They know who always wears the trousers at business recovery and insolvency specialists Wilson Field...
Financial manager Helen Fenney. The hard-working boss has both the respect and affections not only of her staff in the cashiers department, but throughout the company.
While they accept her exactly as she is, though, down to earth, practical Helen secretly wished she could step into another guise and surprise her work colleagues.
“In our office I’m the woman who always wears trousers because I hate my legs, never has a scrap of make-up on her face and just washes her hair in the morning. I don’t blowdry it - I drive to work with the car window open! I’d love to turn up for work looking more feminine, but I don’t know where to start,” Helen told Business Monthly.
We called in the experts to give Helen a summer in the city makeover - a feminine but smart look that would keep her cool at the office in every sense of the word.
First stop was Evans in Orchard Square, the style-conscious, plus-size store Helen had visited many times over the years but had never thought to ask for help as she rifled through the rails - and went away again with either yet another pair of trousers or a loose, flowing outfit.
Staff there are trained not only to give bespoke fashion and style advice, but also to identify what body shape a customer is.
““Our shape consultation service is free and can make you look two sizes smaller. Women come in all shapes as well as all sizes and knowing how to identify what shape you are means you can choose the clothes that really flatter you. What disguises the features an apple shape wants to hide can make a pear shape look out of proportion - or swamp an hourglass figure like Helen’s,” explained store manager Wendy Lomas-Downing.
Helen had her measurements taken and was amazed to hear herself described as hourglass. “I thought hourglass figures were for slender but curvy types and decided my hips meant I must be pear-shaped, even though I have a big bust,” she admitted. “No wonder I could never mind anything that looked right.”
Wendy explained that tailored styles and outfits that followed her shape rather than drowned it were her wisest choice - and that a smart maxi dress would be suitable for summer officewear, and give leg coverage.
Helen nervously sought to avoid the £49.50 bold tribal print bias-cut maxi dress with black colour block sides Wendy picked out for her but was stunned to see how good the dress looked on her. Even better, she found herself in a size 18 instead of a 22 thanks to the Evans bra fitting service. Wendy had fitted her with her a T-shirt bra (£24 for two) that gave her maximum lift, slimmed down her top half and revealed a slimmer midriff.
A black crochet shrug gave Helen the upper arm coverage she felt she needed and a pair of summery sandals completed the outfit - which Evans generously donated to Helen.
At Leslie Francis hair salon on Fargate, stylist Georgia Greaves was waiting. She decided Helen’s heavy, fringed bob made her face look long and her home colour treatment was too dark for her. “I took her two shades lighter with a soft chestnut shade that brought out her blue eyes and flattered her skintone, then created a cut which was a shorter, softer and more modern version of her existing style and would be easy for her to style herself in just a few minutes,” said Georgia. “Helen’s hair now has lots of layers and a shattered line, which looks more feminine, has more volume and really shows of her cheekbones. It will also be a lot easier for her to manage.”
The last stop on her city centre transformation was a trip to Norfolk Row beauty studio The Salon for a £25 makeover appointment with salon manager and trained make-up artist Emily Bickerstaff.
A light Mac foundation and concealer balanced out her skintone, highlighter and blusher brought out her bone structure and Helen was shown how to enhance her eyes with subtle brown and gold tones - and how to apply her first ever set of false lashes.
As she looked at herself in a full-length mirror for the first time in years, career mum of two Helen said:”I’ve benefitted from the skills of three women who are experts in their field. What they have taught me will stay with me. I was the wash and go girl, but I might just be high maintenance from now on!”