Before and after

In her thirties, a woman is meant to turn into an elegant, confident dresser who doesn't buy mistakes. But how?

If nature did not intend for you to dress at the height of well- groomed good taste, there is often very little you can do about it. Even some Hollywood stars, with all the image advice, manicures and expensive hair cuts that money can buy, have problems. Jodie Foster was always a bit too butch to be elegant, while Emma Thompson was too jolly hockey sticks. Classic dressing is something it takes some years to perfect.

Jodie Foster has had the unenviable pleasure of growing up in the public eye. We remember her as a plain tomboy child star in Bugsy Malone, and the brash and awkward child prostitute in Taxi Driver. During her twenties, she was always the one that the TV cameras cruelly zoomed in on at the Oscars, scanning her clumsily thrown together outfits. Jodie Foster and taffeta ball gowns were never meant to be; she was a sartorial mess, a blip on the Hollywood glamour scale.

And then, like the once frumpy Emma Thompson, she discovered Giorgio Armani (or he discovered her). Ever since her first appearance in 1991 wearing a sleek evening gown, Foster hasn't looked back. At last year's Oscars, she wore a full-length black beaded evening gown that positively reeked sophistication. The actress/director and archetypal Nineties businesswoman has grown her hair into a professional bob, discovered the gentle glow of subtle make-up and become a classic dresser extraordinaire.

The rock star-turned-actress Courtney Love, meanwhile, has made a conscious effort in the past to look as grotty and as badly-groomed as she can. But even she seems to have turned over a new leaf this year, abandoning her bleached rat-tails for a sleek new hairdo, and swapping her crumpled old underslips for demure evening gowns. If Ms Love - who by nature is a decidedly scruffy young woman - can make the classic transformation, anyone can.

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