A casual midlife lately

Hello, it’s time for a quick catch up I think with a casual midlife lately. Wasn’t February grim? It really seemed to drag, I think everyone in the UK is feeling battered by the weather. We usually go away for our wedding anniversary early in the month and I really missed it – thank goodness it’s March. We’re surrounded by signs of spring up here – the daffodils are out, there are lambs in the fields and we’ve even had glimpses of sunshine over the last few days. So let’s bring winter to a close today because I’m soon going to be moving into SS20 trends and looking at the new drops that will be arriving in stores over the next couple of weeks.

What I’ve been wearing – a casual midlife lately

It’s been very much function over form recently, the awful weather has meant that I’ve been dressing purely for warmth, especially as every day involves a long dog walk but here are a few pictures.

Saturday chill

This was the Saturday before last when one of the storms was blowing – I can’t even remember which one now. I’m wearing a favourite jumper from Baukjen, it’s a few years old but it’s very difficult to think of a brand that does knitwear as well as they do – Hope Fashion is the only other retailer that springs to mind.

A few of you have noticed that we have a new chair and emailed to ask about it. As we didn’t go away for our anniversary this year we invested the money we would have spent into something we’ve always wanted. During our Selfridges days we both worked on the launch of the Balzac by Matthew Hilton and we so nearly bought one with our 35% discount but then one baby came after another and we could never stretch to it.

Since then I’ve googled them every so often hoping that the price might come down.. but then the V&A put one on display and it went ever higher. Just before Christmas I found one with the matching ottoman in a terrible state. So we took the plunge, it’s been reupholstered and here it is, still not a bargain but half the price of a new one. A forever piece – you’ll be seeing it a lot.

casual midlife lately midlifechic

Baukjen jumper (AW17); jeans (gifted AW19); Mug

Saturday night out

I think I mentioned before Christmas that my sister and I decided that instead of buying each other a present this year, we’d all go out for dinner together. It took us a while to get round to it but we finally did. I’ve been looking for a new ‘out out’ blouse and so many of you have asked me to feature Mint Velvet that I headed there. I liked almost everything about this (and Mr MC loved it) but in the end I couldn’t settle with the dropped shoulders so just before we left I changed back into an old Hush favourite. What I will say is that this blouse is brilliantly designed – if you want to hide your midriff, it drapes beautifully when worn loose but equally it’s sufficiently sheer to tuck in. Shame about those wretched shoulders… it’s now been returned. I will keep looking at Mint Velvet but they remind me of Per Una because I find there’s always an extra twiddle to their clothing so they’re just a bit too fussy for my liking.

casual midlife lately

Snake print blouse (more stock here); jeans (gifted SS18); Hush boots (AW18)

London bound

On Wednesday I was London bound again for the last of my retailer new season meetings. This time was quite special because not one but two of the meetings included people from my old Selfridges days. In fact the second one was also attended by one of the eldest’s university friends who is now working for an agency so all of my worlds collided at once. Of course my old colleague enquired after the eldest, remembering him modelling a Teletubby suit in one of my Christmas magazines… much to the delight of his chum across the table. By the time I’d left the meeting word had got back to the boy!

And so when I got home I had to dig it out and here’s a glimpse (with the boy’s permission, he’s quite proud of it really). As you’ll gather it was Christmas 1999, you’ll spot the boy but can you find a pre-milennium Mr MC? Peppered amongst the models there’s also my dad in the bottom right hand corner and a glimpse of my nephews in the bottom left – I’ve always known how to make a magazine budget stretch…

Selfridges Christmas magazine 1999, Nikki Garnett editor

And funnily enough my other meeting was with the colleague who used to manage the production of those magazines. A ‘hard’ part of our job was travelling to far flung places together (the issue above took us to both Iceland and Spain) and we had such a lot of laughs and adventures over the years. Here we are last week on the roof of the BBC Television Centre in White City.

casual midlife lately

Anyway I digress but it was a very circular day – and I did get lots of work done too. Here’s an early morning station shot to show you what I was wearing. It’s a bit hard to see but it was my fabulous travelproof navy jumpsuit that always makes me feel the part along with a navy city coat and chocolate brown bag.

Nikki Garnett railway station

Jumpsuit; Jaeger city coat (AW16); Hush boots (AW18)

Friday morning

On Friday I was back in the office but I had to pop out for a quick ‘work in progress’ meeting. I smartened up a simple jeans outfit with a new mac that I love because it has all of the trenchcoat details without being double breasted so there’s no excess fabric to flap around if I wear it open. It’s also available in yellow and I’m just hoping that they’ll bring it out in a longer length for autumn too.

By the way some of you may be thinking that I already have a red mac which I did but my mum-in-law fell in love with it over Christmas and so I packed it up to go home with her.

Nikki Garnett Midlifechic

Mac with trench styling (gifted SS20); IdLF at Uniqlo merino polo neck (AW15), jeans (gifted SS18); Finery boots (AW17)

Coffee Saturday

Well it started with coffee and progressed to gin – I had a lovely catch up with my closest friend. We’re making a real effort to get together on our own at least once a month this year. It isn’t easy because our husbands and sons are all friends too and so events tend to include everyone and then we struggle to have a conversation without injections of ‘banter.’ Because we’ve watched our boys grow up together we can really help each other to make sense of them and the times we’re going through as they grow away from us. It’s like cheap therapy, the only cost is coffee – and gin!

