We’re back from our week in the sunshine and I’m so glad that we took the time while we could because we’re heading into another busy few months of work. It continues to be an interesting time in retail as everyone tries to second guess the zeitgeist for AW22 – it’s looking as though it’s going to be a bumpy ride so I don’t know about you but I’m determined to make the most of every moment as spring and summer unfurls in front of us. Going away at the beginning of May felt a bit like pressing ‘fast forward,’ giving us a taste of the long summer days to come. We went to Lanzarote and I’ll talk a bit more about why and what we did soon; even though we didn’t stop working completely it was still good to get away and feel the sun on our skin. Today though is about ageless style – summer holiday looks. You see being there gave me the perfect opportunity to do my monthly edits so in this post I’m bringing you my picks from Boden’s summer holiday drop – with pictures of me feeling genuinely warm in situ for once.
I have to say that this season’s Boden collection has felt to me like their best yet, they’re absolutely on fire and I’ve spent a lot of my own money there on top of my monthly edits. I’m finding that their colour palettes and cuts hit just the right mark; I’m also drawn to a lot of their prints and that’s surprising because as you know, until recently I didn’t wear pattern at all. However unlike a lot of other retailers who are sticking with ditsy, Boden seem to be getting the scale and contrast just right. So let me show you what I pulled together for my edit from their most recent holiday drop and you’ll spot more pieces that I’ve bought personally in posts to follow. I’ll show you the model shot first and then the outfit on me so that you can see the difference on somebody older and a few sizes bigger.
Ageless style – summer holiday looks – the co-ord set
I wore this on our first night when we felt so relieved to be there. I’d booked one of those terrible flights that involve you leaving home at 2.30am and losing a whole night’s sleep so you can imagine how good it felt to have unpacked, finally relaxing with a chilled glass of wine in my hand and the sun on my face. By the way for anybody wondering about airport travel, it took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get through check-in and security at Manchester which wasn’t too bad and our return through the same airport was the swiftest we’ve ever known. Everyone else we know who’s travelled through Manchester has said the same thing so I wonder if the press are exaggerating things somewhat.
Anyway back to clothes, I loved this outfit as soon as I saw it. I wondered if the cropped top would be a bit risky but with the straight neckline and high waisted skirt it felt fine. There’s less midriff on show in Boden’s model shot and I think that’s how it would sit if you have a higher waist than mine. My one piece of advice would be to size up in both the top and skirt to avoid a muffin top – I’m wearing a size 12 top here and a size 14 skirt. Another option would be to wear a cardigan over the top, Katie Holmes style, if you’d prefer just to have a glimpse of skin. Of course it doesn’t have to be worn as a set, the skirt will be equally lovely with a blue or white blouse or tee tucked in to counterbalance the volume and I can see myself wearing it that way at home. Maxi skirts are such a good option for summer evenings in the UK when it can so quickly get chilly.
I had a cream cardigan with me and we went on to spend the evening in one of the little caves you can see behind me. We had gourmet tapas and finished our bottle of wine while we watched the sun set, then we headed back to our apartment for the deep sleep that comes after missing a full night.
Ageless style – summer holiday looks – the block printed dress
The next piece comes from the collaboration that Boden have done rather quietly with midlife textile designer Molly Mahon.
I’m a sucker for any kind of block printing or wood cut and so as soon as I saw her fabrics, I loved them. There are four prints in the collection – pink or blue and green florals, a cherry print and this orange and yellow which is my favourite. You can see the others here.
This dress is just perfect for holidays, I wore it for a day of sightseeing but it would be easy to throw on over a bikini too if you were going to the beach. It’s airy without being shapeless, made from the lightest cotton with a second light cotton lining to give it structure. It’s a piece that I know will accompany me on endless holidays to come.
