A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

As I type this Mr MC is busy filling in our passenger locator forms and we’re forcing ourselves to think about leaving the Mykonos sunshine to come home. At this particular moment Autumn feels like a million miles away but I know that in just over 24 hours it will be a reality. However at least we won’t be going home to an empty nest quite yet; the eldest has been looking after Teddy and the cats and he’s decided to stay on for an extra week to be spoilt by his mum and dad!

Today I’m pleased to be introducing you to a new range of simple, sustainable basics from John Lewis & Partners. I’m sure you remember me talking about the launch of the ANYDAY range in the home department when we were working on our apartment in Newcastle during the Spring. It was designed to offer a well priced homewares alternative to retailers such as IKEA and it turned out to be JL&P’s most successful own brand launch yet. So it’s no surprise that they’ve felt sufficiently encouraged to take it through to the rest of the store, covering women’s and men’s fashion, childrenswear and nursery. Today I’m going to show you what’s new and do a try-on but first let’s look at the thinking behind it.

I admit I was surprised when they first told me they were looking at an entry point range. It’s a brave move at a time when inflation is rising for all kinds of reasons and the supply chain is incredibly difficult to manage. My first thought was that the low price point market is a crowded place when even at the supermarket you can now add a bra to your basket along with your bananas. However, the problem is that when you pick up a low priced product, you often don’t know what sacrifices have been made to produce it.  So John Lewis & Partners decided that there was an opening for a collection of fashion basics if they could make them while still adhering to their Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice which guarantees fair pay, workers’ rights and no child labour throughout the supply chain. All of the cotton they’ve used adheres to the Better Cotton Initiative for sustainable farming and production. They’re also using Ecovero – viscose made using sustainable wood – and 100% recycled polyester. So you have a no frills range that you can buy and still have peace of mind and that, in my view, is what really makes it interesting.

So what about the clothes themselves – what’s the angle? Well again it’s interesting. Rather than just churning out a sea of basics, JL&P are collating everything under the Japanese concept of the ‘two mile wear’. It’s an idea that you may be familiar with from NRBY – clothes to wear at home or nearby. So if I apply it to my life it’s the sort of thing I might put on on a Saturday morning to take Ted for a walk, come back and read the papers, pop down to the butcher’s and then meet a friend for coffee. They’re simple clothes that have had the bells and whistles pared away however they’re still relevant with a nod to trend. For example there’s a denim jumpsuit, simple cord and knitted dresses and joggers and hoodies in interesting palettes. You’ll also see borg jackets and quilted hoodies and yet there’s a guarantee that nothing in the range will cost more than £100. Let’s have a walk through some of the JL&P shots

Here’s the denim jumpsuit – you can tell that I’ll be twitching at this one and you’ll see how it looks on me in a minute.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

Denim jumpsuit, borg slippers

I really like this athleisure styling and the trousers with the side stripe look much more expensive than they actually are.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

Ribbed jersey top; Side stripe trousers 

Leggings with a matching waterproof, I can absolutely imagine spotting this outfit on a sassy midlifer in Waitrose (or Booths if you live up here). There are two types of leggings in the range, these are active so sweat-wicking for workouts and the others are made from cotton for lounging at an even lower price.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

Leopard print fishtail waterproof, active leggings; trainers

There are accessories too – some great stompy boots here in leather along with a quilted bag and the borg coat I mentioned which is also available in camel or khaki

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

Stompy Chelsea boots; Teddy coat; active leggings; quilted bag

This is what I mean by an unusual colour palette for some of the loungewear, something a little different to the usual blacks and greys

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

Hoodie; t-shirt; joggers (coming soon here)

If you prefer neutrals they’re there too and I like the dipped front of this hoodie which visually helps to break up the midriff.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

Hoodie (also available in khaki and huckleberry); t-shirt;

There’s a mini-dress here with a borg jacket and I particularly like the bag which converts into a backpack if you want it to…

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

Jacket; Ruffle hem dress; Convertible bag

… like this, great for when you’re carrying a laptop and your shoulder starts to ache.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion – try-on

As always John Lewis & Partners invited me to try three outfits for myself before we came away and I decided to think about my own two mile wear as I mentioned above, a typical Saturday when we’re based at home, popping in and out during the day.

