Now that we’re well and truly into autumn, I think we’re starting to get used to the new silhouette that has come in. The midi length hemline and the move to the straight leg jean are two of the easiest styles to adopt and I’ve been really enjoying wearing them as you’ll see from some examples below. The other key focus of course, is colour. I really like the bright scarlet that is everywhere but a lot of people have told me they find it too vivid. That’s not a problem because any shade of red is right and often a slightly darker tone is easier to repeat on a regular basis because it has less standout.
If, like me, you were brought up to avoid colour clashes you need to reset your eye. Colour clashing is key this year so all shades of red work together, along with splashes of pink or orange if you really want to up the ante. The important thing to remember is that bright colours and lush textures are no longer just for Christmas. They work right now and they’re very cheering to wear on a grey day. So, I’ve put together a simple autumn capsule to show you how you could adapt a few key items from week to weekend.
Autumn capsule wardrobe – women over 40
The chunky knit
Chunky red jumper – chunky knits are absolutely everywhere and it won’t be long before we’re glad of them. My tip is to avoid natural fabrics on this one. Unless it’s cashmere (or maybe merino) I find that most woollen turtle necks make you itch at some point during the day – and once you start, you can’t stop. A good quality, silky acrylic mix is usually a good solution and it washes well.
The other thing to remember is that jumpers are shorter than they have been because the shape of your bottom half has changed. Applying the architectural ‘rule of two thirds’ to your body, for the last few seasons we have been revealing one third of legs in skinny jeans covered over by two thirds of long top. The break in the body has been at high to mid thigh so the upper half of your body has been the two thirds (you need to include your head in the equation). Now, because the bottom half holds more volume, the break comes at the waist so the lower half of your body is the two thirds. As soon as you adjust, you will breathe a huge sigh of relief. Unless you have a Kate Moss figure, this is a much more forgiving proportion.
Cream cashmere jumper – I find chunky knits too hot for the office so I keep them for weekends. Once again you need to make sure that they are not too long or you will simply cut your body in half and nothing will feel right. I know cream cashmere sounds high maintenance but the colour is kind to winter complexions and these wash really well. There is 25% off at the moment plus free delivery and free returns (use code UKGW0101, ends Tuesday 31st October). Alternatively you could go for lambswool here, or merino here.
The pleated midi skirt
Red pleated midi skirt – if you haven’t worn a pleated midi-skirt yet, order one and give it a try. For five minutes you’ll feel like a school girl and then suddenly you’ll adapt to the way it swishes and the fact that you won’t need to wear tights for a little while longer is one less thing to think about in the morning. This skirt (also available in navy, black or gold) gives you the added benefit of on trend velvet, no wonder it has five star reviews.
The slouchy boots
Knee high oxblood boots – I have these, you’ll see me wearing them in one of the shots below. Again you need to adjust to the slouchy leg – they’re supposed to be like that. Remember the width is now on the bottom half. They’re particularly good for anyone who has had difficulties with calf widths over the last decade and they make everyone’s legs look slimmer (I’m bracing myself for the welly comments – try to overcome your natural resistance to change my friends).
The luxe kitten heels
Red satin boots – great value, yes they’re a problem if it rains so you need to watch the weather forecast like a hawk or just keep them for evenings. They update your whole look in a matter of seconds though and they’re easy to walk in. I’m really pleased that kitten heels are back. They come with a caveat though – if you add them to your old wardrobe you’re in danger of being projected back to 2001. You need to wear them with the new shapes.
The classic tux
Tux style jacket – as long-standing readers know, I have been looking for a tuxedo jacket for years. I have ordered this one and I particularly love the shawl collar. Because it buttons low, it can be an easier shape for a woman to wear as there is no stretching or gaping across the bust. It also means that you can wear a pretty top or a slogan tee to maximum effect without having to remove your jacket – great for those who don’t like their arms on show. The other benefit is that this cut will work better with a rounded neckline underneath than a standard tux (which is at its most alluring with a deep v-neck that echoes the collar). So many things to consider! If this is as good as I hope, I will wear it for work with black side striped trousers (oh my – how they divided us into two camps last week) or leather leggings or… as I’ve shown in the collage above.
Straight leg jeans
Straight leg jeans – now, as I’ve said before, I have put my skinny jeans into a ‘pending box’ since my clearout. I pulled out a pair last weekend, tried them on and put them straight back. They just don’t look right to me any more. I know a lot of you are digging your heels in on this one and that’s fine – if you love your skinnies you should wear them. However, my job here is to keep us all up to date with current, wearable fashion so I’m bringing you these. They are only a little wider than a skinny… no scary turn ups… no baggy ‘mom’ waist …subtle, thigh slimming fading at the front. I’m just holding them out to you – it’s up to you if you want make the move on.
The long, lean coat
Dark red coat – the new silhouette requires a longer coat. I know coats are a heavy investment but this one is great quality at a good price. Think about it, it will work with all of the neutrals: black, navy, grey, camel and of course this season’s reds. People often opt for a black or navy coat because they think it goes with everything. The beauty of a long winter coat is that it covers everything – so it doesn’t necessarily have to match. Simply add a scarf if you want to cover up whatever is exposed at the chest. A colour like this is likely to be more flattering to your pale winter skin and more cheering on a dark morning. You need to be quick if you like this though, it’s selling fast.
The slogan tee
Slogan t-shirt – there is no sign of slogan t-shirts coming to an end. They’re still showing strong for next summer and if you think about the political environment we’re living in, it isn’t surprising. This is a simple statement to make but a good one that can be interpreted to stand for lots of things: feminism / Brexit (for or against) / an anti- terrorism or anti-Trump stance… the list goes on.
