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!


Hero Pieces In My Wardrobe

What do I mean by a hero piece? Well, it only get's this badge if its:

1. Easy to build several outfits around (you don't have to think too hard)
2. Clean silhouette in a plain fabric
3. Classic design
4. Easy to dress up and dress down
5. Definitely not a fashion-led item
6. It will be in your wardrobe for many seasons
7. It's appropriate for your lifestyle and is comfortable

The idea being that you have a core of hero pieces that you can then slot in frivolous fashion bits. Not strictly speaking a capsule wardrobe because you're not governed by a certain number of items. Although I'm still tempted to go down this route.

I'm so over filling my wardrobe with one season wonders and then feeling the need to start again next season. Surely it's better to have a core wardrobe that you can add a few bits to update? 

I've been building up my hero pieces for a while and the difference that it's made to my own wardrobe is enormous. Let me give you an example. I have a lovely burgundy patterned boho inspired top which I adore but every time I get it out, I wear it with just one pair of jeans. Nothing else seems to work with it. It's also a difficult piece to layer.  Hurts my head trying to figure out how I can wear it differently. So one top, one look. 

On the other hand, a classic denim shirt can be worn in so many ways; white jeans, black jeans, black faux leather leggings, double denim, under blazers, under jumpers, with a skirt...... you get the picture. I don't have to think too hard about building an outfit around it. It's a quick and easy decision to make. 

Here are my hero pieces.

And a close up of each item...

1. The Denim Shirt

I've already mentioned it's versatility above which probably explains why I have several!! I've chosen a chambray one for the purpose of this exercise and my newest edition to an ever increasing collection. It's from Baukjen. 

Gap have a good collection (click here) particularly the second one along (fitted boyfriend chambray shirt)

You can do an awful lot with a basic denim shirt including dressing it up as I attempted to do in this post

2. The Classic White Shirt

Fling on with jeans and loafers for a City Chic look, tuck into a pencil skirt or cigarette pants for business dress, layer up under a jumper or blazer. Find the perfect white shirt for your body shape and you'll never look back. I've chosen my Me&Em pin tuck shirt for this feature. It's already proved to be a hero piece as it's coming out for a third season this autumn. It's a thin jersey fabric as opposed to 100% cotton so doesn't crease as much. Which makes me want to wear it more. It's also worth considering something with elastane which tends to crease less and is comfy to wear. 

Boden have a classic one. I have this in chambray (of course). It irons really well but does crease a little. Believe me, I have far worse in my wardrobe. 

This is very similar to mine (without the pin tucks), the bib front gives it detail without making it any less versatile. And there's elastane in it too. Win-win. 

I wouldn't be adverse to adding a collarless version to my hero pieces. Still as versatile and sits very nicely under blazers and jackets. This one from Next goes right up to a size 26 and is apparently 'cut' to flatter curvier figures. 

3. The Striped Top

It's probably safe to say that stripes are universally classed as neutrals which makes me very happy indeed. I met a lady once who told me she didn't own a stripe-anything. When I picked my chin up from the floor, I felt sorry for her. Doesn't she know what she's missing? Stripes go with everything.

This is actually a very fine knit from Mango. I've worn it lots.

The black one is still available with a further 15% off using code 6Extra16

Basic navy and white from Boden (comes in lots of other colours too)

4. The Blazer

Oh yes, I am so predictable (sorry). But I couldn't not include this could I? I've added a navy blue one  to my heros but it could have been black, grey or even brown. They come in to their own late summer/early autumn. Not being much of a cardi kind of person, I wear blazers instead. Which means that it goes on first thing in a morning and comes off last thing at night regardless of the activity.

How useful? Well, think work wear in the morning. Switch the skirt/trousers to a pair of jeans in the evening, add heels and boom shakalaka you're ready to hit the town. You've only had to carry the jeans and heels instead of a whole change. 

The one above is from H&M shortly to be upgraded (sadly it's coming to the end of it's little life) to the Boden Emilia which is on order, I'll report back next week. 

I definitely rate H&M jackets though. Honestly for the money, the quality is fantastic. But, buy early as they sell out quite quickly. 

This is mine which I've worn and worn. 

Or black

For curvy ladies, a draped blazer is perfect. It's all about adapting to suit your own body shape.

So many different styles to choose from (here).

