I’m sure you remember the mad week before Christmas. You were desperately trying to finish your Christmas shopping and I was pestering you to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards “readers’ round.” Well, as you know, your kindness won me a place in the finals and the big event was last weekend.
Like most people, I have been to lots of Awards ceremonies. A lot of them were during my years at Selfridges when we were in the process of regenerating the store and we always won. This was very different though. Being shortlisted for something that you put so much of yourself into is a real privilege and the days running up to it felt very exciting.
As you can imagine, as a finalist in the Fashion and Beauty category, in the run up to the event I was overwhelmed with offers of outfits to wear and beauty treatments. In fact I could probably have completely reinvented myself if I’d had the time and the inclination. In the end though, I accepted just two of the offers of help because I thought they’d make a real difference. I’ll start by showing you those.
UK Blog Awards – The Build Up
The first was a treatment from HD Brows. Looking at the eyebrows sported by my blogger friends, I have been aware for a while that I probably need to up my brow game. I wasn’t sure where to start and when HD Brows got in touch, my first reaction was one of alarm.
I assumed they would want to give me the dark waxy brows that have been doing the rounds for a while now. However they promised me that they wouldn’t and booked me in to a local salon for an HD Brow Experience. Here’s the ‘before’ picture. I’ve always quite liked my eyebrows but I’m aware that like the rest of me, they seem to be fading.
I’d been too busy to research the treatment beforehand so the first thing I will say is that I didn’t expect it to be so thorough. It starts with an assessment of your brows and measuring to see if they are in proportion with your face. The verdict was that mine hadn’t been overplucked but needed to grow a bit in length.
They were then tinted using a light brown dye. It felt a bit too dark for my face at first but I was assured that it fades quite quickly to about 40% of the initial colour. They were then shaped using a combination of waxing and threading. Finally they were finished with a tinted eyebrow cream which was worked in with strokes to make the brows look fuller. I left with a written plan for my brows, the idea being that they will reach their full potential after a few treatments.
Here’s the end result. The light in this shot was a bit kinder because the evening sun was flooding through the windows however I do think they are an improvement. I’m even happier with them now that they have lightened a little. So – HD Brows, yes I would definitely recommend it but bear in mind it will take about 1.5 hours for the first treatment and you will need to factor in ongoing sessions at 5- 6 week intervals for upkeep.
The other beauty offer that I jumped at was for eyelash extensions. This was a treatment that would never have occurred to me but I have always wished my eyelashes were longer. I was contacted by Becca from RebeccaRoseArtistry. She has recently relocated to Cumbria from London and she specialises in eyelashes. She is a really lovely person and she spent three hours painstakingly gluing three eyelashes to each single one of mine to give me a more doe-eyed look.
Because the effect is subtle, it was quite difficult to get a photo to show you but my attempts kept me (and quite a few other people on the train) entertained as I was travelling down to London. Despite being subtle, the difference that the eyelashes make is noticeable all of the time. In the picture below, the only make-up I am wearing is lipstick.
UK Blog Awards – the big day
So, in my low maintenance world that was enough pampering and it was time to get on with the event. I think Mr MC was more excited than I was on the morning of the awards. As you know, our courtship days were spent in London and we still go down regularly. However we realised that this would be the first time we had been alone in London without a meeting to go to (or the boys to cater for) since 1998.
Selfridges was the place that brought us together so we headed straight there for lunch. We were keen to go to the new Roof Deck restaurant because it is located pretty much where our offices used to be. It was a cool place but we had to ask ourselves if we have just become very Northern or if this really is pretty poor value for £25. At least I didn’t need to worry about being bloated later in the evening!
After ‘lunch’ I had booked to have my make-up done in the Beauty Hall. Initially I had reserved a session at Charlotte Tilbury but they very quickly drove me mad by sending endless emails addressing me as ‘darling’ so I cancelled it. I followed my instinct and went to Bobbi Brown instead.
