I WON'T WEAR SLUDGE BROWN

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!

4.26.2017

A Black Blazer Isn't Always The Best Colour. Discuss.

I do know that I shouldn't wear black, I do I do. But still I insist on buying and wearing it. Why? I really don't know because it's not always flattering against my skin. I dress and put my make up on in a very light, airy room and honestly, black looks ok. Not brill, just ok. But sometimes, I catch myself in a mirror where it's slightly darker. Those bloody shadows underneath my chin and on my cheeks, dark lines under the eyes seem to appear as if by (black) magic. It's not pretty!

So, I've set the scene. You're going to want to know the upbeat bit to this story aren't you? Because yep, I try to look at the positives of life. 

And that will be cornflower blue. Or in this case cornflower marl. 

You see, I find it such an uplifting shade - it freshens my skin and 'cleans' the complexion. Those pesky dark shadows vanish. Now that's proper magic. 

I've worked with Kettlewell Colours several times in the past. We get each other. Like strawberries and black pepper, chocolate and banana. We're both obsessed with colour and understand how uplifting the right shade can be. 

Take this little blazer. Yeah yeah yeah, I know black would look all French and sophisticated and I'd probably pull it off in the photos. But actually I do have a real life. I know!!! Hard to believe that I don't really live inside those little 4 walls of Instagram. And in real life, black ain't half as good. On me that is, not you, you might be able to pull it off just fine with your own unique colour palette.


Blazer - Kettlewell Colours
Breton Top - Boden
Jeans - River Island (2017 version here)
Shoes - Primark (available in store)
Bag - Karen Millen (will be sourced from a store but can order online)
You can buy from Kettlewell in the normal sense ie pick what you like, pop it in your shopping basket and pay for it. Or, you can shop by your colour palette (find yours here). Now, I work on the Colour Me Beautiful system but it's easily converted in to the Seasons system here. Clever huh? 

These were my choices (I'm a Soft and Warm which is an Autumn):


As you can see, cornflower marl doesn't make the cut. But, I know that I get sky blue in my Soft palette which isn't a million miles away. And as it's marl (which means it's not a solid colour), it complements my soft skin tone. Deal done. 

There are seven different shades, something for everyone. Kind of loving that geranium red!

The jacket is semi fitted and 100% cotton. Not that creasy cotton, more of a stretchy, comfy fabric. The nip in at the waist is a triumph for every body shape. I mean, come on, who doesn't want to show off their waist or in my case pretending there's one under the jacket...somewhere.  I'm also loving the shorter cut and next time, I think I'll probably wear a longer breton top underneath. Because I can. And because I think it will look a bit cool. 



It's a brilliant addition to my spring wardrobe and surprisingly versatile. There's a couple of dresses that I can wear it with as well as culottes - that shorter cut comes in to it's own for things like this. 

Here are those Primark shoes that I put on Instagram the other day. Lots of Insta love for them. They're £8! And splendidly comfortable. 




And the Karen Millen bag is proving to be a pretty useful purchase. The neutral shades go with most things without the heaviness of a solid black one. 




I'm reliably informed that it's going to warm up next week so get your orders in for the spring blazer because things like this don't hang around. 

As you can see from the title of this post, I'm wrapped up in GCSE revision. Well, supervision of a 16 year old son's revision. He's doing ok, could try harder. Note to English Lit Board of Examiners: please, please do something different. Of Mice & Men and An Inspector Calls are boring when you've had the same books for both kids. To Kill A Mockingbird would be nice. How about The Go-Between (or is that too rude?). 

We're diving straight in to History a week on Friday. Wish us look. And good luck to anyone who is entering the exam period (stressful times hey?). Remember: they don't define who you are but they give you a bloody good platform to spring from. Here endeth the lecture.




4.25.2017

Dressing For Your Body Shape Series | Skirts

I feel that I need to clarify something before we get on to the subject of skirts. I received a comment on the previous post in this series (the trousers and jeans one which you can find here):

**apologies for the 'f' word, I've copied and pasted


I hope readers of this blog stick with me because they are interested in what I write and are as passionate about clothes and style and colour and personality as I am.


I kind of hope that you might learn a few things on the way. 