The sock boot
Black sock boot – a higher quality suede sock boot for anyone who doesn’t like fabric or faux suede. These also have this season’s sleeper trend: a cylindrical heel for extra style points. The higher cut of sock boots (on the lower calf) means that they work better with cropped jeans than a low cut ankle boot – it makes all the difference. Because the fabric hugs your ankle, it makes the most of the slimmest part of your leg too.
The lingerie look
Silk camisole – silk camisoles were a feature last Christmas but they’re much more mainstream now. This is charcoal rather than black so kinder to the complexion. The depth of the lace also means that it has more coverage than other camisoles which can be helpful for an over 40 décolleté. It is also available in a soft millennial pink.
So, I hope that has given you a few ideas now that the weather is really turning. Here are a couple of outfits to show that I’m practicing what I’m preaching. This was just before I went into a meeting on a very windy day last week.
And this was an early morning start, setting off to London (again). The jumper and skirt are actually navy but for some reason they look black in the photo.
Now for my weekly GymCube update. It felt as though life was really challenging my efforts to drop a dress size last week – I wonder how many of you will recognise the regular chaos of a week as a midlife woman. I got off to a good start on Monday when I realised that I had lost the spurious 4lbs that I gained by having too much of a good time at my friend’s wedding weekend. In fact I had lost more than that. But then of course I had to travel down to London for the Specsavers event. That meant that I was out of control of what I was eating again. Because my suitcase was so heavy, I had to leave my laptop at home meaning that I couldn’t do any of GymCube’s ‘hotel room’ exercise options. However, the little GymCube voice was in my head and I ate sensibly and made myself power up all of the escalators when I was on the tube.
As Catherine and I were sitting at the Specsavers after-after party, I thought I could feel a cold coming on. Sure enough, after a bad night’s sleep in an incredibly noisy hotel (Searcy’s in Knightsbridge – don’t stay there), I woke up feeling really unwell (and no, it wasn’t a hangover)! So, I spent the long journey home feeling sorry for myself and was pretty wiped out for a couple of days. However, like most women I couldn’t just crawl into bed. I still had the Specsavers post to write and some work projects to finish. We then sadly had the last of my great aunts’ funerals on Friday, my sister’s birthday, an awards ceremony for the middle son early on Saturday morning, a Christmas tree to put up (don’t ask) and the joy of the eldest son coming home for the weekend. Life just never stops does it.
The good thing is that despite all of this, I was determined to do the best I could. So, I stepped up the speed of my walks with Gary and kept an eye on calories. The result a week later is that I have stabilised at my new weight and my clothes are definitely looser. GymCube has given me a different mindset where the little things are concerned. I suspect that they are the ones that add up for me, often resulting in a six pound gain even though I feel as though I’ve been eating well.
I have never counted calories before but I’m finding it really helpful when I’m away from home. I won’t do it forever because life’s too short but it’s a really good retraining exercise. For example, if I hadn’t been doing GymCube, I would have slipped into Hotel Chocolat at Euston station and bought chocolate to console myself for feeling grotty on the train. I would have tucked into croissants at the middle son’s awards ceremony and generally eaten far more over the weekend than I did. Out of habit, I would have had wine too – despite the fact that being under the weather, I didn’t really feel like it.
I suspect that this is why the weight creeps on at midlife. It’s the unconscious consumption, often because we’re so busy, that adds up without us realising it. We then wonder why we can’t drop that stubborn half stone. None of this is rocket science but actually when you become aware of your tendencies, it feels as though it is. I have two weeks to go before our half term break away which is my first deadline. This week I have another challenge to work around because the osteopath has told me that my shoulder is inflamed again so I have to take a week off weight-bearing exercises. I’m hoping that Kevin from GymCube will come back to me with some advice.
I’ll leave you with a few pictures from my joy-filled weekend, starting with the awards ceremony which meant we had to be up in the north Lakes horribly early on Saturday morning. You may remember that the middle son did his ‘National Citizen Service‘ over the summer (I really wish they would change the name of this organisation, it sounds like something from 1930s Germany).
It involved a week in Scotland where he had to bond with a team of other teens that he didn’t know by doing an outward bound course. There then followed a week of living with the same team on the University of Cumbria campus. They learned about local businesses whilst living independently as students. This meant that they had to budget, shop and cook as a group for a week without running out of money (which they did and they had some curious meals)! During the final week, his team had to form a social enterprise and plan an activity that would raise money for charity of their choice. They organised an open mic night which was surprisingly successful.
If your teen has the opportunity to do NCS, I really recommend it. My middle boy isn’t short of confidence but he does sometimes lack practical skills (or just plain common sense as his dad would say). It did him the world of good – he also made a bunch of really nice new friends from other schools.
So, Saturday was their graduation day and I was actually quite impressed when I saw the photos of everything they had done (being a typical teen boy, he hadn’t told us very much). And this was the moment when they were invited onto the stage for their graduation photo – I wonder if you can tell which one is my Mr Outgoing!
There’s always one isn’t there – and this time, that ‘one’ was mine. As all of the other children smiled nicely for the camera, my son decided to turn into a lounge lizard! Of course this meant that everyone had a comment to make on the way out – as you can see…
On Sunday, I decided that I needed a break and so instead of cooking a roast at home before the prodigal’s return to London, we went out for one instead. I am now feeling nervous about posting this shot because the middle son is wearing Adidas trainers which has become a bone of contention in our newly Nike dominated household. Sparks are flying. Thank goodness I’m not a trainer obsessive.
Maison Labiche breton (past season); Jeans; Boden loafers (past season); Bag (possibly coming soon to Midlifechic – what do you think?)
And with that I must go and get on with my day job. I’ve run out of time so can’t tell you about my London haircut which you can see in the two pictures above, the others in this post are from before it was done. I’ll be back on Friday but in the meantime, have a great week.