I've pretty much decided to ignore the Victorian look that is everywhere this season. If your features are pale and interesting, you can carry off all that ironic lace, but otherwise give it a wide berth. On the make-up front, you can still give a nod to the catwalk without fear of looking too ridiculous. The berry shades that are on the most fashionable lips can look fantastic against dark skin. The trick is finding the right purple, and that is harder than it sounds.
"You must first decide whether you want to blend in or stand out," says Justin St Clair Whittingham, make-up artist with Pout. "For the less adventurous, look for a colour that matches the darkest tone in the lips or a shade that complements your skin tone."
In matt lipsticks, very dark shades make black skins look washed out, so opt instead for minimal coverage, such as a sheer lipstick or something with at least a hint of gloss. Plum lip gloss, from Karen Millen, or Foxy Girl, from Pout, are both a deep purple, but their sheen allows light to bounce off them, brightening up the face rather than draining the colour away. The Laque Miroir Crystal in 54, from the Givenchy Baroque range, is a lovely sheer purple non-sticky gloss with just enough colour; this one is great for the daytime or for those with lighter lips. Annoyingly, many sheer lipsticks (as opposed to sheer glosses) simply don't have enough pigment to work on dark skin, but Colour Wash in Wine from Calvin Klein and Zou Zou from Nars both give a delicate, yet definite, hint of colour.
Forget about wearing a lip liner or a base; instead look after your lips to stop them dehydrating over the winter months. If you put lipstick over dry, chapped lips, the dead skin absorbs the colour and you end up with unattractive dark patches. Regularly smooth the lips with a good lip balm, such as Smother Me from Pout, or try the daily conditioner from Blistex. Blot off any excess balm before you apply lip colour; then, using your finger, pat the lipstick on, avoiding the lip line and concentrating instead on the middle of your lips. Strong lips need neutral eyes, but a dark purple nail varnish will top the whole look. And not a frill in sight.