Melanie is a Captain in the Royal Naval Reserve, an Executive Coach and Mentor, wife, mother, sister
and friend. She took her place in history when she became one of the first females to command a Royal Navy warship 20 years ago. She has been trailblazing ever since, carving a career which currently sees her appointed as one of the most senior ranking females in the Royal Navy.
I am delighted that Melanie has agreed to share with us how throughout her impressive naval career she has managed to maintain her femininity and love of bling.
You’ve been invited to a special event last minute – what do you wear?
In a corporate sense, my uniform of course! I’ve learned to feminise my look and I’d like to think I lead by example in that regard. Whilst we have to meet strict boundaries in terms of our uniform, a manicure, subtle makeup, a patent shoe, and a good haircut makes all the difference. Black and white are not in my colour palette, so my eye shadows, lipsticks and hair colour have to compensate. Everything I save on wearing the same clothes every day, I spend on skincare products and decent makeup brands.
Who (or what) inspires your look (famous or otherwise)?
I’m a Reiki Master so have an interest in the aura colours. Pink Aura people are by nature loving and giving and gather around them close friends and family at every opportunity. I’ve spent enough time alone at sea to recognise the gift of time with loved ones to be very precious indeed. They say that once Pink Aura have found their soul mates they will stay faithful, loving and loyal for life; so I like pink, and the human qualities it represents. Fortuitously it’s one of the strongest colours in my palette too!
Most cherished item in your wardrobe – what’s the story behind it?
It’s the outfit I wore to Buckingham Palace for my husband’s investiture. My Best Friend came with me to buy it, and we had some lovely moments that day as she’s really great to shop with. The shop assistant didn’t have a look in, especially when it came to choosing the hat. I think some clothes carry memories; I was so proud of us, my husband especially, on that day.
Animal print or florals? Neutrals or brights?
Flowers – the brighter the better. My favourite shop is Preview Boutique, in Southsea and more recently in Chichester. The staff are brilliant, and I love the floaty fabrics. I’m 50 this year, and really busy in work, so my weight and my need for comfort varies as I went into early menopause when I was 45. Their clothes mask my weight fluctuations really well, their fabrics are extremely comfortable, and the staff are just brilliant at rounding off a base layer colour with a pretty scarf.
What accessory or item can you NEVER leave home without?
Sunglasses. I do also love a bit of bling. So even on a work day, when I’m stuck in a white uniform shirt and a black woollen skirt, I can drive to work with an accessory that I take off when I arrive, and put back on for the drive
home. I always carry a handbag too. For work it has to be black, which encourages me to have an array of handbags for the weekend!
Family day out – what do you wear?
When I’m not in pink I’m in turquoise, and when I’m not in heels I’m either in a pair of trainers (because I love my fitness) or I’m in wellies walking our dog. I associate the colour with the sea (obviously), and my wellies are normally complimented beautifully by our Miniature Schnauzer. She fortuitously features in the cool greys and soft whites of my colour palette! I’ve made compromises around my career to offer my family some stability; the responsibility of a family pet has grounded all of us.
Blow dry or natural wave?
Natural. I’ve got a bob at the moment, but when it’s longer I have to wear it scraped back and in a bun which is so severe. However, I love the contrast of ‘hair up’ and then ‘letting my hair down’, and I really enjoy reaching into fashion accessories and make up when I’m not in uniform.
Favourite item of clothing right now?
I met Nicola as I was preparing to progress with my career beyond the military. I know that I will have to exploit an image and character that I think already exists, beyond the constraints of a uniform. I wanted to capture corporate images for a website in the future that projected my credentials as a leader in the military as well as celebrating my femininity. One of the photos captured the strength of my role as a senior executive in the Royal Navy today, with the vibrant energy I want to offer women that have the potential to excel in the corporate workplace in the years to follow.
TV or radio?
Definitely not TV. I’m too transparent and my face can’t lie. Possibly radio, as I think I have an interesting story to tell. However, I’m told I have a great way with words. At the moment, my written work is focused on strategies and plans. In the future, I’d love to translate my ‘Lessons in Leadership’ into a book; the pictures will reflect crystal clear seas of turquoise, vibrant shades of pink, with a subtle hint of feminine bling.