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!


Let's Not Judge A Book By It's Cover

Dress season is coming. Whoop whoop. I love a good dress and wore mine to death last year (weather permitting of course). They're so, so easy to wear, well that's if you can find them in the first place. A good 75% are of cropped proportions: thigh skimming, knicker flashing specimens that are even shorter on my frame. Nope, my days of the mini are well and truly over. The hemlines must drop! Thank goodness for the midi.

Let me tell you why I personally favour a dress particularly in the warmer months.

1. It's comfortable. Well it's more comfy than a pair of skinnies and a stiff shirt

2. It's far easier to style than a skirt. I really struggle to find the right tops in my wardrobe. Most of mine are loose at the bottom and don't look particularly great with skirts or culottes for that matter. You can chuck on a dress without worrying.

3. It's easy to change the look of a dress with different accessories. I mean, really easy. And, the plainer the dress, the more ways you can wear it. Take this dress that I mentioned last time. You could dress it up or down and add different colours and textures. For me, this is the ideal. One dress that I can wear different ways.

4. I'm far more likely to use a wider selection of my accessories and shoes with dresses as I experiment with different looks (see #3 above).

5. I think they're less trend driven. You can wear an old white dress at the height of summer, add a pair of 'on-trend' sandals and beaded clutch and Bob's your uncle, Nellie's your aunt, you've brought that dress right up to date.

6. It's good to bring out your feminine side once in a while yes? Well it is for me. I can be guilty of dressing quite androgynously especially in winter; trousers, shirt and flat shoes. So it feels nice to ring the changes with a dress.

I had a little moan over on Facebook the other day. It seems that the High Street is only able to produce florals on a black background. Pants for us ladies that have mousey and blonde hair. It takes work to pull off a heavy floral - stronger make-up for starters. And then holy moly the very next day, I spotted a dress in the new Studio By Preen collection for Debenhams. More about that later.

Anyway, browsing the Sunday papers earlier, this supplement caught my eye, or rather the front cover did.

Now, that's a lush dress I thought. So for the second time this week, I popped on to the Debenhams website. I'm not a huge fan of Debenhams to be honest. Although they did offer free engraving of the Viktor & Rolf perfume bottles last Christmas and, the staff were terribly nice. But the website! Shudder. It's up there with the now defunct BHS site.

So a close up of the dress in the supplement:

Gorgeous isn't it? Tan ankle boots and biker jacket now. And swap the boots for sandals or flip flops in the summer. Salivating at the mouth I was. I should have known better really because here's the website picture.

Nine By Savannah Miller Pale Pink Bird Embroidered Midi Dress £75

I am not loving the styling. At all. But in the interests of keeping an open mind, I choose to believe that the dress looks like the first photo in real life. It's going to be longer and dreamier and drapier. Of course it is(n't). I'll keep you posted when it arrives.

The dress I spotted the other day was this one.

Studio By Preen Pink Floral Print Tea Dress £69

Not this picture, it was a styled one over on an email. And she certainly ddn't have green socks and orange shoes on. Not terribly keen on the prissy sleeves but I've got a feeling that for a wide shouldered bird, it's going to be quite flattering. Let's not judge until the postman arrives.

For an inbetweeny dress, I love this darker print which isn't as strong as some of the winter florals that we've seen. Grey is so much more flattering on mature skin (regardless of the colour of your hair). I'm going to break you in slowly and show you the print first of all because again the styling is shocking.

Mantaray Dark Grey Floral Tiered Maxi Dress £40

And this neckline is dead easy to wear under jackets and cardis - no flapping collars to worry about.

Ok, brace yourselves, here we go....

WTAF are those boots? They look like cropped wellies. And her face says it all "are you seriously expecting me to model this look?" or " I'm wearing it, it wasn't my choice you understand but hey I'm getting paid for this".

But it's a great length and a flattering cut. Three quarter sleeves are always a winner in my book. I won't be trying it on with wellies though.

This next one is the type of dress that I could do lots with. Change the belt for a skinny leopard print and team with tan sandals and bag. Or navy blazer. Or white trainers and denim jacket if that's your thing. Also a great option for a day at the races or wedding. The dropped sleeve is ideal for pear shapes who need to broaden the shoulder area to balance out the hips. Actually, it's a really great dress for pear shapes as the soft drape is perfect to disguise the bottom, hips and thighs.

Why does her face look like a blow up doll though?

J By Jasper Conran Coral Split Front Belted Dress £59

You can't go wrong with a stripy dress can you? And Debenhams have done good here and kept everything simple.

The Collection Havy Striped Print Midi Dress £20

It's also available in larger sizes here. I've got a few of these dresses and never tire of wearing them. Love adding a splash of red by way of shoes or bag. But I've also done a monochrome navy look and mustard looks fab too.

Ok, not a midi but this next dress is a versatile little number, you can add so many different colours to it; red, green, pink, cobalt blue or stick with all black accessories for a classic look. It's much easier to wear than full on black as well and is a far lighter option for spring/summer. Also available in petite here which incidentally is a great dress for the smaller lady as the pattern isn't going to overwhelm your frame.

Principles by Ben de Lisi Black Geometric Print Dress £45

Something slightly unusual, a contemporary slant on the shirt dress. Personally, I'd open the neck, stack up the bracelets and add a pair of yellow strappy sandals. Or trainers minus the socks for a dressed down option.

Studio By Preen Light Blue Shirt Dress £69

 Anyway, I've ordered the first three for starters and I'll do a show and tell. Things may get a little ugly around here!

Dad and I had a fabulous day in London yesterday. Zero shopping (it's not his thing) but we did get to spend time with the daughter. After a tour around Sky (which Dad declared amazing) we spent the rest of our time between Notting Hill and on the River Thames around Hammersmith and Fulham. The weather was kind to us too so a good day all round. I wore the pink blazer from Next and I think he'll prove to be a versatile kinda guy.

Jacket - Next
Culottes - Zara (similar)
Slogan T-shirt - Ichi (old)
Trainers - Adidas
Bag - Village England

Right now, I have a roast in the oven, a glass of wine by my side and a roaring fire (possibly the last of the season??). Life is good. Well that is if you ignore the vertically challenged ironing pile (where the heck does it all come from?), two pairs of filthy football boots that need cleaning and a hallway that looks like the last day of Glastonbury. Yep, the gardener has been to do his first mow of the season. Most of the cuttings are now in my house.

I'll be gone then as the Yorkshire Puddings are a' calling.

5 comments on "Let's Not Judge A Book By It's Cover"
  1. Urgh the Debenhams website is atrocious, I probaly only look at it around Christmas time for gift ideas. The orange dress above is great and has lots of potential as you rightly say. Love the pink blazer too x

    1. I should have ordered the orange dress too shouldn't I? It's got longevity hasn't it x

  2. I really think you look amazing in your pink jacket outfit Donna. It's all true about dresses - I'm a convert. A year ago I had only a couple of dresses. Now I have over a dozen as I have been dressmaking for the past year! They're all kind of midi length, various patterns and colours and I wear them with nice trainers if i need to walk far, which is often. I can't get the ankle boots and dress to work on me. The husband looks aghast. Your choices are lovely, especially the blue shirtdress. I hope you find some to suit when they arrive. You can't deny you have amazing legs, Donna. We saw you on the beach! You could wear any length and look fabulous!

    1. Thanks Elaine you're too kind. It must be wonderful to look in your wardrobe and think yep, I made that and that and that. Still waiting for the dresses to arrive. Snail mail I think x

  3. I love you read, you had me chuckling! Great dresses, be good to see them on you. Also fab jacket, that's going to prove invaluable in the coming months. Jacqui