As everyone knows, things go in and out of fashion and trends change whether it’s clothes, shoes, hair, or make-up. But there are some things that have never changed and probably never will, and will always be a mainstay in a girl’s wardrobe and handbag. So let’s take a look at some of the things that a girl can’t live without regardless of changing trends.
1. THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS
Black will always be the new black and nothing screams glamour and sophistication quite like the Little Black Dress. A little black dress or LBD is traditionally an evening or cocktail dress, which is usually cut simply and often quite short – hence the ‘little’.
The origins of the little black dress are linked back to the 1920s designs of the legendary Coco Chanel. The dress was intended to be simple but stylish, long-lasting, versatile, affordable, and neutral in colour. No lady’s wardrobe is complete without the “little black dress” and it is considered a rule of fashion that every woman should own a simple, versatile, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Every girl has at least one trusty black dress in her wardrobe which she can slip into and it’s our go-to dress when the occasion calls for it – which saves a lot of faffing around, deciding what to wear. My own fave LBD has tiny white polka dots, spaghetti straps, a (very short) scalloped hem, and ruching along the front. It’s great for a party, informal dinner, and I can dress it up with boots and a leather jacket for gigs. It’s also short enough to pass as a top so I can team it up with jeans or leggings. Not only do I feel great in it but it’s also very versatile.
Although the original LBD was intended to be simple, these days anything goes, and as party season approaches, you can bet your life you’ll see a stunning array of black dresses in different fabrics with various necklines, hemlines, sleeves and embellishments. With so many different styles, the little black dress can never be boring or outdated. And with so many styles available, there’s always an excuse to add another one to our collection!
Skinny, Bootcut, Hipster, Flare, Straight Leg and Boyfriend… whichever cut, wash and colour you choose, jeans are a wardrobe necessity. The styles of jeans may have changed over the years but those faithful denim trousers have always been a part of our wardrobes. With the exception of my mother, I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a pair of jeans. I practically live in mine and I’ve lost count of the amount I have. Right now skinnies are in, so I have loads of those in black, charcoal and various shades of blue. But I do have some boot-cut ones too and loved that particular style – until I discovered skinny jeans!
During the tomboy years, I used to wear my jeans big and baggy to the point where they were practically falling off me before graduating to a more straight-leg style. A few years back there was a trend for teaming jeans with short floaty dresses. I was surprised that I could pull off that look and thought I looked great – though my brother told me that he thought I just looked confused! But then, what does he know about fashion?
One thing I love about jeans is that with the exception of formal events, you can wear jeans just about everywhere. I always go to work in jeans and wear them on nights out. It might look as though I don’t wear anything else but I always feel my best in a pair of jeans. However, I’ve never particularly cared for white or coloured jeans. Give me a pair of blue or black any day!
3. CHANEL No. 5
I’ve heard that giving someone a bottle of Chanel No.5 is the equivalent of giving a bouquet of flowers. Well in that case – as much as I love flowers – give me a Chanel No.5 every time! This fragrance is a timeless classic launched by Coco Chanel (who else!) and a bottle of this perfume has adorned the dressing tables of women around the world for decades. The key flowers are ylang-ylang, mayrose and jasmine.
4. SCARLET LIPS AND NAILS
Gwyneth Paltrow’s secret to being super-confident is wearing a lipstick in a ‘kick-ass red.’ Red is a colour that never seems to date, and although lip and nail colours may change in terms of what’s hot and what’s not, red has always been the number one colour for those who wish to make a statement. Bold and attention-grabbing, it’s synonymous with power, seduction and glamour. It’s not a colour you wear if all you want to do is blend into the background. Not all of us can wear the bright fire-engine red – definitely not a colour for me – but thankfully with so many shades available, we can all find a red lippy and nail colour that suits us and to release our inner-vamp.
5. BACKCOMBED HAIR
I love wearing my hair like this, and Mr.D thinks it’s awesome too. It’s a look that was made famous by The Ronettes and Brigitte Bardot and was very popular during the 1960s. It even became Claudia Schiffer’s signature look during her modelling heyday, and of course it’s synonymous with Amy Winehouse.
Whether hair’s backcombed into a beehive do or a tousled mane, us girls know that when we need an instant dose of glamour, backcombing is the only way to go. It’s a great look for a night out but I’ve seen women rocking backcombed hair while wheeling a trolley around a supermarket during the day – and it works! Backcombing also instantly gives the appearance of thicker, fuller hair but unfortunately it can be quite damaging especially if you backcomb hair regularly, so it’s probably best saved for special occasions.