5. The Trench Coat

I'm all about autumn at the minute. Itching to layer up, sod the sunshine and all that. The trench is a perfect autumnal hero piece for those dark, wet, soggy days when you need a bit more coverage. Works on many levels, with trousers, jeans, skirts and dresses. For business dress, casual and evening. And brilliant for popping over your slobs for that emergency dash to the supermarket. No one will ever know what's underneath. Looks fab with white trainers. Just saying!

I've got a traditional camel one but have opted for the grey one instead. It's the right decision, I wear it five times more than the camel one. 

From Great Plains at the beginning of the year and still available at a vastly reduced price.

But if it's a camel one that floats your boat, I've found a surprisingly good collection at Zara (here), lots of different lengths to choose from. It doesn't have to be a standard knee length to be iconic.

Love this slightly masculine cut one. 

6. The Biker Jacket

Shock horror. I don't own a black biker jacket, probably due to the fact that up until 12 months ago, I rarely wore black. But I do own a tan Karen Millen one that's nearly as old as me. Ok, not quite but it's yonks old. Rightly so, it's achieved a hero award. To be fair, I kind of neglected it last year in favour of my renewed romance with black but I mean to wear it lots this year. The beauty about tan is that it adds a certain richness to flater neutrals such as grey, navy and black. Also a great addition to the hottest colour in town next season, burgundy. And a biker jacket is idea for teaming with culottes, crops and cigarette pants as well as jeans. Also perfect with midi dresses and skirts. 

Similar colour at ASOS although this one is suede;

River Island concession at ASOS have a great value black leather one.

And I couldn't not include the navy Baukjen one that I've fallen head over heels for. I would trade one of my children for this. Still as versatile as black, indeed as we know, navy and black look amazing together.

Everyday Biker Jacket in Blue £399 (plus 20% off quoting code YOUANDYOURS)

7. The Black Ankle Boots

There's little point in filling your wardrobe with high fashion pieces because they'll soon start to look tired and you'll want to replace them. Now a pair of well cut, black ankle boots will carry you from year to year. I'm not saying don't buy 'fun' shoes (my goodness, I did a whole blog post about them the other day) but sort out a couple of classic pairs as fall backs first of all.

These are from Boden last year, I wore them lots...with everything.

Very similar available again this year but this time in suede. The classic silhouette ensures they'll never look old fashioned.

Zip High Heel Booth (currently £95.20)

Or tan does the job just as well.

New Look Tan Ankle Boot £34.99

These also available in black, grey and cream.

8. The Oversized Sweater

You know some days (and nights), you just want to be totally comfortable, well get yourself a big jumper. This one was from Mango a couple of years ago. It works brilliantly with jeans and leggings. And again can be dressed up or down. I also wear it layered with a white shirt. Baggy doesn't have to mean slovenly.

A similar one from Mango which is available in navy, grey, pink and ecru. I wouldn't have a problem adding any of these to my hero's list. Pink and ecru are pretty versatile you know.

Cotton Sweater £19.99

But I think I prefer this thinner knit from Massimo Dutti Don't worry about the low v-neck, you can do so much with it. Add a white shirt underneath or a lace cami. I always layer up anyway and the neckline gives you the opportunity to add interest to an outfit. The grey would look amazing under a camel trench (darn it, maybe I should swap my trench).

Merino Wood Sweater £54.95

9. The Coated Leggings

You're probably fed up of me harping on about these bloody things. But honestly, I have to stop myself from reaching for them every day. So very pleased that Next have brought them out again this season even if you can't find them in a search.

Black Pull On Coated Leggings £24

I dressed mine up yesterday for a night out with a navy and black Jovonna top and heels.

But they would look equally good with trainers and a chunky knit. They're a perfect travelling companion too. Take a city break for example. You could wear the leggings with a shirt, blazer, ankle boots and blanket scarf in the day. Swap the boots for heels, remove the blazer and use the blanket scarf as a shawl for an evening out. Now that would impress the husband given he carries my luggage!

I'm not going to link any more as in my opinion for the money, these are the best.

10. The Wild Card

I threw this in because the wild card is a piece of clothing that says something about you. It's your signature. I've chosen a pair of skinny leggings (well quell surprise). So time to fess up, I've finally caved and bought leather leggings.

