From one woman who had given up on her looks, to another who lost confidence after a divorce, here are some handy ways to feel glamorous again…
‘I FELT UNATTRACTIVE AND FAT’
Michelle Atkin, 48, a therapist, lives in Darwen, Lancashire, with her partner Lindsay, 62, a retired policeman.
‘I’d been a size 10 my whole adult life, so it’s an unwelcome surprise to have gained almost two stone in two years, thanks to middle-aged spread.
‘I feel frumpy. My skin’s sallow and I’ve had the same hairstyle for a decade. As for clothes, I’m struggling.
‘I don’t want to look 20 again; I want to look the best I can for my age.’
Michelle Atkin, 48, a therapist, lives in Darwen, Lancashire, with her partner Lindsay, 62, a retired policeman. She said: ‘I feel frumpy. My skin’s sallow and I’ve had the same hairstyle for a decade.’ After her transformation, she said: ‘When I posted a photo on social media, lots of friends commented that I look ten years younger’
THE EXPERTS SAY
DITCH THE BLONDE DYE
Celebrity hairstylist Jamie Stevens says lots of women make the mistake of clinging on to their blonde hair, but it can be ageing.
‘Hair texture changes as you age and bleach causes hair to break and look thinner. After 40, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror and work out if it’s still working for you.
‘Blonde hair can also wash out skin, highlighting wrinkles and bags. Brunette hair is naturally shinier and more youthful looking.’
WAVE A SILICONE WAND
Make-up artist Virna Abis says: ‘As we age, eyelashes become more sparse and stubby. A decade ago, mascara could make this worse thanks to gloopy formulas, but today’s products are hugely improved.
Pick a curling mascara to open up the eyes and a high-tech silicone wand.’
FLIRT WITH FULL LENGTH
Stylist Camilla Ridley-Day says: ‘It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, so don’t be afraid to update your old style. If you’ve always been drawn to little black dresses, go for a modern black jumpsuit instead.
‘Michelle said she’d never have worn a maxi-dress, but it’s such a flattering silhouette if you’re carrying a little weight and the length hides anything from cankles to knobbly knees.’
Michelle’s verdict: ‘I’m so glad I gave Jamie carte blanche to do whatever he wanted with my hair. It looks gorgeous with the dress.
‘When I posted a photo on social media, lots of friends commented that I look ten years younger.’
‘DIVORCE SAPPED MY CONFIDENCE’
Helen Charnock, 42, is an accounts assistant. She is single and lives in Kent with her two-year-old son.
‘Until I had my son, I worked for a bank in Mayfair. I always wore heels and pencil skirts, plus mascara and a slick of lipstick.
‘But since having my son, and then my relationship breaking up, I’ve felt like the token frumpy mum in the office. I haven’t had my hair coloured in years. At weekends, I wear trainers and jeans. I just haven’t got the heart or the confidence for anything else.’
Helen Charnock, 42, is an accounts assistant. She is single and lives in Kent with her two-year-old son. Now, she says: ‘The morning after the make-over, I wanted to show off my hairstyle’
THE EXPERTS SAY
YOU NEED THE CHOP AFTER 40
Hairdresser Jamie gets straight to the point: ‘For most women over 40, a shorter cut is more flattering. Hair thins as we age, so can look limp when long. And highlighting techniques known as strobing give a flattering light on the fringe, adding a further lift.’
APPLY BROW GELS AND POWDER
‘There’s never been so much focus on brows,’ says Virna. ‘Today, you can buy everything from brow-boosting gels to thickening powders in any chemist. Helen’s brows had virtually disappeared, so I gave them a boost.’
INVEST IN A PUSH-UP BRA
Camilla says: ‘Helen said she was conscious of being small-busted so we found a great push-up bra from M&S to help add shape to a glamorous gown. Modern shape-boosting bras are sleek and comfy.’
Helen’s verdict: ‘The morning after the make-over, I wanted to show off my hairstyle, so, for the first time in years, I applied lipstick and mascara and pencilled in my eyebrows. My colleagues were astonished!
