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Happy Annie Valentine’s Day!

Annie Valentine is back! Thanks to the lovely people at Boldwood, The Personal Shopper has had a makeover. I hope new readers will love Annie and previous readers will remember her fondly.

So, a little bit about her… At first glance, Annie is one of those wonderfully pulled together women, who is doing it all. She has a glamorous job styling the rich and famous at London’s flagship fashion destination, The Store. Her two children are at a London private school. Her wardrobe is a gorgeous confection of swishy designer day dresses with all the accessories – delightful shoes, delectable bags and classy sunglasses.

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But really, she’s much more down-to-earth than she may appear. She’s a single Mum struggling to pay all the bills and meet all the endless emotional demands. She’s a born fixer, who can’t really bear not to give advice to a troubled friend, take care of a relative, and, of course, help someone to find the outfit that’s going to give them the confidence boost they need to get that pay rise, make the big impression, or take the brave leap into a new direction.

And that’s what her clients, her friends and her family love about her – she really cares and wants to make not just your wardrobe, but your life better.

A Personal Shopper who fixes things for herself

In the course of the story, she finally faces her own big problems too and starts to make things better for herself. I don’t mind telling you that, at its core, this is a second-time-around love story.

There’s also a lot of fashion! I kind of love fashion, and spent much of my teens reading and re-reading copies of Vogue and Elle, but I am more of a fashion spectator than a player. I can recognise and appreciate the craftsmanship in a Chanel jacket, a Versace blouse, a Mulberry bag, but really, I always find the price tags just far too breath-taking.

So, Annie’s world is fantasy fashion fiction. And I know readers have enjoyed that about it too. Like watching Sex In The City and its latest incarnation And Just Like That – it’s glorious to see what the girls are wearing, but I won’t be walking down the pavements of Glasgow in those outfits anytime soon!

Though I will admit that spending time with Annie always inspires me to pull myself together just a little bit more: style the hair, apply the mascara, take the best coat and scarf out of the wardrobe. I hope she will make you smile and enjoy your day just that little bit more.

What would Annie do?

Annie, it’s February, the weather is terrible, and I’m completely depressed. I don’t even want to leave the house, let alone get dressed up.

There are some days when clothes have to be your insulation against not just the cold, but the world. You need comfortable boots and a big enveloping coat that together keep out the wind and the wet. But make sure you pick a lovely scarf from your cupboard – one that feels soft and comforting and is in your favourite colour. Try to find a hat that suits you and gives you some hope when you put it on, not one that makes you feel like a smurf. Tinted lip balm and comforting gloves will both help. Then when you’re outside, listen for birdsong. Honestly, the birds are already singing and flirting. They know that Spring is ahead.

Annie – help! After two years of WFH, I have to go back into the office and nothing fits! I can’t close a single waistband; my boobs are bursting out of my blouses. What do I do?

First of all, don’t panic!  Post-lockdown office wear has completely changed. You’ll find the CEO has replaced his shirt and tie with a t-shirt and jeans, and it’s now totally fine to wear soft, stretchy trousers with a nice cardigan. Concentrate on your ‘barely there’ make up and ramp up your earring-and-necklace game. You can sew little hooks into the blouse gap, if that works for you; or just put a nice vest top under and open the blouse one button lower. Do not underestimate the power of a gorgeous, multi-coloured, swishy and voluminous day dress. Everyone is doing them, from M&S, to H&M and all the letters in between. Literally all your colleagues will not see any extra lockdown poundage and instead, will ask all day long: ‘I love that dress, where did you get it?’

Annie, do I now need to carry two handbags at all times?

Oh, I know, where SJP leads, we will all follow. To be honest, I love the practicality of carrying not just one, but two handbags. Make one a cute and dinky one for your phone, keys and lippie. Then bag number two can be an elegant, but much more practical beast for laptop, book, groceries, nappies, kitchen sink etc. etc. That way when you are standing outside your front door in a howling gale, the keys are in the small bag, halleluiah! And there’s no need to dumpster dive into the big one.