Every September as a teenager, I would make some small changes that probably went unnoticed but, for me, signalled a new me – a new school bag, new stickers for my pencil case or a slightly higher heel if I was really lucky.
Now, I’m all grown-up, but it’s still my secret New Year, a time when I always press reset and shake things up a bit with my wardrobe and beauty routine. The only obstacle is that, these days, September also coincides with my busiest time work- and family-wise, a month least suited to trying new things and adding hours on to my morning.
First up, my daughter’s preschool is back in session. After a summer spent as a quasi-bohemian – shoeless, glass of rosé in hand – this is brilliant news for my working life, but bad news for my mornings, 80 per cent of which will now be spent dressing and feeding my daughter and tying her hair in the school-directed system of nit-resistant plaits.
Then there’s my work as a beauty writer. Just as my husband starts a new semester for his masters alongside his full-time job, I will be thrown in at the deep end at fashion week, with all its many charms and urgent deadlines. I’m also starting a book, filming for my burgeoning YouTube channel and feverishly pitching stories, having recently gone back to the freelance world.
I’ve improved my lipstick-applying PB to four seconds. In fact, on that note, I’ve also reorganised my make-up and skincare so that I can make quicker work of navigating my dressing table
So, if I want to maintain my secret New Year shake-up – and I definitely do – it has to fit into a tiny window during my frantic morning dash. Clothes? Easy – I’ll just lay them out the night before. The Rodney Yee yoga DVD I swear will improve my posture? I’ll get up a bit earlier and convince the kid it’s a CBeebies show. But the beauty regime? That’s far trickier. I have my existing make-up schtick down pat – five minutes for foundation, liner, mascara and brows – but switching that routine up? It seems like I’ll have to either admit defeat or give up wearing clothes with buttons.
A practice run last week was a disaster. I found myself on an early train to London cold and nigh on make-up-free. So I applied my work brain to the situation and created a board on Pinterest. Browsing through "braids for short hair", I found an easy way to wave my hair in less than five minutes as well as a foolproof up-do for bobs. I didn’t think it was possible, but there was this clever woman whipping a bob into a chignon like it’s no big deal. There are the hairstyles you can prep for the night before and looks you can try in the event of a bad-hair day, with tutorials that make it easy to hide.
As for the make-up, my board means I’ve now got a loads of new looks to scroll through. Deciding on what look I want to try means I can lay out my make-up the night before, instead of rifling through umpteen stubby lipsticks or trying to find the elusive matching liner down the side of the sofa in the morning. I’ve improved my lipstick-applying PB to four seconds. In fact, on that note, I’ve also reorganised my make-up and skincare so that I can make quicker work of navigating my dressing table.
And that’s it in a nutshell, really – my “reinvention” this season is basically to plan ahead more. And, if it means I can squeeze in a cup of tea and a lengthier cuddle with my daughter in the mornings too, then it’s definitely working.
Click through to Grace's Pinterest board here.