Far be it for me to be prescriptive. If I ever talk about 'rules', it's meant in the loosest sense. I would NEVER impose anything on anyone. I mean, I'm the biggest rule breaker of them all when it comes to colour. I receive dozens of emails from women on a weekly basis, some are sad about the way they look and feel, some are delighted with a new purchase that maybe I've recommended, some are looking for a specific outfit for a special event and some are looking for clarification about something I've talked about over on the blog. When I stopped doing colour and style consultations a few years ago, I knew that I still wanted to help ladies feel good about themselves and this is how the blog evolved. I hope that people read it because they enjoy it and take away a few ideas now and then. But honestly, if you don't like what I have to say, please don't torture yourself and continue to read. Really, I won't be offended.


Life's too short!

***************

Shall we crack on?

Last time we looked at trousers and jeans, so this time we're sticking to the lower body and looking at skirts. I have more emails from ladies about skirt issues than anything else actually. They can be tricky little blighters to pull off can't they? I blame the top. I mean, you can find a fantastic skirt that fits in all the right places, is a great length and colour but can you find a sodding top to go with it in your wardrobe? No. Which means buying something new. And that really isn't the way to build up a cohesive wardrobe. I'm very much a swerve-skirt kind of a girl for this reason. I probably have 5 in my wardrobe max.

Let's have a look at the rules and what's out there on the High Street at the moment. You can find your own body shape in this post.  I've tried to give ideas for work, evening and causal wear options for each shape.


Neat Hourglass


Providing there's some shaping, you can do pretty much any kind: straight, flip, pleats, panelled, bias cut, A-line. You're always going to be better with a waist band.

If you're petite, you may want to avoid the A-line midi, particularly the very full ones. Parachute springs to mind. It could overwhelm your small frame.

A great work wear option although limited sizes. This style really does show off your figure.  The belt draws attention to your tiny waist.

Dorothy Perkins Grey Wrap Skirt now £20



Something a little smarter next which could be teamed with a simple cream cami top and biker jacket. A lovely holiday option but would also work for more formal occasions.  I would gladly lie in a jelly mould for a month to reshape my body if it meant I could wear this!

River Island Cream Floral Frill Hem Maxi Skirt £38



This next skirt is a great shape for you and it has pockets (what's not to love). Easy to incorporate into a casual wardrobe. Just add a denim shirt and trainers for a laid back stylish 'I haven't tried too hard' look. Get yourself a catalogue here. It's only diddy in size and always has a discount code.

Baukjen Carlin Striped Skirt £119



The Full Hourglass


Two things to bear in mind here:

1) always show your waist
2) look for skirts with stretch or drape

Just that really. 

If you're very curvy, you may struggle with something like a pencil skirt. It will be too tight on your hips, thighs and bum but too big on the waist. If you like this style, look for a tube skirt that has stretch. I'd be tempted to try on the size bigger. What? Gasp. Horror. A bigger size? Look, you're going to be taking your clothes off anyway so wang your legs into the next size to try that too. The reason being that a less clingy tube skirt is far classier than one that you and everyone else can see your knicker line. Cut the chuffin label out if it bothers you that much. 

Avoid stiff fabric and A-line cuts. Look for cute little flips, bias cuts, and wrap styles (all with stretch if possible).

This is a perfect tube skirt for your shape and very easy to style as work wear. I have this in the Milano Wool (here) and it truly is a miracle, sucking in all of those extra fleshy bits. This one is ponte so probably a better option for summer. 




I said no A-line. This next one is A-line. Well actually it isn't, M&S just call it that. A traditional A-line is one that holds it's shape so is quite stiff. This doesn't so let's ignore the name and concentrate on it's virtues. It's pull on which obviously means there's stretch, it drapes beautifully over the hips without too much volume and the dipped hem will complement your curves. And let's face it, you can do a lot with a black skirt. So, this is my evening option for you. 




And for casual, this khaki crepe skirt would be easy to style with a denim jacket, simple t-shirt and white trainers or tan sandals. Ignore the pants photo and put your vision goggles on.




