Sunglasses can conceal far more than tiredness; a simple slick of lipstick appears considered, organised, ‘together’. If you’re going to invest in something for yourself (other than a decent, expertly fitted bra – which is always advisable) then a lipstick or a pair of sunglasses are easy, everyday & affordable armour.
Whatever the situation or season, I’m rarely without sunglasses or lipstick either on or about my person. They’re not secret weapons, they’re glaringly obvious & that’s why I like them; they detract from everything else. On first impressions, I almost look serene here & that’s thanks in large part to them. A bit of window gazing & watching the world drift by from the comfort of my train carriage – albeit seated in those Smurf-blue, itchy seats with suspicious stains & my hair wafting in the un-necessarily hot blast of smoky radiator air.
I’m aware it looks a tad ‘smell the fart’ method acting but Joey’s technique is a good way to remember to b-r-e-a-t-h-e & check in with yourself ‘hey, how you doin’?’ This was my first trip into London by train then tube since I had my daughter & without my husband by my side (less hand holder more hand squeezer, for me); usually opting for him to drive down on visits. My Anxiety, which for the most part I’m managing really rather well, had been stopping me.
Despite the fact it’s a journey I’ve done countless times. Despite the fact that my destination that day was in my old neighbourhood – I was headed to the BDC Islington for Stylist Live – & I could have probably managed it blindfolded. It filled my head with dread & my armpits with sweat. It kept me awake the night before; I was tired & anxious which is never a good combination. So in truth, what you see in the photograph is me trying to focus on techniques learned & practiced in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Other than my daily dose of Sertraline, these methods have enabled me to cope with some stressful situations, get back on the road driving my beloved little car & go about my everyday activities as a busy Mum.
I’ve learned from experience that avoiding social situations or ‘trigger’ circumstances simply isn’t helpful in the longer term. Finding patience & understanding in both yourself & in friends or loved ones – even relative strangers – is incredibly helpful too. Being able to accept anxious thought as just that: simply thoughts. I can acknowledge them & then quieten them. I used to battle & brawl with them but now it’s more of a whisper; they have been tamed. I don’t have to get on that particular train just because it’s pulled up to my Head Station. I was also very fortunate to be accompanied by my lovely & patient friend, Rhiannon, who just happens to be a Doctor, a Psychologist (& no, we didn’t meet in Therapy). She acted as my Knight that day. She loves lipstick & sunglasses as armour as much as I do.
My go-to Lipsticks to face the day:
Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in ‘Nude-ist!’ £8.99*
This does exactly what it says on the tin (well, tube). Technically it looks like a gloss applicator but it feels like soft, velvety lipstick. This particular hue is a slightly deeper, rosier shade than that of my natural lips & glides in all the gaps without much care. I now wear this more than any other lipstick & it sits amongst my vast collection of lip balms (I always wear balms either under or over my lipsticks unless it’s very matte). I like to pair it with my favourite tinted Burt’s Bees balm in Hibiscus. (NB: Bourjois is currently on offer at Boots 2-for-£12)
MAC ‘Lady Danger’ £15.50
This particular punchy shade of coral-red needs no introduction from me. It’s earned its reputation as a modern icon of a shade & I can spot it a (s)mile away. It really does suit everyone & if you don’t own it, try it to see what the fuss is about. MAC are great at letting you try stuff if you can manage to squeeze through the typical teenage clientele. Go on a weekday during Term Time to ensure pleasantry rather than panic or take a gamble & order it online. This is also a great gift for any friend, particularly if they need a little boost.
Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips in ‘Electric Poppy’ £23
Charlotte Tilbury is an inspirational bombshell of a woman in every sense & her cosmetics will make you feel a bit like that too. A world famous Makeup Artist & Mother of two herself, she gets what women want, how they feel & their desires. ‘Give the woman the right makeup & she can conquer the world’ is one of her mantras. Hers is the right stuff. I always intend to buy individual pieces from her range to build up a collection but as I’ve adored everything I’ve tried, I end up repeat purchasing the same items. Now that a concession has just opened close to home, I made a beeline for the counter to try something new. I couldn’t resist my daughter’s namesake shade; it was love at first swipe.
Tom Ford Lip Colour in ‘Cherry Lush’£39
For when you need to bring out the big guns. Forty quid for a single lipstick? Yes & it’s worth every single penny. I’m waging you might easily spend this sum on Coffee or snacks on-the-go within in average month, so cut back on those (opting for quality over quantity on fewer occasions & get yourself a flask – I wouldn’t suggest anyone give up that pleasure entirely) even for a little while to save up. Better still, ask Santa for a Tom Ford Lipstick. I’ve got a few in my arsenal now & they are amazing. From the sturdy yet sleek, glossed black & glittering gold encasing the creamy jewel within, to the ease of application & staying power, to the satisfying case click. Ah! Tom Ford just does sexy like no other. I save mine for special occasions, date nights or if I’m not feeling very special about myself. It’s an investment in transformative powers.
