Editor’s letter: A simple story about face cream… that stopped me in my tracks

It’s supposed to carry the mark of shame these days and I am a little bit embarrassed to tell you: I own a lot of stuff. I have handbags I’ve forgotten I own. So many pairs of shoes I genuinely can’t give you an exact number. When you work in fashion magazines for years, it’s a perk (hazard?) of the job. You simply couldn’t do it if you didn’t love clothes and I am guilty of being perpetually smitten with the thrill of something new. 

My closet isn’t the only thing stuffed to the brim. Both my husband and I have had long magazine careers. We love them and you’ll normally have to move a stack of them before you can sit down in our house. He actually has an impressive library of vintage mags that are probably worth a fortune – if only I could talk him into selling them. We love illustrations and there’s virtually no hanging space on our walls left for any more. I’m obsessed with bedlinen too and can change our bed’s outfits almost as often as my own. 

But of all the stuff I own, there’s nothing I covet so much that I’d race in to save it if the house was on fire. Once the family – dog included – was accounted for, I genuinely can’t think of another thing in there that it would break my heart to lose. OK, I’d be very sad about my wedding dress, and the locks of hair and baby teeth of my daughter’s that are somewhere in the attic, but that’s about it. 

It was the story we have today that got me thinking about this and how privileged I am to be able to say all of the above. Our beauty director, Edwina Ings-Chambers, had the pleasure of meeting two women who were once ‘Yardley girls’, working at the company’s East London factory around the time of the Second World War. Eileen McKay and Ann Roper were firm friends back in their days of working the lipstick line and after losing touch for years have reconnected. 

I was so humbled to read Eileen’s story of how, during the war, she carried with her a pot of cream that was such a luxury she never actually dared to use it. It’s an incidental thing that she laughs off, but to me it says a lot about the stoic sacrifices that were made in those times. Against all the hardship and heartbreak of wartime, it really moved me to think of someone carrying around something as simple as a pot of cream and finding a spark of joy from doing it. It’s a small glimpse into what a different time it was, and what different standards there were for happiness. 

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve led a pretty charmed, and yes, spoilt life. In large part that is thanks to Eileen and Ann’s generation, and I certainly never take that for granted.

Editor’s picks

A few things I’m coveting this week

These boots were made for…everything, from jeans to skirts. Boots, £79.99, mango.com

For storing keys in or serving drinks on. Brass trays, £100 for set of four, Tom Dixon at mrporter.com

I love this website for great style bargains. Bag, £49, charleskeith.co.uk