A fashion and style blog for the over 40s covering body shapes, colour palettes, how to wear neutrals, style personality and capsule wardrobes. Come on in!


What To Buy & What Not To Buy In The Sale

Follow a few rules to bag yourself a bargain in the sales 
and create a perfect classic wardrobe in the process

(p.s. this post is probably not for the fashionistas, it's aimed more at women who are looking to create a forever wardrobe).

It's that mad reduction time again but don't get carried away. Remember what I said a couple of posts a go, items in the sale are leftovers, stuff that people didn't want to buy at full price. But you can bag yourself absolute bargains, if you shop savvy.

Forget gingham. Isn't it looking tired already? Bardot tops may be have had their fill. I'm a bit on the fence with frills and ruffles because whilst I crave a simpler line on my clothes, I think done well, a bit of a frill can command it's own longevity.

On the whole, I'm more about buying better quality basics in the sale. Something that maybe at full price I've thought 'ouch' but suddenly seems very affordable and good value. Here's my take on what to buy and what to leave.

Buy It

This Baukjen top which is now a very, very reasonable £32. Ok, so we're not going to be swanning around the French Riviera in it right now or even Margate given our current weather situation. But come autumn (or if you're in the North West, next week), you'll be delighted that you bought out of season. It's a great top for layering underneath jackets and cardigans and knowing the brand, it will have great drapability (great onomatopoeia-ish word). One of the things I like about Baukjen is the amount of information that they provide about each item. So size down with this one.

Baukjen Ella Top Was £65, now £32

Long sleeve grey t-shirt with v-neck

Leave It

Are stars so last season? Maybe, maybe not. I loved the freshness of this t-shirt when it first came out but think I'm probably fed up of seeing those pointy things on tops and jeans and shoes and bags. Star overload. Sorry Baukjen, I love you really.

Baukjen  Skylar T-Shirt was £55, now £35

white v-neck t-shirt with stars

Buy It

That gulp moment when you see something that you love but think wow, I need to sell a child, suddenly seems less out of reach. Well, maybe you only need to sell half a kidney. It's a bit special isn't it? Something to reach for over and over again. We're told to  size down, handy that because my size is in stock (I'm on a spending ban 😞 ).

Baukjen Monmouth Leather Blazer Was £399 Now £239

ladies classic leather blazer

Leave It

Ok, I can't believe for one minute that this will appeal to many people unless you're stuck in the middle of Glastonbury and can arrange an express delivery from Hermes. But, I kind of wanted to make a point here. This was featured in Grazia and even they couldn't shift it. It's very errrrr......niche. Don't be sucked in to the hype that just because the press thinks something is ace, that it is. Floral outerwear is obviously less versatile than something plainer and more classic in style.

Warehouse Peony Pop Windbreaker was £99, now £50

festival mac in floral

Buy It

Here's a classic for the wardrobe, the trench and a great time to pick up a bargain. I have a grey one from Great Plains which I love (link here - it's also in the sale). My beige one is a bit meh so needs replacing. One thing I've found about a trench though is that I seem to go straight from thick winter coats into blazers so I don't wear mine as much as I would like. Will be addressing this issue come autumn. The thing about a trench is that whatever trend you wear it with, it kind of works  and is instantly brought up to date. Cropped wide legs, skinny jeans, midi skirts....

Baukjen Brook Trench Coat was £249 now £149

ladies classic long trench

Leave It

There's actually nothing wrong with the following trench coat. Indeed, I think it's lovely but don't buy a fashion colour unless you have a neutral one already. Far better to build up a wardrobe of very wearable pieces and then add a pop of colour here and there. If you tend to buy what you like, chances are your wardrobe may not be so cohesive. But if you already have a neutral coloured trench (beige, tan, black, grey, navy), then you may want to consider this. 

ladies long trench in mustard

Buy It

A jumpsuit seems to have claimed it's place in our wardrobe and become a real staple. The tencel one that I have from Kaleidoscope has been reduced. And because it's tencel rather than denim, it's lovely and soft to wear. I'm looking forward to layering it with my big chunky winter white coatigan and ankle boots but for now I'll style it as I did earlier in spring below.