Let me explain. They were in and out of my online basket last A/W but I couldn't get my head around the whole washing thing. I mean, how many times is it acceptable to wear before you have to take them to be cleaned? I've been assured that you can hand wash them (gulp). Is it so very wrong - I mean I chuck my white leather trainers in the washing machine regularly. They come out as good as new. Anyway, I took the plunge and ordered them. Not black though because I'm more than happy with the cheap as chips Next fake ones. I thought a pair of brown (not sludge) ones would be a really useful addition to my wardrobe as I have 4 or 5 jackets that really need brown bottoms as opposed to blue or black. So these then from Baukjen

Liv Leather Leggings in Chestnut £279 (use code YOUANDYOURS for 20% off)

Handily, this colour is in the sale (the other colours are £349) which makes me very happy. Tried them on quickly earlier and think I'm really happy with them. A second try is needed to confirm so I'll report back.

And that's it, my 10 hero pieces that I'll be building outfits around over the next few months. As much as I love fashion, I've come to realise that it's a bit of a mug's game trying to keep up with every trend going. Far better to build a wardrobe that has longevity and add choice pieces that will keep it looking current. Have I convinced you? Or are you going to nip down to Zara tomorrow and buy the 'NEW IN' velvet embroidered culottes because they're going to be everywhere this season???

Busy, busy day yesterday, spent with Dad doing family stuff and then out with my aunty for dinner at The Summerhouse at Dore, Sheffield. Love that place, the food is spectacular. I was a bit wiped out today if I'm honest, so haven't achieved much. Never mind, it's a three day weekend woohoo and Die Hard is on the telly right now so I'm outta here.

I think we ought to have a look at colour next time. Can you guess which one?

Have a good weekend, whatever you're doing, wherever you are.



Oh I love shoes. How much? This much <________________________________________________________> and more.

They're brilliant for bringing last years outfits bang smack up to date. Ideal for injecting colour particularly when that colour isn't strictly speaking in your palette. Unlike jeans, they always fit no matter what you weigh!!! And there's so many styles to choose from. I can easily lose an hour (strike that), half a day browsing footwear (only women's mind you).

And here are some images that I've lifted from my Instagram. Not that I'm obsessed with feet or anything.

Smart Loafers From Kurt Geiger (and they come in a lush silver too)

Fun red sandals from Steve Madden

Black lace up espadrille from River Island (similar here but love these)

Sling back loafers from Next (adore these navy ones) and black and navy double buckle pump (these are nice)

Statement sandals from Top Shop (and a divine new colour in the Venus here)

Cheap as chips pom pom pumps from Primark (very similar here and a great price too)

Gold flatform pumps from a local boutique (similar here and cheaper here)

Oh I could go on and on. I do have a lot of shoes. In fact, I can buy an outfit and not even have to worry about footwear, there's always something in my wardrobe that will work. Not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed.

One things for sure, they make me very happy. Take the other day, I had a pair of grey washed skinny jeans and nude pink shirt. Pretty inoffensive as an outfit but it wasn't floating my boat. So I popped on the Kurt Geiger pink loafers above and everything was alright in the world again. Sigh.

Regular readers will know that I use shoes and accessories to 'finish off' an outfit.

These gold slingback pumps from Top Shop (similar gorgeous pair here) add a bit of interest to an otherwise very plain outfit.

A pop of red from the Mango trainers (yes please to these) and Coach bag help me pull off an all black ensemble.

Playing with colour with these old blue Primark shoes and Mandy's Heaven pink bag

The tan Top Shop sandals (these are the brown ones) and See By Chloe bag (black one here and a lovely well priced tan one here) prevent this dress from looking dumpy!

A mix of red and blue to tie in with the top. Shoes are past season Boden (these are ace) and Mulberry Bayswater.

Top Shop and Boden have both done well from me over the last two seasons. I absolutely love their footwear collections for everyday wear. But I'll shop anywhere. If the shoe fits, I'll buy it. Call me Cinderella.

So what's out there that's caught my eye. Well lots actually.

First up, Finery. I'm really rather taken with these (in stone and navy). A brilliant way of lifting a plain, boring outfit. And ideal for wearing with culottes if you don't want to do the whole ankle boot thing.

Stella Slingback With Buckle £99

Staying with Finery and SWOON. These Chelsea boots! I wasn't in the market for brown ankle boots this year but now I'm not sure I can live without them. Calm down woman, you're peaking too early. Jeans, white shirt and let the feet do the talking. Can you see how drop dead gorgeous footwear can add so much to a simple outfit. Yep they pass the test with the greatest aplomb. I'm not going to sleep tonight!

