A stylish and bright new look for Harleston dad

It's rare to have a man write to Life Matters to ask for a makeover. So what better way to start the new year than by giving reader Richard Barkway a new look.

Richard Barkway leads a busy life and with a third child on the way this year he doesn't expect it to get any quieter.

'I work full-time as a plumber and for the past few years I have been doing up the kitchen at home – it's kind of like a busman's holiday,' says 43-year-old Richard.

'When I do have any spare time I like to spend it with my wife and two children. I'm also a cub scout leader for Dickleburgh scouts, which means planning fun activities for an energetic group of eight to 11-year-olds. This can be demanding, but it is highly rewarding.

'As I'm so busy I'm often tired and so I would usually wear jogging bottoms, or jeans and a shirt when I go out – I need some help as to what colours and shapes suit my six foot frame.'

Dressed in his familiar jeans and a fleece, Richard comes to Norwich from his home in Harleston to have a makeover at the newly revamped John Lewis. The department store has kindly given Richard �200 to spend on clothes in store.


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Style and fashion advisor Robert is on hand to offer Richard some advice to help him spend his money wisely.

Says Robert: 'Richard is conscience of his tummy and thighs, but wearing head to toe navy and choosing clothes that are baggy and shapeless will just add to the bulk.

'The best way to look stylish and to detract the eye away from the tummy and thighs is to create a layered look and add detail like pattern or a scarf around the shoulders.

'Richard's height means that he can wear many of this season's looks.'

The fashion advisory service in John Lewis gives you advice on what shapes and colours suit you. The fashion advisor talks to you about your body hang-ups and your lifestyle and can shop for items you are looking for and that suit your shape. The service is free and is ideal for men or women who don't like shopping, don't have time to shop, or need fashion advice so that they don't make costly mistakes.

Robert takes Richard around the menswear department, pointing out the brands and styles that will suit his big frame. Within a few minutes Richard has learnt that boot-cut trousers and jeans will balance out his shape; a shirt, jumper and jeans combo will give him an up-to-date smart/casual look; small checks and patterns should be avoided and that he should wear his favourite colour red in small doses or in a muted shade.

Richard spends most of his life outdoors and so most of the clothes in his wardrobe are functional such as T-shirts and jeans. With this in mind Robert created an easy-to-wear look that gives Richard's existing look a bit of a fashion update.

Says Robert: 'As Richard likes to just throw on a pair of jogging bottoms and a T-shirt, I've created a look that is just as easy to put together but it is one that suits his body shape and will instantly give him a smarter appearance.'

Robert teams a pair of casual jeans with trainers and creates winter's heritage style look with a V-neck jumper worn over a checked shirt. The look is completed with a stripey scarf which draws the eye away from the parts of his body Richard is uncomfortable with.

Says Robert: 'Richard likes bright colours and this blue is the perfect shade as it brings out his eyes and makes his skin look like he has a bit of a tan. Mixing checks with plain colours gives him an updated look that is still easy to wear.'

To complete Richard's new look Life Matters treats him to a Clarins skin care treatment in John Lewis and a hair cut and style at Nigel Alexandre on Castle Street.


Richard is the kind of guy to get up, get showered and go without giving much thought to his hairstyle. Every six to eight weeks he has a traditional short back and sides cut at a barbers. As a result his hair lacks any definitive style.

Life Matters puts him in the creative hands of Nigel Alexandre hair stylist Theresa.

Says Theresa: 'Richard hasn't got a lot of hair to work with and he really needs to grow out the top and keep the back and sides short so that more texture can be put through his hair, as this will best suit his face shape.

'Therefore I am going to buzz cut the back and sides so that they are a lot shorter and I'm not going to touch the top. Instead I'm going to show Richard how by using hair products he can inject a bit of texture and style into his look.'

Before Theresa started to cut and style, she shared an innovative trick to help hide thinning hair.

Says Theresa: 'Richard looks like he has a small bald patch on the top of his head – in fact there is hair there, it has just been bleached by the sun and so is a lot fairer than the rest of his hair. By darkening this patch of hair using semi-permanent hair dye, his hair will look more even and his thinning hair less noticeable.'

Dark brown semi-permenant dye is applied to Richard's fair patch and left for ten minutes. After shampooing his hair, Theresa then blow dries and buzz cuts the back and sides. Texture is put through the top of the hair with a little gel.


Some men still balk at the thought of moisturising let alone putting on eye cream or lip balm everyday. However, some men are also worried about wrinkles and ageing so making sure that you have a good daily skincare routine is an important step to looking and feeling great.

Clarins advisor Claire on the Clarins counter in John Lewis gives Richard some advice.

'There are a multitude of skincare products specifically made for men,' says Claire. 'Men's skin is a lot tougher than a woman's so it's important for men to use products that have been made for their skin.

'A daily skincare regime can seem daunting and as Richard doesn't have a lot of time I would advise that he uses a face wash followed by a moisturiser containing a SPF and an eye cream which will target any wrinkles around the eyes and refresh tired eyes.'

The verdict

Says Richard: 'Leading a busy life meant that I didn't think that I would have time to consider new trends, but the fashion advisory service at John Lewis is a brilliant way of getting up-to-date looks without having the hassle of spending time trawling around the shops. Robert was great at understanding that comfort and practicality is my main priority when it comes to clothes, but that I wanted a look that made me look and feel stylish and with a splash of colour. The advice he gave me has been invaluable and I will definitely use the service again.

The skincare lesson was a definite eye opener. I never use products on my face apart from shaving cream so trying out the moisturiser and the eye cream was very new to me. Working long hours and driving a good few miles a day can make my eyes feel tired, but when I used the Clarins eye cream my eyes felt refreshed. I think this is definitely on my must-buy list.

The trick Theresa did with the hair dye on my hair is brilliant! At first the thought of having my hair dyed made me want to run out of the salon, but it looks natural and has made me feel slightly less conscience of my thinning hair. The advice I got in the salon was great – in fact I'm not going to ask for a number three all over the next time I get my hair cut, Im going to take Theresa's advice on board and let my hair grow on top. All I need to do now is steal a bit of my eldest son's hair gel!'