When the sun decided to get its shiny little act together around May this year and flatter us with some much needed rays, my thoughts turned immediately to my feet. Panic stricken at the state of my toenails and in a flummox about where I’d stashed last year’s summery footwear (my dog walking boots had been permanently stuck to my feet since last October), I had a mini melt down. It took copious amounts of coffee and a DIY pedi SOS with the brightest nail polish I could find to calm the situation. Now, all I needed were some decent summery shoes…
When one of my best friends mentioned she was going to start an online women’s accessories business – Barewith Accessories – I got very excited. Being Liz’s friend – and being really nosey – means that I get to see what she’s bought for the business before anybody else and it can be lethal for the wallet, I’m not kidding! Whenever I go out wearing one of Barewith’s scarves or bags I can guarantee I’ll be surrounded by appreciative ‘oohs and ahh’s’ from other women wanting to know where they’re from. So, I thought it only fair that I share Liz and her wonderful wares with my lovely Glowology readers, so let’s find out more…
Way back last year, I had the idea of writing a regular series of inspirational posts about Women Like Us who could give us tips and tricks on anything that makes them look and feel fantastic. I figure if it works for them, it could work for us too! Of course, me being me, I wrote my first post about my gorgeous and glamorous friend Liz Bennett (read it again here) and haven’t done anymore since! I got some great feedback on that post, so I’m picking up the pieces and getting the Women Like Us going again and I’m starting today with the lovely, super stylish and super organised Image Consultant and mum of two from West Sussex, Helen Reynolds.
Glowology: I wish I was naturally stylish! Tell me more about your work and how you got into it.
Helen: I got into the Image Consultancy business because of my own style journey which makes me typical of the women I now help! I’ve always been fascinated by the way different clothes can make you feel and in turn can affect the way you behave. After graduating from Uni I worked at a glossy magazine publishers with some incredibly glamourous and stylish women. I noticed how what I wore on any given day would affect my confidence and behaviour. Some days I would be outgoing and confident and would share my ideas in meetings (and be heard!). Other days when I didn’t feel like ‘me’ in my clothes I would revert to the shy little girl I used to be. After having my babies in my thirties I trained to become an Image Consultant and suddenly it all made sense. We are all different and what suits one person will not necessarily work for the next. I finally understood the importance of wearing clothes that ‘love you back’ rather than pieces I felt I should wear because they were fashionable or looked great on someone else I’d seen. For me it has been life-changing and I feel so lucky to be able to do this for the women that I work with. Some of them are limiting their lives because of the way they feel about the way they look. What I do isn’t really about the clothes to be honest, although that’s my ‘tool’, it’s more about unlocking something deep inside that makes women feel amazing and confident so that they live their lives to the full.
Glowology: I ‘met’ you virtually, through finding your website on Twitter and loving the tips on your blog. How and why did you get into blogging?
Helen: I wanted to be able to share my message with a wider audience so I went on a fabulous blogging course with Carole Bozkurt at The Blueprint Practice and discovered how to do it effectively and enjoy it! These days I have help in the form of an assistant and a marketing consultant to keep me on track and to ensure that I blog consistently. When I’m busy with clients it’s difficult to juggle it all.
Glowology: What’s a typical day like for you?
Helen: If it’s a client day, it’ll look something like this: Breakfast is a really important meal for me especially when I’m spending the day shopping. Once I’ve got the kids up and off to school I take the train to London to meet my client. We start with a coffee to re-visit their shopping list and clarify priorities and then hit the shops, breaking for a light lunch to take some time to recharge and decide on the focus for the afternoon.
Once I’ve finished the day, I whizz home and collect the boys, Sam 11 and George 9, cook dinner (or often two or three dinners to accommodate a fussy eater and my healthy preferences! I’m a soft touch…)Then it’s a tidy up and kids to bed before collapsing in front of rubbish TV with my ipad catching up on blogs and resting my feet.
