Thursday 15 December 2011


When I wrote about The Plankton back in September, it sparked much debate with friends about whether or not women over forty became suddenly invisible. 

But every conversation about sex appeal - were we still desirable, beautiful, attractive, we asked ourselves anxiously - inevitably turned into a broader discussion about the forty-something state:  Suddenly, I became appallingly paranoid that I would wake up one morning and discover myself wearing purple with a red hat that doesn't go

'We simply have to work harder to make ourselves visible, particularly at work' said my friend Basista, and I think she's right - one does lose the effortlessness of youth in one's mid-forties. Sometimes it's the small things like having to think twice about wearing an A-line skirt with a chunky heel - what looks hip on a thirty year old can easily look frumpy on a fortysomething, particularly if you remember the look first time round - I mean, God knows what havoc the coming Thatcher-inspired trend will wreak. All I'm going to say is, if you're old enough to remember her as Prime Minister, steer well clear of the clothes unless you're achingly hip and very obviously working in fashion. 

Anyway, sometimes it's also the bigger stuff, like realising that life isn't the rehearsal it once was, and you've got to get on with the Next Big Thing before it's Too Late. 

However, since this is supposed to be a post about make-up, I shall stop myself segueing off into some psycho-drama about a dawning realisation of one's mortality/career shelf-life etc etc, because I've remembered that what my friend Basista went onto say - not entirely flippantly - about how the antidote to mid-life invisibility was to wear bright lipstick. She's right, of course but it's not just about making a bold statement, it's also about the subliminal sophistication conferred by a really good red lip. 

Although I'm madly keen on my shiny Dior Addict one, if it's done perfectly, a red lip should be matte and it should also be expensive - not Tom Ford spendy, necessarily, but definitely something bought with due ceremony and sense of occasion from one of the more intimidating beauty counters in a department store. Chanel, of course, is the gold standard when it comes to sophisticated glamour and there are several marvellous reds in the Rouge Allure range, but I do wish they had Rouge Premier - a copy of the first ever red lipstick Chanel produced -  as part of the permanent offer: it came out as a limited edition about ten years ago along with a killingly beautiful gold eyeshadow, and I only wear it once a year because I can't bear to think of using it all up.  

Finding one's perfect red takes time and a lot of experimenting - it's all about nuance - I had fourteen at the last count (six of which are badly photographed below) in every shade of red from vermillion to crimson.

Now that I add up the approximate cost, fourteen red lipsticks is a rather lavish investment. But of course, I wasn't just buying a lipstick, I was investing in the whole idea of myself as elegant and well-put together.

I don't think the search for the perfect red is finished by any stretch of the imagination - I've yet to try the Bobbi Brown red that everyone says is a classic- and as I write this, I've just rummaged in my desk drawer and come across a very serious red I'd forgotten I even had (make that fifteen red lipsticks) - Dior Addict in Red Carpet. Possibly it ticks the 'get you noticed' box a little more emphatically than my everyday red (which I'm wearing in the Dior taxi), but that's all to the good.

Is Basista right? Is bright lipstick the perfect antidote to mid-life invisibility? It certainly seems to give one a much needed confidence boost. However, I'll offer one small warning: the distance between groomed glamour and looking like Bette Davis in 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane' is little more than a sharp jog of the elbow.

Monday 12 December 2011


At least half the fun of going to a party is in the anticipation: it's not just the hours spent getting ready, it's endless debate about what to wear.

The big event in the Harper's Bazaar calendar is the annual Women of the Year Awards - and the sartorial stakes are pretty high - I'm pretty sure we talked of nothing but party dresses for weeks beforehand. I had thought of wearing a very nice strapless 'MadMen' style dress I bought for a party not long after the Tiniest Trefusis was born until I came across this from my absolute favourite label, Bastyan. I hadn't thought of wearing long, but since it meant I didn't need to slather my blue-white legs in fake tan, it was pretty tempting, and as ever with Bastyan, the fabric drapes in a wonderfully flattering and luxurious way.

This is me at the party - it's not a very clear picture, but the mirror shows how nice the back is too

This is me just before we left - I've rubbed out the grim office from the background - magazine offices are much closer to The Office than they are to the Devil Wears Prada. One shoulder has a beautiful gold clasp, and the other is designed to drape - I wanted it slightly off the shoulder, so I stuck it in place with some tit tape (I'm sure there's a more elegant word for it - but you know what I mean).

The jewellery is from Carat* - they're simulated diamonds, but they're set so beautifully I defy anyone to be able to tell the difference - I wore the Pear Exquisite necklace, a pear drop tennis bracelet  and an incredibly covetable pair of drop earrings, which shivered and shimmered and caught the light most gratifyingly whenever I turned my head. I don't seem to be able to find them on the website, but these are similar.
Sometimes partywear needs to be a bit of a disguise, doesn't it - it's about costuming oneself appropriately for the occasion: and for once, at Bazaar Women of the Year, I felt appropriate.

The Mormo Maxi dress I wore is on sale in the Bastyan pop-up shop on Regents Street - if you're in the market for a party dress (or a beautiful coat like this one -  the tweed it's made from comes from the same mill as Chanel gets theirs from) then you must hurry to this oasis of loveliness and calm toot sweet because the stand-alone only exists until 24th December.
I asked Tonia Bastyan for her buys of the season - this exquisite lace 'Dia' dress [above], with jet beads that button closely up the wrists promises to be an heirloom piece: I can quite imagine putting it away after a few seasons and saving it for when the Tiniest Trefusis grows up - it's utterly beautiful and absolutely timeless. It has a very elegant wool crepe skirt, but the back is absolutely sheer lace - I've not seen anything of the quality in most Bond Street designer stores. I'm kicking myself that I didn't take a better picture. It's sold out online, however, there were plenty of sizes at the pop up store.

Tonia also picked out this pony-skin coat as one of her favourite pieces - as ever with Bastyan, the devil's in the detail -  it has long woollen gauntlets under the bracelet sleeve - I don't know if they're detachable, but fortunately this is on the website so you can get a better look if you want.  Here's my snap of Tonia with the coat.

London Bastyan Pop Up Boutique 288 - 294 Regent Street W1 Tel: 020 7323 5978