Kaleidoscope Denim Look Tencel Jumpsuit was £49 now £32

denim jumpsuit

Leave It

(unless you have an occasion in mind)

It's easy to get carried away in the sale. I know because I've done it far too many times, 'oooh 60% off, what a bargain'. So we buy it, put it in the wardrobe and never actually wear it. That's exactly what retailers want. To off-load their unsold stock on to us (of course it's a bonus if we don't wear it because we'll be back shopping again sooner rather than later). Take this jumpsuit, which is beautiful I might add (red heads, this is a great colour for you - just saying!). We buy it thinking, yep, that will be great at Christmas. Christmas what? Shopping? School run? Quick bite to eat with friends? Christmas markets? See, it will go unworn if you haven't got an event planned. And if you're anything like me, you'll be sick of seeing it hanging in your wardrobe before you get around to wearing it. And then when said event comes around, you'll buy something new 😝

occasion wear dressy jumpsuit

Buy It

The beauty about wardrobe classics is that with a bit of thought, they can be a bit chameleon. These wide leg crops for instance. You can do 70s chic on a Monday with knee length, heeled boots and then add a white shirt and trainers on Tuesday for a more contemporary look (I call it the Me&Em look - tailored, clean lines and very modern).

La Redoute Wide Leg 3/4 Length Trousers was £49 now £29.40 quote EXTRA10 for a further 10% off)

ladies wide leg cropped trousers

This is a look that is so easy to wear, chunky knit and Chanel-esque pumps. Ok, these are denim but I think you get my drift.

ladies chunky jumper and cropped jeans
Image c/o Pinterest

Leave It

Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted springs to mind with the frill trousers. If you've already got them, I reckon you can squeeze another season but personally I don't think I would buy them now. They're too fashion led and I feel I may well have contradicted myself in a previous post!!!!!

frill bottom trousers

Buy It

A winter white coat. Let's say that again. A winter white coat. Sigh. I can picture some of you reeling in horror. White? Children? Grubby fingers? Errrr no. Ok, it's not something I would wear daily on the school run but if you're buying out of want rather than need, get this! You'll be surprised at how many occasions you'll reach for it. And I really can't think of any outfit you couldn't wear it with.

Mango Unstructured Wool Coat was £99.99 now £49.99

ladies winter white coat

Leave It

This really is a lovely, versatile coat but there's one problem....the collar. It's too high if you wear make-up. You can't really see it in this shot but trust me it is. Honestly, light colours and high necks do not go together. You'll spend more time taking it to the cleaners and let's not even talk about the cost! Other than that though, it's grand.

ASOS Oversized Cocoon Coat was £85, now £59.50

ladies pink coat

Buy It

An absolute timeless classic is the Breton stripe and Boden has a big reduction on theirs right now. People have said that they've changed the fabric but honestly I prefer it. Yes, slightly thiner (but certainly not see through) which means it's less stiff to wear. And it doesn't bobble. Mine still look as good as the day I bought them.There are a lot of colour ways that I wouldn't buy but classic ivory and navy or navy and ivory (yes they are different) are wardrobe staples.

Boden Long Sleeve was £28 now £16.80

ladies long sleeve breton top

Or yellow. I love yellow and navy together or even yellow and grey.

Boden Long Sleeve Breton was £28 now £16.80

ladies long sleeve breton top 1

Leave it

Another example of, as featured in Grazia so it should sell out straight away. Well it hasn't. Over designed clothes drive me demented. Often they are so hard to style. I can't even work out which body shape other than possibly a lean column, this shirt would work on. Get rid of the silly tie thing and overhang, and you've got yourself a great extra long stripey shirt that you can do lots with. I suspect further reductions will be imminent. 

ladies long sleeve stripe shirt

Buy It

Now's the time to pick up a bargain at Me&Em. You're obviously paying for quality here, I have jersey tops that are a couple of years old now and they're still going. I love their layering tops, great foundations under big jumpers and jackets.