‘Now, I want to hire a babysitter and go out — and perhaps start dating again.’
‘I LONGED TO FEEL SEXY AGAIN’
Lisa Scaplehorn, 48, lives in Bristol with her daughters Naomi, 24, Lauren, 20, and Yasmin, five.
‘Where has the glamorous, woman who never stepped out of the house without immaculate hair and make-up disappeared to?
‘Since having Yasmin at 43, I just wear Primark leggings, trainers and sweaters with a hat to hide my thinning hair. She doesn’t sleep well, so my energy levels are on the floor. When I catch sight of my reflection, my face is pale and tired. I’d love to feel sexy again.’
Lisa Scaplehorn, 48, lives in Bristol with her daughters Naomi, 24, Lauren, 20, and Yasmin, five. After her makeover, she said: ‘I feel confident for the first time in years’
THE EXPERTS SAY
GET A ‘BOTOX’ FRINGE
Worried about a wrinkled forehead? Ask your hairdresser for a ‘Botox’ fringe as it’s as flattering as having the procedure.
Jamie says: ‘A sweep fringe is fine, but a blunt one that hides the brow is more flattering. I added a row of tape extensions around the perimeter to thicken her fine hair.’
GO GREEN TO HIDE EYEBAGS
There’s nothing worse than eyebags, but colour correcting make-up can help disguise them. Try Urban Decay Colour Correcting Fluid (£17). This concealer has a green tinge so when it is applied before foundation, it works to balance out the purple of bags.
‘It sounds strange, but it really works,’ says Virna.
Camilla says: ‘Lisa seems to shop mostly in Primark, but it’s far better to spend more on fewer, better-made, well-fitting clothes.
‘Not only are they more flattering, but High Street fabrics are often too flimsy to suit anyone but those under the age of 30.’
Lisa’s verdict: ‘I love my new hair colour and the aubergine eyeshadow Virna used made my green eyes stand out. I feel confident for the first time in years.
‘Instead of throwing on my scruffy old “mum coat”, I’ve been wearing a luxurious long black coat that’s languished in my wardrobe for years. This whole experience has reminded me that I’ve still got my sparkle — I just needed to find it.’
‘I ADMIT I’D GIVEN UP ON MY LOOKS’
Kelly Brightman, 41, is a photographer and lives in Cardiff with her husband Mark, 42, and son Daniel, almost two.
‘I’d describe my style as very casual. I work from home so I live in loose trousers and T-shirts.
‘We had a long struggle to conceive our little boy through IVF and I became so weary that I gave up on my appearance and ballooned to a size 16.
‘Partly I don’t care because I’m just so thrilled to be a mum, but I can’t deny that a bit of me has gone, and I feel consumed by my weight gain and tiredness.’
Kelly Brightman, 41, is a photographer and lives in Cardiff with her husband Mark, 42, and son Daniel, almost two. She said of her transformation, ‘I am astonished that simply by swapping my shapeless clothes for beautiful, fitted dresses, I look at least half a stone slimmer’
THE EXPERTS SAY
VOLUME IS KEY
Jamie says: ‘Kelly’s hair is fine and limp, but she said she’d tried short hair before and wasn’t keen. Instead, I used a texturising technique known as feathering to give the illusion of volume and balance out her shoulders.’
MAKE-UP SLIMS YOUR FACE
You can buy palettes (try Nars, £46) with three shades of foundation — one matching, one darker and one lighter than your skin tone. ‘Apply the pale one where light would fall, such as the bridge of the nose, and the dark one in areas of shade, such as cheek hollows,’ says Virna. ‘When you blend it well, it gives the impression of a slimmer face.’
WATCH YOUR WAIST
If you’ve put on weight, it’s easy to hide in shapeless dresses, ‘but this will make you look bigger,’ says Camilla. ‘Show off your waist — it’s the slimmest part.’
Kelly’s verdict: ‘I look so much fresher. Most of all, I am astonished that simply by swapping my shapeless clothes for beautiful, fitted dresses, I look at least half a stone slimmer.’