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!


Playing Dress Up At Stoke Park With Winser London

Stoke Park in summer

I can't quite believe that I'm sat here this evening in fluffy socks and bullying the hubby to light a fire. What a contrast from last week. Is there any wonder we're permanently stuffed up with colds in the UK? So, I thought it was about time that I followed up with a second blog post about the Stoke Park event that I attended a few weeks ago when the weather was particularly spectacular. The first post about the dreamy trouser suit is here.

I was invited by Winser London (yes yes them again but they are one of  my favourite brands) to spend a day trying on a few outfits, chatting to the girls (who are absolutely lovely) and sharing afternoon tea with a few other bloggers. Stoke Park wasn't randomly chosen for it's charm although it is indeed charming. No, Stoke Park was where this brand was conceived and developed by founder, Kim Winser. She wrote her business plan in the stunning grounds so it was a fitting place to hold their first blogger away day.

Stoke Park golf

This is Kim. Wearing what I think must be a past season WL silk shirt in midnight navy and current season white woven leggings.

Kim Winser of Winser London

Highly acclaimed by Hilary Rose of The Times who likened them to top designer equivalent leggings. But check out those fabulous shoes. I couldn't stop looking at them!! Shoe envy indeed.

Our suite for the day was only the one that Bridget Jones and the randy Daniel Cleaver stayed in. Four poster bed and everything. In fact there's quite a lot of movie history at Stoke Park including a couple of James Bond scenes that were filmed in the grounds. Well, Pinewood Studios is a mere 4 miles away. Regardless of being  in awe of past visitors, it's a stunning place. You know you've come to something very quintessentially English when you hear the thwak of tennis balls as you step out of the car.

Stoke Park bedroom suite

So, let's talk about the clothes. I chose four outfits to try (you saw the trouser suit last time and that was probably my favourite although I didn't know it at the time - only after seeing the photos). 

First up, this khaki jumpsuit. I've seen it worn really baggy - the lady in question had obviously sized up and it looked fabulous. I went for the small which was a neater, snugger fit. Now when I say snugger, that's not a polite word for tight because it was very comfortable to wear. All I'm saying is that it works worn both ways. If you prefer a smarter look size down, or more casual, go up. Simples!

Khaki jumpsuit by Winser London
Cotton Twill Utility Jumpsuit - Winser London
Leopard Print Velvet Shoes - River Island

It's obviously not a piece that we would want to wear in the UK heatwave that lasts a whole 3 days but for days that we have right now, this jumpsuit is perfect. And what I've come to realise is that we need more of these kind of clothes than strappy, floaty dresses. 

Khaki jumpsuit by Winser London at Stoke Park

There's a lot of thought put in to the quality of the fabric at Winser London. I was blown away by the stretch in their silk, quite extraordinary and wonderfully comfortable to wear. They also give this twill fabric the same treatment so it moves with you rather than constricts. And of course that helps with the creasing. It held it's shape really well. A final point, it's transitional across the seasons and would look great with a black blazer and ankle boots in autumn or a really chunky cardigan in winter. Massive thumbs up for the jumpsuit except I won't do the thumbs bit because I may be mistaken for a cast member from Top Gun. Yes, the aviators didn't go un-noticed 😎

I'm wearing a small, am 5ft 8 1/2 and normally wear a UK10/12 to give you an idea of sizing.

And then we turn to the blush pink and white combo. For women who can wear blush pink, it really does complement the skin tone. Everything looks less harsh when I wear it next to my face (if you're over 50 fighting wrinkles, you'll know exactly what I mean).

Let's talk about the little Parisian Jacket and not only because it's currently on offer at £69. It's not a sugary pink, more dusky so very grown up. And it's quite versatile too. Office wear, evening wear or dressed down with jeans and a t-shirt. Also available in soft white and midnight navy which is oh so French. This is a small. 

