How to not look frazzled (when you definitely are)

Bright red nails, long dresses and very dark glasses – Stacey Duguid has just spent a week abroad with two kids under five and she’s found a surprising way to cope

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By Stacey Duguid on

“I see you stayed out of the sun, love,” remarked my mother upon seeing my pallid complexion the day I returned from holiday. Suitcase still in hand, I glared at my reflection in the hallway mirror. Oh, it must be Halloween – why else am I wearing white ghoulish make-up with drawn-on black circles for eyes? “Call 999 – I need a blood transfusion,” I yelled as I legged it upstairs to find the fake tan.

I hadn’t “stayed” out of the sun intentionally. It wasn’t vanity – I don’t fear wrinkles or wear factor 50 like a sensible person. I’d been on “holiday” with a just-turned-three- and five-year-old, and hadn’t sat down for more than 30 minutes straight in seven days. Lie on a sunlounger? Gimme a break. Stand in a hotel swimming pool for hours on end, being directed by an omnipotent three-year-old wearing an inflatable unicorn, more like. As Chief Unicorn Operator, it was my duty to whizz her round the deep end of the pool as fast as possible while her brother jumped on my head. Repeatedly. Yay, it was fun!

Nights were spent staging dramatic puppet shows at the dinner table (because slugging wine while wearing a Winnie the Pooh hand puppet is an excellent look). Colouring-in competitions only ended when someone finally had an end-of-day meltdown and the iPad was whipped from my bag, much to the judgement of other diners. (Guys, I have to eat.) Twelve hours of “Mummy, Martha hit me!”, “M-U-M-M-Y, my B-U-M!” and “Mummy, I’m going to be sick” (as the five-year-old declared two seconds before he chundered red vomit all over the hire car) was hardly conducive to a suntan…

A silent woman wearing skyscraper heels, frocks and sunglasses indoors may sound like a bad impression of Anna Wintour, but it’s my way of surviving the school holidays

“Relaxing holiday?” colleagues asked. “Yes, very,” I lied as my mind flashed back to the emergency handbrake turn my partner performed when our son announced he was going to shit himself. Swerving across a dual carriageway in Italy so a five-year-old can poop behind a cactus is so deeply relaxing. I shuffled past, which suggests I was in head-to-toe rags, no make-up and unwashed hair, but in fact the opposite is true. The shuffling was due to wearing high heels to work for the first time in five years. Oh, yes, that’s right – the only way to survive the school holidays is dress like you’re going to the Oscars at 9am. 

I styled out the rest of the week by upping my fashion game to the point of borderline ridiculous. I smothered my body in Lancôme tanning mouse (it’s a number-one seller and I can see why – it lasts for ages and the application is foolproof). I went to the local beauty wotsit and had a bright red gel manicure. I donned outfits usually saved for best, like my fave high-heeled ankle boots, which I wore bare-legged with a floral mini skirt. During my first week back, I wore sunglasses indoors, which, btw, I highly recommend because a) nobody comes to your desk on account of the fact you look insane and b) you can close your eyes and go to sleep without getting fired.

“Ooh, someone had a relaxing holiday – you look great,” gushed young, child-free colleagues as I swished past in a floor-length black dress and platform shoes. Mistaken for ballsy insouciance, I was basically too tired to reply. A silent woman wearing skyscraper heels, frocks and sunglasses indoors may sound like a bad impression of Anna Wintour, but it’s my way of surviving the school holidays. And, like all things parent-related, do whatever gets you through. Like letting the kids watch the iPad when your hand’s been up Winnie the Pooh’s ass for five hours.

Stacey's ANTi-frazzled fashion edit


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Stacey Duguid

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