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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!

1.30.2017

Freshening Up Your Forever Wardrobe With A Few New Spring Pieces

Anyone else feeling it? That dreary January feeling. Rubbish isn't it. I feel as if I'm rotating the same old silhouette of skinny jeans and jumpers on a weekly basis which makes for very boring Instagram fodder so I'm not actually bothering.

I look at the London based bloggers who are already showing their spring ensembles. Bare ankles, minimal layers and I think how lucky they are and how easy they've got it!  I mean it's always a couple of degrees warmer down there and it hardly rains (does it?). They can tube everywhere and we all know how warm it is on the underground even in the depths of winter. Yep they have it easy. Well that was until I spent a few days at my daughters over the Christmas period and woke up to a hard frost. The 5 minute walk to the tube station was brutal and traipsing from one shop to another on Oxford Street wasn't much better. Up here in the North West, I drive everywhere and even get the 15 year old to switch on the engine to warm the car up before we do the school run. So I've come to the conclusion that London bloggers are well 'ard and have my complete admiration. You go girls!

Personally I'm not ready to shed the layers but it doesn't stop me from salivating over the new stuff that's hitting the High Street at the moment. I'm determined not to fall into the trap of buying fast fashion. I want my money to work harder than just one season. So with that in mind, let's have a look at a few bits to freshen up your wardrobe.

Shoes


For me, shoes are probably the best way of injecting fresh life in to the wardrobe. You know, a basic outfit of jeans and a blazer will be instantly updated by a new pair of shoes. And 2017 doesn't disappoint.

Let's take a few moments to admire these things of beauty.

Sigh.

The red stripe is very Gucci inspired and as we know, Gucci is mahoosive at the moment. Of course they're far more purse friendly than said designer. Also available in leopard print and black.

Boden Backless Loafer currently £88.20



Pair with your favourite fit jeans or trousers. Of course mine would be skinnies but I'd also try them with a crop later in the season (ie. when it warms up). And there's still mileage in those pleated skirts when worn with these.

Love this simplicity of this look. Basic wardrobe staples totally updated by adding loafers.

Image courtesy of Pinterest: Fashion Landscape Blog

And doing the column of colour for a slim silhouette (because she needs it - not).

Image courtesy of Pinterest



Let's talk about trainers. As much as I'm drawn to a smarter look, I'm also partial to a good trainer. The way I make them work is to keep everything else smart. I can't do the whole casual thing - not cool enough and all that. Anyway, I'm loving the gum soled trainers that we're seeing at the moment especially the creeper sneaker. These in fact...

Puma Basket Platforms £75


Yeah, yeah, yeah, don't all fall about laughing as indeed did the son (who believes he's the King Of Trainers), I'm thinking styled more like Jessica Alba.




Although, I'm VERY drawn to these Woden metallic ones. Totally different and would probably sit better in my wardrobe.


Woden Ydun Metallic Trainer Gunmetal £85


Other colours available at less than half price, around £39 here and here

And grown up outfit inspiration courtesy of Pinterest (there's a long coat theme going on here!!).

Image courtesy of Pinterest 

As you know, I'm a sucker for adding colour to an outfit through shoes and bags.



These caught my eye on Instagram the other day. And let's face it, since Lady Di, the ballet pump queen put them on the map 30 odd years ago, they've never really gone away have they?

Taylor Blake Red Tokara Shoes £85



Enough talk about shoes, let's do tops.

Tops

So, we're all going beserk about wide sleeves. frills and ruffles which are all carry overs from last season meaning you could still snag a bargain the sales. Case in point, this from ASOS. It's the sort of top that can still be worn way after we've calmed down and got over our sleeve obsession. It's merely a denim shirt with a twist and that twist so happens to be hot right now. Do you see what I mean? 




That M&S jumper. Have you seen it? You know, the funnel sleeve one. I'm sure you have, it's everywhere and as much as I love seeing it all over Instagram, I'm a bit fed up with it now. It feels like I actually own it myself and have worn it every day for the last month. That's how much it's out there!! And it's got to be said that the people I've seen in it actually look much better than the models online (standard M&S). 