Me&Em Georgette Collared Layering Blouse was £89 now £62

ladies layering shirt

Leave It

Because we just know that it will be crispy and stand off the body tent-like! Cheap fabrics always end up in the sale don't they? That said, it's aimed at a younger buyer who obviously looks amazing in everything. As we get older, I do think a good fabric that suits your body shape is well worth paying more for. 

pink pussy bow blouse

Buy It

If you're still in summer mode and crave a white dress, this one from Winser London is gorgeous. I know because I borrowed it. Heavier than cotton but it does mean that it hangs really well. Little dresses like this are often overlooked because they're so simple. But you can do so much with it. Dress it down for day wear or go all out with a dress coat, heels and huge hat for a day at the races. As with all WL pieces, it's extremely comfortable because of the stretch. It was a bargain at full price so even better now it's in the sale.

Winser London Cotton Textured V Neck Shift Dress was £79 now £59

white classic dress

Here it is on.

ladies white classic dress summer styled

Also available in navy and red

Staying with dresses, I adore this one. Obviously more of a summer number. Light colour and chiffon is difficult to pull off in winter. I think it could look absolutely stunning dressed up and a real play on the traditional shirt dress. You could also dress it down with trainers.

Karen Millen White Long-Line Shirt Dress was £199 now £95

long white shirt dress

Leave It

Anyone know what's wrong with this dress? At first glance, it looks ok (pockets always score well). The pattern is pretty inoffensive and the colour is quite nice. Check out the reviews, it scores 2.6 out of 5 with many saying that it's a weird fit. Often these sorts of items go into the sale. I picked up a fabulous dress in M&S last year, reduced, reduced and reduced again. You know when the heart starts beating faster and you can't wait to get into the changing rooms to try on the bargain of the century!!! Except the body was cut too short, meaning that the waist sat virtually under my bust. I briefly considered passing it off as an empire line. Only briefly mind. Always worth checking reviews. 

mustard dress with pockets

Buy It

I'm a bit over Stan Smiths et al, they're everywhere and my kids laugh at me when I say I need a new pair. I'm not a big buyer of fashion trainers, in fact a pair of white leather Adidas Honey Los that I bought over 18 months ago are still pristine (very washable; 20 degrees, 800 spin and then dry in the airing cupboard). The son is agog that I can keep them so clean in between washes. I have however been looking for a more grown up pair of neutral trainers and this could be the answer. These would look great with a pair of black ankle grazer trousers, crisp white shirt and my grey trench (yep I'm outfit planning).

Lauren Ralph Lauren Jay Suede Lace Up Trainer was £84.95 now £50.97 or more sizes here now £68

ladies grey designer trainers

Leave it

I never really got into the whole embroidered trend: bags, shoes, trainers, tops, jeans, macs. Pretty much everything this season was subjected to the needle and colourful thread. I blame my mum who made me wear matching jeans to hers in the 70s with a toadstool embroidered on the back pocket. God, I hated those jeans and purposely rubbed a hole in the knee so that I didn't have to wear them anymore. Except she bought a sew on patch. Another ruddy toadstool 🙈

The ones up there ^^ will stick around far longer in your wardrobe than these.

ladies embroidered trainers

So, in summary:

- Buy classics first and foremost, you can add fashion pieces to them each season to freshen up your look

- Buy basics out of season and stash

- Work on your neutral colours first of all

- Look at websites that may ordinarily be out of your reach

- Think about what's already in your wardrobe. If you need to buy other things to make an outfit, it isn't a bargain

- Don't buy really high fashion pieces at the end of a season unless you're happy to ditch after wearing them a few times

- Don't buy occasion pieces unless you have an occasion in mind

- Check the reviews before buying

- Look for really great fabrics

- Think about practicalities such as high collars in light colours

- Be realistic. A 6 inch embellished stiletto may look amazing but when are you going to wear them?

Ask yourself does it have longevity?

You may remember that I ordered this skirt from The Outnet and here it is...

Iris & Ink Wool Skirt £105 (40% off at checkout)

winter white wool skirt

It takes a lot of the points on the checklist above:

It's a neutral colour

Very wearable in winter

I already have lots of jumpers and tops to go with it

It's a great fabric, 100% wool (and hand washable)

It's pretty classic but not frumpy

It will work well with current trends

It has longevity

It's practical (can be worn with long boots, high heels and trainers)

So it's probably going to be a good buy. If you order it too (here), size up. Not because it comes up small but this style can be clingy. There's not much difference between sizes so better for it to skim than sucker-to-your-curves.