My security blanket Sunglasses:
Topshop ‘Cateye Monochrome’ £16
This is a similar style that I purchased a few years back & even at their price tag, they’re still going strong despite being dropped countless times, being used as a teether/toy & even surviving the washing machine. Perhaps not the most protective of eyewear, they just feel a little bit fun & are usually kept near my house keys or in my changing bag. They’re my grab-&-go-don’t-care-if-I-lose-them pair.
Ray-Ban ‘Wayfarer‘ £165
These are my second pair of Wayfarers. My husband & I used to argue over who would get to wear them so we decided to buy another pair. There’s nothing I can say about them that hasn’t already been said or demonstrated throughout history of their rockstar cool credentials. They can take a good bashing too. I often wear mine with a Frame Chain so I don’t lose or misplace them & I do love a bit of practical quirkiness to offset a classic.
Karen Walker ‘Super Duper Strength’ £180
I actually won this pair of bug-eyed beauties a few years ago – Thank you Browns & despite being quite a bold style (& pink! – sadly unavailable now), I find them incredibly wearable & fun. The lenses & frames are on the larger side of the shades spectrum but therein lies their unique charm. Karen Walker is the queen of quirk & I really want another of her designs to add to my ammo. I’ve noted the Metals Collection made of what appears to be Valyrian Steel*; now there’s some armour! On the flip side, there’s also a Limited Edition of Liberty Print pairs of prettiness if you’re of that persuasion. Whatever style you opt for, they are good conversation starters or avoiders (the lenses are especially dark).
*GoT fan here.
I’d love to hear what lipstick bullet you like to bite or how you like to hide in the shade. If you have any other questions about either the products I swear by or my tips for coping with Anxiety issues please comment below. Sometimes it’s ok to fake it until you make it 😉
6 thoughts on “Anxious Armour”
Oh S, this resonates on so many levels. Feeling like we’re equipped to face the day (sunnies and lippie) can work wonders, especially on those hard times of struggling. You write beautifully xxx
Thank you H,
Sometimes the little things are just enough to give us a push out the door.
As Helen says, this resonates on so many levels, not least of all a reliance on Sertraline to get me through my day. And, oh my goodness, I’ve lost count of the number of situations I’ve avoided, only prolonging the agony. As you say accepting anxiety actually goes a long way to helping you feel like you’re in control of it, rather than it controlling you. We all need those hands to hold and aside from my husband, my best friend is always there for me. She knows me through and through and I can’t pull the wool over her eyes, which whilst I might not appreciate sometimes, is good for me. But she is my Knight now that Mummy isn’t around. And actually you would never see Mummy without her lipstick or her sunglasses. They were definitely her armour – usually a Rouge Dior in a deep plummy red. For me, Chanel Rouge in Pirates is my ultimate armour. As for sunglasses, classic Audrey Hepburn style but nothing expensive as they usually end up getting chewed by a certain cocker spaniel.
I’m so glad you’ve spoken about this and in such a wonderful way.
Thank you so much & for your beautifully heartfelt reply. Sometimes, our nearest & dearest do know us better than ourselves (or at least don’t try & sugar coat situations but challenge those fears head-on when we can’t quite muster the strength ourselves). ‘Pirates’ is a perfect battle worthy shade for navigating choppy waters matey 😉 It made me think of my Grandma, Betty who always had immaculate nails & perfectly set hair right until the end. It always strikes me as odd that cosmetics – or even Fashion – can be dismissed as frivolous when they are so much more than that.
Great post Sophie – I feel so similar to you and suffer with anxiety so this post could have been written about me. I was also pretty nervous about going to Stylist Live on my own too. It would have been very easy to not go – especially as it involved a very early start and rail replacement buses! I usually persuade my husband to come with me, even though I used to live in London and used to manage fine. But I’m so glad I challenged myself to go on my own – helped by the nice easy walk from Kings Cross – and felt really good after a day spent talking to new people and a fab happiness workshop (which I’ll write about soon). I actually feel fine when I’m doing these things, it’s the just the worrying about them in advance that’s the problem. But I’m trying to avoid things less and I’ll be back to London next week. Thanks again for sharing this xx
Thank you & good for you! *High fives* Argh, transport woes in the mix too (will they ever end?) The more we challenge it, the more ‘normal’ those situations become & fears become routine. We’ll have to co-ordinate on an event some time; I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Stylist Live. Got quite a few meetings & events coming up so more practice for me! S xx