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!

12.30.2016

Wardrobe Refreshers For The Post Christmas Blues

I was on Oxford Street the other day and couldn't believe the number of people who were shopping the sales with full-on suitcases. Not those little weekenders either. No, I am talking Caribbean cruise sized trunks. They're either a) very savvy shoppers b) greedy or c) too tight to buy a 5p carrier bag. Me? I'm so over Christmas sales, one visit to Zara was enough. It looked as if it had been shaken like a giant snow globe and then set back down again. Proper, proper messy it was. And as is the norm with Zara, bargains were few and far between. A tenner off here and there, twenty off jackets if you're lucky. The real bargains don't happen for a couple of weeks. I lost interest after about the third display rack.

So, I'm not a great sale shopper. I mean, I can't actually get it out of my head that we're buying stuff that the shops couldn't flog at full price. Is that because the clothes are minging, passed their sell by date or someone in the buying department messed up royally? 

Of course there are genuine bargains to be had and my biggest tip is to steer clear of high fashion unless you're confident that the trend is continuing into the next season. Stick to classics such as trenches, winter coats, blazers, jeans, shirts, cashmere jumpers and anything stripey!!! Not an extensive list but you really can't go wrong with these purchases in my opinion. Also, take the opportunity to step up a level so if you're a mid-High Street purchaser, have a look at the higher end. You'll be buying into serious quality at very affordable prices. That's savvy shopping 💪

Actually, this post isn't about the sales at all. Well it kind of started with that intention when the daughter dragged me out shopping. While she was happy to search through rails and rails of messy stock, I took myself off to look at the new season stuff. And I made a few purchases to inject fresh life into my winter wardrobe but will also come into their own in spring. 

First up, we have this gorgeous shirt (I say blouse). Honestly the detailing in real life is stunning. It would appear that frills and ruching are here to stay for another season so a safe purchase. I love the white embroidery which gives it a really fresh look. 





But I love the back detail even more...a sucker for anything sailor inspired! The writing is made up of sequins and tiny beads and I'll say it again, the workmanship is stunning for the money. 



I'm trying desperately hard to rediscover my love for denim because come Spring, I think this will look great with mid-wash denim and red shoes (these!) or trainers (these!).



And then I happen to spot this shirt 





After wearing heavy jumpers for the last few weeks, it looks so spring-like. Mind you that diagonal red stripe draws the eyes upwards and outwards. Not so great if you're wide shouldered (me). I haven't tried it on yet so fingers crossed it still works. And if it does, it will be perfect for wearing under knits now until it's warm enough to wear on it's own. 


It's probably my favourite shade of blue, certainly flattering against my skin tone (and most others too). 

Both of the above blouses are from Next. I was looking at some comments on their Facebook page earlier and wow people are errrrrr shall we say direct....quality is rubbish, who designs these things, shocking. Am I the only person that thinks they've upped their game recently? Ok there's a lot I wouldn't buy but then it's such a big retailer now that it's always going to cater for different style personalities. I can always find something(s) I love each season. 

Finally a blush pink (another favourite shade) lace blouse from River Island. I saw this a couple of days before I actually purchased it. I'm normally an impulsive shopper but walked away from this one. Of course it meant I couldn't sleep that night, nor the next. So in the end, I scratched the itch and popped back to buy it. 

Mind you, if I'd seen it online, I wouldn't have looked twice at this picture. It's far nicer in real life. 





Again, I need to try it on but I intend to toughen it up a little with a biker jacket and jeans. Hoping it will also work under a crew neck jumper right now. Husband asked why I'd even bother to buy if if I intended to 'cover all those frilly things and dangly sleeves'. Because you'll see the pretty neckline doh!!!! 




Other than a few bras from John Lewis (brilliant selection at the Oxford Street branch, not so good online), that was my sum total of post Christmas shopping. To be quite honest, I'm feeling a little retail frazzled right now. Probably regret it as I tried on a gorgeous dress in Whistles which I really should have bought and clocked a couple in Finery that I wanted to try on but couldn't be bothered to undress. Nay mind, there'll be plenty of discounts come Spring for sure. 

Hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas. It's been an odd one for me, my first without Mum. We did the usual family thing Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day and then stayed with our daughter in London for a few days while she got up at 7.30am to go to work. Oh how I laughed at those tables that have turned. 

More family here tomorrow night followed by breakfast at a local hotel on New Years Day and a long dog walk. Then it's football in the afternoon. Pray when do we actually step off this treadmill? 😬

I for one will be glad to banish the baubles to the loft for another year. 

Best wishes to everyone for 2017, we have high hopes yes?