People have commented that they worry about the sleeves dipping into their soup (don't eat soup) or snagging on the dishwasher drawers (get the kids to empty it). Sorry, practicality is alien to me. Drapey sleeves are up there with high heels, did your mother not teach you that beauty is pain? But here's a bit of a compromise (again in the sale). Not quite as dramatic as others out there but easier to get on with. I think a little vision is required for this top. First of all, it's an ideal length to wear with pleated skirts ie it sits on the waist band. I think it will also work really well with a pair of black cigarette pants and jacket (the neat fit will enable it to be layered). Or over a white shirt and jeans. 




Other than the first shirt, I've tried to find practical pieces that will work for us normal people. This next one fits the bill. The 3/4 length sleeve is so much easier to get on with, at the end of the day, it's a plain grey jumper with a few pleats.

Mango Pleated Sleeves Sweater £39.99




I'm always on the lookout for easy wear pieces that look as if I've made the effort and the next top fits the bill. It's something that I'd wear with a pair of skinny jeans (if I ever find my love for denim again) and be perfectly happy to stay in it all day regardless of whether I'm at home, running errands or meeting friends. The ruffle is a nod to the trend but I think it will stand the test of time too. Also available in navy. 




Love this whole look, it's a smart take on casual and looks so fresh. You'll be able to pick up the cigarette pants from the same link. By the way, this is a great take on nude pink for any one with a warm skin tone or red heads who often struggle with pink. 




I've featured this next one before and I have it myself. The red stripe again is Gucci inspired. I was slightly concerned that the stripe would broaden my frame - look how the eye is drawn upwards and outwards. It's actually ok on though (I have no explanation for that, let me think about it).  By the way, don't bother trying to iron the ruffles, steam them, much quicker. 




And I think we'll leave it there for now. We'll look at trousers, bags and jackets later this week and I still need to finish off writing the post I promised last time about colour. 

Well, I've basically lived in a pair of old trousers over the last few days having decided in my wisdom to decorate one of the spare rooms. Forget the gym, I feel as if I've had a full workout. Every muscle in my body aches. It seemed such a good idea last week. Should have waited for the decorator. Impatience is a very bad trait indeed. 

Have a lovely week.


1.22.2017

What To Wear To The Office

I was asked back in the autumn to do a blog post about office wear and more specifically suitable attire for a Natural (find your style personality here) so it seems as good a time as any to tackle this subject. That said, my office days are long gone and I don't class myself as any form of expert in this field. In fact, I've been putting this post off for ages because I'm so out of touch but I promised so shall deliver. Let's see how we get on shall we?

Back in the day when I was required to dress for the office it was very much suits and heels. In fact thinking about it, trousers really didn't feature at all. I know my kids think I lived with the dinosaurs but trousers were perfectly acceptable back then. I guess it was just a personal choice. We certainly didn't have dress down Fridays though, gosh perish the thought! Even the husband's office attire has changed. He no longer feels the need to do the double cuff thingy, tie and formal day suit. These days he'll quite happily wear a shirt and jumper for day to day meetings. I'm thinking progress - yes?

Here are my tips for office wear.


1. Split your suits


You'll find that your wardrobe becomes much more versatile if all of you separate your suits into separates.  A suit jacket may work with a dress. And a favourite pair of trousers may take on a whole new lease of life with a different jacket. I'm almost certain that you'll find new combinations if you sort your wardrobe in this way


2. Don't buy suits!

Buy separates. I would have a selection of jackets in my wardrobe along side a few skirts and pairs of trousers. Suits can be a little bit 'bank uniform' don't you think? Pencil skirts and fitted blazers in matching fabrics. Boooooring! Well it is if that's all you wear day in, day out.



3. Work out your body shape

Look, we've all got different figures haven't we so why would we all wear the same suit? That's another reason for not buying them. Far better to work out what shape you are and dress accordingly. Take a look at a very old blog post here for dress advice. I think I need to do a general update on body shapes. You might find the more recent 'putting the X-factor into your wardrobe' post useful as this helps you to identify a blueprint wardrobe for the future. 

