Mission: how do you rig yourself out when everyone else at a party is going to be half your age?
Obviously your first response would be: ‘I’m not coming.’ It was certainly mine when my husband showed me the invitation to the wedding party of one of his colleagues and his new bride – who is also a fitness instructor.
I could immediately picture it: acres of firm young flesh – and me. The horror the horror.
But not going for that reason would be rude and wrong. You have to go. And you have to make an effort with your outfit too. Because arriving at a wedding party without looking done up is even ruder than not going.
So you have to try – just not as hard as any of the twenty somethings who will make up the vast majority of the other guests. This might be the only aspect of the evening that will be easy, as they will all have made a massive effort. Most of it dedicated to wearing as little as possible. How to look good naked – with a dress on.
There will be acres of young skin on display, much of it taut and toned. All of it spray tanned. In fact there will be no part of these people that hasn’t been chemically enhanced in some way, from the transfers on their toe nails (the new pedicure option instead of nail polish, they stay on for a month) to the hairspray on their backcombed crowns, with swathes of false eyelashes and lip gloss in between.
Really, the level of cosmetic application currently considered normal by young women is at levels not seen since the early 1960s. You’ve seen them on X Factor, made up like Danny la Rue for daywear, it’s incredible.
Dusty Springfield was an eye make-up cop out compared to this generation. Three layers of false eyelashes is not considered extravagant – if you haven’t had ‘Hollywood Lashes’ stuck on semi-permanently at a beauty salon.
The best response to all this, of course, is not to compete, but to wear your usual best going out make up look – i.e. everything you normally use, but more of it, plus that lip gloss you never wear because it sticks your mouth shut – and to have really great hair.
You can achieve the hair ideal of our generation in an hour, by going pro for a sleek and bouncy blow dry, or – buy a Babyliss Big Hair blow drier.
This miracle gadget is the greatest invention for women since the contraceptive pill (and the rampant rabbit). It’s a hair dryer with a rotating large bristle brush attached, so you can blow dry your own hair to near salon results, while finishing the crossword with the other hand. It’s like having your own personal Warren Beatty (Shampoo era) that you can plug in and blow out any time you need a barnet boost.
The trick is to use John Frieda Luxurious Volume spray on towel-dried hair, then dry to just damp with a normal hairdryer, with your head turned upside down, to give plenty of volume at scalp level.
Then, pin up the top ¾ of your hair with those big plastic clips hairdressers use and dry the lower layers, working your way gradually up the strata, turning it under or out, as suits your style. The perky little brush turns either way – you just push the button the opposite direction with your thumb, so simple.
Pay special attention to sleek-ify-ing the crown, parting and hairline, then hey presto, a done do. There’s a really good demo on Youtube showing you how http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBFF0_iVsdY I also found this independent (amateur…) one useful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dilkavI5_Xo&feature=related
It’s really astonishing how professional it looks and more importantly, you’ll feel swishy. Because how you feel – as opposed to how you look, which we never really know about ourselves – is what matters for an occasion like this.
So rather than worrying about whether you should go long or short, trousers or dress, black, sequin or jolly print, just do your hair and wear the party outfit that you always feel good in.
And if that includes high heels you can walk in, you’ll be way ahead of most of the other guests.