You could honestly write a book about the million and one uses of Vaseline – or petroleum jelly to use it’s non-brand name! It can be used to soften lips, moisten dry knees and elbows, condition eyelashes, slick eyebrows into shape, add a shimmer to cheek bones, put around nails when painting them… I’ve even come across one beauty tip which instructs putting Vaseline on teeth before drinking coffee in order to avoid staining. Er, yeah, I think I’ll be giving that one a miss thanks. But with so many uses, is it any surprise that women the world over have a little tub of this wonder product in their handbags?
Despite the fact that I’m a bit of a shorty, I definitely feel more comfy in a pair of flats so tend to wear them every day. However, comfort counts for nothing when it comes to dressing up to the nines when only a pair of heels will do – the higher the better. Not only does it look better with the outfit you’re wearing, but it makes you feel more confident, foxy and glam. So whether they’re dainty little kitten heels or skyscraper stilettos, us girls definitely have a collection of heels to rock any outfit. True, I can’t walk in a pair of heels to save my life but as a friend once said, trainers are for walking in and heels are for posing in. Couldn’t have said it better myself!
8. SMOKEY EYES
Where make-up is concerned, trends seem to veer towards a more natural look with lots of ‘nude’ shades. However, full-on smokey, vampy eyes will never go out of style no matter what the in-thing may be. Like the LBD, smokey eyes are timelessly sultry, It’s also right up there with the red-hot lips – but of course we all know the eyes or lips rule so would never wear them both at the same time. Smokey eyes are perfect for when you need a little sophisticated drama. I remember that a few years ago when I was getting my acting headshots done, the make-up artist gave me the most amazing smokey eyes. She did such an amazing job that even strangers stopped me on the street to comment on my eyes. To this day, I am kicking myself for not getting her card.
9. BALLET STYLE PUMPS
Ballet pump style flat shoes are what I live in during the summer months. They’re more forgiving than sandals and I find them easier to walk in than flip flops. I also think they’re really sweet looking and you can wear these ballet type shoes with most styles of clothes. These shoes are literally everywhere and they come in an array of styles. You can get very simple designs for everyday use and more glitzy, glam ones for more special occasions. I’m not surprised that they’re such a hit with women everywhere because they are a practical solution to footwear and can be worn both day or night. I’ve been known to carry a pair of these in my bag on nights out which is a very welcome relief to my poor, weary feet. Heels might make me feel sophisticated and womanly, but I feel super cute and girly in my ballet style pumps – so I definitely have the best of both worlds.
10. BLACK LEATHER
Black leather may be considered very 1980s, but it’s very edgy, practical and rock n’ roll. I really don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t own something made from black leather, whether it’s a jacket, boots, shoes, trousers or even a wallet. It’s extremely durable and can be worn for both day and night. I absolutely love my boots and jacket, and they have often received admiring looks and comments. Even my old PE teacher who was veering towards vegetarianism last time I saw him, admitted to having a leather jacket because it was the only thing he had that kept him warm – and in London that’s essential! Of course, it’s all about the look, so for those who don’t wish to wear genuine leather for ethical reasons, can’t fork out the hefty price tag, or in my sister’s case, can’t stand the smell, there are some pretty good leather-look items out there.
Even though it’s unlikely that leather will go out of fashion, it can look dated. So I never wear anything that’s covered in millions of studs – even though heavily studded leather jackets seem to be in all the shops at the moment – and as I’m not a biker or in a 1980s tribute rock band, there’s no need for me to wear head-to-toe leather. Instead prefer to mix leather with other fabrics and styles for a unique look.
MRS. D’S SKIN PROFILE:
– Eczema prone skin in recovery (using prescribed cream, vitamin supplements, suitable skin-care products etc )
– Suffered from slight acne during teens and early twenties. Outgrew acne.
– Combination skin: slightly greasy T-zone, dryness around cheeks and mouth.
– Starting to get first signs of fine lines on forehead and faint smile lines.
I was brought up on the ‘cleanse, tone, moisturize’ mantra but nobody ever told me to ‘double-cleanse, tone, moisturize.’ I have recently discovered the benefits of double cleansing and I can honestly hand-on-heart say that my skin has never looked so good. Being the kind of girl who has never been blessed with perfect skin – and never will be – I have to work harder than most to keep it looking as healthy as possible.
But about a month ago my skin looked – how shall I put this – bloody awful! It was dry, tight, blotchy, itchy and a very unflattering shade of grey. As I suffer from a very mild form of eczema, I was having flare-ups in very quick succession despite using my prescribed cream. I was also convinced that I could see the faint traces of lines beginning to form. Nothing I used or did seemed to work. I’d be applying more make-up than usual, and I knew I still looked horrendous. It’s times like this, I wish I wasn’t so anti-Botox!
