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How Starling customer Nevo Burrell uses style and colour to empower breast cancer survivors



Nevo Burell

Picture a woman in a white lace dress, a wide brimmed hat, big sunglasses and wedges. Now imagine where she's going: A cocktail bar in Greece? A lunch with friends in France? A radiotherapy appointment?

That third suggestion was probably the last thing on your mind. But that's where Nevo Burrell, a Starling business customer, was going when she stepped out of her London house on a midsummer's day in her show stopping outfit.

"The items on their own were ordinary but the combination was quite spectacular - I could have been on the French Riviera," says Nevo. "People looked at me when I passed, not because I was ill but because I was well dressed, and when I got to the appointment, my oncologist and other team members complimented me on my appearance."

The reason she'd chosen that outfit was to protect herself from the sun, something her oncologist had told her to do ahead of her radiotherapy treatment. The unintended outcome was that she fully recognised how important dressing well could be, especially for breast cancer patients. Eleven years on, helping fellow survivors find the colours, shapes and styles that suit them best has become a crucial part of her styling and image consultancy, Nevo Concept.

She also helps women to reconnect with their bodies, not only following cancer treatment but following any life change: divorce, childbirth, menopause, moving into a new decade or career, any shift that may knock their confidence and therefore their choices on how to style themselves.

"I believe that dressing well is a form of self care and is crucial for overall well-being," says Nevo, 56. She registered Nevo Concept as a business in 2017 after years of taking on clients here and there following recommendations from friends or family.

Nevo Burell
Nevo Burrell, founder of the image and style consultancy Nevo Concept
Supporting breast cancer survivors through styling

"People who have gone through or are going through breast cancer can feel damaged, they can feel less feminine, especially if they've had a mastectomy," says Nevo. When needed, she works with a breast specialist to give them underwear advice so that they can gain a sense of symmetry following a single mastectomy or change the fit or feel of their underwear if they've lost or gained weight during or following treatment.

"I dress them for their body as it is now, not how it could be. The same goes for women if they've lost their hair – we make decisions based on how it is now. Most people have beautiful shaped heads and features. So I try to show them this and teach them how to draw the focus to their best features with make-up and accessories.

"If they want to wear a wig, I encourage them to buy the best they can afford and to be playful with it - it's an opportunity to try all kinds of hairstyles - short, long, blue, pink. Showing them what's possible can help them reach a place of acceptance, especially if they start receiving compliments on how they look or how their hair is styled - that boosts their confidence."

Following chemotherapy, people's hair often grows back with a different texture or colour, something Nevo helps them navigate and, often, appreciate.

Helping a client find their colour and style

Nevo starts each consultation with colour analysis, a process she has more than twenty years of experience in, that involves working out which colours suit someone's skin and hair tone best.

A headshot of Nevo Burell
Nevo trained as a colour analyst in 2003
"For every individual, there are specific colours that will instantly light them up, even if it's just a pair of earrings or a shade of lipstick in a particular colour. Sometimes they don't like a colour that comes up in the analysis but as soon as they see what it does for them, they change their mind!"

The next step is a wardrobe audit. "They send me photos of the items in their real wardrobe and then I send them looks, sometimes including existing pieces, sometimes with new things. The aim is to have a harmonious wardrobe," she says.

"By the end, we have a pile of things to alter, a pile to sell and a pile to give or throw away. The pile to alter is really important - people who have been ill may have put on or lost weight as a result but a good tailor can almost always make something work so they don't have to lose good quality clothes."

Most of Nevo's clients come to her through word of mouth recommendations or through breast cancer support charities or communities. Her choir, St Clement's Community Choir, was recently featured as part of Cancer Research UK's campaign. She has also worked closely with the charity Breast Cancer Now. In 2019 and 2022, she served as a dresser for breast cancer survivors at the charity fashion show and this year, she returned as a model, dressed in a strapless red ball gown. "I closed the show, it was fantastic."

Nevo Burrell on the catwalk
Nevo on the catwalk at the fashion show for the charity Breast Cancer Now, photo credit: Mark Syderff
Her latest modelling opportunity came as part of an ITV This Morning show, dedicated to breast cancer awareness. "I wore a velvet cobalt blue suit with a satin blouse, yellow camisole underneath and a jewelled necklace - all my great colours. I barely slept the night before but I loved it. We really showed how style can be a useful tool to empower yourself."