12.20.2016

Christmas Ramblings Of An Old Woman



Anyone else fed up with their beauty advent calendar? I am. I've got trial size lotions and potions everywhere, I keep forgetting to open the doors on the correct dates and the products are teeny-tiny and I can't read the instructions. Not only that, I can't even work out what most of them are for. I've had conditioner on my face (it came in a pot) and gold sparkle facial oil on my nails. I mean seriously how do the manufacturers expect you to read the blurb on a container just a few centimetres tall? But 20 days in and I've worked out that if I take a photo on my phone and zoom in, I can just about make out what the product is. Easy then to google what it's actually supposed to do. Totally underwhelmed by the whole experience. Next year I'll buy myself a tin of Quality Streets instead.




And this got me thinking about everything else that get's my goat at Christmas.

Take the 'behind the curtain presents' that the husband hides every years. The kids know that they're there. We know that the kids know that they're there. But we do this whole bloody charade thing of 'SURPRISE!' I don't mind that so much, it's the fact that hubby decides last minute that they need a 'behind the curtain present' even though I've already spent a small fortune on them. 

And then there's the 'trying to balance the money spent on each child' debacle. This I've managed, although the daughter has 6 more presents to open than the son (he has more expensive taste obviously). Pile-wise they're roughly the same although it used to be a problem. There's 5 1/2 years between them so when the son was receiving Ninja Turtle forts and Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcons, the daughter was in to sparkly diaries and Slappie Slap Watches (or whatever the equivalent was 10 years ago). Humongous son's pile vs teeny-tiny daughter's pile. I had to run out one Christmas Eve to buy a hockey stick (she never played hockey) and an oversized science experiment kit (it went to the charity shop 6 months later...unopened). All to balance out the piles. 

Don't get me started on the hunter and hunted game that precedes the big day. You know, when the kids suddenly adopt stealth personas and leave no cupboard unturned in their quest to find their presents. We've done the loft thing, neighbours houses, wardrobes, garage, car boot, locked suitcases. The lot. And every chuffin year, they find them (well only since Santa wrote a letter about burning his bum on the fire so he'd made an arrangement with Mummy and Daddy that we'd look after the presents for him). I've even resorted to putting them in black bin liners, tied with string and then snipped so close to the knot that if they untied it, there's no way they'd be able to retie the string. Except, I forgot to hide the ball of string..... 

Of course we hide the presents so well that sometimes even we can't find them. Until January! Kind of defeats the object really. 

Unwanted gifts anyone? Let the search commence for the receipts. And after spending 2 hours looking in carriers and trying to work out which handbags I've used in December, I give up and exchange the present for vouchers worth £2.20 because the items are on double blue cross sale. 




I've got Christmas cake coming out of my ears and why does that tin of Panettone go on for ever and ever. It breeds overnight I'm convinced. Making your own croissants on Christmas morning seemed like such a good idea at the time. I  don't mean from scratch, I mean the ones that come in the tube that you have to construct and cook. That's once you've actually worked out how to open the bloomin thing. Have you ever tried to follow the instructions??? Well that is if you can read them. Phone torches come in very useful don't they? Oh and seriously how many veg do you have to juggle at lunchtime. Simultaneously cooking and keeping warm. A logistics degree is required to keep on top of that one. And why do we insist on dressing up to cook Christmas lunch? A disaster waiting to happen if you ask me. I've been known to sob into my tea towel as my best silk shirt sleeve is splattered with fat and then frantically searching for online tips to get it out while the pigs in blankets burn under the grill (which was turned on as a last resort to keep the food warm). 



Don't get excited, it doesn't work!

I have 5 double beds to change on New Years Eve as we say bye bye to house guests and welcome a fresh batch (impossible task), another battle in the supermarket and I'll be in full on banshee mode with the kids who insist on keeping their pressies in the living room. I don't want to see a Soap & Glory megabox  gift set and American Eagle boxer shorts on my floor. It's plain wrong. And there'll be dust balls the size of Hollywood Western tumble weeds in the hall because vacuuming when you have guests would be rude right? I'm not even going to think about those cheap flimsy Christmas cards that warp in the heat and won't stay standing for longer than 5 seconds. 

And then to add insult to injury, the husband insists (nay, demands) that the Christmas decorations stay up until 6th January even though the baubles are literally touching the floor - already. DEPRESSING or what? 



I have no hopes that the kitchen tree will survive until then, it's already looking a little forlorn. 


Sad innit!



So why do it year after year? Well, I do it for these two. They're as excited now as they were when they were kids. The sheer delight on their faces is enough for me to forget the traumatic experience of finding the right presents and constantly picking out empty wrappers from the Quality Street tin. 