Blush pink cardi and white wide leg cropped trousers
Cotton Parisian Jacket - Winser LondonCotton Twill Cropped Trousers - Winser London
Audrey Cashmere Scoop Next Jumper - Winser London
Block Heel Sandal - Marks & Spencer

I'm wearing it with the Cotton Twill Cropped Trousers in size 10. They fitted like a dream, and thank the Lord (or should I say Kim) for that little bit of stretch because I'm hooked on Crunchie Ice Creams with popping candy. I'd go so far to say that it's a full on addiction which is doing my waist line no favours at all. Now this is a very mum thing to say but OMG they wash and iron so well. The kids laugh at me for saying things like that but it matters right?

blush cardigan and wide leg cropped trousers in white

And underneath, the Audrey Cashmere Scoop Neck Jumper which is a small, a great top to wear on meh days. Oh today then!

blush pink jumper and white trousers

Honestly, I'd fill my wardrobe with blush and white if I could. 

My final outfit was a simple dress, the Crepe Jersey Crochet Trim Shift Dress, bit of a cheat because I knew it would be ok, firstly because it's blush and secondly because I'd already borrowed the other colour way, black and ivory for another post, that I haven't even shown you yet. Right, if you're looking for a really comfortable dress, one that covers your lumps and bumps but doesn't add pounds and you can wear it for so many different events, GET THIS. If I had a wardrobe full of clothes like this dress, I would never be stuck for anything to wear. You could do it for a wedding with all the trimmings and then throw on a biker jacket and trainers the following day. No one would even register that it's the same dress. And did I say how comfortable it is. I did? Ok. Won't mention it again. 

blush pink shift dress at stoke park
Crepe Jersey Crochet Trim Shift Dress - Winser LondonBlock Heel Sandal - Marks & Spencer

Pockets ladies....

blush pink shift dress

It would have been a lovely dress without the crochet detail but it kind of makes it a little bit more special and of course we all like vertical lines because of the slimming effect!

blush pink dress

So they were the outfits that I chose to try. You can see what my fellow bloggers chose below:

Cyran from Corporate Style Story

Lisa from The Sequinist

Michelle from Retro Chic Mama

We were treated to hair and make-up and I wanted to pick up those ladies, put them in my car and drive them home for daily use.

Linda knows exactly how to work magic with her make-up brushes using Delilah products (stockist here). I'd heard of this brand but never tried anything from the range. The Pure Light Compact Illuminating Powder is A-list in my opinion and one to be purchased. It's a brand I'd like to explore more.

Delilah make-up

The family fell about laughing when I told them that we'd had a flower arranging lesson. They think I'm going to be donning my pinny any day soon, joining the W.I. and making marmalade. Sounds quite appealing to me actually. The girls at Lilys Flowers are super talented and made it all sound very easy. We were aiming for a woodland theme...

flower arranging at Stoke Park

Come on, not a bad attempt.

Afternoon tea was delicious and very welcome after being on our feet for a few hours in the 28 degrees heat. That glass of champagne went down a treat, I'm not going to lie.

private dining at Stoke Park
Add caption

And because the girls at Winser London think of everything, what a beautiful gift to go home with, a beautiful personalised silk shirt. Check out the cuff. Thank god they didn't monogram I Won't Wear Sludge Brown (I.W.W.S.B.).

silk shirt and black blazer

In a personalised garment bag. Little things right?

personalised garment bags

As days out go, it was grand. And lovely to see a few more pieces from the collection that I haven't had the opportunity to look at before. A massive thank you to the gang for inviting me. Truly honoured.

*** photo c/o Stoke Park
Photo credit: @libby.mclaren


Making The Change From Bikinis to Swimsuits And Some Very Affordable Beach Wear

I shouldn't really be buying anymore beach cover ups because I have plenty and I love them all. I tend to be drawn to white - there's something about white on holiday isn't there? But it's nice to have something new to look forward to wearing. I have a mixture of cheaper ones from TK Maxx and more expensive ones. And because they're mainly light colours, I do look after them. It means only wearing them once in between wears (I know, it's a pain in the bum) and NOT wearing P20 (double pain in the bum). Any excuse for new stuff, I found myself ordering a few non-white ones from old Maxxy pre-spending ban of course. 

I prefer a tunic cut because it feels more like a dress. This is really lovely and looks much better in the flesh than online. Although I keep my normal clothes fairly plain, I'm a sucker for details such as tassels and ruffles for pool wear. I also like to cover up with a loose sleeve, particularly at the end of the day when you can't be bothered to reapply sun cream. That walk back from the beach can be brutal. The embroidery is also carried over to the back of the tunic - a nice touch for £19.99. It's a great length with splits up both sides. A keeper! Mine is a size medium (I'm a UK10/12).

navy blue tunic beach cover up

This one (click here) is really pretty too especially if you prefer a floatier look (check out the lace up front). 

