A glamorous new look for a Norfolk soldier’s wife

It started with a letter from a soldier and ended with a new look for soldier's wife. EMMA HARROWING surprises Nikki McLeman with a Life Matters makeover.

When Kevin McLeman wrote to Pottergate hair salon Hooloovoo to ask if he could surprise his wife Nikki with a pampering hair treat, Life Matters was so moved with the couple's story that we decided to give Nikki a makeover.

Kevin is a soldier in the Army and is currently based at RAF Marham and so he is away from Nikki and their two young sons for months at a time. On his last tour Kevin was stationed in Italy during the Libyan unrest.

'It's the build-up to them going away that can really get to you,' says 38-year-old Nikki. 'It's awful knowing that they are going to be in a dangerous place for months at a time. When Kev is away I never watch the news as I know if anything bad does happen I will know about it.'

The realities of war were brought home to the couple when two years ago one of their closest friends was killed in Afghanistan.

'His death was a shock and proved that we are not as indestructible as we might think we are,' says Nikki.

'Moving around and living in different places and countries (the family has lived in Germany on three separate occasions) for two years at a time is tough, especially when you have to leave behind your friends, but you soon make new ones and these friends feel like your family.

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'It is especially tough now that we have two young boys as often we have to move during term-time meaning that they have to leave their friends and start a new school mid-term.'


Practicality is key when it comes to Nikki's style. With two young boys her lifestyle is chaotic to say the least. However, she does have times when she gets to dress up for military balls or for a night out to dinner with Kevin. Nikki is also going to a wedding this summer. Therefore Debenhams personal shoppers Helen and Emma decide to give Nikki a glamorous look. Helen says: 'Nikki has a warm skin tone and bright blue eyes so warm and bright colours will suit her best. Turquoise is a good colour for her as it really brings out the colour of her eyes.'

Emma adds: 'Nikki is conscious of her hips so the shape of this dress draws the eye to her waist and the ruching and ruffles help disguise the bottom half of her body. The scoop neck is also a flattering look for Nikki as revealing a bit of flesh on her top half can again take the eye away from the part of her body she doesn't like.'

Nikki's look is accessorised with a pair of black platform heels and silver jewellery.

Helen says: 'This look is ideal for a night out, and for a summer wedding all Nikki needs to do is wear a shrug or cropped jacket over the top.'


Nikki is happy with her natural hair colour so Hooloovoo creative director Simi gives Nikki's hair a cut and style ready for a night out. Simi says: 'Nikki's hair is in need of a trim so I'm going to cut her fringe and take some of the weight out of her style while maintaining the length. To give her hair a little bit of glamour I'm going to use hair straighteners to create a natural looking wave.'

To create a natural wave, Simi sprayed Nikki's hair with heat protection spray, then taking a section of hair about an inch wide she pulled the hair straighteners through the section of hair from root to tip, twisting the straighteners through 90 degrees to create a curl. This technique was repeated all over the head. To create a natural curl, Simi ran her fingers through Nikki's hair to pull out the curl slightly.


Nikki only wears make-up when she is going out; during the day she sticks to mascara. Bare Minerals make-up artist Amy at Debenhams showed Nikki how she can create a natural looking evening look with the collection's new range of solid powder make-up.

Get Nikki's look:

For the eyes: After cleansing and moisturising your skin, use a eye base primer over your eyelids. This will give you an even base to apply your eye make-up. Starting with you eyes will enable you to wipe off any make-up that falls on your face without ruining your base.

To create a natural look smoky eye apply a cream eye shadow over your eyelids from your lash line to your brow bone. Next apply a mid brown shade across your eyelid up to your socket line and blend. Use a dark brown eye shadow as an eyeliner and gently blend along your top lash line to the outer edge of your eyelid and blend up into a C shape.

Define your eyes with a brown eye pencil. Apply along your top lash line taking short feathery strokes to create an even line. Finish the eyes by filling in your eyebrows with a soft brown powder and a coat of mascara on your lashes.

For the base: Apply a primer over your face as this will give you a natural looking finish to your foundation. Next apply a foundation in a colour that matches your natural skin colour over your face with a brush. Conceal any dark circles or blemishes with concealer.

Set with a loose powder.

Add colour to your face by applying bronzer in the shape of the number three to your forehead, cheekbones and chin.

For the cheeks: Warm skin tones suit peach coloured blush. Apply to the apples of your cheeks and blend up under your cheekbones towards your hair line with a brush.

For the lips: Give lips a full look using a coral coloured lipstick and finishing with a coat of plumping lip gloss.

The verdict

Nikki says: 'I love my new look and I will definitely wear this outfit for the wedding in the summer. Everybody thought I looked fabulous when I got home and Kevin whisked me away for a surprise evening meal out!'