4. Comfort is key

Let's face it, you're going to be spending hours and hours in work wear so it's important that you feel comfy. This is of particular importance to Natural style personalities as comfort is right up there at the top of the wish list. Ponte is a brilliant fabric as it stretches with you as you move.  Case in point: Boden's Emilia Blazer is amazing. I wear this casually which suits my lifestyle but it's a great little office number too. 


Emilia Ponte Blazer - BodenBoden
Stripe Jumper - ASOS (similar)(similar)
Blue Lift & Shape Slim Leg Jeans - M&CoM&Co
Burgundy Boots - Local Boutique (similar)(similar)

Honestly, I can wear this all day and forget it's a blazer. Good quality Ponte will love you forever. Look for it in skirts, trousers and dresses as well. It holds you in, an added bonus.

The Winser London Miracle dress range is fantastic. For ladies who need a bit of power dressing, I'd recommend these every time. Lots of stretch but having the added bonus of clever paneling to hold in the wobbly bits. They look pretty sharp don't they? But honestly, they are still totally comfortable. 

Miracle Dress (also available in black, Winser blue, midnight navy and moonlight - Winser London


Miracle Fitted Dress in Rich Burgundy (also available in black and moonlight) - Winser London


Throw on a jacket and you're ready to face the Monday morning board meeting, chuck on a cardi for a slightly less formal look. Let's talk about cardis shall we because they're a great alternatives to the more formal jacket. I favoured Chanel style cardis in the colder months because they're warmer and easier to layer under a coat. You'd be hard pressed to find one at the moment as they're not deemed 'on trend' but the shorter style can be really rather smart. Take this one...

House Of Fraser Stripe Cardigan Was £79 Now £39)


Teamed with a black dress such as this one, you've got yourself a pretty easy wear outfit.



Dress - Marks & Spencer
Cardigan - House of Fraser
Bag - John Lewis
Shoes - Top Shop


This is the nearest I can find to a Chanel style cardigan.

Boden Cara Trim Detail Cardigan £80


And a very comfortable outfit, no one can say this isn't smart!

Cardigan - Boden
Trousers - Marks & Spencer
Shirt - Me&Em
Shoes - Top Shop
Bag - Mango

You could swap the pussy bow shirt for something a little more simple if this is too fancy. Although it's a lovely soft fabric. Check out those Ponte trousers from M&S at just £15.

Elasticated waist bands aren't just for pregnant women and those over the age of 75. They're comfortable and often very flattering. I'm thinking more of the pull up trousers and tube skirts variety rather than full on ruching around the belly. They tend to lie flat against your figure so don't add unnecessary bulk in areas that most of us don't want to 'bulk' out. The Milano wool skirts from Winser London are fantastic. Available in other colours too (this is the blush).

Frill Blouse - Local Boutique (similar)
Blush Milano Pure Wool Skirt - Winser London
Shoes - ASOS (similar)
Bag - Marks & Spencer (similar)
This might be worth a spin.

Marks & Spencer Pull On Bodycon Skirt £17.50





Adore this little peplum skirt from Next. Get me an office job quick!!!!!

Next Black Peplum Skirt £28



These trousers are fabulous. Yes to day-to-evening styling, the belt is removable so perfect to wear with a jacket and shirt during the day. They're soft, stretchy and actually described as a sophisticated track pant. That'll be a yes then?

Me&Em Day To Evening Tux Trouser £135



Don't be put off with the M&S styling (I've chosen the flat image for obvious reasons) but I think these could do the job. I'd go shorter so if you're a long, try a regular length.


Marks & Spencer Ponte Straight Leg Trousers £19.50




5. Be practical 

a) Choose easy care fabrics

Let's face it, the last thing any working woman needs is a whole bunch of hand wash or dry clean items. I'd love to wear silk shirts every day but that is never going to happen because I throw everything into the washing machine. I know a lot of people don't like polyester for it's inherent spontaneous combustion properties but you can't beat it for minimal laundry care. No poncey wash cycle required, hang on a coat hanger to dry and you'll probably get away without ironing. This is one of my very easy care polyester tops which is probably why I wear it lots! Old from good old Dorothy Perkins.


Another reason to buy Ponte - it's great for the working woman - most of it is machine washable including jackets.

b) Ponchos are super useful!