And this big kid, because he's probably the biggest of them all. He doesn't have a clue what we've bought and I don't think he really wants to know because it's as much of a surprise to him as them.



And the rest of the family too who we get to see over the festive period. 

I'm looking forward to spending a few days in London, that bottle of fine red wine that's been sat in the wine rack all year, immersing myself in box sets and listening to Christmas carols (Classic FM style). Meeting friends for that last minute coffee and wearing sequins at 11am because sparkle is acceptable any time of day. Drinking port (wtf is that all about?) and eating as many chocolates as I darn well like without anyone raising an eyebrow. Making late night snacks from all the leftovers that seem to go on and on and on. 

That's what it's all about really isn't it, the three Fs. Family, friends and food (and wine but that wouldn't have worked as well would it, three Fs and a W).

So this WILL BE the last post before Christmas and I wish you all a very merry time indeed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading the blog, it means such a lot. I've enjoyed our little interactions and private chats over on email xx






12.18.2016

Shoes Maketh The Outfit





Gosh I love shoes. More so than bags and coats and tops and chocolate. And I'm not a shoe snob either. High Street and high end....it doesn't matter to me, as long as they look good. I'm not even bothered if they're uncomfortable. Beauty is pain and all that. This addiction is bad isn't it?

All I'm saying is that if you have a good stash of shoes in your closet, you can build an outfit from almost anything. They can transform and update a look instantly. I mean, look at Cinderella. You're not telling me she wouldn't have bagged her prince if she hadn't been wearing a pair of killer shoes.

Anyway, I happen to land on the River Island website after a search for leopard print heels (mine are shot) and those clever IT elves that work behind the scenes remembered that I looked at this pair ages ago. You know, that little scrolly bar at the bottom of the page that reminds you of products that you've viewed. Evil those elves I tell you, evil. And they're only in the bloomin sale now so of course I couldn't resist a little online order.

Red Croc Strappy Mary Jane Shoes now £15



I think they'll look great with cropped jeans in the spring (providing I rekindle my love for denim before then).

And in the sparkly metallic £15



Leopard print sock boot anyone? Great for midi length skirts and dresses and skinnies as well.

Leopard Print Sock Boot now £25


These black ones are amazing and I'm questioning my own sanity now. Why on earth didn't I order them? FOOL.

Black Suede Sock Boot £35


I think there's a little bit of mileage left in metallic loafers.

Gold Loafers £15



These next ones are available in black, silver and gold. A great option to update tired business dress.

Tassel Loafers £25

A statement flat if ever there was one, available in black and gold.

Gold Patent Tassel loafer £20



And I should have ordered these too! I've been after a pair of grey boots for ages. A much lighter option for summer because we all know that there are days that boots are required even in July.

Grey Sock Boot £25




Big love for these as well. Great styled with jeans and a blazer. I have these Celtic sheepskin insoles in my trainers that keep my feet toasty warm. I bought a cheap pair from Amazon last year and they fell to bits after a few weeks. So far, the Celtic ones are wearing well.

Burgundy Metallic Trim Trainer £15



And so many more in the sale too. In fact, 157 styles (as at 11.00 Sunday morning). Here's the link to lots of lushness. I'd recommend a plan of action for your undoubted over-indulgent spending (for which I accept no responsibility). Check husband's calendar. If he's out, get them delivered to your home using express delivery (free with £100 spend). If he's around, get them sent to your local Collect+ shop. You can then smuggle them in to the house under the cover of darkness! Wrap them up and shove them under the tree. He won't even think to question who they're from on Christmas Day. If he does, look sweet and innocent and say, 'oh shucks, there's no gift tag'. A present from you to you.

Merry Christmas.


12.16.2016

The Brown Suede Toga Pulla Ankle Boot - Found Them!

I bought these a good 18 months ago and have been asked numerous times where they were from. I've never been able to locate the exact ones. Mine were from a far-too-cool-for-Donna boutique in Marbella. Saw them in the window and dragged the husband in to the shop. Well, dragged his credit card in to be more precise. Sadly he was attached to it so had to come in too!

And they're certainly not brown! The picture below is a good representation of their actual colour. More of a grey-beige.

Toga Buckled Ankle Boots £405 (cheaper here but few sizes left)

They're not cheap (the black ones can be sourced much cheaper) and don't be put off by the website, Farfetch. It's totally legit. It basically 'partners' with luxury boutiques around the world so if you're ever looking for something specific that's sold out here, it's worth doing a search on Farfetch. Think of it as your personal concierge service.

I tend to wear mine with trousers and leggings.

