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!


How To Dress Like A City Chic

I've had so many requests to write a post about the City Chic style personality. It would seem that as we get older, many of us aspire to this. Not surprising really as it's a more mature way of dressing. I'm not talking frumpy and old. We're not quite at the blue rinse/elasticated waist trouser stage yet. It's more a confidence thing when we're totally fed up of being slaves to fashion and are comfortable enough in our own shoes.

So what exactly is a City Chic?

In order to explore this, I held a little brainstorming session....with myself (well I did ask the husband and son, who looked at me somewhat vacantly). Here's what I came up with:

Doesn't advertise brands on clothes/bags
Doesn't follow high fashion but is interested in general trends
Limited palette of colours
Lots of neutral tones such as black/navy/charcoal/white
Very few bold colours
Limited print
Quality not quantity
Well fitted clothes
Good quality accessories
Buys into pieces that will last for years

I see a City Chic as a combination of a Natural and a Classic (find out more information about style personalities in this post)

A Natural is someone who likes to feel completely comfortable in her clothes. Her look is relaxed with simple easy wear pieces. 

A Classic is someone who is always immaculately turned out. She prefers a groomed look and favours more traditional clothes.

So, a City Chic takes elements from each of these personalities;

Simple, elegant, comfortable pieces put together for

 a groomed and polished look

There, that's my interpretation of a City Chic! 

And a few images c/o Pinterest, such a fantastic source of inspiration.

But of course, it isn't as simple as that is it? Style personalities come from the heart, and clothes are an expression of our characters. So how can you pigeon hole yourself into something that isn't really you? Well, you can't really. Take a Creative (Vivienne Westwood), she would be totally miserable in a pair of well cut black trousers and a crisp white shirt. She'll whip those scissors out and make the outfit her own before you can say cotton bobbin. In fact, I doubt there are any Creatives that even read this blog, it's far too tame. 

What I would say though, is that generally as we get older and a bit longer in the tooth, we tend to dress a tad 'safer'. Ok, there's always going to be the odd fashionista out there and nothing wrong with that either but most 'mature' women tend to follow a trend loosely rather than dive right into the deep end. We also tend to have a little bit more disposable income and are prepared to pay a bit extra so we buy in to the whole quality not quantity thing.

Finally, an older (gosh that word hurts) woman who is interested in clothes will probably feel the need to smarten up her act and yearn for a more polished look. You see I have a theory that baggy, saggy clothes hilights our baggy, saggy wrinkles. It's not yet proven but I'm hoping it will be in my lifetime!!!

And all of this is exactly what a City Chic does. So without knowing it, we gravitate to this particular style personality.

With me so far? Good.

Who is the biggest City Chic Icon of them all?

That's an easy one, it has to be Emmanuelle Alt, we'll just skip over the ungroomed hair bit. 

*Neutral palette; blacks, greys, whites
*Very little pattern 
*Classic pieces; blazers, court shoes, well cut white t-shirts
*Understated with just a hint of personality (the shoes in pic 1, the cuffs in pic 2...)
*Well fitted quality pieces

What does a City Chic have in her wardrobe?

I hate to be prescriptive so let's call this a starter list. Don't forget, you'll have your own personal favourite colours and cuts which should be considered. 

Every item below can be tailored to your own body shape so for example if you are a pear shape then you'll be looking for well cut trousers without side pockets or detail. Or a curvy hourglass will probably want to swerve the pencil skirt for a more flippy style and so on.

Black, grey, navy and brown. Flat fronted are the most flattering. Ankle grazers are perfect for showing a little bit of flesh. Wear nude coloured pop socks underneath - amazing how warm they are.

Mid to dark wash or black with minimal detail/distressing. 

neutral shades (see trousers above). Knee length and longer. Midis are a perfect trend to buy in to. Choose a length that is the most flattering for your shape (tip: make sure the hem doesn't finish at the widest point of your leg).

Clean lines in plain fabrics. Find the best style for your shape eg. A-line, shift, wrap. See above for hemline tip.