Tie back maxi-dress (gifted SS22)
The standout detail is at the back with the ribbon tie. It’s cut so that you could wear it with a strapless bra with a thin band at the back – or a bikini of course. However the loose structure and layer of lining make it easy to go braless as I did. It’s such a great dress…
Tie back maxi-dress (gifted SS22)
… there’s also a linen top in the same print but you’ll have to be quick because it’s nearly sold out. This gives you an idea of how it would look as a top worn with ecru jeans perhaps – or orange shorts.
Tie back maxi-dress (gifted SS22)
Ageless style – summer holiday looks – palazzo pants & blouse co-ord
You saw me wearing this blouse with cream jeans when we went for our weekend in Chester and I mentioned that I loved it so much, I’d pre-ordered the matching trousers. Some of you asked me how I thought the fabric mix would work because the trousers are viscose and the blouse is silk. I think it’s fine, the viscose gives the trousers a little more weight which they need to hang properly but the depth of colour in the pattern matches well. The blouse is true to size, the trousers have no give so if you’re between sizes, size up.
It’s such a comfortable outfit to wear, giving you all the benefits of a jumpsuit column look but with the versatility of separates – and easy loo access too! I bought these sandals early in the season and they’ve almost sold out in the tan but they’re still available in black or navy. We did over 15,000 steps that night walking to find a good restaurant and they were still supremely comfortable at the end of the evening so I highly recommend them and they’re true to size.
Ageless style – summer holiday looks – wide leg linen trousers
The first thing that caught my here was the exquisite pattern matching of the stripes. You’re going to be lucky to get hold of a pair of these trousers because they seem to have sold out straightaway but the odd return keeps popping up.
I’m holding on to my hair at the back here because there were strong gusts of wind and it kept flipping up making me look like a pineapple. My shoulders are too broad for spaghetti straps like the ones in the model picture so I added the ruffle linen top instead. Again it will be one of those versatile items that works well with jeans and skirts all summer.
I then remembered that I’d packed one of my old Boden halternecks which would be more like the model shot so here it is (and Boden please do these simple tops with inbuilt bra-shelf and no ruching again). As you can see the pattern matching on the trousers is as good as the model shot and both they and the linen top are true to size.
Ageless style – summer holiday looks – broderie maxi-dress
Another windy evening, another meal out – we’d driven round the coast to the fishing village of El Golfo here. This dress is more vibrant than it looks in the model shot, it’s still closer to coral than red but it’s a lovely rich colour. It works well if you have curves too – it looks a bit straight on the model above. True to size on me, you may need to size up if you have an ample bosom though. It’s slightly longer on me than the model so I’d call it a maxi rather than a midi.
Mr MC particularly loved this one which was good because it was easy to wear. It’s 100% cotton with an extra cotton lining and that gives it structure but does make it a bit heavier so if you’re going somewhere very hot it may be too thick. For a breezy evening like this or a night in the UK it’s perfect though. This was our last night and it had come round too quickly. We were feeling happy and relaxed though, the holiday had worked its magic.
Ageless style – summer holiday looks – solid bikini
Now this is something I bought myself, I don’t accept gifted swimwear because I don’t want the pressure of having to have a photograph taken in it. This is back to our first day, we had a small pool and jacuzzi in the garden of our apartment and I dipped my toe in expecting it to be cold but it was actually really hot – hence the surprise on my face. Anyway I don’t usually order bikinis unless they have a halterneck top because anything with dainty, bra-like straps doesn’t work with strong shoulders. However this is a marvel, somehow they’ve worked lots of support into it without using any wiring so it’s also really comfortable to wear. The top’s a bit of a nuisance to get on and off because you have to pull it over your head but it’s no worse than a sports bra. It sold out in this and the ivory colourway ages ago but there’s a new one just come in if you’re quick. I’m a 34D and I found the size 12 top was just right but I always upsize on bikini bottoms for a gentle fit.
