Kiwi website offers 'self-help' makeovers

DANIELLE HEYNS
Last updated 10:36 18/09/2013
Gorgeous Me
Gorgeous Me

TRANSFORMED: Claire Sherrington, before and after her Gorgeous Me makeover. She says the experience made her realise the importance of making an effort. ‘‘Your appearance isn’t just for the audience, but for yourself, too.’’

Lisa Lyford
Gorgeous Me
GET GORGEOUS: Lisa Lyford says she wants women to help themselves feel more confident.

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Gorgeous Me is not just another personal styling business.

DIY and public service are some of the words owner Lisa Lyford uses to describe it. The women who go for the makeovers - Lyford calls them models - don't pay for the service. Their before-and-after photos are shared on gorgeousme.co.nz to give other women an idea of what they can try themselves.

Lyford, who's based in Wellington, chooses women with varying body shapes, skin tones and hair colours to give as many women as possible ideas of how to improve their own image. She wants all Kiwi and Aussie women to recognise someone like themselves on the site. And she wants it to be a handy guide to what to buy where, even for those of us with a budget more suited to Glassons than Karen Walker.

Her driving values are being practical and accessible.She's surprised by the gems that come out the likes of The Warehouse. ''We had a $16 top that just transformed an outfit. If you work out the cost per wear, you'd have it down to 50 cents in no time.''

The 45-year-old, who has a marketing and communications background, walked around with the idea for Gorgeous Me at the back of her mind for many years.

''In my marketing days, I heard little cries for help: people wanted me to take them shopping."

People say she's stylish, that she has an eye for fashion. It was earlier this year - after she went on an Outward Bound course and realised how much she was capable of  - that Gorgeous Me was finally born.

She hopes to eventually run Gorgeous Me as a profit-making business, funded by advertising. She believes if she builds great content, they will come. Well-known names like EziBuy and Jacqui E are already on board.

It's older women who need most help, she thinks. It's better for the under-35s, because clothes are so affordable and they're used to turning to the internet for style tips.

Older women have often simply not learned the tools for picking the right things. They're either self-taught or were taught by their mothers. Many are stuck in a style rut or overwhelmed by the choices out there. They are unable to whittle them down because they don't know what styles and colours suit them. One of her models had never worn makeup.

''We grew up in an era where if you spoke kindly about yourself, you were seen to be vain. We now know that's not the case, but that's the historical baggage people carry around.''

She's still shocked by the negative things women say about themselves and won't hesitate to call them on it. She wants women to be able to look in the mirror and see themselves as gorgeous.  As we age, we tend to lose confidence and often end up last on our own priority list, she says.

''Women who don't feel good about themselves often wouldn't consider going to a personal stylist - they see it as an extravagance.''

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The idea is that, over time, women will gain the confidence to make these changes themselves. It's not an overnight transformation, but more of a journey.

''I want to make a difference in how women see themselves. I want to help women help themselves. A personal stylist can only ever get to one person at a time. This is self-help.''

Things like a 46-year-old crying and saying, ''I'm beautiful,'' make everything worth it for Lyford. How you look on the outside is just half the equation, but it's important, she says.  There's a confidence that comes from knowing you look good.

''Then the doors open for you: in relationships, job prospects and friendships.''

HOW TO GET GORGEOUS - LISA LYFORD'S TIPS

1. Take a fresh look at yourself in the mirror. What are the fab things about you? Focus on these. What are the not-so-fab things? Minimise the appearance of these.

2. Start talking positively to yourself. Tell yourself you're gorgeous. Tell yourself you're good at what you do. It's OK to love yourself.

3. Invest in a good hairstyle. Your hair is one of your key assets. Listen to what your hairstylist suggests.

4. Go shopping with an open mind. Look at styles and colours you never would've considered. Shop at places you've never shopped. Try on complete outfits to get a feel for the whole look rather than just one item. Laugh at the dud choices.

5. Colour can make or break an outfit. Colour is great for you when it gives you a healthy glow.  If you look sick, tired and can see more of your facial blemishes, then it's not right. Only buy what you love and what will complement or enhance your existing wardrobe.

6. Apply makeup. Do your hair. Polish your shoes. Clean and/or paint your nails.

7. Walk tall, proudly and confidently. Gracefully accept compliments.

- Fairfax Media

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