White, cream, chambray, black. The fit is key to pulling off the City Chic look. Buttons should lie flat with no strain across the bust/tummy. Crisp cotton creases easily, lyocell is better

Well cut in white, navy, black, grey. The neckline is really important - busty ladies go for a soft v, flat/pigeon chests can wear higher neck styles. It's worth paying more for these as they'll keep their shape and last.

Long sleeve t-shirts 
Neutral colours (see t-shirts above). Also Bretons are key in the City Chic wardrobe (remember that the 'cleanest' ones are 80% white background, 20% stripes).

Silks, chiffons, good quality polyester which will wash well and require very little ironing. Will you be tucking in? If not, look for a well finished hemline - a curve is very flattering. You can buy into trends such as frills but think will I still wear this next year? 

Merino and cashmere ooze elegance but cheaper man-made fibres are ok too as long as they're well cut and not too sloppy. For an oversized look, make sure the shoulders fit, this will prevent it looking scruffy.

A coatigan is a fantastic addition to a City Chic wardrobe. Laid back style! Boyfriend cardis are also useful.

Stick to neutral colours such as black, navy, charcoal, brown, cocoa, stone, pewter. Blazers, plain biker jackets, military with minimal detail are all good investments.

A classic trench will last for years. A proper winter coat is an investment so choose your best shape; cocoon, belted, straight. Try lots on before you decide. Make sure it fits properly and the length is flattering. 

This will very much depend on your lifestyle. Flat pumps (rounded or pointed fronts) and loafers are ideal for running around town. If you prefer sneakers, stay away from fitness brands such as New Balance. Instead look for classic white or black in leather with minimal detail. A City Chic may or may not wear heels (personal preference), but a classic pair of stiletto court shoes will always feature. Neutral shades including nude or animal print. City Chics can use shoes to personalise their outfit so don't be afraid to buy in to fashion if you fall in love with a pair. 

An ankle boot is easier to style than a longer boot. Choose a classic shape that isn't too fashion led as you'll be wearing for years. When you've built up a small collection, you won't mind so much buying the odd fashion purchase that will only last a season or two. 

A variety of bags in classic colours; neutrals, red, animal print, burgundy. Totes, hobos and cross body.

Classic pieces, either one statement or a few smaller pieces.

How to add a statement piece the City Chic way

This is what Emanuelle Alt does so bloody well. If you don't believe me, go over to Pinterest and have a look. Her wardrobe staples are black pants with a simple t-shirt or shirt. And then she may add a killer jacket or knock out shoes and occasionally a statement bag. But never everything at once.

This is the key. Keep it simple and then add one wow piece

A few things that we could consider:

leopard print heels or flats
a red bag
a military style jacket
peep toe ankle boots
a fedora hat

taken directly from Emmanuelle's closet. And these would actually last for years.

But, I think this is where we can also insert our fashion-led items but remember the rule **just the one piece at any one time** It will keep your look current and help fend off the boredom from a pretty basic, parred back wardrobe.

Where to shop for City Chic clothes?

Here's a list of shops for all different budgets (in no particular order)

Good for: classic shirts, breton tops (in different cuts to suit different body shapes) blazers, well fitting trousers, classic shoes with a twist.

Good for: basic jeans, t-shirts, cashmere, shoes.

3. Me&Em

Good for statement pieces that will last and layering tops.

4. Baukjen

Great for layering pieces. Cut for real women

5. Mango

Cheap, affordable basics but you'll need to search for them!!

6. Next

My go to shop this year. Great for the coated leggings that I love and well priced tops.

These pull on coated leggings are so comfortable and easy to style

Love the smart take on the jogger with these Twill Textured Trousers

The Frill Front Shirt looks much more expensive than it really is

Because not everyone wants a black bomber jacket

7. Winser London

This company is the epitome of the City Chic. Great for good quality knits.