Unfortunately I commit way too many skin sins: I go to bed way too late; don’t exercise enough; wear make-up every day; drink coffee every morning; drink alcohol but not enough water; eat way too much junk… the list just goes on and on. This summer I committed the cardinal sin of not wearing any sunscreen. Terrible! I also have been guilty of using facial wipes to remove my make-up which doesn’t effectively remove all the impurities. And admittedly there were times I actually went to bed with my make-up on. It’s no surprise my skin looked horrendous.
However, I’m not a complete skin sinner. I have started to make an effort to eat healthier; I don’t smoke; I limit myself to one cup of coffee a day; I take vitamin supplements; use mainly organic products and being habitually late for everything means that I get regular exercise in the form of power walking! As I wear make-up everyday (although not a lot) I’d gotten into the habit of giving myself mini-facials every Sunday in order to get my skin feeling really clean.
So after a considerable amount of time feeling sorry for myself, I decided to spring into action.First of all, I decided to get rid of anything that I thought might be making my skin look bad and feel irritable.
- I stopped the mini-facials as I felt that the frequency of these might actually be doing more harm than good.
- I ditched my wash-off cleanser even though it’s organic as I figured that water might be drying out my skin.
- I then used a mixture of manuka honey and cream to cleanse my face – until I found a more convenient substitute.
- I started drinking more water.
- Cut back on alcohol.
- Upped my intake of fruit and veggies.
- Started going to bed early (well for me anyway!)
Slowly I started to see a difference.
Then I heard about the concept of double cleansing. It basically involves using an oil-based pre-cleanser before applying your usual cleanser and then toning and moisturising as usual. I wasn’t sure how effective it would be with regards to my skin problems but decided that I had nothing to lose by giving it a go – and seeing all the amazing products that are available made the decision even easier! The aim of the pre-cleanser is to get rid of ‘nasties’ that your normal cleanser alone may not be able to handle on its own such as excess sebum, sunscreen, waterproof makeup, environmental pollutants and residual product build-up.
I eventually settled on a pre-cleansing oil and wipe-off cream cleanser by Una Brennan which is available from Boots. I chose the hydrating rose variety as I felt that my skin would benefit from it the most. It’s not organic but it does contain many wonderful skin-friendly goodies such as shea butter, rose oil provitamin B5 and marshmallow. And although I know it makes sense to use products from the same range, I had already bought some argan oil day and night creams which I had felt would be beneficial to my skin so I didn’t bother buying a new moisturiser. I really liked the description on the pre-cleansing oil that stated that we should leave the oil on our faces for a while before wiping it off just to enjoy the aroma and this was my inspiration to turning my night-time cleansing ritual into a real pampering treatment.
THE DOUBLE CLEANSING METHOD:
- Warm 2-3 drops of Una Brennan’s Miracle Makeover Facial Oil in the palms of your hands.
- Slowly massage oil onto your face and in slow circular movements.
- Leave for a few minutes.
- Then dampen a flannel in warm water before carefully wiping off oil.
- This is followed by using the Calming Creamy Cleanser, applied with fingertips in slow circular movements.
- Remove using a flannel dampened in warm water.
- Pat face dry.
- Tone skin using pure rosewater.
- Apply vitamin E oil.
- Apply argan oil day/night cream.
- Apply eye cream.
It may seem like a lot of steps but it really is quick, simple and effective. If it works for someone like me who is always pushed for time, it’ll work for anyone!
In one word – amazing! My skin feels so soft and smooth and looks clearer, radiant and healthy. The dry, tight sensation has gone and I’m now having to hunt the fine lines I saw! It itches a lot less and my skin feels less rough and bumpy. I’m getting fewer spots and I feel that the double-cleansing treatment is really effective as I feel that my moisturizers are being absorbed into my skin much more. I have been using this method for only three weeks and can already see the difference which surprised me because I thought I would have to wait a lot longer to see results. The state of my skin used to depress me but now I feel confident going make-up free.
Obviously everyone’s skin is different and responds differently to different products. The secret is in knowing your skin and understanding what works best. I believe that the combination of rose, vitamin E and argan oils are working wonders for my skin but others may find that different products work effectively for them. I also believe – for me at least – that it’s necessary to change products every so often as I’ve found that it is possible for your skin to become immune to products that were once very effective.
Right now I am loving my skin. Great skin is an excellent base for make-up and if you haven’t got that then no amount of make-up is going to improve the appearance or condition of your skin. And double-cleansing has also meant that I’m getting the most out of my moisturizers as it absorbs a lot faster and leaves my skin feeling moisturized for longer. It seems that lots of people have cottoned on to the concept of double-cleansing long before I did (always was the last to find out!) but now that I have discovered it, I will be putting it to good use.