After the phone call telling you that you are finalist in Romantic Novelist Association Romance Prize, comes the realisation that you are going to have to make the effort to get there and then there is the question of what to wear. The lunch at the Savoy is reputed to be glamorous, but how glamorous is glamorous?
As Kate Hardy, one of last year’s finalists, explained – the lunch at the Savoy is like going to a very posh afternoon wedding. The other thing is that rather than being one of the guests, a finalist knows she is one of the bridesmaids, so more attention will be paid. Anne Herries adds ‘Going to the RNA luncheon is a special day for me and I often buy something nice for the occasion. It is a chance to dress up in this age of casual clothes, and I enjoy it.’
So what is a finalist to do? What should she do? To whom can a novelist more used to working in comfortable clothes turn to for solid style advice?
Like Anne, Catherine George has been to the Savoy lunch before and plans to buy either a new outfit or to wear her favourite Paul Costello suit. She also made arrangements to have her hair done the day before and to get her nails done.
After realising that her ancient black suit would not work, Nell Dixon allowed a friend to drag her off to Weight Watchers. She is now several pounds lighter and has a lovely new navy suit, plus will be wearing heels for the first time in about fourteen years.
Natasha Oakley has been extolling the importance of magic knickers and other foundation garments. It is the sort of advice worth listening to. Forcibly taken to Cambridge, she's finally purchased a new dress from Monsoon which doesn't go with the pink shoes she bought earlier.
Jessica Hart’s personal style gurus, her teenaged god daughters cast a disapproving eye on her wardrobe and then took her shopping. She found a silk dress at Jigsaw. She also has a very sensible plan for her high heels – only at the Savoy.
Nicola Cornick ran into a huge hiccup with her preparations when she realised that she had booked her Scottish holiday at the wrong time, and the transportation system would not allow her easy access to London. She has reluctantly decided to raise a glass from the Scottish highlands.
My usual standby -- my grandmother’s vintage clothes were not going to work, according to my teenaged daughter. She dragged me off to Monsoon. I now possess a skirt and sweater combo as well as a new pair of shoes. My daughter’s advice was very sound – buy the dress before the shoes or otherwise you will have trouble getting the two to match. Why is it that these teenagers seem to know so much more about such things? I then realised glamour meant – makeup and my makeup bag contained an old tube of mascara, a bottle of moisturizer and nothing else. As luck would have it, the regional sales director of Clarins happened to be in the store, the day I went looking. I came away with an array of products and I must say that my skin is now in better condition.
Also thanks to the PHS and its diet club, I had ordered the A List Celebrity Workout book. It made for enlightening reading. It is so easy assume celebrities are blessed with good genes and are at top condition all the time, but they often have to get themselves red carpet ready. Many of them put in hours at the gym before the big day. For a number of reasons, I have not been as faithful to the workout as I should have been, but those bits I have been doing have been working. Exercise resistance bands are marvellous.
One other piece of advice I was given was to enjoy the day. This I believe all the finalists are going to try to do.