The Milano Wool Skirt, a useful item for the A/W wardrobe

Layer up or wear on it's own, this Merino wool v-neck jumper so super versatile

Under stated classic - Miracle Crochet Shift Dress

And some other brands that cater for the City Chic

Jaegar - pricey but a good all rounder that will last and last
Jaegar Outlet - pick up some fabulous bargains
John Lewis - I love browsing Ralph Lauren (in the sale) and Tommy Hilfiger
Hobbs - pricier end of the High Street but lovely staples 
Joules - brilliant for long sleeve Breton tops
Esprit - fantastic for basic items such as polo necks and t-shirts

Phew, that was a long one wasn't it. Hope you made it to the end.

The New York trip was successful. We had 3 things on the agenda; to visit the 911 Memorial Museum (so glad we did), to shop for my birthday pressie (got that) and to cycle in Central Park. Oh my bloody God, it nearly killed me. Did you know that there are hills in Central Park? No I didn't either. I mean, I've done the horse and carriage romantic thingy and walked through part of it too but did I see any hills? Not one. Three times I had to get off the damn bike and push. Not amused! We also managed to see the NYC football game (the soccer variety) in a fantastic catered suite, walked for miles and miles and enjoyed one too many cocktails. Having done most things on previous visits it was lovely to chill and not have too much planned.

Anyway, back to real life and back to no central heating. I had to ring the emergency gas people on Thursday evening. They asked a few questions and said we had to evacuate the house immediately. Couldn't decide whether to save my coat collection first or my family. The good news is that I still have a house, a family and my coats. The bad news is that we need a new boiler. Just working out how many pairs of shoes I could have bought with that money!

Back later in the week.


How To Wear Pink And A Few Styling Ideas Too

Let's talk about colour. Let's do pink. Blush, nude, shell, whatever, It's that subtlest of shades that I'm interested.

Treat it as a neutral because it goes so well with many colours:

Light grey

...and that's just off the top of my head. Ok so yes, the fashion pack do occasionally pick up on it and flog it to death (this season) but it's one of those colours that really doesn't date.

It's such a useful shade in your wardrobe that you can wear all year round. There's another reason why I love pink, it's so much more forgiving on a mature skin than say a pure white. Bright white is a strong colour and can be very draining whereas soft pink is less harsh. In fact, every time you reach for a white top, you could probably replace it with a pink one - it really is that versatile.

How To Wear Nude Pink

But how should you wear it? If you need to double check your own colour palette, click here.

Deeps, Clears & Cools

(that's women with dark hair, any colour eyes or grey hair, any colour eyes)

Wearing colour successfully is all about balancing your own colouring. Each one of you in these 3 categories will have a strong, dramatic look so a pale pink will be too insipid on it's own. But don't worry, it's very easy to remedy. Add a stronger colour below the chin such as black or dark navy or charcoal to give it some ooomph.

It could be a jacket

Or something as simple as a ribbon tie or necklace

By the way, I don't want to confuse you, I'm not a Deep, Clear or Cool. Photos are for illustration purposes only (there, that's my disclaimer!).

Chances are you'll have lots of deep colours in your wardrobe already so adding a shot of pale pink could breathe new life into old clothes.


(that's women with red or warm tones in their hair and an overall rich, golden look)

This is why I'm not the best colour consultant because I break too many rules. You don't get pale pink in your palette at all and I do think that the pale candy pinks are totally wrong for you. But, the palest nude and shell, well I don't see what the problem is with those, particularly as some have a definite peachy hue. So I say, you go girls. Wear with pewter, chocolate brown or bronze. In my mind they will look stunning with pale pink against your overall golden look. 

The top I'm wearing here is leaning towards the peachier of pinks. I have a warm undertone to my skin (although it isn't my dominant palette) and my skin always looks so fresh when I put this little top on.

Softs & Lights

(that's women with mousey or blonde hair)

Pale pinks look wonderful against your skin tone. If you've never tried it, you really are missing out. It softens the complexion and masks those wrinkles (I know, it's magic). Softs try shell pink and Lights, you can do pastel pink. 

Try wearing it tonally, that is with other shades of similar depth such as nude and cream as I am here. By the way, it doesn't matter what you wear on your bottom half as it's away from your chin!

