I’m having a makeover.
A proper makeover with new hair and a stylist and make-up on my face. A makeover carried out by professionals, not a quickie done by my sister in the bathroom, involving the contents of her handbag, before someone’s wedding.
Don’t say it – I know I don’t look properly awful. You probably wouldn’t gasp if you saw me in the street.
But that’s the thing – you probably wouldn’t notice me in the street at all. Because things have changed a bit in the past few years.
My boobs have slipped a few, pendulous centimetres. My bum – never what you’d call ‘rounded’ (my branch of the clan is officially known as ‘arseless’) – has, through some miracle of physiology, got even flatter. My muffin top has a matching muffin bottom. No amount of huffing at the gym is changing it.
I’m okay with all of that. That’s called being comfy in your skin.
I am less okay with my hair. Remember earlier this year when J-Lo tried to convince us ‘bronde’ was a thing, when we all knew it was just another word for ‘mouse’? I’m on personal terms with its older sister: ‘gronde’. The grandmother of ‘bronde’. It’s not a happy union.
And I am not at all okay with the fact that I am suddenly incapable of buying clothes – or at least clothes that match how I see myself: ‘classic, with an edge’. Instead, I have developed real expertise in buying things that look excellent in the shop, but morph into dowdy when I get them home.
Things that wouldn’t be out of place in that cheap catalogue on cheap paper that gets stuffed in your letterbox on a Tuesday. Or that you might see at the bowlo, on people ready for cheap tea at 5.30pm.
The result is I doubt myself. And being full of doubt when facing racks full of clothes equals panic and then denial, and then wine.
Another thing: I’ve started buying things that I already have in my wardrobe. Another striped t-shirt. Another pair of ballet flats. Another cotton top.
It’s boring. Or I’m boring. I’m not sure which is more comforting.
But if you whinge enough good things happen. And because I am a world class whinger, I’m getting a makeover. A much more professional one than my sister grabbing my chin and rubbing disappointedly the half nub of her Mac Ruby Woo lipstick across my lips as we walk out the door.
Stop 1: Sheira’s house call.
This all starts with Sheira. Well, with Mia, if I’m honest.
“I feel all the ‘Fs’ – fat and frumpy,” I moan to her. “I want to feel fabulous and f*ckable.”
“I’ll call Sheira,” says Mia, and within a couple of hours I have a stylist who will fix me.
Sheira calls herself The Style Therapist. And she GETS me. She’s my age, looks fantastic – and does house calls. When she comes to my house, one of her first stops is my wardrobe.
“You actually don’t have many clothes,” she says, to the gentle thud! of my partner fainting in the kitchen. “I think your shoes might be letting you down.”
She’s right – I don’t have many clothes, or at least many clothes I actually wear. I have jackets that make me feel like a school ma’am, and a skirt that clings to what my friend calls ‘devon’ on my upper thighs and tops that make me feel daggy. I have lace-up boots that I thought would be all Stevie Nicks, but instead make me feel like a 17th century pirate. I have many, many t-shirts that cleverly highlight my back-fat.
The cull, when it happens, is glorious. I get rid of every single thing that makes me feel crap.
(There’s one dress that makes Sheira feel crap that I later rescue from the pile.)
Stop 2: Edwards and Co.
I want to live in this salon. Are they still called salons? Seems a bit of an old-school word for this high-ceilinged, distressed-walled warehouse with its very, very discreet signage. I’m a bit nervy – I mean, Lara Bingle apparently gets her hair done here, and we all know how fab she’s looking these days.
As someone who is naturally suspicious of grooviness, and even more suspicious of hairstylists, I am, well, suspicious. And a bit insecure about how my gronde, out-of-control hair will be judged.
Watch Annie’s trip to Edwards & Co. below (post continues after video).
Instead, I meet Joel, who is beyond lovely and very understanding about my aversion to gronde. Best of all, he doesn’t feel the need to chat as he restores my natural blonde. I get through about four magazines on the colour alone.