On to the outfit. I’ve been busy reconnecting with some of the smaller brands who are working so much harder at sustainability than the big ones – of course their inventories are smaller which makes it a bit easier for them. One that has really impressed me is Baukjen; they donate 10% of their profits to charity every year and they’re about to become officially certified as a business that uses its force for good. I’ll talk more about all of that soon but in the meantime as I was looking through their spring range they invited me to choose a couple of pieces.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve always loved their knitwear so that’s where I started with this merino jumper. It’s made from mulesing free wool blended with fibre from renewable plant based ingredients. In brief, mulesing is a horrific procedure often carried out on merino sheep where strips of fleece with the skin still attached are ripped away leaving the sheep’s buttocks red raw to avoid parasitic infection. No anaesthetic is used and the sheep really suffers.

Merino is a lovely texture to wear and it’s often far easier for midlife skin to tolerate than other knits but it needs to be bought with care. This is a very simple and yet beautifully designed midweight jumper – the collar sits away from the neck (hurray), it has flattering deep ribbing at the hem and sculpted front seaming. The off-white shade is kind to pale winter skin too.

Baukjen offer

Baukjen are offering Midlifechic readers worldwide an ongoing 20% discount for the SS20 season. It lasts from now until 30th June so I’ll keep reminding you every so often. Use code MIDLIFECHIC20 at the checkout. As always Ts & Cs apply and the discount is on full priced merchandise only.

Nikki Garnett Midlifechic

Jumper; jeans (gifted SS18); earrings (gifted AW19)

Relaxed Sunday

And that brings us to Sunday, I’m looking relaxed here but euphoric is probably a better word because I’d just reached the halfway point on the Academy Bootcamp that I’ve been doing at the gym. It’s been hard going and it’s taken me to my limits. There was a session at the end of week two when I stormed off before it finished because I felt so useless and just couldn’t lift any of the weights. It’s very unlike me to do something like that and poor Mr MC was left not knowing quite what to do until I emerged from the changing room but I’ve always been tough on myself and that’s probably why I’ve never done anything like this before.

However apart from that I’ve persevered. I haven’t missed a single session and I’m finally feeling stronger and as though I’m achieving something. It’s nothing to do with weight or looks, it’s a much more personal challenge than that. I feel as though I’m preparing for physical ageing by getting my body to be as strong as it can be while I still can. I’m also battling my school days. I don’t know whether it’s because I went to a very competitive grammar school but we were always made to feel that if we weren’t good enough to represent the school at sport, we may as well not bother. Games lessons were never about enjoyment.

As you know the eldest and youngest have both been to the ‘brother’ boys’ grammar school and the attitude to sport there is still the same. Luckily they’re both sporting all rounders so they’ve been fine but it makes me cross that the rest of us are made to feel worthless. In fact I’ve never met a sports teacher who doesn’t have a sadistic glint in their eye (apologies if you’re a PE teacher, I’m sure you’re the exception!).

So this thing with my body is actually all in my head. I’ve been a regular gym goer since I was 30 but I’ve never done anything on this kind of level and there are still five more weeks to go. Almost everybody else is much younger than me and their goals are all about their bodies – they want to lose weight or look better on the beach. My goal is all in my mind – I want to believe that I’m strong and hopefully avoid the shoulder surgery that I keep putting off. I’ll let you know how I feel when I reach the end but for now I really recommend a physical challenge for blowing away your preconceptions about getting older. If I can do it, anyone able bodied can – believe me!

Back to Sunday, I’m wearing my other piece of lovely Baukjen knitwear, this time a classic boyfriend cardigan. Because it’s a borrowed from the boys style I can live with the slightly dropped shoulders. It sits well as a rule of two thirds piece to balance a tucked-in top with jeans and it will work all year round for relaxing days when I still want to look pulled together.

The loafers are my February Boden pick, as soon as I saw them I knew they would fill a smart casual gap. They also come in orange or navy and it was hard deciding which colour to go for. As soon as I’m out of boots I may well order another pair because the height makes them easy to walk in and they lift a jeans outfit so well.

casual midlife lately, Midlifechic

Cardigan; IdLF at Uniqlo blouse (SS18); jeans (gifted AW19); heeled loafers (gifted SS20)

Retail news

One last thing. I was reading the latest retail industry report last week and choked on my coffee when I came to this bit – I thought the tone of voice might make you smile, we’re clearly being very awkward indeed!

“Baby Boomers, the top end of Gen X, midsters or middle-aged – whatever you call them, shoppers in their fifties and upwards are a demographic worth capturing. Men and women aged over 55 contributed over a third of the total spend on fashion in the UK last year – £12.2bn out of a total of £34.6bn, research by Kantar has shown.

And yet these consumers are proving to be a thorn in the side of traditional high street retailers and department stores, as they increasingly refuse to “dress their age”. Instead, they expect fashionable designs with a flattering fit, and are prepared to shop around to find brands that will cater to this need.”

We may have thorns but so do roses… onwards my friends with our tasking demands for ‘fashionable designs with a flattering fit’ – retail is taking notice. I’ll be back on Friday.

Disclosure: ‘a casual midlife lately’ is not a sponsored post

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