Glowology: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Helen: I try to make time to visit the gym two to three times a week and I’ve just started having tennis lessons so we will see how that pans out! Apart from that it’s socialising with my friends. There’s nothing I love more than a natter over a glass of chilled white wine or a gin and tonic (or two) and of course shopping is in my blood so if I had a whole day off I would grab my ‘shopping partner in crime’ and head off for a blissful day updating my own wardrobe!
Glowology: What makes you feel happy? – long baths, candles, champagne? That type of thing (I’m dreaming of all of these things right now!)
Helen: So many things! I’m lucky that my default setting is happy and am definitely a glass half full kind of girl. I love time to myself and I love going out for dinner with my husband. We made a pact this year to go out to a swanky restaurant every month but so far we’ve only manage Le Caprice and a lovely Japanese restaurant that is local to us but The Shard is our next stop. I love quality time with my friends and I love being goofy with my kids. They make me laugh every day.
Glowology: Has your love of style always been a big part of your life?
Helen: Totally. Lots of my childhood memories include what we were all wearing. It wasn’t until I did my image training back in 2009 that I really understood what style was all about and started to refine my own in a way that felt authentic and easy.
Glowology: What are the biggest positive changes we could make to our wardrobes as we age?
Helen: Really tuning into the kind of clothes that love you back. Don’t ever wear something because you feel like you ‘ought’ to. Wear clothes that make you happy, that make you feel like you.
Glowology: Bearing in mind that 50 is the new 30…well, it is as far as I’m concerned 🙂 Do you think there is anything style wise that is ‘out of bounds’ over the age of 40?
Helen: I’m 43 and I would never tell anyone that they couldn’t wear anything, if it makes them feel happy that’s good enough for me! I’m cautious of mini-skirts over 40 but not for everyone. I have a friend who is tall and slim with amazing legs and she looks great in her denim mini skirt and a loose vest top and she is over 40. Everyone is different so no, I wouldn’t say anything is out of bound over 40… oh except pigtails!
Glowology: What is your everyday beauty routine like?
Helen: My husband despairs at my collection of potions and oils! I’ve recently got into cleansing oils (after reading Sali Hughes Pretty Honest) which my skin loves (being on the dry side) and have just started using a Vichy serum she raves about which has made a difference after just a few days. Apart from that I use an eye cream and moisturiser by Environ which is a brand made in South Africa by cosmetic surgeons. And I always use primer under my make-up. Twice a week I try to remember to use an exfoliating and moisturising mask as my skin is on the dry side.
.Glowology: What’s your desert island product?
Helen: Ooh good question. Can I have two? If I had to choose one it’d be lip balm. Carmex is my fave lip balm, it feels slightly medical. If I could sneak another one in, it’d be hand cream. I use it constantly. At the moment, I’m loving Aveeno which is supposed to last through handwashing and moisturise for 24 hours (but I use it constantly).
Glowology: You sound like my kind of girl and I gather that skincare is very important to you.
Helen: Hugely important. Yes I spend far too much on products. I daren’t add it up.
Glowology: What skincare/makeup tips could you give us fabulous over 40s that have helped you?
Helen: Treat your skin with what it needs not just anything you find. Just as with clothes, we are all different and we suit different things and I find treating your skin with products that are tailored to your needs makes all the difference.
Glowology: Have you ever been given advice that has been helpful regarding beauty/wellbeing?
Helen: That you get what you focus on! If you have a massive spot, try not to focus on it and stress too much. It will go. Instead focus on the rest of your skin being clear or your lovely bright eyes. It really works!
Glowology: What makes you feel fantastic inside?
Helen: Having great feedback from the women I work with and to feel I’m making a real difference in the way I want to.
Glowology: Do you exercise? If so, what do you do and how much?
Helen: Yes, exercise is an important part of my life although if I miss a week for whatever reason that’s ok. I’m not obsessed but I notice how it makes me feel more energised and mentally calm and I often get my best ideas for business when I am working out rather than glued to my computer screen. I go to the gym twice a week and am now I’m having a weekly tennis lesson too. I used to do a bit of yoga but that has dropped off. I’m sure I will go back to that one day.