Happy sales shopping and let me know if I've missed anything that can be added to the checklist above.

Feeling a little sorry for myself because I've been back to the physio today with a reoccurring back problem. She told me that I'm getting old (in a nice way) and that it will keep happening. Basically I won't be appearing on Dancing On Ice in this lifetime. Oh yeay. So I'll sign off now and go and do my prescribed exercises. Rock and roll (that's an exercise, not a state of mind).


A Beautiful White Summer Dress & The Mother Of All Bags

White. Is it really a colour? Critically evaluate this statement, demonstrating your understanding with appropriate diagrams.

Actually, let's not because that would be boring. Let's talk about this dress instead. I am excited, very excited for my holidays this year because I have this to take with me. 

Ok, I know you're not getting the full experience here. I could have superimposed my being onto a tropical beach somewhere in the Maldives but a) I don't know how to do that and b) that would be misleading. So my back garden will have to do. Technically speaking it's the side garden but you know what I mean. 

Glorious isn't it (the dress, not the freshly cut hedge). Dipped hem, wide straps (that sorts out the bra strap issue) and lace panels at the waist and knee. Sigh. There's beautiful embroidery on the back and covered lace panels across the bust. The attention to detail for the money is quite extraordinary. Oh and it's lined to the knee. I knew it had to be mine when I clocked it a few weeks ago. It's been on order but is now fully in stock. 

I sized up to a 12 as I plan to wear it over a bikini but looking at the photos, I think I may need to swap it for a 10. Go with your usual size. 

Lace Insert Dip Hem Dress £55
Large Tassel Shopper Bag £38
Hat - (similar)

A little close up of the details.

And obviously, I would have looked like this had I been on the beach, messy hair, don't care, effortlessly chic (oh Donna, you are delusional).

I also love this white dress and had I not been on a self imposed spending ban, I would have ordered it too. Hate the way it's styled but we can overlook that.

Lace Panelled Maxi Dress £25

And then the bag. I thought life would get easier as the kids got older. Take my holiday day bag for example. Baby wipes, dummies, arm bands and balls have been replaced with phones, tangle teezers, Kindles, and....balls. No real change in weight terms. I still need a big bag because pack horse Donna seems to end up carrying for 4 people. 

When the kids were small and we spent long summers in Spain, back in the days when you could park on Mistral Beach in Puerto Banus, we used to cram the boot full. Food hampers, cooler boxes, table and chairs, loungers, toys, you name it, we had it. All the beach activities went into a big blue Ikea bag.

This is the big blue Ikea bag! The daughter hated the Ikea bag but I think she'll approve of this one. 

You don't get a full sense of how big it actually is unless it's on a person. Here, have a look again.

Large Tassel Shopper Bag £38
Lace Insert Dip Hem Dress £55
Leopard Print Toe Post Sandals - old 

Huge isn't it? The mother of all bags. I am going to be so popular on holiday.

A white beach bag with a straw hat and hammam towel
Large Tassel Shopper Bag £38
Sunglasses - Missoni (old)
Hat - TK Maxx
Hammam Towel - Lots to choose from here

The long straps means that it sits nicely on the shoulder but if I carry it, it isn't scraping the floor (scraping isn't cool). And the wide opening, well no more rummaging around in the dark because it's easy to see what's in there. 

Well chuffed. 

p.s. the label will be removed before use 😆

p.p.s Hammam towels are seriously good if you're going on holiday and need to take a beach towel with you but have limited luggage space (lots here)

Hope you're enjoying the heat. I haven't worn proper clothes in days!!!!!!

And one last thing. Just because I don't comment on events that we see in the news doesn't mean that I don't care. I do. But I choose to process the information privately and quietly. And wow, has there been some processing to do. This struck a chord today and I am 100% behind it:

Britain is at boiling point and if we want to step back 
from the brink, we need to stop screaming at each other 
like kids and start talking together like adults

Well said Katie Hopkins! I hope you don't mind me posting that.

Shop the post below, just click on any image xx


How To Hide Your Belly With Pattern

I don't wear that much pattern on a day to day basis but there's nothing quite like wearing something bright and bold in summer. And did you know that pattern is great for disguising a big tummy. Tis true. Print distracts the eye from settling on your belly as well as providing a bit of camouflage in the area that it's needed.

