With just months until my 40th birthday, I was on the look-out for a good midlife crisis to strike fear into my wife.
Should I buy a sports car? No, I haven’t the money. Should I take up an extreme sport? No, I haven’t the bottle. Should I have an affair with a much younger woman? Dream on, Adrian.
But when I was offered a professional style makeover while spending a weekend in a luxury London apartment, I knew my search was at an end.
Even in my teenage years, when I had a full head of hair and a flat stomach, I was never a dedicated follower of fashion.
And whenever I bought something on-trend it became ‘‘so last year’’ quicker than you could say parachute pants.
These days, I’m what you’d call a fairly safe dresser. In fact, I think I’ve been single-handedly keeping Next and Burton afloat for years.
My wife, Jayne, pulls a face if I try something ‘young’ because, I like to think, she’s worried I might attract admiring glances from ladies.
In truth, it’s because she’s terrified I’ll look ridiculous and embarrass her – which is why a fashion fix was so fiendishly perfect for a midlife crisis.
Enter Londoner Rachel Gold, an expert styling and grooming consultant who has been turning frogs into princes for 20 years.
She has a proven record of helping busy executives look the part in the boardroom and on the beach, at an interview and on a date.
Rachel’s company, Wardrobe Junkies, has teamed up with The Cheval Group, London’s leading provider of luxury serviced apartments.
Blokes on business or pleasure in the capital are offered a variety of shopping and grooming packages ranging from two hours (£200) to a full day (£600).
First, Rachel will compile a ‘shopping list’ using a colour consultation, a personality profile and a questionnaire to discover his likes, dislikes and budget.
Then, he’ll be led around some of London’s iconic shopping streets and hidden gems, meeting tailors and shop managers to build a perfectly coordinated collection.
Or the client can allow Rachel free rein, safe in the knowledge that she has a 95 per cent ‘first hit’ success rate and that items can always be returned or exchanged.
On this occasion, Rachel brought a range of outfits to my apartment at Calico House, a Cheval Group property near St Paul’s Cathedral.
And the transformation began… for the first time in my life I was wearing cardigans, chinos, car shoes and boat shoes – and was surprised how much I was liking it.
Rachel disproved my long-held belief that dark, baggy shirts hid my belly, demonstrating how I’d be better off with lighter, slim-fit or narrow-cut shirts.
I’d expressed in advance my dislike of T-shirts but before I could blink I was wearing them beneath open shirts and waistcoats, layers being the key word.
Again, Rachel had proved me wrong.
Mixing designer labels with high street brands a new, younger me was emerging – and even Jayne approved.
The missus turned pale.
‘‘I’m very fond of it,’’ I replied, ‘‘on women.’’
Then out came a bunch of bead bracelets, which, I have to admit, I took quite a fancy to. The metrosexual look was completed with a loosely-tied scarf and a ‘man-bag’.
The next day, I was out and about in the capital in my open shirt/T-shirt combo and proudly showing off my bracelets.
I’m still not sure I’d like any of my mates to see me wearing a scarf or a man-bag but Rachel’s given me the confidence to broaden my horizons – and that’s not my midlife crisis talking.
My only regret is that I didn’t meet this delightful, personable fashion goddess 20 years ago.
But you know what they say… life begins at 40.
For more details visit Rachel’s website
Left: Linen colourless shirt, £25, from M&S; Shorts, £25, from M&S; Car shoes, £165, from Matches Fashion; Round-neck T-shirt, £2, from Primark. Centre: Shirt, £85, from Thomas Pink; Blue Harbour chinos, £29.95 from M&S; Round-neck T-shirt, £2, from Primark; Brown boat shoes, £8, from Primark; Canvass belt, £15, from M&S. Right: Jacket, £348, from Matches Fashion; Jeans, £168, from Matches Fashion; Round-neck T-shirt, £2, from Primark; Shirt, £8 from Primark; Trainers, £45, from M&S; Bracelets from M&S.
Birmingham Mail fashion editor Zoe Chamberlain says: “Visiting a style consultant, or personal shopper, is a great idea for anyone at any age. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of wearing the same clothes each day, and perhaps not recognising that your shape or style has changed over the years. Adrian and Rachel have shown how embracing a new look can really boost your confidence and make you feel good.’’
Calico House apartments, London
Where to stay
The Cheval Group has 287 impeccably furnished, serviced apartments at six central London locations. You can choose from Knightsbridge, Calico House (St Paul’s Cathedral), Phoenix House (Sloane Square), Hyde Park Gate, Thorney Court (Kensington Gardens) and Gloucester Park. The apartments benefit from top-of-the-range kitchens, daily maid service, cctv and personal video entry phone, satellite tv, complimentary local health club membership, a welcome hamper and wireless broadband (£30 per week). Prices at Calico House start from £850 per week for a studio apartment and rise to £1,550 per week for a two-bedroom penthouse with a rooftop terrace. For more information, visit www.chevalgroup.com
Where To Shop
- Matches Fashion, which stocks high end designer brands, has a number of stores including the flagship in Notting Hill. There is also a store in Birmingham’s Mailbox. www.matchesfashion.com.
- Thomas Pink, which makes quality shirts and has a bespoke service, has a number of stores including the flagship in Jermyn Street. www.thomaspink.com.
- Sartorial Rebels, of Market Street, Watford, sells off the peg and makes bespoke quality suits, and is popular with Premiership footballers who appreciate style with a twist. Click here