MANDI BEACHAM has always loved getting dressed up, whether for a night out with pals or a busy day in the office.
But when the menopause left her suffering from mood swings, insomnia and weight gain, she fell out of love with her wardrobe.
Many outfits were too tight or uncomfortable, so instead of slipping into a dress or a tailored suit, the 56-year-old found herself living in baggy T-shirts and jogging bottoms.
Enter Fabulous fashion director Tracey Lea Sayer, who agreed to help Mandi as part of our Challenge The Stylist series.
Mandi, who works in medical sales and lives in Winchester, Hants, says: “Two years ago I started having menopause symptoms including mood swings and insomnia.
“Covid hit and I wondered if it was lockdown getting to me. But then the hot flushes started and after chatting to friends, I realised I was menopausal.
“During lockdown I developed what I call my ‘kangaroo belly’. I’ve put on at least a stone since then. I’m only 5ft 2in, so every pound shows. A lot of the clothes I had didn’t fit me any more and I felt incredibly unattractive.
“I had no need to go out anywhere, so I fell into wearing joggers and T-shirts because they are comfy and warm. By the time things opened up, I had no desire to go out. If I had to, I’d wear a black A-line dress but I looked old and frumpy. I had really lost my fashion mojo.”
Size 12 Mandi, who is married to Ian, 72, a retired education officer, lost all interest in fashion.
She says: “I’d always loved bright colours but I felt they were ageing me. I lost my eye for picking up bargains and throwing outfits together.”
Mandi told Tracey she wanted to look trendy but not “mutton dressed as lamb”.
She says: “Tracey really listened. She took into account my height and areas I was conscious of.”
Mandi’s favourite outfit was the beige faux leather trousers and ruffle blouse. She says: “The experience has opened my eyes to what is possible. I’ve got a spring back in my step.”
The mum of three adds: “I’ve gone back on HRT, I’m exercising and feel better than I have in months. Menopause doesn’t have to steal your style.”
Ladies who lunch
Tracey says: “It is easy to feel invisible as you hit the menopause. You don’t know what suits you any more. Your skin, shape and hair might have changed, which makes it even harder to know what works. I watched Mandi come to life in this gorgeous floral dress. The vibrant print really lifted her skin tone.”
Dress, £39.99, and bag, £35.99, both Reserved – Buy here ; boots, £79, Nasty Gal – Buy here
Tracey says: “Mandi looked quite shocked when I suggested she try on River Island pleather trousers but once she put them on, she absolutely loved them. The high waist cinches Mandi in, elongates her legs and skims over her tummy, which she thinks is her problem area.”
Blouse, £38, trousers, £45, boots, £65, bag, £40, all River Island – Buy here
Tracey says: “After working from home for so long, many of us have lost our way with workwear. Mandi’s been shying away from colour so it felt great to put her in a bright yellow ‘look at me’ coat. This pop of colour will elevate her neutral workwear while looking smart and chic.”
Coat, £59.99, M&Co – M&Co; top, £29.99, Reserved – Buy here ; trousers, £38, and boots, £65, both River Island – Buy here
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