Triangle

Your objective is to minimise your bottom half and build up your top half (we'll talk about the latter in another post). What I mean is, no embellishment, pockets or detail around your hips and bum. They will only draw attention to this area. As with an hourglass, avoid A-Line styles but stretch is your friend. Look for simple lines and longer styles that will work the verticals. Flips, bias cut and pannelled are all good. 

For your work wear option, I've chosen a flip bottom which will balance out your hips and draw the eye down. It's elasticated at the waist which is ideal and it's totally devoid of any detail. As I mentioned to the hourglass above, you may want to consider trying the next size for a more flattering overall fit. Body skimming rather than body hugging. You get the picture!



I've chosen a long black skirt for your evening option which has an elasticated waist. You could pair this with a bardot style top (which will balance out your small shoulder line) or even a slogan t-shirt and heels. It's really down to your own style personality what you do with it. 




I'm taking a bit of a punt on this one for your casual choice. Normally I'd say stay away from pleats as they won't sit properly on your hips but the pleats here look very soft and if that's the case would work well. Wearing it with a horizontal stripe is a great way of balancing out your narrower top half to your bottom. It's also recommended that you stick to dark colours on your bottom half but if you work hard on the detail on your top to draw the eye up, then I say go for it. 




Inverted Triangle

Of course you're the total opposite to the Triangle. You're at your broadest across the shoulders. So, keep this area free of fuss. Leave that for the bottom half. Print (especially horizontal stripes) and pockets are great. Look for A-lines, panelled, drop waist, tiered and box pleats. Straight can work providing you're not too broad on top.

For your work look, I've chosen a slim A-line skirt with pleats which draw the eye down and out (the buttons emphasise this).

Marks & Spencer Button Detail A-line Midi Skirt £35





If ever there was a perfect skirt for you, this is it. The horizontal irregular stripes, contrasting panel at the bottom and pleats. Jeez Louise, it's got it all going on but oh boy, you'll look great in it. I gift you this as your 'going out skirt' but oh it would work on so many levels and for so many events. Get your creative juices flowing ladies.

Boden Beatrice Skirt £75



Casual summer looks don't come more laid back than a simple t-shirt and denim skirt do they? See those rather large pockets there, well they are going to help balance out your narrow hips to your shoulders. And that contrast stitching will draw the eye downwards and away from your broader top half. Clever huh?

Boden Rachel Chino Skirt £50



Lean Column

Hey if you want curves, I'll give you curves. The full A-Line (think prom skirt) looks fabulous on you. But if that's just a little too much, look for a lovely flip at the hemline or wrap or pleats. If you want to emphasise your slenderness then a pencil skirt is key. And length...you can do short, you can do midi and long! A stiffer fabric will work far better than one that drapes. As my mum used to say, "Donna, you look like a bag of muck" (nope drapes don't suit me either). 



So for work wear this khaki skirt will work brilliantly. The oversized pockets, flaps and belt detail all work to break up your length and give the illusion of shape. Add a cream pussy bow blouse, killer heels and work that office carpet. 



Go large or go home. This is a stunning skirt and is your evening option. Wear with a simple silk cami top in summer and a black silk shirt at Christmas. You'll get your wear out of it.

Finery Belshaw Fold A Line Skirt £75



I could have chosen a nice blue denim skirt for your casual number but thought sod it, let's do red. Note the little triangle shape at the front and pockets which both work to break up the length of your body. Some like the runner bean look, some don't. I'm here to give you options!

Warehouse Reconstructed Denim Skirt £39



Rectangle

Oh lordy, I am this and skirts can be tough to pull off, not going to lie. I mean, they're not impossible but they do need thinking time. Let me explain. I carry my weight around my middle (belly) so anything gathered or detailed (even pockets) draw the eye to the part of my body that I'd rather we all forget about. Full A-lines stand off my belly rather than hips (I don't think God gave me any of these) in a most unflattering way so they're a no-no. I find the best styles are definitely pencil but anything with panels or sewn down pleats (is there a technical term for that). A flippy hem is also ok. Basically anything that is devoid of detail around the waist and tummy. And once we've found the skirt, we then need to think about the top because tucked in doesn't work - it can make us look very thick waisted (which I am but I don't really want to flaunt that fact). Can you see why I favour dresses? Anyways....