When I first tried this next one on, I wasn't sure as it's slightly more voluminous and stiffer cotton. I think it will soften in the wash though. And because of the length and style, it's pretty perfect to pop over swimwear for leaving the resort. It can almost pass as a dress. So that swung it for me. 

black beach cover up

And it bears more than a passing resemblance to my black mules (click here). I'm not actually sure why I said that because they have bu*ger all to do with this post. Maybe the same elf made them??

Black PomPom Mules - Here

Anyways....back to the beach cover-up, it's one size which I reckon will fit a larger UK8 through to a UK14

This pink one is unfortunately damaged so is going back. And although I really like it, I think I prefer my own more. The fabric is lovely and light and you probably can't see from the stock photo that it's a circular design so more kaftany than tunic. Again one size which I estimate would fit  the same as above. 

On our last holiday in February, I made the decision to switch from bikinis to swimsuits. There were a few reasons for this:

1) I wore a swimsuit on one of the days and it felt good and surprisingly glamorous. Everything was tucked in and there was no muffin tummy to worry about. That's the beauty of lycra, it sucks you in. Which obviously works against you in a bikini because it only sucks in the bits that are covered (oh that poor belly).

2) My daughter complemented me! I think she said something on the lines of, you should wear swimsuits more often because they suit you. High praise indeed.

3) These days, I'm not much of a sunbather. In fact, this week, I haven't been out in the sun at all, so I figure that I won't miss getting my belly out. 

I've ordered and returned so many different styles (at different price points) over the last couple of months in my quest for the perfect shape. I can't quite get my head around spending over £100 on something that I'm going to get suncream all  over and god forbid, sweat in. So that's the cap - £100 or less. I think what I will end up doing is buying one really good swimsuit  and supplement this with a few cheaper end ones. And then, build up the collection by buying a higher end one each year. That's the plan. But, what I have realised is that there isn't always a correlation between cost and quality.  Some of the supermarkets, Tesco and Sainsburys have really decent swimwear. And let's face it, they don't last forever so why pay mega-bucks?

This week, I ordered a couple very cheap ones and am very pleasantly surprised.

**Tip** try sizing up in swimsuits as they can be much more flattering if they're not clinging for dear life to your skin. Just check that there's no nappy sag at the back and gaping at the top of the leg. 

This one looks much nicer on than off and the fabric is really, really good. Everything feels very secure. Far better actually than this one from Seafolly that I tried recently. I sized up to a 14. I'm trying to avoid black because quite frankly I don't fancy being fried alive in the sun so light navy it is.

Ok, deep breaths Donna, deep breaths. I can't actually believe that I'm posting photos of me in a swimsuit on a public forum. But we're all friends right? 

blue and white chevron stripe swimsuit ladies

Large Tassel Shopper Bag - here (and also available in yellow)

And one that I'm absolutely thrilled with is this bright yellow bargain from Clearance 365. I thought it might be see through but as you can see it isn't. That said, I accept no responsibility for any transparency issues after swimming!! I mean, you don't really go in the pool do you? Do you?? Urgh you might swallow toe bogies or belly button fluff. Just no!!

One of the reviews states that the frill is quite deep which isn't flattering for the bigger bust. I disagree, I think it works really well, it shouldn't, but it does. The straps are totally removable although I wouldn't feel terribly secure in a wave situation. 

ladies yellow swim suit

Large Tassel Shopper Bag - here (and also available in yellow)

Not a bad haul. I've decided to wait until we get to the States to shop for my 'premium' swimsuit because quite frankly, I'm all beached out right now. And traumatised by the above!!

So, what are your plans this year? Are you a bikini or swimsuit kinda girl. Or a mixture (which is probably what I'll end up doing until I've built up a stash)?

Anyway, we've just had to order four new suitcases because our daughter seems to be using ours as an extension to her wardrobe. Dear Lord where are we going to put all her stuff when she comes back from London in the summer?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend x


What To Buy & What Not To Buy In The Sale

Follow a few rules to bag yourself a bargain in the sales 
and create a perfect classic wardrobe in the process

(p.s. this post is probably not for the fashionistas, it's aimed more at women who are looking to create a forever wardrobe).