Elmsworth Leather Closed Booths £145

And I wouldn't say no to the blue either. Ok not so versatile but still so much that you can do with them. They would easily fit into a wardrobe of black, navy, tan and white.

Elmswood in the blue

Moving on to Top Shop and 'those boots' that have been all over Instagram this week. They've had a marmite reaction, I love them. The powers that be have told us we'll be wearing burgundy this year. It's actually a great neutral. There's no longevity in these boots, they're too fashion led but boy could you have fun wearing them this season. And so easy to dress up and down.

Maximum Fringe Loafer Boots £82

A nice little pair of work shoes to lift your business dress. Sadly not leather but much reduced.

Java Croc Sling-BackShoes (were £39) now £15

Zara next, and these are bordering on panto season but I'm strangely drawn to them. They're pure and utter fun.

Flat Leather Shoes With Bow £49.99

Metallic from M&S. Eye catching design but a very wearable colour. Extremely versatile; think jeans, think crops, think culottes, skirts and dresses.

Fringe Loafer With Insolia £35

Although I think I prefer the lighter version in Mango (easy to say when wearing a short sleeve dress and flip flops, wait until we're squelching fallen leaves).

Heel Glitter Loafer £59.99

Miu Miu inspired ballet flats from Next. There are many versions around on the High Street. Zara's version here for example. Juries out on how much wear I'd get from these. How about you? Any ideas?

Nude Wrap Ballerinas £28

More metallics, this time loafers from River Island.

Gold Leather Backless Loafers £50

Ok, heart beat has increased again. These!!! We're talking big round buckles this year. What's not to love about the boot shape and they're leather! Now, I could have a heck of a lot of fun, styling these.

Black Croc Leather Buckle Ankle Boots £75

If a pair of showy off shoes aren't for you, why not stick to a classic shape but use colour.

Staying with River Island, a classic pump in orange can really take a plain outfit to the next level. Black cigarette pants and white t-shirt would really benefit from an injection of orange.

Orange Suede Block Heel Glove Shoes £55

Or a pair of red flats from ASOS. Don't look much do they? Throw them on with an outfit you're getting a bit fed up of and for the price of a bottle of wine, you've got a whole new look.

Lost Pointed Flats £12

Leopard print is a neutral doncha know!!! Jeans, black jumper and these....

Alanah Leopard Pony Flat Shoes £70

Leopard print never goes out of fashion. Ever.

A lovely muted metallic from the British Flat Shoe Company.  For a perfect City Chic look, dark denim skinnies, white shirt, navy blazer and these. They'll be in your wardrobe for years.

The British Flat Silver Leather Foil £105

And don't worry about matching up your shoes and bag. It's fun to mix it up a bit.

Here I've added a navy and white camera bag to red shoes.

And a brown bag and orange shoes on this occasion.

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

Lol, just noticed that fat brown dog in the background of both photos.

So let's do a bit of a recap.

1. A bang on trend pair of shoes will instantly breathe new life into last year's wardrobe

2. Colourful footwear can add interest to a really plain outfit

3. Treat shoes as jewellery, they finish off an outfit and take it to the next level

4. You can 'cheat' your colour palette by wearing a shade that doesn't suit you next to your face

5. Shoes can be motivational. If you're losing weight and don't want to buy new clothes, treat yourself to an amazing pair of shoes. You'll feel amazing too and it will spur you on.

6. Similarly if you're pregnant, buy shoes!

7. And finally, they're fun.

Hope that's useful. I could talk about shoes for ever and ever. I bore myself sometimes.

Well, I think I'm up to date with all my Next returns. The pyjama top went back in the end purely because it's so difficult to layer up when it turns cold. I noticed that both leather look leggings are now in store and I still stand by what I said last time, that these ones are by far the most superior. The other ones are thicker and could well add pounds to your frame.

I've been thinking about the dark green version too and although I 'capital A' Adore them, practically they're  going to be too difficult to build an outfit around (unless you already have lots of browns and tans in your wardrobe already). Dear Next, please bring out a charcoal grey version soon. Thanks.

Still waiting on the real leather leggings that I've ordered. Hopefully I can report back next time.