A Few Style Ideas

I thought it would be useful to show how easily pale pink can slot in to your wardrobe. I'd love to say that these pieces belong to me. Alas, I borrowed them from Winser London but very much enjoyed wearing them even if it was just for the photo shoot. 

The Pink Skirt 

So far we've talked about wearing pink on our top half but of course there's no reason why you can't wear a pink skirt or trousers. 

Black Ruffle Blouse - old (similar)
Milano Pure Wool Skirt - Winser London
Black Shoes - ASOS (similar)
Black Bag - Marks & Spencer (love this)

In fact if you're bigger on top, wearing deeper colours as I have done here is a great way to balance you out. Because as we know, dark shades are slimming. It's also a great way of buying in to the colour if you're really not sure about wearing it as a top. So a red head could wear it with a bronze bomber jacket for example.

By the way, I have this skirt in camel and I absolutely love it. I borrowed it for this post, sent it back, and then promptly reordered as I couldn't live without it. This could get expensive!!!! The knit is really substantial so it sucks the belly in and springs back into shape when you take it off. Always a sign of quality.

So, I think we can safely say that pale pink looks amazing with black! 

The Silk Shirt

Gosh where do I begin? So much to say about this. First of all, let me show you the photo from the website. It's the white one but I want to talk about the shape.

It's a stunner isn't it. All three items I'm featuring from Winser London are for your forever wardrobe, this included. What I wasn't expecting was how fabulous it looked and felt untucked with that lovely curved hem. Go feed your face at that Christmas do and no one needs to know what's going on under that shirt. 

Silk Ruffle Shirt - Winser London
Burgundy Pull On Coated Leggings - Next
Black Shoes - ASOS (similar)
Tassel Bag - Next (similar)

I teamed it with burgundy which I think is my all time favourite colour combination (well ok, it is this season). These shades were made for each other don't you think?

The detail is exquisite, check out those cuffs. It was super difficult to part with this one! I loved the fact that there's a ruffle but it's not an in-your-face-kinda ruffle. It's subtle. And don't worry about ironing. I steamed the shirt all over and the packing creases fell out. Can't tell you how nerve racking that is when it doesn't belong to you!!!!!

The Versatile Jumper 

I'm always on the look out for clothes that can be worn for different occasions. It makes for a very workable wardrobe and this next piece fits the bill and some more. 

I've added the website photo above because it's a true representation of the colour. Big love for this jumper.

Merino V-neck Jumper - Winser London
NavyEmilia Ponte Blazer - Boden
Navy Coated Pull On Coated Leggings - Next
Loafers - Next (similar)
Pippa Grab Bag - Modalu

Worn with my beloved navy which I know is so much better for my complexion than black. 

How perfect is it for wearing under a blazer for smart-ish workwear? Ok, you might need to tone down the coated leggings but you get my drift. Navy and pale pink, big thumbs up.

In my mind, it's smart enough to wear with black cigarette pants and heels for an evening out. I'm all for easy outfits these days.

Or dress it right down with a pair of joggers and trainers. Sundays I'm looking at you. 

Well I hope I've convinced you (if you didn't know already) that pale pink really is a versatile colour. It's graced my wardrobe for many years and I'm always keen to add more. What about you? Do you do pink?? 

All packed and ready for New York. Husband is in London somewhere as I type and isn't due back until later tonight. He said he'll pack tomorrow. We're leaving at 4am!!! Breathe deeply Donna, breathe deeply.

So I'm off to entertain the in-laws with a takeaway and bottle of wine who are here while we're away. Well it's the least I can do!

I'll be taking a few days out from blogging but you can catch up with my antics on Instagram and there's an Insta Story of my packing too xx


Finally! A Midi Dress That's As Perfect As Perfect Is

Guess what! Laura Ashley have asked me to write for their blog again. Whoopee! My first post was back in the summer of 2015 (here). All very glamorous, shot in Miami. This time it's Bollington Canal. Never let it be said that I haven't remained grounded ;-)

Anyway, unusually the peeps at Laura Ashley are totally happy for me to share the details with you right now even though I'm not scheduled until 15th November.

