On Monday, walking around IFC with V before he left I wondered at how the women who populate Central can bother to look so infinitely glamorous. V supposed that they didn’t have a husband yet. I pointed out that even when I didn’t have a husband I couldn’t be bothered to put on a face every single day. V agreed. I sulked.

But the next day, I went for a pedicure sponsored by my office (a small perk of the job). When I ducked into the dark doorway off the escalator and emerged up the staircase at a bright frosted glass door that opened into an oasis of green, I was charmed but a little intimidated. This was fancy schmancy. I was glad I had dressed up a little and had my blackheads painstakingly (and painfully) removed at a facial the day before.

At the nail bar – which had an actual bar counter, tall stools and racks of bottles of polish on a mirrored wall – were sleek women for whom it was perfectly normal to stop by for a weekly mani-pedi after work. My feet are a dead giveaway that I’m not one of the set though thanks to the office for a brief week or so (as long as the varnish lasts) I will be.

As my feet soaked in a basin of warm water and I was solicitously handed magazines and a blanket, I watched the women at the bar. One was older in a smart Chanel-like jacket who chose a shade of green varnish. Another – who I later discovered was the owner – was in a white wraparound dress and kept introducing everyone to everyone else as if this was a cocktail party not a semi-spa. Two girls with perfect hair and American accents spent the hour that it took them to gloss their nails loudly discussing being in a non-relationship.

All of them were perfectly put together. It’s not just the energy that it takes to be that way every day, because after you’ve got the routine down it can’t be that hard. It’s the how. How do they get their hair so glossy and their nails gleaming (ok that bit is explained)? How come every outfit every day looks like it stepped out of a fashion magazine? How can they stand to totter around in heels all the time? How come their skin is flawless and their features accentuated? How can they be so thin (I know it’s easier if you’re Chinese but still)?

Doesn’t all this grooming take a lot of money and where do they get it? Or is there some secret shortcut that I am unaware of?