Glowology: How important is looking good to you and are you happy with your body?
Helen: Looking my best is very important and affects how I feel and how I behave. As far as my body is concerned, I am happy now but it hasn’t always been that way. Learning to dress properly for your body type makes SUCH a difference!
Glowology: Do you eat a particular diet or is there anything you’ve found works for you and makes you feel good?
Helen: Yes, I worked with nutritionist Rachel McGuiness last year to improve my energy levels and my digestion and have changed my diet pretty radically but it works for me because I can relax the rules at the weekend. It’s the Metabolic Balance Program and one of the rules is to leave a gap of at least 5 hours between meals. I had a tendency to rely on caffeine or sugary snacks to get me through the day but when you keep it to mealtimes it’s amazing how you can avoid energy slumps. Obviously there is more to it than that, what you are eating at meal times matters too.
Glowology: Who do you think gets it spot on for over 40 style?
Helen: Victoria Beckham. She knows what suits her and always gets it right.
Glowology: Do you have any favourite designers or stores?
Helen: Most of my clients shop on the high street and the brands that work well for them vary hugely according to their body shape or look. For me, I love to mix high-end high street with the cheaper brands, although I’m trying to buy less and buy better quality pieces now that I’m running out of room! I always say invest as much as you can in the basics. Wearing cheaper quality trousers when you are over 40 is tricky. Invest in shoes, trousers and jackets and coats and fill in the gaps with cheaper stuff.
I love Anthropologie for its quirkiness, Whistles for its clean lines, Zara for its fast moving fashion and will always enjoy a good browse in John Lewis which has just about everything under one roof. I can easily spend 2-3 hours in John Lewis with a client!
Glowology: What can we do to make a quick difference to our wardrobes that would help us if we are stuck in a rut?
Helen: Wear those things you are saving for best for every day wear. Often we save things and never get around to wearing them enough. We spend more on these pieces than our every-day clothes but if you don’t wear them enough the cost per wear is too high.
Glowology: What is your feel good philosophy?
Helen: My feel good philosophy is when you wear clothes that ‘love you back’, you look and feel fabulous. Pay attention to the colours that suit your skin tone, shapes that flatter your figure and styles that feel right for YOU regardless of what everyone else is wearing. And if you can’t work it out for yourself, go and find someone to help you. When I discovered the styles that work well for me it changed everything.
I’d like to thank Helen so much for her useful and interesting style and feel-good tips! I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m off to declutter my jam-packed wardrobe and make way for some new buys!
If you’d like to see how Helen could help you streamline your style and give you some advice on what clothes and colours could work for you, she’s holding a Style Masterclass at London’s Waldorf Hotel on 21st May. At the moment, there’s a special earlybird discount running until this Friday 29th April and you can find out more details by clicking here
Yesterday, fabulous over 40s fashion blogger, Catherine Summers, at Not Dressed As Lamb asked the question in a feature she wrote for Good Housekeeping online: Can You Wear Leather Trousers Over 40, 50, 60…? The resounding reply from her readers was YES, WE CAN! I got involved with the debate on Twitter and threw in my tuppence worth which is, I wouldn’t wear them because I never have, they don’t suit my shape (I think) but I believe my gorgeous mum, who is in her 70s, could still wear them and look amazing. And today in the Daily Mail, there was another myth exposed as writer, Virginia Ironside grew her usual short locks long and proved that, even in her 70s, long hair can look wonderful! I tell you what, let’s just rip up the beauty and style rule book for over 40s and rebel…we can do, wear and be what the hell we please…with cherries on top!
All of these celebrities above look gorgeous and I’m not saying we shouldn’t be careful of entering the mutton zone, just that we should be confident enough to wear whatever makes us happy and feel good, whatever our age. What do you think?
Unless stated all images via Pinterest