Great for popping over your blazer and a much more practical option than trying to shoe horn your body plus jacket into an overcoat.

This one is from Kettlewell Colours and has been so useful. Chuck it in your bag if the weather looks a bit iffy (90% of the time).

Kettlewell Colours City Poncho Currently £48.30



And even better, the cashmere blend wraps from Mimi & Thomas. You can unbutton one side to create all sorts of different looks.

Mimi & Thomas Cashmere Wrap With Buttons £80



So, if it gets a bit chilly in the office, you can fashion it into a cardi style (now that's clever!). I'm wearing it as a wrap here but button up the front and voila, it's a stripy cardigan.



Lots of colour choices too (here) so you can either choose an understated neutral such as navy or add a statement colour to an outfit (love the cornflower blue).

c) Culottes rule ✌

Back in the day it was always ME that the photocopier packed up on or the fax machine decided not to play ball with. Oh yes a very regular occurrence indeed. Which necessitated clambering over several desks and reaching down to unplug the darn things. Not easy in an already over the knee pencil skirt I can tell you. Culottes would have saved many a blush.

I bought these tailored pinstripe pair back in November and completely forgot about them until today. They would be a perfect addition to a working wardrobe.  Ok, lose the biker and white boots! They're sold out online now but I noticed quite a few pairs in different colourways on Oxford Street last week (in the sale as well). They're the pull up ones if you happen to be near a Zara soon.



For a polished office look stick to suiting or heavier fabrics.

Zara Culottes £29.99



Maybe not such a versatile colour but regardless, they're lush...

Next Burgundy Wide Crop Trousers £42



Pleats anyone?

Warehouse at John Lewis Pleated Culottes £45



Something for the depths of winter, Milano wool. The drape is beautiful.

Jaegar at John Lewis Wool Milano Knit Culottes Currently £60




6. And a few other bits to finish off this topic because it's turning into a mega post

*mega as in long, not mega as in fantastic

a) Update your look with shoes

Let's face it, kitting out your working wardrobe can cost an arm and a leg so it's not practical to start again at the beginning of every season. But, a pair of shoes can really update your look. Top Shop are brilliant at producing shoes inspired by the couture catwalks. Next are also a very affordable option. And, I have a big soft spot for Boden's footwear, there's always a statement shoe lurking in every collection.

b) But not all shoes work with all trousers

I'm thinking wide leg trousers here. Look, if you buy wide legs that are only just long enough, it's going to be flats all the way. And, conversely if you buy them overly long, it will always be heels. Worth bearing in mind because they ain't going to work with both flats and heels are they?

c) Statement tops will take an outfit up a few notches

Work wear doesn't have to be boring. A pussy bow blouse will sharpen up any old suit. Pleated cuffs peeping out from a jacket provide a bit of interest. I love a good cuff so this season, let's just say I'm like a pig in mud!

Get yourselves some cuff goals ladies...





c) Column of colour 

Yes that old chestnut again. Sorry. But it works. So to recap, dressing in one solid colour top to toe will give you a streamlined look. You can add any colour jacket over this.

Navy/Black Mix Jacket - old (similar and an absolute bargain!)
Black Top - Me&Em (reduced)  
Black coated pull up leggings - Next (maybe not suitable for office wear!)
Shark Pippa Grab Bag - Modalu (currently reduced)
Black Boots - Boden (reduced)

d) Coatigans are useful little things

I mean you won't look a pillock sat in the sub-zero office in one. Unlike your anorak. This is mine which I love (doing the column of colour thingy too).

Cashmere Blend Chunky Coat - Winser London (now reduced)
Black Button Down Back Crepe Top - Ichi (similar here - great wardrobe staples)

Black Pull On Coated Leggings - Next
Black Ankle Boots - Marks & Spencer (old)
Metallic Bronze Clutch - Mimi & Thomas

I could go on and on and on but I won't torture you anymore. I'll do a summer office wear post when we've stopped wearing our thermals (that'll be July then). Next time, I'm going to talk about the psychology of colour and what it says about you. You can apply this to your workwear wardrobe too. 


