Penelope Grundle is a life coach, New York Times best-selling author and twice-Editor of Australian Vogue. She is also NUPSA’s resident advice columnist, in accordance with the terms of her Community Service Order (Crimes [Sentencing Procedure] Act 1999).


Hello again, die wunderkinder! Have you been taking excellent care of yourselves? I do hope so. Treat yourself as you would a lover, I always say: with the utmost luxury. (And dexterity of the fingertips.)

Speaking of which, I do apologise for my absence in May. I’ve been away at a health spa and laboratory in Bruges; they do the most astonishing things with rosewater and stem cells, and I try to get there at least three times a year for a full-body molecular cleanse. This time, they were particularly vigorous in their ministrations (as you can see from my photograph above), rearranging most of the atoms in my cheekbones to a more pleasing configuration. It all needs a little time to set, but I’m now back at my apartment and convalescing beautifully.

I know that many of you were concerned by my absence, and have been asking after me. I’m touched, my darlings. Rest assured: I’m here now, and ready to help you through your most disquieting dilemmas.


Dear Penny,

I missed you last month and hope there has been no more unpleasantness involving the Department of Justice! As the weather has turned decidedly nippy, I was hoping you could offer me some pearls of wisdom on how to look stylish whilst still being warm and comfortable? Budget is a pressing issue, as the student lifestyle does not allow for Louboutin and Louis Vuitton.


Cloaked in Cat Hair


Dear Cloaked in C,

I’m delighted to report that, while there was some unpleasantness – a pair of officers accosted me as I was boarding a Belgian plane, spouted some nonsense about ‘violating a court order’ and manhandled me quite firmly (almost as firmly as my cosmetic scientists at the clinic, but with none of the training or finesse) – I’m absolutely fine, and my cheekbones have never looked better.

In April’s column, I espoused (among other things) the joys of public nudity, which is enormously cost effective as a personal style. A modest fine is easily outweighed by the fortune you save on outfits and accessories, and the undraped human form is bound to turn more heads than even the most exclusive designer footwear. But, as you say, now is the winter of our discontent; the weather is colder now, and function must be partner to form.

There are, then, a number of alternatives. If you are indeed cloaked in cat hair, that’s a good start: cats, as I wrote in February, are wonderful companions and should always be worn about the person, and their warmth is just sublime during hibernal months. Cats have much higher core body temperatures than other animals, in fact, due to their imperious nature. Wrap one loosely around your shoulders and call it a stole; you’ll look terribly avant-garde, and once they see it’s a living creature and not simply a fur, unkempt animal activists will be far less likely to throw paint over you.

The only animal to produce more body heat than the cat is the albatross, but they’re harder to come by on a student budget.

Otherwise, go garage chic and adapt what you already own, darling! Those freezer bags in your kitchen drawer? Properly sized and stapled, they’d make a gorgeous body-hugging (and vacuum-sealed!) winter coat. The paperclips on your desk? Bulgari just released a line of luxury paperclip earrings and neckpieces last spring. Everyone’s wearing paperclips right now.

Style is all about intent: it’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it. Even Lady Gaga’s most celebrated ensembles are comprised of materials you’d find at the supermarket – whether it’s Styrofoam and glitter, ping-pong balls and duct tape, or a kilo and a half of thinly sliced chuck. If that woman can walk the red carpet looking like a seven-year-old whose single father made their Halloween costume, so can you, darling. All you need is a fearless attitude to match.

For pure warmth, and if you’re suitably resourceful, you really can’t go past an albatross. But be sure to wear it as a belt, rather than around the neck; if it dies unexpectedly, you’ll suffer years of horrible misfortune. Also, people may mistake you for Björk, which is equally upsetting.


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