So those are my picks from the Boden holiday drop although I do want to point out these trousers that have just come in, I’ve bought them and they’ll be the final addition to my wardrobe this summer. It’s hard to judge them from the model shots but I’ve seen them on video and they look great. By the way Boden have 25% off selected items this weekend with code SS25 – you can find everything that’s in the offer here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed that little blast of sunshine. I have lots more photos to go through because I took far more than a holiday capsule of clothes with me but hopefully it was worth it because I’ll have more summer inspiration for you over the next few weeks. We have a fun-filled weekend ahead because we’re going to Highest Point, the first of four summer festivals that we’ve somehow signed ourselves up for this year. It’s in my birth town of Lancaster, not too far from where we live so it’s easy for us to dip in and out. This is as we arrived last night, not at all what I’d imagined wearing but there was a bitter wind blowing so I was in lots of layers – what a difference a week makes! I’ve been so grateful for this coat this winter and I see it’s now in clearance. The boys have been trying to persuade me to stop wearing invisible socks with trainers because they insist it looks frumpy and last night I was very happy to adopt the long sports socks they and their girlfriends all wear with jeans. They know a thing or two these young ‘uns!
We saw Richard Ashcroft. Bittersweet Symphony was my anthem back in the 90s when I was going through tough times in my painful first marriage so it felt very cathartic to hear it live now that I’m living happily, back near the place where I was born. It’s funny how when you reach midlife you find so many things have memories stuck to them like post-it notes isn’t it? When Mr MC and I were renovating our first home together in Surbiton we used a group of Geordie builders who were a cheeky bunch of rogues. The other project they were working on was Richard Ashcroft’s bathroom and they regularly brought us down to earth with a bump by comparing our budget with his! Anyway I’m really looking forward to tonight with Clean Bandit as headliners and then tomorrow it’s Kaiser Chiefs who will take me back to the days of living in London with young babies. It’s the most relaxed of the four festivals so it should be a good way to kick things off – there’s nothing quite like live music in the sunshine is there – or even wind and rain as we had last night!
And then next week holds my birthday although I’m not sure what’s happening yet because no-one will tell me. 55 feels like a nice number though and as always, I’m utterly grateful to be reaching it feeling happy and healthy. My year of being 54 has seen me hitting the empty nest that I dreaded for so long and then realising that actually my wings are now less clipped. Of course none of us can predict what’s ahead but I’m grateful that right now things feel good and I’ve adjusted to a new way of life much more quickly than I thought I would. The last year has involved more work than I anticipated but with having a lighter load on the domestic front, I’ve been able to balance it out with fun along the way too.
Every birthday is the gift of another year lived and the privilege of growing older comes with its own pleasures. I can see why they say the happiness curve starts to rise again after the age of 50, in fact in his book ‘The Happiness Curve, why life gets better after 50‘, Jonathan Rauch argues that midlife is a normal transition like adolescence, leading to a more stable, positive stage of life. His view is that the only thing that lets us down is society’s attitude towards it, that it’s the negative stereotypes and ageist prejudices that prevent us from seeing it as positively as we should. And that tells me that we midlifers have a job to do – we must challenge them.
I’m sure you’ve seen the heartbreaking news that Deborah James (@bowelbabe on Instagram) shared this week about reaching the end of her life with so much still to live for surely holds a message for us all. There may be clouds of war and recession gathering around us but it’s so important for us still to focus on pleasures close to home and, as Deborah instructed with her final message – “Enjoy life!” What an inspiration she’s been since her diagnosis, an example of somebody using the power of social media for good rather than personal gain. I’m sure all of our hearts ache along with her and we can only wish her a gentle dying and her family strength in the weeks and months to come.
So my pre-birthday thinking is about embracing this stage of life by remembering just how lucky we are to be living it at all. We need to show everyone coming up behind us just how great it can be. Let’s confront the stereotypes of how it should look and banish any thoughts that start with “I’m too old for…” Lessons from the dying should always be taken seriously, my mum’s last words to me were “don’t regret,” Deborah’s are “enjoy life.” I think we should all take those instructions forward with us. Don’t you?