This would work, the interesting hemline takes the eye downwards and the dotty pattern tricks the eye so a sticking out tummy isn't so obvious. In fact, pattern is good for disguising any tummy issues so don't just think skirts. 



I promise you that this simple pencil skirt will hold everything in place. It's called the miracle skirt for a reason. The lack of a waist band is a plus point by the way as there's less detail to worry about. Have fun with tops and shoes but keep your skirt fairly plain for your very best look. I've chosen the midnight navy because you can see the detail better but you may prefer the black one for an evening look. 




Trying to find a casual option without pockets or pleats that is half fashionable is almost impossible. This is the best I could find and after all that, it's actually a rather nice option. The stripes at the bottom are good, they draw the eye away from the tummy and it's a neat shape. 




Round

Very similar to the Rectangle above, you may prefer to keep your tummy area free of clutter. Simple and clean lines are key. Look for stretch fabric, possibly with a flip at the bottom to balance your top half. Panelled style works but not pleats unless they're very soft or stitched down at the top. A soft A-line is good but the fabric should drape and not stand off your frame. Look for side fastening, flat fronted styles. 

For a work option, you could do far worse than this one. It's ticking all the boxes above. You might want to try the longer length for a more modern look. 



Don't be afraid to go long-long. It really suits your figure. This skirt is all about the swish but keeping to the guidelines. You can add interest by way of shoes and tons of jewellery. Of course this is your evening wear option!!




I was hoping to find a decent shorter length skirt because you have cracking legs but to be honest, nothing inspired me at all. They were all so dowdy. So instead I've gone with this khaki number. I'd normally stay away from linen for two reasons, firstly it creases (this is a linen mix so will be fine) and secondly it can be a little stiff (this is cut on the bias and drapes beautifully).

JD Williams Linen Mix Maxi Skirt £20



So there we have it, skirt styles for every shape. I hope you can take a little bit of inspiration from this post. Don't beat yourself up if you can't get them to work, I try them regularly but always seem to opt for dresses instead. Do you have any tips to add? Drop me a comment below.

Off to walk the dog in the pouring sleet (you do realise it's May next week don't you?).

Catch up later in the week.


4.19.2017

Basket Bags All Jazzed Up

I like a good basket bag, I do and this one stopped me in my tracks. And not only because it's rather nice.



Let's just say that slowly. Five hundred and ninety five pounds. Gulp. For a basket. What is the world coming to? 

So shall we put our sensible pants on and trawl the High Street because I'm game for a new one (let's not mention the three that are in our basement lock up in Spain that I can't get at as we've rented the place out because our children refuse to holiday there).

Anyway, the basket bag has had a bit of a makeover. Pompoms and tassels are more than acceptable these days. In fact, chuck it all on, the more pompoms, the merrier. And there are lots to choose from. They're pretty practical too ie. not just for holidays. As long as they don't snag on your clothes. That's annoying! 

Kicking off with an interesting shape. This is a contender for me.




It would appear that Mango's plus size brand (available on the same website) has it's own selection of bags. Barking mad, why would they do that? A bag's a bag so why have two sections on the same website? Basket monochrome anyone? Love it.




Another interesting shape, slightly on the pricier side. Not sure I'd wear matching pompoms! And I think this is probably more practical as a beach bag rather than every day use. 




So I rang Mr Boden up and said, hey Johnnie how about naming a bag after me 😏




The new brand at John Lewis, And/Or have a nice little offering. I love wide base bags that stand up on their own.




This next one would drive me bonkers as it most certainly won't stand up on it's own (but I do like it, other than the major flaw).





Ok, stretching a point somewhat here, it's not strictly a basket bag but it fits loosely under the category of summer so it's made the cut. That white panel is crying out for your initials - these in fact which come in a whole host of colours, my choice would be red.






This would look great with jeans and a simple white t-shirt. Sometimes it's best to let your accessories do the talking.

Brakeburn Boho Beach Bag £43

So sweet. I love the shape and size of this one (it's smaller than the ones above but still not a bad size for daily use).

Joe Browns Roman Holiday Bag £29.95



Pimp my straw bag! If you're looking for a day bag to go with everything. This!!

