Essentials Magazine & The M&S Telephone Dress

Back in September, I shared a message on my Facebook page about Essentials Magazine who were looking for a women in her 40's willing to travel to London for a Christmas Party photoshoot. A few days later, Sue, who follows my blog (and is my inside track in M&S - more below!) got in touch to tell me that she'd been selected to take part and was willing to write a diary of her day. I hand you over to Sue...
When I saw Avril's message about Essential's Magazine, I dropped the magazine an email but honestly expected to hear nothing. Lo and behold, I was invited to attend a photo-shoot day in London. What to wear? I wanted to be comfortable, but also on-trend so I wore an M&S Limited Collection owl dress that I'd bought after seeing on Avril's blog.
Feeling slightly apprehensive I was greeted at my destination by Olivia and introduced to the make-up artists and asked to try on the outfit chosen for the shoot. In a corner of the room was a long rail full of clothing, a table full of accessories and jewellery and on the floor the most amazing selection of sky scraper killer heels. Heaven. My outfit consisted of an M&Co blouse, a Dorothy Perkins Chanel inspired jacket and a very sparkly Top Shop skirt. The skirt came up longer than the girls wanted, so a quick call was made to courier over a petite cut version. The biggest challenge was the shoes. It appears that your average model is more likely to wear a size 7 so finding something to fit my size 5 ½ feet which would complement the outfit was a headache. The solution was to pack the toes of the shoes with tissue paper. And so to make-up...
The make-up artist was a lovely lady named Charlotte who did my nails, make-up & lashes in preparation for the photos. When she handed me the mirror at the end, I was blown away! My eye make-up was dramatic and smoky - amazing to see the effects achieved by a professional.
Then it was over to Nick, the photographer. The backdrop for the shoot was a white wall positioned on a highly polished white floor. My job was to lean against the wall whilst Nick snapped away. Simples you say. Nick took numerous shots, changing the angle and direction of my body and Charlotte jumped in periodically to powder down those flushed areas. It was extremely hot under all the studio lights. For me the trickiest part was how to position my arms, clutching onto a chunky clutch bag in my small hands and balancing for half an hour or so in stilettos which were way too big. All credit to professional models - it is actually very tiring work.

The feature was for the Christmas December issue which was published on 1st November. It was quite surreal flicking through the copy to see a full page photograph of myself. 
Was I happy with the published photo? Yes, though not especially with the caption which read ‘I want to look fabulous – not frumpy’. The text quoted was not mine and I promptly told my friends I would never say that....I don’t do frumpy! 
I’ve subsequently taken out an annual subscription to Essentials and thoroughly recommend it as a magazine which contains an array of topical pieces covering lifestyle, fashion, beauty, recipes, crafts etc., but most importantly it contains REAL women and celebrates real women. Should the opportunity arise for anyone else to take part in a magazine shoot, I’d say don’t even think about. Go for it, embrace it and grab the opportunity. Life is for living!

Thanks Sue for writing this piece - I really enjoyed reading about your day and seeing the final photo. You look just like a pro.

I also have to thank Sue for being my inside line in M&S this week. Knowing how quickly the Owl dress sold out, she contacted me as soon as she saw this beauty come into stock.

You saw it here first - the M&S Limited Collection Telephone Print Dress! Mine is in the post so I'll share a photo when it arrives! 



  1. Wow, Sue looks amazing and so does that dress! I love it with the red shoes on the model but equally would look good with a pair of flats in the Spring

    Can't wait to see it on you


  2. What a fabulous experience, thank you for sharing it with us and giving us a little insight into the world of modelling! Now we can believe them when they say it's actually hard work having your pic taken for a living! Having your make up done by a professional sounds wonderful - how many of us would love that opportunity too. Well done Sue!

  3. Sue - you look absolutely wonderful! And how funny to hear about the shoes being padded with tissue paper ;-)
    Journalists are awful at 'putting words in your mouth'... Could have been worse - at least it didn't say 'From frumpy to fabulous'!
    Reading the text, do sheer tights really add 10 years to your look??
    Gosh, never considered that [[hurriedly shoves sheers to back of drawer...]]

  4. Avril - a dress covered in vintage telephones? Now THAT'S so retro-cute! Looking forward to seeing how you style it :-)

  5. Anonymous10:49

    Can't wait to see it I absolutely LOVE it!

  6. Anonymous13:09

    She looks fab in her owl dress and matching tights and I love her hair! If I look even half that good in the next decade I will be happy :)

  7. Sue! You look amazing. Really love that Owl dress & have bookmarked the telephone dress for a proper look another day as i feel that may be a not too distant purchase...

  8. Sue looks stunning - I love that skirt and jacket on her! Off to check out that dress - I'd rather be covered in owls than phones, but then owls are everywhere now. I only wish it came in a longer length...

    Nic x

  9. Doesn't Sue look amazing, wow! Can she be my M&S insider and make them re do the sequin sweatshirt I wanted again this season? Look forward to seeing the dress xx

  10. Love the telephone print dress, but have you seen the flamingo print one? I've just ordered that one for post baby bump! Sue looks fab! xx

  11. Sue looks great and the dress is wonderful too :) love the one you posted on facebook today too. I'm in a magazine next month and I'm so hoping that something I say about wanting to lose wieght for my marathon wont make me look bad, eek I'm so worried how it will turn out ...

  12. She looks fabulous - it must be wonderful to have a peek behind the scenes for something like that. I adore the red sequin skirt in the magazine shoot.

  13. Anonymous22:10

    Ladies, thank you all for your lovely comments. It's remarkable what a skillful make-up artist and stylist can achieve. I had quite an affection for the sequin skirt and couldn't resist ordering it. For a few weeks it hung in my wardrobe, with periodical trying on sessions. Then the financial alarm bells started to ring, so it was a very sad day when I parted company with the gorgeous sequin skirt. Sue xx

  14. How to make free phone calls on 0800 numbers via computer? anyone.free phonecalls


I love reading your comments and will reply as soon as I can if you have a specific question. If for any reason, you are unable to leave a comment, just drop me an email at avril@alifetostyle.com or leave a comment on the A Life to Style Facebook Page! Thank you xx

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