You won’t be surprised to see that I couldn’t resist the jumpsuit – I don’t have a denim one because I usually feel I wouldn’t get a good cost per wear from it but when prices are lower like these it works out. I’d usually expect a jumpsuit to cost somewhere around £100 and then if it was sustainable as this is, to have at least a 30% premium on top. Obviously a lot of people felt the same because the first batch sold out in the first three days but keep an eye out for returns. It is going to be restocked too, at the moment the next delivery is scheduled for mid-December but I’ll let you know if it comes in any sooner. The thing about ANYDAY is that it doesn’t come in single season drops, instead new pieces are added to the site most days so you never know what you’ll find.

So here it is worn for a trip to our village garden centre and it’s such a great piece, I’d happily wear it beyond my two mile lifestyle. It fits perfectly in a size 12 and I particularly love the zip front which  makes it easier for you to adjust the neckline to suit your bust. I know a lot of you tell me you can’t wear jumpsuits if you have a bigger bust because buttons or poppers tend to gape but this gives you a great way round that. There’s also room around the hips which will help if you’re curvy but it isn’t so much volume that it’s unflattering. It’s a mid-weight denim so not too stiff and lovely mid-blue dye. I’d probably swap out the belt for a tan leather one because it sits perfectly on the waist but the self tie one is fine too.

Midlifechic John Lewis Anyday jumpsuit review

Denim jumpsuit

I needed to change the window boxes at the front of our house over to Autumn colours – it’s the first time for ages that the garden centre hasn’t been busy with staycationers exclaiming loudly about our low northern prices. It’s been great for local businesses to have had such a busy summer up here but I think we’re all breathing out now it’s quiet again. Anyway, full marks for the ANYDAY jumpsuit, get one if you can.

Midlifechic John Lewis Anyday jumpsuit review

Denim jumpsuit

The next pieces I tried were ultra-simple Saturday morning ones – leggings and a sweatshirt. I’ve never tried a pair of pure cotton leggings before, all mine are for running in sweat-wicking compression fabric and so I was pleasantly surprised by how soft these were. One of my key learnings over lockdown as I bought more leggings than any other item of clothing is that leopard or any other kind of ditsy print works wonders in breaking up the expanse of your thighs and making your legs look longer and slimmer. The pattern that doesn’t work so well is camo because it usually has more of a horizontal element to it and that tends to emphasise your wider planes. I wore these for two hours just to see if they would go baggy at the knees and they didn’t, they’re 93% BCI cotton and 7% elastane so they held their shape. Again, they’re a brilliant buy, especially at this price. I wouldn’t wear them for the gym but they’re great for putting on at the weekend or at the end of a long day.

The sweatshirt is made from a cosy fleece fabric with a borg style texture. It has nice cross stitch detailing at the neck and a logo tab on the cuff which makes it look far more expensive than it is. It’s a very neat fit, I’m wearing a medium here and it would be perfect with joggers or wide leg jeans but if I was planning to wear it with leggings like this I’d probably go up one or even two sizes.

Midlifechic John Lewis Anyday leggings and sweatshirt review

Borg fleece sweatshirt (also available in duck egg and blush pink); Leopard leggings (also available in khaki)

I layered up with one of the hooded cardigans which is 80% BCI cotton. It has a slight cocoon shape so it hangs nicely and it has pockets which I think are important for something like this. There’s a slouchy hood and it’s the sort of light layer you’ll find yourself throwing on at home now the nights are getting cooler (much chicer than a dressing gown). Of course you can wear it when you’re out and about too – it’s a brilliant way of getting the rule of two thirds into an outfit without having to think too hard.