It's that mad reduction time again but don't get carried away. Remember what I said a couple of posts a go, items in the sale are leftovers, stuff that people didn't want to buy at full price. But you can bag yourself absolute bargains, if you shop savvy.

Forget gingham. Isn't it looking tired already? Bardot tops may be have had their fill. I'm a bit on the fence with frills and ruffles because whilst I crave a simpler line on my clothes, I think done well, a bit of a frill can command it's own longevity.

On the whole, I'm more about buying better quality basics in the sale. Something that maybe at full price I've thought 'ouch' but suddenly seems very affordable and good value. Here's my take on what to buy and what to leave.

Buy It

This Baukjen top which is now a very, very reasonable £32. Ok, so we're not going to be swanning around the French Riviera in it right now or even Margate given our current weather situation. But come autumn (or if you're in the North West, next week), you'll be delighted that you bought out of season. It's a great top for layering underneath jackets and cardigans and knowing the brand, it will have great drapability (great onomatopoeia-ish word). One of the things I like about Baukjen is the amount of information that they provide about each item. So size down with this one.

Baukjen Ella Top Was £65, now £32

Long sleeve grey t-shirt with v-neck

Leave It

Are stars so last season? Maybe, maybe not. I loved the freshness of this t-shirt when it first came out but think I'm probably fed up of seeing those pointy things on tops and jeans and shoes and bags. Star overload. Sorry Baukjen, I love you really.

Baukjen  Skylar T-Shirt was £55, now £35

white v-neck t-shirt with stars

Buy It

That gulp moment when you see something that you love but think wow, I need to sell a child, suddenly seems less out of reach. Well, maybe you only need to sell half a kidney. It's a bit special isn't it? Something to reach for over and over again. We're told to  size down, handy that because my size is in stock (I'm on a spending ban 😞 ).

Baukjen Monmouth Leather Blazer Was £399 Now £239

ladies classic leather blazer

Leave It

Ok, I can't believe for one minute that this will appeal to many people unless you're stuck in the middle of Glastonbury and can arrange an express delivery from Hermes. But, I kind of wanted to make a point here. This was featured in Grazia and even they couldn't shift it. It's very errrrr......niche. Don't be sucked in to the hype that just because the press thinks something is ace, that it is. Floral outerwear is obviously less versatile than something plainer and more classic in style.

Warehouse Peony Pop Windbreaker was £99, now £50

festival mac in floral

Buy It

Here's a classic for the wardrobe, the trench and a great time to pick up a bargain. I have a grey one from Great Plains which I love (link here - it's also in the sale). My beige one is a bit meh so needs replacing. One thing I've found about a trench though is that I seem to go straight from thick winter coats into blazers so I don't wear mine as much as I would like. Will be addressing this issue come autumn. The thing about a trench is that whatever trend you wear it with, it kind of works  and is instantly brought up to date. Cropped wide legs, skinny jeans, midi skirts....

Baukjen Brook Trench Coat was £249 now £149

ladies classic long trench

Leave It

There's actually nothing wrong with the following trench coat. Indeed, I think it's lovely but don't buy a fashion colour unless you have a neutral one already. Far better to build up a wardrobe of very wearable pieces and then add a pop of colour here and there. If you tend to buy what you like, chances are your wardrobe may not be so cohesive. But if you already have a neutral coloured trench (beige, tan, black, grey, navy), then you may want to consider this. 

ladies long trench in mustard

Buy It

A jumpsuit seems to have claimed it's place in our wardrobe and become a real staple. The tencel one that I have from Kaleidoscope has been reduced. And because it's tencel rather than denim, it's lovely and soft to wear. I'm looking forward to layering it with my big chunky winter white coatigan and ankle boots but for now I'll style it as I did earlier in spring below.