Well, I hope you've found this just a little bit useful. I do understand that there's a varying degree of what's acceptable dress from one office to another so you may need to adapt this to suit your own environment. Me? I'd be in full on power dressing mode every day because I love a good pinstripe. But life is very different these days and just to prove it, I'll leave you with a faux fur selfie from last weekend in London (I seem to have kopped for the Big Bird one). Yep, things are very different 😌





1.17.2017

Smartening Up My Act With A Cosy Jumper

I'm not going to lie, January has been all about comfort so far.

Comfort food. There's been lots of hearty casseroles, lasagnes and shepherds pies.

Comfy evenings. Roaring fires, box sets and the occasional glass of Shiraz (we'll skip over the secret box of Quality Streets that I dive into every night).

Comfy clothes. Lots of cosy layers and loose sweaters. Hardly instagram-worthy and my love of muted colours doesn't help at all. But hey it's January.

That was until Mandy's Heaven came along and threw a right old spanner in the works. I like to think it was a sign from God...."come on Donna, get your act together".  We are talking the pinkiest pink jumper EVER!

Pink Knit - Mandy's Heaven (more options below but love this one)
Black Victoriana Blouse - Warehouse (similar)
Black Eden Leggings - Dorothy Perkins currently on offer
Leopard Print Shoes - River Island
Black Leather Tote - Marks & Spencer (similar) currently on offer






Let's Talk About Fit

Thing is, it's not just a pink jumper but a loose one too. I struggle with the short, clingy versions. We are talking human box, yep Roger Hargreaves, I would make a perfect Mr Strong if ever you are auditioning. A looser, non clingy sweater is far more forgiving don't you think? Of course it does mean that you'll achieve your best look by keeping everything else streamlined so skinnies it is.

One of the things I like about this brand is that they stock lots of loose cut clothes suitable for real women. You may recall this star jumper that I talked about back in December. Mandy the owner understands that we're not all perfect size 8 hourglasses but we still want to feel good. And that's the key isn't it? Feeling good about yourself.

I Can't Help But Feel Good In This 

I mean who wouldn't? The relaxed fit covers the lumps and bumps and gives me a streamlined look and the colour, well what can I say, it's infectious. You can't help but feel happy wearing it. It's the first time in ages that I've felt like fishing out the heels. My goodness, I even found an old Victoriana blouse in the back of the wardrobe to finish it off and give that polished look. 

It's a play on the column of colour that I keep banging on about too, a full length of black with an injection of pink on top. And I didn't have to try very hard. Win Win. 



It certainly brought a bit of sunshine to my day. Blue Monday, I'll see you and raise you Pink Tuesday. Nice to add a pop of colour to my very neutral wardrobe. A lesson I'll take from this. 

Pink Coat - Zara (similar)


This particular jumper is sold out as Mandy buys in small quantities but refreshers her stock frequently so it's worth hopping over to the site regularly. But don't despair if you're after THE colour of the moment, there are a few alternatives that arguably are even better than this one. 




You'll find the links to these on the knitwear page here. And if pink isn't your thing, there are many other colours to float your boat. Prices are very reasonable too! And I haven't even mentioned the tops, dresses, jackets......

And the moral of this story? Comfy can still be stylish. Here endeth the sermon. 

Footnote

The star jumper mentioned above is in the sale here in the khaki.
The Eden leggings that I'm wearing are incredibly comfy which is of course my favourite word this month.
I changed the shoes for leopard print boots as it was slightly colder than expected but hey the theme is still there.
I may wear the knit again tomorrow because it's so cheerful and makes me feel happy. 
There's free next day delivery during January so you too could be feeling cheerful very soon!











1.13.2017

Friday Morning Shoe Inspo

Next you have redeemed yourselves after the disastrous jeans purchase I made before Christmas. Just spotted these beauties which are very Celine inspired. Quite partial to the red I've got to say although looking out of the window at the slush, I'm not sure I'd be wearing them any day soon.


Top Left: Celine £580
Bottom Left & Right - Next £38

Woke up to a heavy snow fall this morning which the dog found very exciting (he loves the white stuff). Although it's all rather mushy and wet now. 

Have a good day.