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Tu’s Style Refresh: Charmaine

The first in our series of life-changing makeovers with Lisa Snowdon

Earlier this year, we offered a style refresh to women who’d experienced a big positive change in their life and wanted a fresh look to reflect the new them.

There were so many deserving women to choose from, but in the end, we picked two inspirational women to be given a full fashion makeover… with a twist.

We challenged our head womenswear designer Toni Salters and TV presenter Lisa Snowdon to go head-to-head, each picking an outfit from the latest Tu range they thought suited the ladies best.

Afterwards, our inspirational women got to try both on…and choose their favourite to go home in.

But who won? Here’s Charmaine’s story…

Two years ago, Charmaine was having a tough time. She’d split up with her husband, was living in a homeless shelter with her toddler son and had found herself pregnant.

Nowadays life is so very different. Not only does she share a beautiful new home with her two lovely children, she’s also set up her own business as a confidence coach. What’s more, she’s three stone lighter.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is the way she looks, which is more casual than chic.

“I wear baggy leggings – the same ones as when I was pregnant – with vests and jumpers all the time”: she says. “A lack of finances and the fact I still think I’m bigger than I am have stopped me getting a new wardrobe.”

“I don’t want to look cheap any longer and I want to break out of the mumsy look. I’d like structured and tailored clothes, not necessarily a professional office look but something that shows my individuality and confidence”.

A calm confidence is the first thing you notice about Charmaine, mum to Sean­Amari, four, and 22-month-old Shayla-Rose. It’s an attitude that got out of such a terrible predicament.

“I was at rock bot tom, living in horrible conditions”; she says of her time at the homeless shelter. “It was a dire situation and I knew it would either make me or break me.”
“I decided it would make me. I’d been reading about having a positive mental attitude and so I decided to pretend I was on holiday.”

“I tried to see all the good in everything and chose to be positive. So when I couldn’t park my car anywhere near the hostel, I saw the walk as good exercise. I might have been living in a hostel but I concentrated on the fact there was a great ice cream parlour at the top of the road and that I’d met my best friend while living there.”

“I had a calmness, a peace within me and, while it could have been a really stressful time, I didn’t stress out.”

Eventually she was offered a new council house to live in and set up her business as a confidence coach, helping others learn from her experiences.

“Now I want a style that reflects my confidence.” she says.

Lisa’s choice

Lisa headed straight to a green coat, teaming it with coated-denim trousers, a multi-coloured shirt and black ankle boots.

“This is a killer outfit”; she says. “The coat is amazing – it’s such a statement pop of colour which is going to look great on Charmaine. It’s warm as well as stylish too so she’ll get a lot of use from it.”

“The electric 80s-style shirt is going to look really cool and modern when buttoned up to the top and the trousers are so sexy – teamed with ankle boots they’ll make her legs go on and on and on.”

“It’s a day-to-night outfit, it’s practical and it’s fun and funky. She deserves a really cool look.”

Toni’s choice

Toni chose to stick with denim trousers too – this time a bright red pair to highlight Charmaine’ s great figure, teamed with a white shirt and black leather jacket.

“I thought this was a great contrast to Lisa’s outfit”; she explains. “Charmaine looks great in colour – especially red – and she’ll look amazing in these trousers. A white shirt is a classic and it looks great with a black biker jacket which she’ll have for years and years.”

“The white loafer updates the whole outfit – patent is so on trend right now – and a black and white bag makes this a cool and youthful look. It’s clean, professional and perfect for her.”

So who won?

“I love Toni’s outfit,” says Charmaine. “I love how it’s black and white and then suddenly – POW! – it’s red. And the bag is very chic.”

“But I have to go with Lisa’ s outfit. The coat is gorgeous – it looks really sassy and I feel amazing. Stylish but respectable, ready to take my business to the next level.”

“If I’d been told two years ago this would happen to me, I’d never have believed it. It’s like a dream co me true.”