I can’t say it was an especially enjoyable experience – neither the girl who applied my make-up nor any of the other staff I spoke to were very friendly. I do wonder though if that is part of the Selfridges’ culture these days.
When we regenerated the store, our mission was to make everyone welcome. Shopping there was intended to be an “exciting, inviting, metropolitan experience.” Now it seems to have veered towards the premium/exclusive “you don’t have to be rich to shop here but it helps” attitude that we were always determined to avoid.
Anyway regardless of the experience, I was happy with the results. My make-up was exactly as I had hoped it would be – and it was lovely to spend a few hours with Mr MC at our alma mater, even if it does lack ‘alma’ these days.
So, it was time to head off to our hotel. We had booked to stay at the new Hilton Hotel at Bankside, purely because of its location. Here’s a quick outfit shot for you before I forget.
And so getting ready was easy – all I had to do was shower without ruining my make-up and get changed. In fact I had to wait for Mr MC which was a first! It was an easy walk along the river to the UK Blog Awards venue at Westminster Bridge and so we had a good opportunity to take some outfit photos.
UK Blog Awards – the outfit
As I told you last week, deciding what to wear was a no brainer. I really, really wanted to buy this Finery jumpsuit at Christmas but I didn’t have an event that would justify it. So when I was informed that I was through to the finals on 1st January I went straight to the website to order it.
Other than checking it fitted when it arrived, I hadn’t actually tried it on again until the night before the UK Blog Awards. I’d planned to wear it with my Finery navy leather jacket but when I had my quick trial run, it just didn’t feel right. I headed into my dressing room with a mild sense of panic – the weather forecast said it was going to be a chilly night so I needed a coat of some sort.
This is the jacket that I emerged with – I’ve had it for years but have never worn it. It has been on my Marie Kondo pile so many times but a little voice has always told me to put it back and thank goodness I did.
Being by the River Thames was as bad as my usual coastal locations, a bitter wind was blowing…
… so when I had to take my jacket off to show you the jumpsuit, Mr MC suggested I stand by this lady because she was evidently feeling as frozen as I was (that’s what was making me laugh)!
So you might be wondering why I instinctively chose to wear a jumpsuit even though I was offered lots of free evening dresses. There were two reasons. Firstly I didn’t want to have yet another item that would only be worn once hanging in my dressing room reproachfully.
Secondly, since I have been writing this blog, I have realised that I have a very classic look. You’ve been with me through my hair adventures and between us we have seen that, however hard I try, I do not suit an ‘on trend messy bob.’ My hair just looks best when it is neat, short and tidy.
Sometimes you have to accept these facts and work your style around them. In my case, my classic look means that if I am not careful, I can look frumpy. Because I was by far the oldest of the Fashion and Beauty finalists, I didn’t want to look either older or younger than I am. I just wanted to look like me and this jumpsuit look felt right.
The last time I chose an outfit as easily as this was for my wedding day. I saw a dress in a shop window before I had even started looking and knew it was the one. I went in, tried it on, loved it and bought it without looking anywhere else. It was as simple as that (Mr MC and his bespoke Savile Row suit was, however, another story…).
The shoes were the ones that I bought and recommended on here at Christmas and I’ve had the clutch for ages although there is an almost identical one in this year’s range with 25% off at the moment.
So I think that’s every detail of my outfit covered – oh of course someone will email to ask if I was wearing Spanx, so I’ll say here – no I wasn’t. I can’t stand them and I didn’t want to be remotely uncomfortable. I think I just about got away with it thanks to the velvet.
Moving on to jewellery, my earrings were a very kind gift from my friends at Eternal Collection. They were my nod to trend and I balanced them out with a very simple gold star necklace. I also wore my grandmother’s engagement ring and my mum’s wedding ring, partly for luck and partly because I needed yellow gold rather than platinum. I bought the bangle when I was shopping earlier in the afternoon – some of you may have spotted the clue earlier in the bag I was carrying.