River Island Gold Metallic Woven Straw Beach Bag £35



Round anyone? Try standing that one up!

Zara Pom Pom Tote £29.99



And very reasonably priced from Zara. You know that cute little cherry bag charm on the Joe Browns bag above, New Look have similar which you can buy and add on to any plain old basket. (Link here)

Zara PomPom basket £19.99



Don't forget Mango Outlet. You can grab yourself a bargain or two on there.

Mango Jute Cotton Blend Bag £17.99



Mango Embroidered Shopper £29.99



Mango Straw Bag £19.99



My idea is to buy now, use it, enjoy it and then it won't matter if I wreck it on holiday. But which one??? I can't decide.

By the way, if you're after a summer bag but don't want to pay too much, check out these from Mango Outlet. They're all less than a tenner. You can find lots more here.


Bargains or what? I've already got a couple of embroidered clutches (although that multi coloured one is very tempting) but I love the ones on the left hand side. They're £7.99 each!!!! Think I'll give the cream and tan one a go. I'll report back.




4.17.2017

Updating My Spring Wardrobe With A Jumpsuit

I've been much happier since I consciously decided to step off the fashion merry-go-round and create a wardrobe that's much more wearable on a daily basis. Jackets, jumpers, shirts and trousers are my staples in winter and I'm looking forward to getting back in to dresses when the weather warms up (when!!!). It's taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I don't need to buy in to every trend going. I mean look at Emmanuelle Alt, she sticks to a very simple uniform, rarely deviating from year to year. And yet, she's many a woman's style icon.

You don't have to be a slave to fashion to look good


Of course that red gingham picnic table skirt will court far more likes on Instagram but a few wears and it'll be consigned to the ebay pile. Except, no one will want to buy it because a) they've already got it or b) us fickle lot have moved on to the next new thing. We will not be defined by Insta likes!!!! 

I'm all about longevity these days. Boringly sensible maybe. Purse friendly, definitely. Picking simple pieces to make a very cohesive wardrobe. Maybe we'll revisit this when we've finished the body shape series. 

I've been working on my summer wardrobe and have kind of skipped spring altogether. Probably subconsciously thinking that my autumn stuff will do just fine. And yes, to an extent it will. Blazers and biker jackets over shirts and t-shirts, cropped trousers...you get the picture. Timeless pieces.

But hang on. In order to remain current, I do need to inject a few bits here and there. Shoes are brilliant updaters as are bags (let's all be basket cases this year - looking forward to finding a couple of nice ones. Blog post to follow). And this jumpsuit from Kaleidoscope which I've chosen from their spring collection to road test is a brilliant updater.

Denim Look Tencel Jumpsuit - Kaleidoscope £49
Bag - Fiorelli (old)
Sandals - M&S (past season)

It's most certainly current but not so in your face that you're going to see two, three, four other women in it. And more importantly, I'll be able to wear it not only through the different seasons but into next year too.  

- leopard print shoes and mustard cross body bag now
- tan sandals and basket bag in the summer
- ankle boots and blazer in the autumn
- big chunky cardi or coatigan in winter

It's Tencel which incidentally is one of the most environmentally friendly regenerated fabrics around I know things (thank you Google). I like Tencel. I like it a lot. The fact that it irons beautifully, it's soft to the touch but still has an element of shape about it, it's cool to wear in hot weather and it doesn't crease.



Shall we do the technical bit? I'm wearing a size 10. I had a sneaky feeling that it might not be long enough in the body but it's fine. If you're shorter than my 5ft 8 1/2inches (that 1/2 is very important to me) then you'll be able to pouch it over at the waist, no problem. There's one of those tab things to hold up the sleeves but I'm not terribly keen on these so don't use them. The sleeves are just below elbow length by the way. Plenty of length in the leg but to be honest, it matters not as they look much better with a cuff.



Chuffed moi?



It's a fabulous spring update piece. 'Twas sunny and warm when I shot these photos. Pah, that soon changed so I swapped the sandals for boots and popped on a jacket and I was ready to go. That's what spring pieces are all about really aren't they? Versatility.



Thank you Kaleidoscope, I've really enjoyed road testing this jumpsuit.