It was a no brainer then, when I saw this 70s inspired jumpsuit. There's no way I could do this in one block colour unless it were black and that would be boring. The riot of coral and white and blue does a really good job in disguising all the lumps and bumps.

Frill Top Jumpsuit

how to disguise a big tummy using pattern
Frill Top Print Jumpsuit - here

Ok so I chose the best angle for the first photo but believe me there is a belly there! And I take no pleasure in writing that!!!

You may be able to see the small tie belt and I forgot a little trick that I often do with these. If you fasten the belt so that it's quite loose (the knot should dangle pulling down the whole belt and then rather than putting it to the side, bring it to the middle), it has the effect of working the verticals and drawing the eye downwards away from the tummy. Such a simple tip and I can't believe I forgot to do it.

off the shoulder jumpsuit from Kaleidoscope

The wide legs are beautifully cut and swish when you walk (anyone else like swishing?). I'm 5ft 8 1/2 and the jumpsuit is a good length with flats. Another inch would have been nice. I can wear it with heels but it looks more like a crop flare which is fine. If you're shorter, you'll be able to do a heel and have that full on long luxe look. And you'll be even swishier. Inside leg is 30inches if that helps.

The fabric is spot on, it's a stretchy polyester/elastane mix, vital for comfort and to maximise the swish. I felt 100% comfortable and can't wait to wear it for real. Husband is at York races today and had I been invited(!!!!!), I would have worn this without a doubt. It's the most perfect piece for many summer occasions; races, weddings, holidays, informal barbecues...

How To Correct A Wide Shoulder Line

Shall we talk about the neckline because I have a little tip. See the black straps down there ↓ it doesn't come with them. It's my bra and is showing on purpose. I have wide shoulders and struggle with off the shoulder designs because they make me look even wider than I am. But add straps and you bring the eye inwards and the focus is diverted from this area. Genius! It also solves the problem of finding a strapless bra that actually stays up. For pear shapes or triangles, this is a perfect neckline for you (without the bra straps) as it will broaden your top half giving the illusion of balance with your hips.

You can adjust the top to sit on the shoulders if you prefer.

disguise a big tummy with fabulous clothes
Frill Top Print Jumpsuit - here
Bag - old

And the price? Would you believe me if I said you get all of this:

- a tummy corrector
- a coral coloured mood uplifter
- swishiness galore
- a tie belt that works the verticals
- a trick to make the shoulders look narrower
- a beautiful piece to add to your summer wardrobe

All for the bargain price of £45. Sold to the lady at the computer screen.

Quite unbelievable really 😀

It's from Kaleidoscope, a brand that I've enjoyed working with before. They asked me if I'd be interested in contributing to their #PackingForMe campaign, items that I will be taking on holiday. Of course this fantastic jumpsuit will be the first thing that goes in my suitcase. My heart is palpitating as I write, what would have happened if they hadn't sent the email and I'd missed this beauty. My life would not have been the same 💗

To say I'm thrilled is an understatement.

a 70s inspired off the shoulder jumpsuit with wide legs

Wearing with my Champagne Holster Australia sandals from last year. No longer available but very similar styles here

jelly sandals for women

This item was gifted by Kaleidoscope but I think it's safe to say that I would have bought it myself regardless. All copy and opinions are my own words, I respect my readers too much to not be 100% honest.

Now where's that bloody sunshine because right now, it's long sleeve jumper weather in the North West. Have a lovely weekend. We seem to have a few runs to the airport planned as one child comes home and the other goes on her hols. SHE IS NOT TAKING MY JUMPSUIT, I REPEAT, NOT TAKING MY JUMPSUIT.

Have a lovely weekend. And talking of weekends, there's free delivery at Kaleidoscope  for the next two days.


How To Pick Up Designer Pieces At High Street Prices

Ok, we're not talking designer-designer here as in couture but now is the time to pick up some great bargains from more expensive brands at high street prices.

For me personally, there's little point in buying into the latest trend. Remember, these are items that haven't sold at full price. They're leftovers. Sorry to be blunt but it's true. The top dripping in tassels and ruffles at 70% off looks enticing yes? It's easy to get carried away but if like me, you want your money to work hard for you, this really isn't a good buy because next year the fickle fashion world will have moved on to the next big thing. And you're left with a top that suddenly feels very tired and so-last-season-darling.

