THE BLOG

My Secret Work Weapon

04/08/2017 12:34 BST | Updated 04/08/2017 12:34 BST

My secret weapon is a little stick of blood red lipstick.

Without meaning to sound shallow or like I'm dragging women back to the 1940s, there's a lot to be said for how a slick of red can make you feel.

Whilst the depiction of women in many classic films from the 1940s as submissive housewives or seductive vamps is nothing to celebrate, there is something about the screen sirens of that era that really resonates with me. It's not that I identify with their fate to be always depicted as 'fallen women' or seducing their way to questionable ends, but the way they seemed so strong, exciting and unrepentant.

They weren't afraid to go against the conventional expectations for women in that era and face society's judgement. Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Hedy Lamarr, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow, Veronica Lake and Mae West all played the role of siren to perfection, and the liberal use of eye -popping lipstick was very much their calling card. Set against sultry cinematography, it made them stand out - over and above the rest of the cast.

Outside of their striking demeanours, there is something about their spirit that has stayed with me, that I like to apply to my working day. Self-possessed and spirited, something all these women shared was an undeniable fearlessness and ability to stay true to their sense of purpose under extreme pressure, uncertainty and criticism. They were a powerful presence in any situation and had no reservations about speaking up and speaking out. Driven towards achieving their goals (wicked or otherwise), they rejected traditional structures when they didn't serve them, and they did so with style. Their lipstick was their way, of signalling to the world that they were a force to be reckoned with, and for these same reasons it is my secret work weapon.

Take Hedy Lamarr. Impossibly glamorous on screen - many believe she was the most beautiful woman ever to appear on film - in real life, she was kick ass too.

Born in Austria, she was brought to the US by studio magnate Louis B Mayer in the late 1930s, after escaping a marriage to a Nazi weapons dealer. She was always cast as the exotic glamorous seductress and starred opposite all the leading men from Hollywood's golden era - your Clark Gables and Spencer Tracys and most famously, alongside Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah.

In her life away from film sets, she was an inventor. Although she had no formal training, she devised a number of creations from traffic lights to a frequency-hopping radio signal system that couldn't be jammed to help torpedoes stay on course in the Second World War. Her patented invention became the basis of wifi and Bluetooth technology today - but she did this all whilst still wearing her trademark red lipstick.

For me, applying an unapologetically bright lipstick is a finishing touch. It helps me compose myself and feel ready for anything.

It's been scientifically proven that wearing lipstick makes you more confident too, as a 2011 study by Harvard University confirmed.

But I apply it before all of my meetings at work because - as the sirens of the past like Hedy knew well - it draws people's attention to you, especially your mouth, and more importantly, the words that come out of it...