Then I meet Erin, also lovely, but firm, like a friend who really does know best. I suggest a fringe. She asks how long since I’ve had a fringe (years) and how much effort I put into styling my hair each morning (none). Erin’s verdict is swift: no fringe. I can, however, have a long sweepy effect that’s just a centimetre or two from it, but won’t drive me mad.
She dries it and tongs it and it looks gorgeous – then tells me I don’t have to do A SINGLE THING to look after it.
I am in love with this woman.
(Two week update: she told the truth. I really don’t have to do a thing).
Stop 3: Mecca.
This is a treat I didn’t expect – a full make-up session. Off with my minimalist morning effort, on with all sorts of goodies I didn’t know existed. Creamy little eye shadow pens that give my eyes miraculous depth – admittedly, I didn’t know I needed eye depth, but now I do, I’m never letting it go. Primer that means No More Pores. Eye liner the colour of skin so my peepers look open and awake and – most importantly – not red.
I’m so stunned at the end I have a little bawl. Which makes me feel ridiculous, until lovely Cassie, ‘my’ makeup person, tells me it happens all the time.
Watch Annie’s time at Mecca below (post continues after video).
Step 4. Shopping with Sheira.
I don’t have a fortune to spend, but I am prepared to outlay $1000 on my summer wardrobe. It feels so little – Sheira has clients who contact her to go shopping for three-week ‘holiday wardrobes’, but she tells me that’s no problem.
She’s true to her word.
She’s already done her homework online, looking for things she thinks I might like and might suit me. She changes into comfortable (and yes, stylish) sandshoes, pointing out this isn’t about lazy browsing. We are on a mission, and she doesn’t like to waste her clients’ money aimlessly looking around.
I go into these shops all the time – Witchery, Country Road, Decjuba, DJs. I never find as many things as this time. I try on things I’d never usually try. I buy things I’d never usually buy. After the first shop, I shrug off the weirdness of a near-stranger holding up items to me to check colour or cut, or delivering split-second verdicts on outfits, and give in to Sheira’s expertise.
I try on one dress that I love on the hanger. It looks shocking.
“Just take it off,” says Sheira. “If it looks bad, it looks bad. No matter how much you like the fabric it’s never going to look great.”
I point out shoes I quite like, she finds better ones. With metal-plated heels, they have that elusive ‘edge’. I turn up my nose at a skirt she suggests, then put it on and love it. I pull out a grey dress; Sheira says I already have one like it. She’s right – I’ve just forgotten about it. I discover I’m a ‘cheat shopper’ – the person who says they never buy anything, but sneaks in one-off purchases all the time then wonders why nothing goes together.
At the end of the day, I have:
- Depth-making eyeshadow
- Slouchy black pants
- Inch-adding striped pants
- A floaty black and white shirt
- A rock-star-ish silver t-shirt
- A new favourite top – black and white stripes with a crossover back top and bauble fringe
- A fabulous summery caftan
- A black skirt with an uneven hem I will NEVER have to iron
- A cool, basic black top
- Black wedge shoes, and
- Tan shoes with groovy gold plates on the heels.
And it all costs $930.
Step 5: Resolutions. Because I’ve learnt a lot.
- I will shop only twice a year, once for warm months and once for cool months.
- I will not cheat with ‘tweeny’ shops.
- I will try on things I think won’t suit me.
- I will consider layers. Just for the hell of it.
- I will wear jewels and scarves and other accessories.
- I will not buy anything I already own.
- I will break Rule 1 a thousand times over if I go to the US, and that’s okay.
- And I will reacquaint myself with the joys of fashion and new looks and just having fun with it all. Because that’s what it should be. Let’s face it, no one will die if I wear a (gasp!) sparkly top at 9am.
One last thing. Thanks to all those people who saw the preview video for this piece and said I ‘didn’t need fixing’. You’re right – I don’t.
But pepping up my look has been one of the highlights of my year.
Have you ever had a full makeover? What was your experience like?