Kaleidoscope Denim Look Tencel Jumpsuit was £49 now £32

denim jumpsuit

Leave It

(unless you have an occasion in mind)

It's easy to get carried away in the sale. I know because I've done it far too many times, 'oooh 60% off, what a bargain'. So we buy it, put it in the wardrobe and never actually wear it. That's exactly what retailers want. To off-load their unsold stock on to us (of course it's a bonus if we don't wear it because we'll be back shopping again sooner rather than later). Take this jumpsuit, which is beautiful I might add (red heads, this is a great colour for you - just saying!). We buy it thinking, yep, that will be great at Christmas. Christmas what? Shopping? School run? Quick bite to eat with friends? Christmas markets? See, it will go unworn if you haven't got an event planned. And if you're anything like me, you'll be sick of seeing it hanging in your wardrobe before you get around to wearing it. And then when said event comes around, you'll buy something new 😝

occasion wear dressy jumpsuit

Buy It

The beauty about wardrobe classics is that with a bit of thought, they can be a bit chameleon. These wide leg crops for instance. You can do 70s chic on a Monday with knee length, heeled boots and then add a white shirt and trainers on Tuesday for a more contemporary look (I call it the Me&Em look - tailored, clean lines and very modern).

La Redoute Wide Leg 3/4 Length Trousers was £49 now £29.40 quote EXTRA10 for a further 10% off)

ladies wide leg cropped trousers

This is a look that is so easy to wear, chunky knit and Chanel-esque pumps. Ok, these are denim but I think you get my drift.

ladies chunky jumper and cropped jeans
Image c/o Pinterest

Leave It

Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted springs to mind with the frill trousers. If you've already got them, I reckon you can squeeze another season but personally I don't think I would buy them now. They're too fashion led and I feel I may well have contradicted myself in a previous post!!!!!

frill bottom trousers

Buy It

A winter white coat. Let's say that again. A winter white coat. Sigh. I can picture some of you reeling in horror. White? Children? Grubby fingers? Errrr no. Ok, it's not something I would wear daily on the school run but if you're buying out of want rather than need, get this! You'll be surprised at how many occasions you'll reach for it. And I really can't think of any outfit you couldn't wear it with.

Mango Unstructured Wool Coat was £99.99 now £49.99

ladies winter white coat

Leave It

This really is a lovely, versatile coat but there's one problem....the collar. It's too high if you wear make-up. You can't really see it in this shot but trust me it is. Honestly, light colours and high necks do not go together. You'll spend more time taking it to the cleaners and let's not even talk about the cost! Other than that though, it's grand.

ASOS Oversized Cocoon Coat was £85, now £59.50

ladies pink coat

Buy It

An absolute timeless classic is the Breton stripe and Boden has a big reduction on theirs right now. People have said that they've changed the fabric but honestly I prefer it. Yes, slightly thiner (but certainly not see through) which means it's less stiff to wear. And it doesn't bobble. Mine still look as good as the day I bought them.There are a lot of colour ways that I wouldn't buy but classic ivory and navy or navy and ivory (yes they are different) are wardrobe staples.

Boden Long Sleeve was £28 now £16.80

ladies long sleeve breton top

Or yellow. I love yellow and navy together or even yellow and grey.

Boden Long Sleeve Breton was £28 now £16.80

ladies long sleeve breton top 1

Leave it

Another example of, as featured in Grazia so it should sell out straight away. Well it hasn't. Over designed clothes drive me demented. Often they are so hard to style. I can't even work out which body shape other than possibly a lean column, this shirt would work on. Get rid of the silly tie thing and overhang, and you've got yourself a great extra long stripey shirt that you can do lots with. I suspect further reductions will be imminent. 

ladies long sleeve stripe shirt

Buy It

Now's the time to pick up a bargain at Me&Em. You're obviously paying for quality here, I have jersey tops that are a couple of years old now and they're still going. I love their layering tops, great foundations under big jumpers and jackets.

Me&Em Georgette Collared Layering Blouse was £89 now £62

ladies layering shirt

Leave It

Because we just know that it will be crispy and stand off the body tent-like! Cheap fabrics always end up in the sale don't they? That said, it's aimed at a younger buyer who obviously looks amazing in everything. As we get older, I do think a good fabric that suits your body shape is well worth paying more for. 

pink pussy bow blouse

Buy It

If you're still in summer mode and crave a white dress, this one from Winser London is gorgeous. I know because I borrowed it. Heavier than cotton but it does mean that it hangs really well. Little dresses like this are often overlooked because they're so simple. But you can do so much with it. Dress it down for day wear or go all out with a dress coat, heels and huge hat for a day at the races. As with all WL pieces, it's extremely comfortable because of the stretch. It was a bargain at full price so even better now it's in the sale.