I'm writing about a fabulous dress which was the answer to my dreams. You see I've been searching

and searching

and searching

for a winter midi dress. One that didn't SCREAM LOUD FLORALS. And quite honestly, I was beginning to think that they didn't exist. Oh sure there are loads around but big, bold patterns in cool shades really don't do anything for my Soft & Warm colour palette at all. I mean, I'm breaking a lot of rules here, wearing a black background. But, the smaller pattern and that injection of rust really helps the cause!

Wild Floral Sprig Print Midi Dress - Laura Ashley
Camel Leather Biker Jacket - Karen Millen (similar)
Tan Boots - Boden (similar)
Black Bag - Modalu (similar & 15% off first order)
Watch - Daniel Wellington 

It's a stunning shirt dress, fully lined which gives it weight. And of course the weight lends itself wonderfully to the drape. It feels so much more classier than the floaty versions I've been trying on. But that's probably down to the fact that it's a proper grown up dress. The Wild Floral Sprig print has come right out of the Welsh archives, not that I'm getting a kick out of that or anything. Oh alright then, I am.

A sassy little bugger it is too, with the crafty front split and waist synching belt.

I wore it with an old pair of tan boots from Boden, a Karen Millen leather biker jacket and my trusty old Modalu bag. Even the husband commented. Something along the lines of, you're a bit dressed up for Bollington Canal (for those of you who are not familiar with my sarcastic other half, that means he likes it).

Anyway, the canal. There's a cute little tea shop called Waterside Cafe (of course). All mis-matching furniture, pretty views and delicious food. I'd love to say that we took photos of a cream tea with finger sandwiches served on a vintage cake stand washed down with glasses of Prosecco. In reality, we ate a breakfast of toasted teacakes and supped our lattes in record time so that we could go shopping.

And who put that bloody Ketchup bottle there? Ruined the shot it has!

But I really, really enjoyed wearing the dress. There's 30% off at the moment too. It comes up slightly large so size down if you're an inbetweeny. I'm wearing a 10 and there's plenty of room!

Right, I'm off to put a few words together for Laura Ashley. Self imposed; no swearing, no slang, no sarcasm. Can't do anything about that Ketchup bottle though.


What To Wear When You've Fallen Out With Jeans / A Denim Alternative Post

I'll give them their due, Next have been good to me this season. The pull on coated leggings for a start (you know I'm a massive fan of these, as it would appear many of you are too). And then on Saturday, I saw these flannel joggers except they only had silly sizes left in the shop. I barely dared to look online in case they were sold out. But it was meant to be, me and those joggers. I picked them up yesterday and wore them today. That's always a good sign isn't it?

Charcoal Twill Textured Trousers - Next
White Shirt Ichi (old) - budget option here and investment option here
Coat - Vero Moda - love this one
Trainers - Next
Bag - Coach - similar

You see, me and jeans aren't getting on at the moment. It's been a gradual thing, this parting of ways. Every morning, I open my denim drawer and then close it again. I don't know why, they're the innocent party in all of this. It's me, not them. I'm not digging denim!

 It's all about the smart, comfortable trousers this season and these ones fit the bill perfectly.

Smart enough if you wear business dress but easy to dress down with a pair of trainers too. And charcoal, well, it might be the new black on the block! Did I mention how cosy and warm they are?

Style Notes: 

1. They come up true to size

2. You might want to swerve if you carry weight on your hips, I don't think the pockets will do you any favours

3. Style up with heels and a blazer

4. Style down with a slouchy top and trainers. I bought this top to go with them for a kind of grown up leisure wear look. Ignore how it looks on the model online - not the best shot in the world! By the way, teal is a great colour for most skin tones.

Teal Metallic Tie Hem Sweater - Next 

4. They're meant to be cropped so pop a pair of nude pop socks on to keep your ankles warm (how does something so thin actually work - one of life's mysteries).

Very happy with my jeans alternatives I am and for £26, I think they're a bit of a steal.


We Did A Bit Of Shopping On Saturday

Love a bit of shopping I do, although the Trafford Centre on a Saturday afternoon might not be the most well thought out idea. I think we managed 5 shops in total (the daughter and I). It was rammed! Think the last Saturday before Christmas and you won't be far out.

