New season, new look
Spring has officially sprung. So, in the first of Life Matters' series of feelgood features, EMMA LEE brushes off the last of the winter cobwebs with a fashion and beauty makeover with the experts at Chapelfield.
Living our busy lives, whether it's having a family, climbing the career ladder or juggling a mixture of the two, it's easy to forget to take time out for yourself.
But a bit of pampering or taking some 'me' time can make the world of difference. Which is why over the next few weeks Life Matters will be helping you to feel good. We'll be suggesting ways to lift your spirits and brush away the last of the winter cobwebs now that spring has truly sprung.
First up, a fashion and beauty makeover. I've often enviously watched women's tranformations on Gok Wan's TV shows and love reading the Monday Makeovers here in Life Matters, so I jumped at the chance to visit Chapelfield to try out some of the services on offer.
Many department stores offer free personal shopping and make-up sessions to customers – and just getting some advice about what styles suit you and how to apply eyeliner in a straight line can be a real confidence boost.
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So my first stop was to see award-winning make-up artist Jane Godfrey at the Max Factor counter in Boots.
While I'm a great fan of beauty potions and lotions, I have to admit I'm a bit clueless when it comes to make-up.
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My one and only lesson in applying the slap was from a friend when I was about 14 and while the colour of the lipstick may have varied slightly, and I still end up with it on my teeth, I've stuck rigidly to her guidelines for the best part of 20 years.
I still only attempt eyeliner if I'm going somewhere really special – and then end up taking it straight off when it all goes horribly wrong and I end up with panda eyes.
Jane has worked for Max Factor for eight years and in 2008 she was named Max Factor consultant of the year, so she's the perfect person to go to for a make up masterclass, which are free at the counter.
'I loved art and make up and this combined the two,' she says, adding that she's a fan of Helena Bonham Carter's kooky style.
She qualified at City College in Norwich, applied to work for Max Factor and has been there ever since.
I get into the hotseat and our tutorial begins. First the basics – your base. A common mistake women make is wearing the incorrect shade of foundation. To make sure you don't get those tell-tale tidemarks, make sure you test your foundation in natural daylight and on your jawline. The right shade should just disappear when you blend it in.
When it comes to applying eye-liner and not looking like you haven't slept for three days the trick is to not attempt to draw on one continuous line, rather to do feathery strokes across the eyelid – so that's where I've been going wrong for 20 years.
And a revelation to me is blusher. Because I grew up in the 80s, with its more is more approach to make-up application, and being prone to redness and getting embarrassed easily, blusher would be one product that I would definitely steer clear of – but Jane convinces me that it can be used to subtly warm up your complexion. In front of a mirror do a big cheesy grin and then apply to the apples of your cheeks with a big make-up brush.
The end result is like me – but an upgraded version. It feels strange wearing so much make-up, especially in the day time, but I quickly get used to it. And I love the way that Jane has made my eyes look so dramatic. She definitely deserves that certificate which has pride of place on her counter.
Next up it's the clothes and the woman with the task of turning me from scruff to style maven is personal shopper Lee Sinclair at House of Fraser.
Fashion is undoubtedly Lee's passion. Thanks to her mum's sewing skills, when she was a little girl she always had the best-dressed Sindy dolls in town. And she's worked in fashion retail her entire career. Lee joined House of Fraser three years ago and says that she has found her 'perfect job'.
Appointments with Lee are free – and she doesn't want anyone to feel like they have to buy something.
'I'd rather people walked away if they're unsure. It has to be 100pc right,' says Lee.
'There's nothing worse than a mistake that sits there and haunts you. I've made enough of my own mistakes over the years so I know exactly where you can go wrong. I don't tell people how to dress, I work with them.
'I like to get people to step out of their comfort zone, but not in a scary way.'
Lee's fashion philosophy is simple.
'I always think that fashion is a fling and style is more of a soulmate. You'll develop a style with me. You'll never worry what to wear again,' she says.
It's like being let loose in a giant dressing-up box. I usually shop for clothes alone, and am the first to admit I'm stuck in a style rut (overgrown student) and tend to stick to what I know (how many stripy tops does one person realistically need?), so it's great to get another, impartial, person's verdict.
The womenswear floor is my oyster. Normally going in to a shop filled with racks of clothes would be completely overwhelming. But with Lee there to guide me it's a breeze.
For my makeover we decide to go for a bit of glamour and head for the Biba department.
Lee had initially been thinking of teaming a 70s-style blouse with jeans and heels to create a grown-up glam but casual evening look. But then a silky floral dress in a cornflower blue caught our eye. It's the sort of frock that makes a statement, so to go with it Lee kept the accessories neutral with a simple clutch bag and some killer Kurt Geiger Mary Jane heels.
I now believe in love at first sight. The dress fitted like a dream.
I left feeling a million dollars and I think that every woman deserves to feel like that. Even if it is just for a morning.
To book a makeover with Jane Godfrey phone 01603 629208 or visit the Max Factor counter in Boots, Chapelfield, Norwich.
To book a personal shopping appointment with Lee Sinclair at House of Fraser phone 01603 691800.
Don't miss Monday Makeover every week in Life Matters in your Evening News.