Slouchy Knit - H&M (old)
Berry Pull On Coated Leggings - Next
Toga Pulla Ankle Boots - Farfetch
Khaki Military Coat - Next
Khaki Military Bag - Marks & Spencer (old)


They're a bit of an understated statement shoe, a contradiction in terms I know. What I mean is that the colour is subtle so they're not screaming look at me, look at me. But when someone clocks them, they look twice. Unsolicited compliments are what they get. A girl in the Kurt Geiger shop in Covent Garden nearly ripped them off my feet the other week. I was half tempted to trade. Five pairs of their shoes for these. I AM A SHOE TART!

I haven't managed to do the skirt thing with them though. You need to be totally cool to pull that look off. I'm thinking more happy-clappy hippy in my case.

They kind of make a plain outfit a bit more special.

Roll Neck Jumper - Winser London
Black Pull On Coated Leggings - Next
Khaki Bag - Marks & Spencer (old)
Toga Pulla Ankle Boots - Farfetch


They're actually very comfy, albeit on the heavy side. I wore mine in New York for a day of site seeing. True to size as well, mine are a 39 (my usual size).

I still love the black leather (over the suede for some reason). There's room in my closet for these!

Toga Pulla Ankle Boots £326


Gold anyone? At these prices, I want mine to last more than a couple of seasons and these may date.

Toga Pulla Ankle Boot £330




But, if I were in the market for another pair it would have to be these.

Toga Polido Ankle Boot £370


And if you're feeling the squeeze after shopping for everyone else this Christmas, here are a few dupes.

Although only small, the heel on these will encourage you to stand up taller resulting in a leaner looking frame.


Office Jagger Multi Buckle Boot £84



And in black croc effect leather £88



Love these khaki ones (it's a really versatile colour actually) £84




ASOS Ryder Suede Buckle Ankle Boot £65



ASOS Affia Multi Buckle Ankle Boot £35



The tan are in the sale, I repeat tan are in the sale!

ASOS Ryder Suede Buckle Ankle Boot £45.50



ASOS Rally Leather Buckle Ankle Boot £31.50 (for real leather!!!)



Any thoughts? Are they a bit too rocker meets Western cowboy for you? Or do you love them too?

Lunch with my dad and brother today and I'm still stuffed 8 hours later. All I want to do is curl up in a ball and go to sleep. Sadly one of us has to pick up the son from a party at midnight and as the husband is currently laid on the sofa dying with man flu, it looks as if I'm on taxi duty again. I can't even pour myself a glass of wine! Breakfast at the football club tomorrow so a bucks fizz will be calling my name.

You wrapped your Christmas pressies yet? I have (smug face). We'll gloss over the fact that I still have to buy 4 fairly large gifts.





Cut To Fit & Flatter

I was reflecting over my blogging year the other day. You know, I'd love to say that I was strategising and planning for 2017 but it's all a bit organic really. I never  know from one week to the next what I'm going to write about. There's a general direction I want to take it but it's more of a meander than a charge from A to B.

By far the most popular posts of 2016 have been the ones where we explore how to look and feel slimmer such as this one, 'How To Look Slimmer Over The Festive Period' and this one, 'Clever Clobber For Correcting Body Imperfections' and this one, 'Feeling Good While You're On A Diet'.

So, I thought I'd squeeze one more post in before the end of the year particularly because the bits I'm going to show you are such good value. I mean, we're talking proper sale prices already!

Last time I showed a lovely little jumper from Mandy's Heaven and talked about why it's important to feel good now regardless of your size and shape. Let's continue on this theme. 

Celuu is a brand that I've never heard of before until recently and I feel I should have. They're stocked by John Lewis and I spend a lot of time on the JL website, far more than is healthy. So, I'm surprised that I haven't come across the brand. Anyway, their website is here.

British designed, catering for ladies size 12 - 22, their philosophy is to provide easy wear pieces that are cut to fit and flatter. That's the key isn't it,

"cut to fit and flatter"

I like that very much! 

So Celuu have sent me a number of items to style. I'm always interested in exploring brands that cater for different shapes. It's easy to lay claim to the fact that a brand caters for the larger woman or the petite but how does that translate into the garments? I've looked at Mango's Violeta range in the past and thought it a little hit and miss to be honest. So how does Celuu do? 

First of all, let's talk packaging. You know by now that I'm a sucker for a nice box. For the price point (we're talking very reasonable Marks & Spencer prices by the way), the parcel came beautifully presented. 



And first impressions of quality were excellent. Here are the three pieces.



