Yesterday, while I was waiting with Elfie for a routine hospital appointment, I caught another mum looking me up and down.
Worried I was about to get shouted at or beaten up, or worse, had smeared lipstick (one I’d got gratis in a goodie bag, hurrah for free makeup) in places lipstick shouldn’t be, I smiled back at her. She took a step towards me and – thank God – smiled.
“You look SO glamorous and put-together”, she said. “I want to be you when I grow up!”
“I haven’t grown up yet”, I replied, “but thank-you”.
She laughed: “Don’t grow up! It’s a trap”. I took this to mean she obviously spent as much time as me looking at quotes on Pinterest – I liked her, even without the compliments.
She asked me if I worked in fashion, telling me she’d never think to pair black Nikes with a smart outfit, and I laughed and told her that I didn’t work in fashion but did like comfy shoes and often got dressed half asleep. I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled that she’d told me I look glamorous and put-together, when I usually find it hard to even spell ‘glamorous’ (thanks, SpellCheck).
On the ‘having it together’ scale I am way more Waynetta Slob than Nigella Lawson.
Being considered a person who has their shit together is literally one of the highest compliments for me to receive because I spend most of my life literally feeling that I’m flying by the seat of my pants. For example, this Monday morning I had a disapproving phone call from Elfie’s teacher telling me that I’d forgotten to pay the next five days of her lunch money, and asking what they were supposed to feed her. Elfie was thrilled – she loves packed lunches – but I, the one who has to get up at 6.30am for the next week to make them, was not.
Then, this Tuesday, I accidentally piled mouldy cheese on top of my dinner – an aubergine pasta bake which I proceeded to ravenously eat – only realising on Wednesday when I went to get the mozzarella packet out of the fridge again in the daylight and noticed the mould and its its month-old expiry date (it tasted fine, in my defence). Yep, on the ‘having it together’ scale I am way more Waynetta Slob than Nigella Lawson.
However, there are two tools I employ each and every time that I leave the house, tools that immediately make me feel put together whether I’ve had only two hours sleep, ate a dinner of mouldy mozzarella or forgot to feed my kids.
I wear nail varnish and lipstick.
I don’t know what it is about women who have polished nails and slick lips, but something about the combination – I match if I’m feeling super fancy – just works. And means that strangers who don’t know you will compliment you on being a superwoman (I’m paraphrasing, but I inflate my compliments where I can).
In an ideal world I’d have constant gel manicured nails but, you know, TIME gets in the way of that. So as a compromise I use Essie, who produce the longest-lasting polishes I’ve found, topped with Seche Vite (a finger-painting saviour). This way my at-home nails will last between 5 days and a week. My favourite colours are Luxedo, Bordeaux and Fifth Avenue (worn above). On the lips I like Clinique’s Chubby Sticks – Grandest Grape is a nice colour to go with dark lips – and Rosie for Autograph lip glosses.
Job done – I might feel like Waynetta on the inside, but externally it’s pure Nigella.