Watch out, Samantha Cameron and Miriam Clegg! Justine Miliband is now a serious contender in the political wife style stakes
10:57 GMT, 10 October 2012
Justine Miliband, Ed Miliband's wife, in a red WithSleeves dress, sold by QVC for 48, at the Labour Party Annual Conference in Manchester
Her glossy looks, easy charm and flawless style (not to mention those trusty nude LK Bennett heels) have prompted an adulatory response from women around the country.
And there has been a rush on the dresses she's been pictured in.
But no, this isn't the Duchess of Cambridge at a public event with her posse of minders and stylists.
It is, in fact, the most unlikely of new style icons: Justine Miliband at last week's Labour Conference.
Gone is the mousy women who followed husband Ed around like a silent shadow.
And in her place is a polished pretender to PM's wife – and a serious rival to glamorous Samantha Cameron and Miriam Clegg.
So how on earth did 42-year-old barrister Justine pull it off Here, we look at the secrets behind her stunning new look….
As she sashayed into the Labour Conference wearing 165 LK Bennett heels and a crimson dress with a daring slash at the decolletage, Justine certainly raised eyebrows among the delegates.
And if this fashion statement, from QVC range WithSleeves, wasn't enough, the following day she impressed with a youthful 295 Joseph dress and a little black frock for the evening.
Style commentators on Twitter went wild, saying the 42-year-old looked 'very sassy', 'glamorous' and 'like a different women'.
Previously only seen in baggy coats and unflattering trouser-suits, the look was a radical departure for Justine — and all the work of one woman, her new stylist Lesley Ebbetts.
A fashion journalist and the former partner of the late Countdown host Richard Whiteley, it was Lesley who designed the slinky red dress, on sale for just 48.
QVC are now rushing its release date forward a month to 22 October after frenzied enquiries from women around the country – and Justine is such a fan of the range that she also owns a white lace dress from the upcoming collection that wouldn't look out of place on the Duchess of Cambridge.
Along with her work as a designer, Lesley also appears on This Morning, and recently wrote a list of fashion 'dos and don'ts' for older women, suggesting they invest in 'lacy, colourful and desirable' underwear, define their waists and to 'resist anything that holds you firmly all the way around if you are eating'.
'Previously only seen in baggy coats and
unflattering trouser-suits, the conference look was a radical departure for Justine – and all the work of one woman, her new stylist Lesley Ebbetts'
Before her transformation, 42-year-old Justine looked like so many other new mothers.After giving birth to Daniel in 2009 and Samuel in 2010, she had lost her figure and looked frumpy and uncomfortable in her own skin, cringing away from cameras at Party events and when spotted in the street with her husband.
'I would guess she has been doing light cardio and lifting weights, both of which improve posture and tone the legs and arms'
During pregnancy, hormones are released which often cause women to store fat. These linger after the birth, which is why baby weight can be hard to lose.
And, of course, sleepless nights and busy days with the baby don't help — not to mention the stress of your husband becoming Labour leader.
But just look her now, two years after giving birth to Samuel. Lean, taut and confident, she has a body any woman would be proud of.
Weight-loss expert Tim Drummond, who specialises in helping older women get fit, says: 'Anyone can achieve this with just two sessions a week if they train right.
'I would guess she has been doing light cardio and lifting weights. This really is essential for women – it builds bone density, improves posture, tones the legs and arms, and won't bore you like endless running on a treadmill.
'But more than that, being physically strong seems to give women a mental strength and confidence as well — which I think you can really see here in Justine’s poise.
'I would guess she's also been eating lots of vitamin-filled fruit and vegetables too from the way her skin is glowing – you really can spot the difference.
'She's an inspiration — and shows that once you're in the right mindset, anything really is possible.'
Justine's hair is very fine in texture, meaning without styling it falls flat in an unflattering way. Fine hair can be occur naturally or can be attributed to stress, pregnancy, hormone levels or medication.
'I would guess she's also been eating lots of vitamin-filled fruit and vegetables too from the way her skin is glowing, you really can spot the difference'
Whatever the reason, the secret is making it look thicker than it really is.
Celebrity hairdresser Mark Hill says: 'Justine used to go for a very short style which only emphasized the fine texture. Now, with just a little bit more length, her hair appears thicker and she has more styling options, as seen with her curls at the conference.
'She also now has flattering honey-toned highlights that bring out her blue eyes and liven up her natural colour.
'The best way to style fine hair is by using a volumising mousse or thickening spray, these increase volume on flat or very fine hair by swelling the hair shaft.
'Fine hair will need touch up also in between shampoos to maintain volume, so keep some Velcro rollers on hand. Just pop them into your hair, spray with hairspray and blast with your dryer to set. Brush through using a wide-tooth comb or your fingers.'
When she stepped out last week, party members were astonished that low-key Justine appeared to have finally embraced make-up.
Even on her wedding day last year, when she sparkled in an embellished Alice Temperley dress, her eyes and lips remained muted.
While Miriam Clegg and Samantha Cameron look flawless even on the school run, Justine has been snapped looking pasty and washed-out, with deep under-eye circles and uneven skin.
'While Miriam Clegg, right, and Samantha Cameron, left,
look flawless even on the school run, Justine has been snapped looking
pasty and washed-out, with deep under-eye circles and uneven skin'
Make-up artist Julia Bolino says: 'Whoever has done her make-up for the Conference has been very artful — she looks a decade younger! Her brows have been shaped, and possibly tinted, while a light foundation and blusher give her a radiant, youthful glow — brilliant to hide any tiredness from pouring over your husband's speeches.
'A creamy grey eyeshadow — possibly Knight Divine by Mac (12, maccosmetics.co.uk) — brings out her eyes, as does subtle black liner and several coats of mascara.
'Best of all, she's defined her lips with liner and gloss — they look twice the size. The colour of the lips fade as we get older, so it's extra important to really make sure that you keep them looking full.'
A top barrister, Justine is used to presenting herself to clients and at court.
Yet on political occasions, she has previously vanished into the background or looked profoundly uncomfortable.
Justine Miliband when she was pregnant with the couple's second son, Samuel, in late 2010
So it's no wonder her new poise and radiant smile has prompted whispers she may have had confidence coaching.
Sarah Dodd, who advises executives and public figures on how to improve their impact, says: 'It's hard to say if she's had coaching – or if she's just got it together again as her young children are growing up and she's had more time to concentrate on herself.
'Her posture has improved dramatically, which is the most effective step anyone can take to improve their impact and presence.
'Previously, she has been photographed standing with her back rounded and shoulders slumped. This is a classic defensive posture which signals weakness. Tall women particularly fall into this trap – often rounding their shoulders to disguise their height.
'Regardless of your height you should practice opening your shoulders and standing tall. You'll feel more confident and look more confident.
'It's actually because you are “opening your heart”, your body language suggests you are confident and in control and you will find people respond to you differently.'
Justine Miliband at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April 2011, left, and at the London Olypmics, right