Midlifechic John Lewis Anyday knitwear review

Cotton slouchy cardigan (also available in black); Borg fleece sweatshirt (also available in duck egg and blush pink); Leopard leggings (also available in khaki)

My last choice is a little more dressed up purely because I’ve added heeled boots but it still feels like Saturday afternoon style. It’s a simple ribbed sweater dress and I left it till last because I wasn’t looking forward to trying it – I was sure it was going to be itchy but actually it wasn’t at all. It looks and feels like an expensive wool blend but it’s an acrylic mix which some of you might not like but I’m all for it because it means I can wear this season’s knitted dress look without wanting to rip it off after ten minutes. It’s a straight cut but it has slits at each side so that you can walk without it riding up your legs and they also add an elegant flare.

Ribbed knitted dress

I really like the small gathered detail on the shoulders which adds to the premium feel – and the fact that the neckline sits slightly away from your neck so that you won’t overheat. I thought I’d quickly feel too hot in this dress, especially as it was a bit of a muggy day but I didn’t. I have to say I’m amazed that JL&P have let this go into their ANYDAY range, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find this level of quality in one of their main lines. I’m wearing a medium and it feels just right.

Ribbed knitted dress

Of course ANYDAY isn’t just about Womenswear, it covers Menswear and Homeware too. At the moment the Menswear stock is just arriving so I haven’t included it in this post but as I’ve already said, new deliveries are listed every day and you can find Menswear here.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for home

Homeware of course has been going strong since the Spring and I suspect a high percentage of Freshers like our boy have just headed off to uni with a car packed full of it because it’s such good value and yet it’s stylish too. And that’s what’s so good about it. One of our first jobs when we get home is going to be refurbishing the boys’ bathroom. To avoid the usual quarrel about towels when they come home for Christmas I’m going to get three sets like this in contrasting and yet co-ordinating stripes – I should have done it years ago.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for home

Striped towels (5 contrasting colourways available)

This is a great little desk and I quite fancy having one on the wall of my office to stop me from sitting down for so many hours at a stretch. It would be great for the kitchen too, I so often have thoughts about things I need to do and buy while I’m cooking and this would be a handy way of having a pen, paper or laptop to hand.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for home

Wall mounted foldaway desk

We have these glasses at home and in our flat in Newcastle; they’re clean, simple, stackable and they don’t frost over in the dishwasher which every other set of glasses I’ve ever bought has done. There are other shapes and sizes in the range and they’re such a good price that it isn’t the end of the world if you drop one.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for home

500ml glasses

I love this lamp – as you know once the bathroom’s done we’ll be moving on to get our extension ready for the new Christmas sofa and I’m so pleased with the architectural touches of black we have in Newcastle that I may well introduce them here too.

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for home

Frame table lamp

This is a great little accent chair if you want to bring a splash of colour to a dark corner, it’s affordable and it’s in stock (I don’t know whether you’ve tried to buy any furniture recently but there’s almost a six month wait everywhere on a lot of things).

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for home

Velvet accent chair (also available in navy, grey or pink)

And the velvet cushions are back, a great low cost way of bringing rich texture into your home for Winter

A new range of simple, sustainable basics for home

Velvet front cushion

When JL&P first announced that they were expanding ANYDAY into fashion I have to say that with my retail head on, I was sceptical. I could absolutely see a place for the homeware but I wondered how they were going to operate in the world of low priced clothing and I couldn’t see how it would align with their brand positioning. However they’ve really surprised me. I think the concept of the two mile wear is a very clever one because it manages everyone’s expectations. They’re not over-promising and saying that they’re delivering a cheaper version of their other own brand ranges, instead this has a specific place in your life and it will make sense to most people.

The fact that they’ve managed to produce a range at these prices that’s for the most part sustainable too is quite groundbreaking and I think it’s going to be a real disruptor in the marketplace. At the moment most retailers are happily whacking on a high premium for sustainability but if JL&P can do this, then others should be able to as well. And that’s a great thing for the future of fashion… and, of course, the planet. So well done JL&P – you’re like an old friend that keeps on surprising us by continually upping her game. In the often greedy, all consuming world of retail you’re an inspiration and a beacon that other store groups should follow.

Disclosure: ‘A new range of simple, sustainable basics for fashion and home’ was a review commissioned by John Lewis & Partners however my great enthusiasm for the ANYDAY range is all my own and genuinely well earned by them!

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