Winser London Cotton Textured V Neck Shift Dress was £79 now £59

white classic dress

Here it is on.

ladies white classic dress summer styled

Also available in navy and red

Staying with dresses, I adore this one. Obviously more of a summer number. Light colour and chiffon is difficult to pull off in winter. I think it could look absolutely stunning dressed up and a real play on the traditional shirt dress. You could also dress it down with trainers.

Karen Millen White Long-Line Shirt Dress was £199 now £95

long white shirt dress

Leave It

Anyone know what's wrong with this dress? At first glance, it looks ok (pockets always score well). The pattern is pretty inoffensive and the colour is quite nice. Check out the reviews, it scores 2.6 out of 5 with many saying that it's a weird fit. Often these sorts of items go into the sale. I picked up a fabulous dress in M&S last year, reduced, reduced and reduced again. You know when the heart starts beating faster and you can't wait to get into the changing rooms to try on the bargain of the century!!! Except the body was cut too short, meaning that the waist sat virtually under my bust. I briefly considered passing it off as an empire line. Only briefly mind. Always worth checking reviews. 

mustard dress with pockets

Buy It

I'm a bit over Stan Smiths et al, they're everywhere and my kids laugh at me when I say I need a new pair. I'm not a big buyer of fashion trainers, in fact a pair of white leather Adidas Honey Los that I bought over 18 months ago are still pristine (very washable; 20 degrees, 800 spin and then dry in the airing cupboard). The son is agog that I can keep them so clean in between washes. I have however been looking for a more grown up pair of neutral trainers and this could be the answer. These would look great with a pair of black ankle grazer trousers, crisp white shirt and my grey trench (yep I'm outfit planning).

Lauren Ralph Lauren Jay Suede Lace Up Trainer was £84.95 now £50.97 or more sizes here now £68

ladies grey designer trainers

Leave it

I never really got into the whole embroidered trend: bags, shoes, trainers, tops, jeans, macs. Pretty much everything this season was subjected to the needle and colourful thread. I blame my mum who made me wear matching jeans to hers in the 70s with a toadstool embroidered on the back pocket. God, I hated those jeans and purposely rubbed a hole in the knee so that I didn't have to wear them anymore. Except she bought a sew on patch. Another ruddy toadstool 🙈

The ones up there ^^ will stick around far longer in your wardrobe than these.

ladies embroidered trainers

So, in summary:

- Buy classics first and foremost, you can add fashion pieces to them each season to freshen up your look

- Buy basics out of season and stash

- Work on your neutral colours first of all

- Look at websites that may ordinarily be out of your reach

- Think about what's already in your wardrobe. If you need to buy other things to make an outfit, it isn't a bargain

- Don't buy really high fashion pieces at the end of a season unless you're happy to ditch after wearing them a few times

- Don't buy occasion pieces unless you have an occasion in mind

- Check the reviews before buying

- Look for really great fabrics

- Think about practicalities such as high collars in light colours

- Be realistic. A 6 inch embellished stiletto may look amazing but when are you going to wear them?

Ask yourself does it have longevity?

You may remember that I ordered this skirt from The Outnet and here it is...

Iris & Ink Wool Skirt £105 (40% off at checkout)

winter white wool skirt

It takes a lot of the points on the checklist above:

It's a neutral colour

Very wearable in winter

I already have lots of jumpers and tops to go with it

It's a great fabric, 100% wool (and hand washable)

It's pretty classic but not frumpy

It will work well with current trends

It has longevity

It's practical (can be worn with long boots, high heels and trainers)

So it's probably going to be a good buy. If you order it too (here), size up. Not because it comes up small but this style can be clingy. There's not much difference between sizes so better for it to skim than sucker-to-your-curves.

Happy sales shopping and let me know if I've missed anything that can be added to the checklist above.

Feeling a little sorry for myself because I've been back to the physio today with a reoccurring back problem. She told me that I'm getting old (in a nice way) and that it will keep happening. Basically I won't be appearing on Dancing On Ice in this lifetime. Oh yeay. So I'll sign off now and go and do my prescribed exercises. Rock and roll (that's an exercise, not a state of mind).