A two part post on make-up for grown-ups
'What have you done to your eyes?' Asks Mr Trefusis, staring gloomily at me as I'm on my way out to a party, 'I assume it's fashion.'
Whenever Mr Trefusis says 'fashion', it's always as if there are vast inverted commas around the word, making it sound as if it's something I've just invented to tease him.
Trefusis Minor adds his ten pence-worth: 'I like your lipstick, Mummy, but not your eyeshadow.'
And with that, my self-esteem hits the floor: why couldn't he say 'You look beautiful, Mummy, like a beautiful shiny star, twinking in the night', like he did once when he was four. Ok, so that was a peculiarly extravagant compliment, but one can usually rely on Trefusis Minor for a positive comment whatever the occasion. Not this time, apparently, though in fairness, it's sweet he's trying to be tactful. Trefusis Minor has quite firm views on makeup - I came home from work one day and got changed to go running and he ran after me to tell me that I should take my lipstick off before I went out because 'Red Lipstick is only for glamorous parties'. He's quite ahead of the game, even if I am a little concerned that he knows rather more about beauty than is usual in a boy of his age.
'It's deeply fashionable,' I say, naturally on the defensive, 'It's the last word in fashion, actually. They're Dior's new colours and I've copied the look from Harper's Bazaar. Blue is back.'
'Hmmm,' says Mr Trefusis, an eyebrow vanishing into his hairline, and goes back to playing with the cursèd Wii.
I tuck my sparkly clutch firmly under my arm, and flounce off grandly into the taxi waiting to take me to some work do or other. Yet I no longer feel quite so fashionable. I squint into the tiny mirror above the door of the cab and am slightly aghast: The bold drama of a pale cobalt eye with an equally colourful lip looked amazing when done by Aaron de Mey for Bazaar, but looks decidedly Barbara Cartland on me. I'm just wondering whether to tone it down a bit by scrubbing at my eye with an old bit of tissue - probably the same one I spat on earlier that day when removing nutella traces from the Tiniest Trefusis's face - when I arrive and forget all about it.
A few days later, it comes back to me. Mr Trefusis was right - perhaps these kinds of directional looks are like very up-to-the-minute clothes - only the very young or intensely trendy can carry them off. If you are neither, then probably one should bite the bullet and go for make-up that makes the best of what you've already got, rather than spoiling the lily with a hefty gilt impasto.
And frankly, the very best kind of makeup at all is not the edgiest runway look, it's the kind that takes years off you, like in the picture of Julianne Moore on the cover of February British Harper's Bazaar (above). She's had a little light airbrushing but I have it on good authority that in Real Life she looks utterly amazing for 49 and has eschewed the dark arts of the cosmetic dermatologist to boot.
Christian Dior once said, “I dream of saving women from nature”, and that seems to me to be the essence of beauty. I don't want to appear in front of anyone in the same dishevelled, unmade-up state that greets me in the mirror every morning, natural as that is: I want to make the best of myself, even if that's doesn't immediately scream that I'm au fait with the latest Moschino eye, or the Bottega Veneta brow. Most of all, I want to look young(er) and fabulous, not like an old has-been try-hard.
This post was going to neatly segue into a list of tips and techniques for turn back the clock make-up, but I've run out of time somewhat. However, in the very next post I promise to impart everything I've picked up whilst working with make-up artists and with some of the very best magazine beauty editors.