Anyway, it was a pretty successful afternoon considering I only set out for a pair of black trousers. Want to know what we bought? 

What I Bought

I know I said I wasn't going to buy until after we've been to New York but you know what, I hate shopping in other countries. Always feeling rushed and pressurised into buying, having to strip off every few minutes to try on and then worrying that you can't fit it all in the suitcase. Oh and the thought of shopping with the husband. No! No! No! That coupled with the fact that the sterling rate is pants right now. So, after coveting the Balfern, I took the plunge and bought it. Described as green, it's more grey with a hint of green. I sized right down to an 8 because the leather really does stretch and grow. Had I not tried on the sales assistant's black size 8, I'd probably have plunged for the 10 (I'm really an 11 on top). But her jacket fitted me really well. So, I shall be shoe horning myself into the jacket, sitting next to the radiator and doing lots of aerobic movements in an attempt to stretch the damn thing.

I've decided that I've fallen out of love with denim (more on that another time) and after a mild panic, realised other trouser options were needed. I'd noticed these online and popped in to River Island to check them out. Of course they only had a teeny weeny size 6 left but all sizes still available online. So I tried the ones above instead and loved them. They remind me of the Annas from Whistles which don't work on me. A friend has them and they look amazing on her. So pretty thrilled that these RI ones are perfect. Don't let the description put you off if you're after a smart, comfortable trouser, they're nothing like joggers! Note to River Island though....lose the zips!!

Ok, so we both tried these which is surprising given that we have very different taste in footwear. I bought them, Ash is still thinking! She'll cave, I'm sure. They're definitely a fashion purchase, I don't expect them to be in my wardrobe for years. They're what I would call a fashion injection. Trouble is they're not leather, I really wish they were and would happily have paid more than the £55 price tag. Sleeping on this purchase, they may go back.

Reduced to £20, they were an easy buy. Except they make a funny noise when I walk. Hoping that's a temporary thing. I was seduced by the full shoe which will be so much warmer in winter. Available in black and the most amazing rose gold as well. 

I would never have picked these online but in real life, they are seriously lovely. The fabric looks like an expensive flannel. 

Had to order in my size which I'll pick up tomorrow. Very much looking forward to styling them with trainers and a blazer. 

Zara Pinstripe Fitted Culottes (£19.99)

Believe me, I have searched and searched for these online but nope, they're not there!! Love-hate relationship with Zara continues. I mean, they have some amazing stuff yet again but oh the quality is terrible. Anyway, we both bought these culottes. I've got a couple of pairs but I've never felt 100% happy in them. These are thicker and hang better. A neat elasticated waist so there's zero bulk around the belly. Love the pinstripe and really useful if you wear business dress. 

Do not  say I told you so when I wash it for the first time and it falls apart. I know, I know. It was the stripe and the zip that did it for me. E'nuf said.

And What Ash Bought

As well as the Zara culottes and a couple of other purchases, she was somewhat restrained. Might have something to do with the fact that every time I call her, she seems to be in the Westfield Centre. It's slightly too convenient to her house in West Kensington. 

It's that fur jacket that's been all over Instagram, across all ages, it knows no barriers. Got to admit though, it's gorgeous. 

Fab little top and very useful too. I think this one edges it over the leopard print one (which has also been all over Insta). It's cleaner and crisper and dare I say it....a perfect Christmas top. 

Leather Chain Coin Choker

I haven't got into the whole choker thing, no one wants to look at my turkey neck. This one is slightly different to the one we picked up, but not much. They had stacks of different styles in the Top Shop concession in Selfridges, not so many online. There's something really rather lovely about a choker on a young neck and she's really amassing a small collection at the moment.

And that's it. You would have been proud of me, managed heels all day and didn't moan once. Anyway, the current weather in New York has totally thrown me. It's 25 degrees this week! I had to double check that I was looking at celsius not farenheit. Drops to 17 next week which is still warmer than average (I believe). Wardrobe planning has gone back to square one. 

Have a good week.