Bo Colour Block Cardigan - Celuu
Black Pull On Coated Leggings - Next
Black Pleated Front Top - Ichi (similar)
Boots - Toga Pulla
Grey Fulmer Bag - Village England
This is quite a heavy piece making it perfect for right now. I'd say more of a coatigan weight. The colour combination is unusual, camel, grey and navy (although the navy could pass as black). Three neutrals that work really well together. 

Why does it work?

All the detailing is kept to the top which gives it a clean line from the chest down. So our eye is immediately drawn upwards and away from our troublesome bits.



Let's all say a special thank you to the designer - they've kept the pockets tonal. A contrasting pocket would have been wrong on every level.  The lapel collar and open front is working those verticals. Wearing a column of colour underneath (ie the same top and bottom) will give you the very best chance of looking longer and leaner. Chuck on a pair of ankle boots and you've got yourself a really flattering, youthful outfit.


* I'm wearing a medium which is a 12-14, the extra large fits a 20-22


Vivienne Polo Neck - Celuu
Black Pull On Coated Leggings - Next
Honey Lo Trainers - Adidas 
Black Hobo Bag - Marks & Spencer (similar)


A polo neck can be harder to wear on certain body shapes, I'm not going to lie. I'm talking boobs here ladies. Boobs and polo necks aren't a match made in heaven. But they're not impossible. I've chosen an unusual forest green but it's also available in charcoal and light grey. It's semi fitted which makes it so much easier to wear than a tighter one. And a really good length (bum covering).


Why does it work?

First of all, the knit is lightweight so it isn't going to 'bulk'. Tighten those bra straps as well. I know, I know it's a form of human torture but hoiking up your boobs will give a much more flattering line. There's nothing like a polo for emphasising the contents of a saggy, baggy bra. The problem is, that there's nothing to distract they eye from the vast amount of fabric from neck to belly button. A thin scarf or necklace will help to break it up. As indeed will a jacket. It's all about adding interest somewhere on your frame (preferably to your best bits).

It's easier to understand if I show you. I've added a string of pearls as they stand out against the green (can't work out if they look a little twee but it's only for illustrating a point). Look how they break up the expanse of jumper. Have a look at the previous photo to compare. See what I mean!! So, don't discount a polo neck, have a play around with a few accessories.


Add a pair of faux leather leggings and trainers for a casual, comfy look. Alternatively try it with a pleated skirt and ankle boots.

* I'm wearing a medium which is a 12-14, the extra large fits a 20-22


Kiera Chiffon Trim Top now £29

Kiera Chiffon Trim Top - Celuu
Navy Pull On Coated Leggings - Next
Navy Emilia Ponte Blazer - Boden
Burgundy Shopper - Karen Millen (similar)

I wanted to include something stripey in this post as many women are under the impression that they can't do them if they're carrying weight on their top half. German physicist, Hermann von Helmholtz proved that a square made up of horizontal stripes appear taller and narrower. A fact that seems to have been lost in translation over the years. This panelled top is a lovely relaxed fit in navy, wine and ivory and features a chiffon panel underneath (another bum cover-upper).

Why does it work? 

Old Hermann has said it's ok for us to wear horizontal stripes but let's avoid clingy Breton tops. They're not going to flatter anyone. This top is a relaxed fit so will drape rather than hug your curves. And those clever panels are going to be super flattering on a larger lady.


Originally I tried it with a pair of burgundy coated jeans but I've got to say from a flattering point of view, it's better to stick with navy (or dark denim) to co-ordinate with the chiffon panel. To be honest, it's such an easy piece to style. Throw on a blazer and a pair of boots and you're done. It's a really different piece to anything else I own but you know what, I kinda like it. 


* I'm wearing a 12 and it's available up to a size 22

And after all the planned sparkles between now and Christmas Day what better way to get back to a sense of normality with any of these pieces. They're such easy wears.

And my verdict? Yes Celuu does understand a woman's figure. Simple, easy pieces that fit and flatter. 

Can't wait for the son to break up from school. These dark mornings are beginning to drag. And the world seems to have gone crazy, it took me two and a half hours on Monday to do the school runs. Jeez, you can get to Malaga in that time. Where is all the traffic coming from? And don't even talk to me about the filthy roads. Is there any point in having your cash valeted at the moment? 

I managed a trip to The Trafford Centre the other day, it's not my favourite place at this time of year (bah humbug) but it was actually quite pleasant. A quick whizz round and picked up quite a few pressies. Pants service in Selfridges, top service in Debenhams (a shop, I rarely venture into but the staff were great). 

Enjoy your last weekend before Christmas (gosh, how did that happen).






*I was kindly gifted these items for the purpose of this blog post. I hope you like them as much as me