Far better to look for timeless pieces in the 

sale and it makes sense to stock up on classics 

that will be in your wardrobe for many years.

A good place to start is The Outnet, a funny one because it's a discount designer fashion outlet so it sells 'leftovers' from current and previous seasons. Their sale is full of items that they couldn't sell at already discounted prices. You know that sale rail in TK Maxx that's full of rubbish..... But hang on, if you rummage through that rail for long enough, there's always a couple of pearlers to be found. And you can apply the same theory to The Outnet. 

Remeber there's an extra 40% off all prices quoted below. 

Starting with this wool skirt 

White Midi Skirt

This has gone in to my basket and I must checkout before publishing this post. That's the thing with sale shopping, you can't hang around as stock could be very low. It's a classic skirt that can be brought out year upon year. Wear dressed down with a jumper and long boots or add a silk shirt and heels for a classic evening look. I'm also thinking it will look great with my grey biker jacket and a thin knit come autumn. The jumper is an absolute steal too but there's only one Small left. Someone is going to grab that today aren't they (link here). Iris & Ink is The Outnet's own brand by the way. 

Tory Burch Brown Leather Sandals

A pair of Tory Burch sandals for just over £60!! And you'll be in good company too as Jessica Alba has them. Sizes are limited. 

At first glance, this is a pretty boring white summer dress but it's so easy to style up or down. Easy pieces that work on multi levels is what I'm all about these days. You could wear this with a leather jacket and flat shoes for say a day's shopping or dress it up for a wedding. Personally I'd add a little lace trimmed slip underneath as it's cut quite low. I think this could be a dark horse because the photo really isn't doing it justice at all.

easy wear white silk dress

More white, this time linen-cotton blend wide leg trousers. I'm a bit meh about linen because of the creasing but the cotton will prevent them from being too stiff. 

linen blend wide leg trousers

The hems are unfinished so you can choose the length. I'd suggest that you decide whether you're going to be wearing heels or flats, they're really not going to work with both, that's the downside of wide leg trouser. I'd probably do a heel with these and as I said in the Winser London post, this style really does lengthen the legs. Again, they're so easy to style up or down. They'll look fantastic with a chunky knit come autumn. Who says white trousers can't be worn in the colder months? 

Although the long waistcoat trend seems to have passed, I think this could be a great wardrobe piece with some careful styling. In my eyes this sort of piece has moved in to the classic territory (classic in a good way, not the Marks & Spencer Classic!!!!) rather than an on-trend piece. Crisp white shirt and black coated jeans for a bit of a Chelsea look. Or worn more relaxed with a pair of lighter wash jeans and t-shirt. I actually quite like the styling below. 

long black waist coat styled with trousers

One to throw in your wardrobe for when you need a formal dress that's not a ballgown. And it's navy!!!

navy crepe classic dress

An understated, statement coat (contradiction in terms but I think you get what I mean). The only thing that I'd be checking is that the neckline works with what's in my wardrobe. Not such a bargain if a) you can't wear it with most of your tops and b) you end up having to buy new tops to wear it with!!!!

leather trim coat

And the jacket from the same collection. Oh god, I really want this but my jacket collection is out of control!!! This is the sort of thing that I pop on over a pair of jeans and t-shirt to smarten the whole outfit up. 

leather trim jacket

A Helmut Lang shirt for a smidgen over £80. Need I say more!!!! This is the kind of thing I wear on an every day basis in spring and autumn. It's long enough to cover the bum so easy to layer over comfy jeggings and looks great with a blazer. 

Helmut Lang easy wear shirt

How much do I love this final piece even though there is so much more to look at (because really I have to go and get ready, I've only been up 3 hours!!!)? A beautiful, beautiful blouse that works on many levels. 

pretty classic shirt

Go and have a look for yourselves, I'm supposed to be on a spending ban (lol, lol, lol) and so I'll be ordering the white skirt and THAT IS IT. But please do share your purchases with me so that I can at least experience a little joy in knowing that someone else has bagged a bargain.

Happy shopping xx