UK Blog Awards – the party
Right that’s enough of that, let’s move on to the party. As I said last week, the other members of the Over40Collective came along to join us (although we were missing Liz from WhatLizzyLoves who was celebrating her son’s birthday). Annette from LadyofStyle had fought her way through a very snowy Bavaria to get to us (notice the statement earrings)…
…it was really exciting to see them all arrive…
You’d think it would be easy to get a sensible photo of a group of style bloggers…
…we nearly managed it below but Greetje from nofearoffashion was cracking up this time (and it looks as though we’re keeping Annette awake but I don’t think she actually was yawning). Huge thanks to Greetje for coming over from Holland to join us.
Looking at our brightly coloured clutch bags, you’d think we planned them but we didn’t! It illustrates why I’m always telling you to pick up great clutches in the sales though.
And so the evening began. There were drinks and light bites to eat before we went into the auditorium for the Awards Ceremony. It was a long one – there had been over 2,000 entries and there were lots of categories to sit through but eventually we made it to Fashion and Beauty.
It was a tense moment as the eight shortlisted blogs were announced. The standard of competition was high and neither of us dared to hope that we would get any further but then Midlifechic was announced as one of the two runners up (here’s the moment it flashed up on the screen)…
…and Catherine was announced as the winner! So it was a huge triumph for over 40 bloggers. Two of us reached the finals and we managed to sweep two of the top three places.
I must just say that Catherine absolutely deserved to win. I have never met a blogger as dedicated to her blog as she is or, in fact, the business of blogging in general. She really does live, breathe, eat and sleep it. It was the third time that she had reached the finals and I’m so pleased for her that she has received this recognition.
This was when the winners and highly commended were asked to go onto the stage for photos and it gives you an idea of how much older we were than the other bloggers.
So, after that it was time to have a few drinks and celebrate…
… and Greetje even treated us to an impromptu fashion show as she went through her goody bag.
Like any Cinderella story, it ended at midnight and we all went home. Well actually Mr MC and I went back to our hotel, got changed and tried to find a cool bar for a nightcap. As it happened, everything was closed so we ended up having a long walk along the moonlit Thames which was lovely.
UK Blog Awards – the morning after
The following morning (thanks to our our Selfridges’ lunch and canapé dinner) we were starving – do people really eat so little in London? We had breakfast…
…followed by a mooch around the Tate. I look very ‘morning after the night before’ in this shot. Or maybe, as a result of the commendation, I’ve morphed into a proper fashion blogger who never smiles!
We then headed off to Borough Market for a little more refuelling. I have a new top from Baukjen. I’m finding their jersey tops are a great replacement for bretons on days when you want to wear something relaxed that still has a little something about it. And yes I do still have my finalist’s wristband on like a teenager after a festival – but it’s only because I couldn’t get it off. Mr MC even tried to remove it with his teeth but to no avail!
And so that, my friends, was my very exciting weekend. It’s all thanks to you that I experienced it and it was lovely from start to finish. In fact I do want to say that the absolute highlight of the evening for me was being told by two of the organisers that Midlifechic received many more reader votes than any of the other 2,000 blogs that were in the running.
That knowledge inspires me to keep on working at what I’m doing here. All bloggers have their niches and mine is to raise the profile of all women over 40 in the eyes of the brands I meet. I want them to take us (and our financial clout) more seriously by creating the clothes we want to wear at the prices we are willing to pay.
And here’s a thing – longstanding readers will remember that Boden stopped inviting me to their press events after I wrote critically about their collections. Well, lo and behold I have been invited back so I’m going down to London again on Thursday to see what is coming up for Autumn. I will do my best to talk to someone on the Boden team and convey the thoughts of Midlifechic readers. Onwards my friends…onwards.
Disclosure: ‘What it’s like to be a finalist at the UK Blog Awards’ is not a sponsored post. Thank you to HD Brows and RebeccaRose Artistry for my beauty treatments and to Eternal Collection for the earrings I wore for the UK Blog Awards.
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