areas of the face. The result is a refreshed and rejuvenated complexion. “When do I book in?” I thought.
Fast forward to my trip to London’s Harley Street. I knocked on Dr David Jack’s door, a renowned aesthetician, who welcomed me into his townhouse clinic like an old friend. There was no pressure, no prodding or big white pen in sight. Instead, a slow and steady approach, which I have since been raving to all my friends about – one friend has already booked herself in.
I also had a little Botox and filler to banish any harsh wrinkles that my usual anti-ageing face cream couldn’t erase. Dr Jack focused on the area between the brows, commonly known as the “11’s”, the crow’s feet around my eyes and a little bit of filler to help define my cheeks. I’m due back for a quick check-up and perhaps a top-up if necessary – it’s been almost two months since my first appointment – so I’m in good hands, as my face shows.
Next on the checklist was my hair. I’ve had my short, choppy hairdo for 20 years. I think it tops off my quirky style just right. Around the corner from Dr Jack, tucked away in upmarket Belgravia, was hair salon Neville – they quickly brought back the attitude and colour just right.
Then came the final photoshoot. I was met with a rail of clothes my eye would never be drawn to, let alone drag to the fitting room.
Nicola Rose, the stylist extraordinaire on the day, showed off tailored coats I couldn’t wait to take a snap of and an athleisure-style suit with a side-stripe down the seam that I was told I could pair with trainers for the weekend and a heel for meetings – it all worked brilliantly.
As for make-up, Amalie Russell from Bobbi Brown showed me first-hand how to properly use the bits I luckily already had in my beauty bag – my very own tutorial in real life. I’ve never used cream blush before but what a brightening difference it makes to powder. Turns out I was using the wrong eyeliner too – long-wearing is harder to smudge and blend, which explains the hard time I’ve had when scribbling along the waterline.
With every flash of the camera, I remembered just how great it feels to dress up and, perhaps most importantly, to have the confidence to dress up once more.
After the big day, I headed home and took a long, hard look at my wardrobe. The charity shop down the road had several bin bags from me in just a couple of hours – I’ve swapped black for colour, and I’ve never felt better. I had always loved the idea of getting dressed up for work every morning but I had forgotten how to – until now.
See last week's makeover: ‘My husband said I looked 10 years younger’