Neutral look to suit the Nineties

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The Independent Online
At heart I am a natural grungie. But when a colleague in the shoulder- padded Eighties told me I was "a cotton and knit girl" I was gutted, writes Anna Foster.

I had to change. I got myself a sliced-off bob haircut, had my ears pierced (cowardice had prevented that happening sooner) and discovered Joseph, MaxMara and Emporio Armani.

Since then, I have slipped again. A baby and a new life working part- time from home have put my jeans and T-shirts back in active service and resigned my suits to the wardrobe.

Could my appearance be rescued? I decided to visit Susan Keydar of Confident Image who said that she would dress me for the Nineties.

She told me to wear my favourite outfit (a curvy, silky two-piece from I Blues) and bring my least favourite (a genuine blunder - a mushroom coloured, below-the-knee suit from MaxMara).

Keydar offers colour, beauty and style consultations. Colour came first. My warm coloured skin and soft looks meant that I needed to wear muddy browns, olive greens and rusts.

Gulp. Did that mean my adored fuchsia pink MaxMara jacket was out? Yes, it did. Worse was to come - black didn't suit me. But that was half my wardrobe gone.

As Susan applied sage green eye-shadow and sandalwood lipstick to me, she reassured me that I wouldn't be a fashion freak in the Nineties without my black Joseph suit.

The harsh, angular look of the Eighties has gone and been replaced by neutral colours and softer lines and fabrics.

We moved on to style. In the beauty world, women come in just seven different shapes. Having consulted various charts, Susan decided I was a short-waisted, long-legged, curved pear shape. My short jackets and full skirts would have to go. Long jack-ets and straight lines were for me.

By now I had mentally emptied most of my wardrobe. Susan had news for me - I had to do the real thing. But that was later.

It remained for her to vet my two outfits. She approved of my favourite, even if in theory the small floral pattern didn't suit me.

As for my Salvation Army suit, it was worse than I thought. The colour was wrong, the cut was boring and it didn't fit. I needed to lose four inches in the length of the jacket to make up for my short waist.

After all this, my confidence should have been at an all-time low. But I actually felt armed with new knowledge about what colours and styles suited me.

I dumped my old make-up (black mascara and eye-liner) and weeded out my wardrobe, now knowing why this outfit had never looked quite right. Why had no shop assistant guided me in the right direction before?

Next, I shall be going shopping with my colour swatches, aware that not every colour and style I like likes me. My only problem is what to do with my old wardrobe. Does anyone want a black, short-skirted Joseph suit?

Susan Keydar can be contacted for personal and corporate consultations on 0181-998 3505.

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