I’ve always wanted a make-over, but I figured it would be way too expensive. So imagine my excitement when I got one for just 5K! It all started with the girl in Finance. She always looks so beautifully put together. At first, I’d just watch her and try to dissect her outfits. I wanted to see what it was about her clothes that worked.
Then I started to give her compliments. Seriously, that girl has style! Eventually, I got brave enough to ask her how she does it. It must take serious talent to look that gorgeous every day. She laughed and told me she blames it on her stylist. A few conversations and phone calls later, I was introduced to Hamida, Stylist to the Stars.
Hamida has a very simple process. She begins with an informal chat, where she finds out what you want. She asks what you like and don’t like, and makes a few suggestions based on your size, shape, and body type. This lets her know the scope she has to work with.
In my case, she asked how I feel about jackets, heels, and tights, just to figure out what my boundaries were. I told her that I can’t stand blazers and I can’t walk in heels. She also asked what kind of earrings I like, and agreed to build a focus on my jeans, since I wear them every day. She’d show me how to make them stylish, but she’d introduce a few new looks as well.
Next, she analysed my wardrobe. She arrived at my house at 7.00 a.m. on Saturday morning, and made me try on every single thing I owned, from t-shirts to delicates. She let me know what had to go and what I could keep, explaining everything clearly.
For example, she advised me to avoid clothes that have a zipper at the front, because they compress my chest area and make my plus-size bust look painfully unshapely. She suggested that buttons look better, because they divide my front section, whatever that means.
She dismissed roughly two thirds of my wardrobe, and showed me how to combine what was left for a better look. Most of what I kept was stuff I’d never worn before, because, you know, they weren’t jeans. But after she combined them so beautifully, and I saw how fabulous I could look, I agreed to wear ‘cloth pants’ at least twice a week.
Throughout the process, she made notes in her little book so she could remember what we needed to replace. She decided that I had enough bottoms (mostly cloth pants and some linens), but that she needed to get me new jeans, since she had eliminated all the pairs I owned. At my request, she also added skirts and a wrap dress to the list. The entire process took close to six hours, and for that, she charged me 5K.
At noon, we headed to Toi for some shopping. Hamida charges 1,000/= for every shopping spree, and this one lasted until 7.00 p.m. Items at Toi cost anything from 5 bob to 5K, depending on where you shop, so it’s always a fun [and very pocket-friendly] day out.
The shopping trip was a particularly interesting experience. We’d get to a stall and she’d pick out items for me to try on. Then she’d look at me and decide whether it suited me or not. If I didn’t like the item, she’d let it go, though there were a few that she insisted on despite my protests. In each case, she was absolutely right.
I had to try on an awful lot of clothes. At one stall, I tried on maybe 30 pairs of jeans, out of which she selected 10. Out of the 10, we picked the best 4, for budgetary reasons – each pair of jeans cost me 150/=. Also, please note that in my inexperienced eyes, every one of those jeans looked the same.
Next I tried on shirts, blouses, sweaters, and shoes. As it turns out, I’m not a shopaholic. At one point I got so dizzy and exhausted that I had to take a maize break. That literally meant sitting on a bench with my head between my knees, nibbling on boiled maize cobs. After half an hour, I felt much better and the shopping went on. By the end of the day, we had everything from flirty skirts to a gorgeous designer handbag. Total price tag? 5,000/=
On Day 2, we started at 8.00 a.m. Hamida sorted all the clothes that we had bought, and showed me what outfit went with what, including shoes, scarves, and earrings. I didn’t think I’d remember it all, so I made her take pictures. At 2.00 p.m. we went back to Toi to get a few things we had missed. The agenda for the day was dresses and shoes, and after 4 hours of shopping, we got 4 dresses, 4 sweaters, 4 belts, a pair of tights, and 2 pair of flats, all for less than 2K.
The following week, I was eager to show off my brand new look. Monday got me so many compliments that I was pretty much walking on air! Tuesday was a little more tricky, because it turned out the combination photos had an unsteady focus, so I couldn’t tell which clothes were which. Plus, I could barely remember what went with what, and ended up wearing something … interesting.
By Wednesday, I had given up and just threw together anything that matched. I keep forgetting to wear earrings, but I feel a little better in my skin, and I’ll probably ask Hamida to come back and redo my mix-and-matching. Because Hamida dressed me for my figure, I feel a lot less conscious about my weight. I’ve learnt that I can be gorgeous no matter how many [extra] inches are on my waistline, and that’s a wonderful feeling.
I didn’t know this last week, but a girl’s confidence is all inside her head. On the days when I’m convinced that I look good, I notice guys smiling at me, so I walk tall and proud. Not even sneers from fellow girls, insults from old women, or cat calls from construction workers faze me.
But on the day I wasn’t sure about my outfit, even my walk was different. I wobbled so much that my boot heel broke, and while I still noticed people staring at me, they didn’t seem to be smiling anymore. I was convinced it was because of how bad I looked, even though all these conversations resided deep inside my head.
Yesterday, I attended class, and after a bunch of compliments from my friends, a former co-tomboy grinned and asked me one simple question. ‘What time do you wake up to look that hot?’ I grinned back, because I’ve always prided myself in taking less than five minutes to get ready for work. Lately, I take 15 minutes on make-up alone! But that’s because I haven’t learnt how to do it properly, so I have to take it off and start afresh three times before I get it right.
Every woman wants to feel like a glamorous princess, and for a few days, this tomboy got to do just that. It only cost me 5K, and once I’ve figured out how to reproduce the process, I’ll feel like a princess again. Until then, I’ll just keep bugging Hamida for tuition.
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Crystal Ading' is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through threeceebee.com.