She’s been making us look and feel great for more than two decades. During that time she’s dealt with divorce, debt and personal tragedy, but her passion for changing women’s lives with funny, frank advice is undiminished. Now Trinny Woodall is here to help you!
No one could accuse Trinny Woodall of being shy and retiring. The makeover queen, who has been British women’s bossy best friend for more than 20 years, admits that when she meets anyone whose style she thinks needs fixing, she has to tell them. ‘I can’t keep it in,’ she says.
Since joining forces with Susannah Constantine in 1996 to impart no-nonsense fashion advice, first in a newspaper column and then on What Not to Wear, Trinny has been helping women to look – and feel – their best. And she’s still at it, dishing out style and beauty advice to her 701,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook, as well as transforming women on ITV’s This Morning.
So who better to help YOU readers with their problems? Tell Trinny is the first of her new monthly columns in which she will tackle issues from style ruts to relationship strife, all in her forthright manner. She will also share her latest fashion, beauty and lifestyle must-buys – all tried and tested by her.
Trinny brings a wealth of hard-won wisdom to her new role. At 54, and a mother to Lyla, 14, she has beaten drug and alcohol addiction, struggled with infertility (enduring nine rounds of IVF), been through the pain of divorce and then the complex agony of losing her ex-husband (and Lyla’s father) Johnny Elichaoff, who fell to his death in 2014. Add to that a difficult menopause, spinal surgery, financial woes and launching a new (thriving) beauty business in her 50s.
‘I’ve had my fair share of life experience,’ she says, wryly. ‘If I feel something is relevant to the women writing to me, I’ll talk about it. I want to hear from women who feel stuck in a rut and, rather than ask their best friend, need a fresh take on something. I’m not a psychiatrist – I’ve had therapy in my life – but I know women well. And YOU is the magazine I most relate to as a woman. There’s a balance between normality and aspiration, and it tells you what’s out there, and what everyone’s talking about.’
Yet Trinny concedes she struggles to ask for help if she’s feeling down herself. ‘I find it hard to tell anyone or pick up the phone. I used to tell Susannah – we were together every day, so she’d say, “You’re in a bad mood, what’s wrong?” If I’m not feeling great, I will be cold, as opposed to vulnerable.’
Her main confidant now is her partner of four and a half years, multimillionaire art collector Charles Saatchi. They met at a dinner party and he’s since become an investor in her business. Their life together consists of cosy nights in watching TV, and she tells him everything. ‘He’s my best friend,’ she says, simply. Midlife romance comes without many of the pressures felt by younger couples. ‘When, like me, you’ve already got your own child, home and income, a relationship has to add something different to your life – you’ve ticked all the other boxes.’
Trinny has mellowed in other ways, too. The head-girl tone of What Not to Wear has been dialled back. ‘I’m softer now,’ she says. ‘Rather than “Do this”, I say “This really helps me – why not consider adding it to your routine?”’ But she still possesses an almost compulsive honesty. ‘I know a little tweak will change how some women feel about themselves.’ She recalls a recent makeover slot on This Morning when she encouraged a 65-year-old woman to ditch her fringe after 30 years. ‘When we finished filming, she said, “I’m changing my hair as soon as I get home.” It gives me a buzz to think that I’ve helped a woman shift her self-image – hearing that is the most rewarding thing. Making a difference is what gives me passion and energy.’
And she has energy to burn. When we meet at the shoot, Trinny – in her favourite stacked brogues, silver shirt and pink blazer – strides in at 9.30am brandishing a cup of sludge (it’s actually avocado, dates, raspberries, a rice and coconut milk combo, plus wellbeing guru Vivienne Talsmat’s fat-torching Rejuva Burn powder). She has been up since 5am, had her hair cut and has filmed a Facebook live video – so far watched by 23,000 people – in the taxi over, giving advice on everything from maxi dresses to blocked pores, all with a bandage face mask on (making her look like the Invisible Man) to plump her skin for the shoot. It’s typical Trinny: honest, unselfconscious, high-energy and funny.
This is all part of an average day of starring in beauty tutorials, ‘outfit-of-the day’ videos (usually filmed on the fly in shop changing rooms) and Q&A sessions with her fans, who include women of all ages. She is a walking ad for the products she tests and the myriad tips she’s picked up: her enviably pert bottom is the result of constant ‘clenching’ and she puts her thick artfully tousled tawny brown hair down to biotin supplements.
But she bemoans her ‘erratic’ exercise routine after having surgery three years ago. ‘I spent six years doing pilates every day and then, at 51, I had a difficult replacement of two vertebrae in my neck and was out of action for a year and a half. I was also in menopause, so I put on two stone. I didn’t mind that so much, it was more feeling untoned.’ She’s clearly doing something right – a recent video in which she stripped down to her swimsuit, showcasing her lithe 5ft 10in figure, quickly accrued 130,000 views and went viral.
She tries not to waste energy worrying. ‘Someone once told me that 99 per cent of everything you worry about never happens. It’s true – but the one per cent does. The person who told me that was my husband, and I was always scared he might die – it’s so ironic. But if Lyla’s worrying, it doesn’t stop me from telling her, “Remember what Dada used to say.” I don’t like corny expressions but if I’m going in a spiral of panic I’ll think about that.’
Lyla, who’s at boarding school, is in constant contact with Trinny. The teen has starred in a few of her mother’s videos and regularly comments on them (‘I’ll tell her, “Go back to your lessons!”’ says Trinny). During a brief bout of bullying, Lyla, then ten, handled it with a maturity beyond her years. ‘I told Lyla to tell her bully, “You are saying such mean things, you must be having a hard time. What’s wrong?” She did and it worked.’ Straightforward and direct – very much the Woodall way.
‘I’ve talked to women every day of my career, and even if I don’t know all the best solutions, I’m like a conduit,’ she says. ‘I hear somebody giving advice on dealing with a problem and I’ll pass it on because it’s good.’ So, if there’s something on your mind, you know what to do: tell Trinny.
Interview by Luisa Metcalfe