Something a bit different for you today because thinking we were going to be almost through to the other side of Brexit, I planned a British brand focus. As it happens we’re not (why am I surprised?) but I’m going to talk about three of them anyway. Before I start though, I have an apology. One of the enquiry forms on Darryll and Bettina’s website for The D’Azur failed on Saturday and so all of the enquiries that you sent through arrived without any way of contacting you. When I realised on Saturday night it was one of those head in hands moments and I feel absolutely awful about it but it’s fixed now so please, please can you send your enquiry through again here. Thank you!
British Brands – Hope Fashion
Moving on to British brands, I’m starting with one of my favourites, Hope Fashion. The team there have been friends of Midlifechic since their very first day and I’ll always support them. Just to recap they’re a small group of midlife women who design for the over 40 marketplace. Their specific focus is the midlife midriff which, as we all know, seems to be programmed to expand and so their designs are dedicated to working around this. The current season in my view is their strongest yet.
I gave you a preview of their party skirt in Jeréz and I’m pleased to say it’s now in stock so here it is again although it’s proving to be a bestseller so it won’t be around for long. Remember it has a very discreet elasticated waistband so it’s great if you want to wear something tucked in as I have here but I’m also going to be styling it with cashmere jumpers and knee high boots. Tulle is a key trend this season thanks to Killing Eve and this is a more wearable way of bringing it into your wardrobe than a one-off dress.
Tulle skirt; Uterque silk camisole SS19; Boden velvet sandals circa 2006
I wore a Hope jumper when we went to Newcastle last Saturday. We’re now on our third season of university open days with the middle son as he tries to decide where he’s heading. Trying to get him to think carefully about a decision that will cost him (and us) in the region of £75,000 is proving a challenge – the money seems to sharpen our minds but not his! Anyway, this is what I was wearing to combat the sharp east winds that were blowing through the city.
Knitwear is one of Hope’s particular strengths and it’s all designed and made in Italy. You’ll see that this is where the focus on skimming over the midriff comes in and they do it so much better than a lot of other brands because they introduce architecture into the knit.
You can see more of the detail below. Firstly the neck is a cross between a polo and a cowl. I love it because it doesn’t touch my neck and yet it isn’t completely floppy – cowls always makes me think of a bulldog. There is deep, vertical ribbing at the hemline and cuffs which lengthens and narrows the body visually. It also adds weight to the hem so that the jumper hangs slightly away from the body. An extra detail is that the hem and cuffs are split for added elegance.
The wool blend includes 8% cashmere and it’s a mid-weight so it isn’t too hot, I didn’t have a layer underneath and it wasn’t itchy. The colour is a soft grey and I’m wearing a ‘slim’ which is a size 10-12.
And here’s another well designed jumper in a very seasonal pumpkin orange. Again it’s all about the detail. The slimming vertical rib has been used on the whole knit to streamline the body and yet it has been set horizontally at the cuffs to add a little flare.
The dipped hem is longer at the back and it has been split from the height of a waistband down so that the jumper doesn’t cling. The polo neck stands away from the skin to frame your face rather than cling to your chins. Again the wool blend includes a touch of cashmere for softness.
I’m really keen for you to try Hope knitwear because I think you need to see it on to realise how good it is. As a little extra encouragement, Hope have agreed to offer 25% off these two jumpers for all orders placed before midnight on Sunday 3rd November. Use code MLC25 at checkout.
British Brands- Claudia Bradby
It’s no exaggeration when I say that I wear Claudia Bradby jewellery at least six days out of seven which may seem unimaginative but I just love her designs and the detail that she puts into every collection. Over the years that I’ve been blogging we’ve become friends which naturally makes me feel even closer to her work so I’m pleased to tell you that she’s just launched her latest designs. They’re based on the inspiration she found by looking at Viking jewellery in The British Museum. Of course as soon as she told me that the collection was called Northern Star, I was sold. She points out that Viking women “were at heart farmers and home makers – but also adventurers who used their skills to expand their horizons” – not very different from good northern women today I’d say!
Claudia very kindly invited me to choose something from the Northern Star collection and it took me a while because every piece had resonance. However I wanted to find a pair of earrings that might stop me from wearing the geo hoops that I opt for almost every day. I chose the Coco Epée earrings and you might have already spotted them because I’ve had them on them ever since they arrived. I’m also wearing my oyster necklace in this picture which, as you know, is my talisman:
Here’s a closer detail. The pearls are white baroque so they’re slightly uneven which makes them feel more contemporary and the silver posts signify the swords that Viking women carried.
There are some truly beautiful pieces in the collection so please do support this tiny British brand if you can. I was torn between the earrings and this good luck pendant which is a horseshoe design based on Viking women’s shawl brooches. Once again I managed to secure an offer for you to tempt you to order – Claudia is offering 20% off her jewellery for the next two weeks, exclusively for Midlifechic readers with code MIDLIFECHIC20 (expires 12th November).
And finally for today, I’ve been doing some work with Sealy – did you know that all of their beds are made here in Cumbria? They produce over 3,500 beds a week from their factory in Aspatria. They aren’t British owned but I’m including them in this post because they’re a major employer up here and we need more of those – Cumbrians can’t survive on hill farming and tourism alone.
Now that I’ve got to know them better, I’ve discovered just how much expertise goes into Sealy beds. They work intensively with sleep experts to make sure that their beds combat different kinds of sleep problems. So that I could really understand the brand, as part of my project I was offered a new bed and given that we’d had our existing one since I was pregnant with the middle son, it was good timing. In the end we paid to upgrade it so it was discounted rather than completely free.
Until now we’ve had a Tempur memory foam bed which was great in our London semi but it’s always been a problem in the 300 year old former farmhouse that we live in now. Because our bedroom is never very warm, in winter it felt as though we were sleeping on a stone tablet. When we chose this new one we took Sealy’s problem solving approach seriously and looked at our sleep issues. Despite my HRT, I find that that these days my sleep can be quite erratic. I often wake at 3.50am (always 3.50am) and can’t get back to sleep so I toss and turn and disturb Mr MC. And on the nights that I do sleep he often comes to bed late after burning the midnight oil on one of his design projects and so that wakes me too. All of this means that over the last 18 months, neither of us has slept consistently well.
Working with Sealy has turned me into a bed nerd. I knew we needed something from the Posturepedic range which is designed to stop you tossing and turning by responding to your body weight and pressure points, enabling your body to rest in its natural sleeping position. So, we went for a Madison bed and the mattress itself should mean that I’m less restless. The Madison combines pocket springs with Geltex and has Sealy’s adaptive technology which responds to changes in temperature. We also chose the ‘zip & link’ option which is effectively two single mattresses zipped together. It means that we have our own sleep islands and so if one of us moves, the other doesn’t feel it. Oh and it’s a super king size which is just bliss.
The boys were rather alarmed this week when I said I had someone coming round to take photos of me in the bedroom but here’s one of the official Sealy ones showing me in my current happy place.
Upgrading to a super king meant that I had to buy everything from scratch so it’s been quite a research project because I was determined to buy once and buy well. Our bedroom has a large floorspace because it takes up the top floor of the old part of the house but because of the sloping ceilings (and the space allocated to the en suite and, more importantly, my dressing room) not much of it is usable – so it made sense to have a statement bed and not much else. Anyway I thought I’d share some of my finds, especially as quite a few of them are from small British brands:
- Duvet (90% goose down) and kingsize pillows(80% goose down): the duvet was worth every penny, the pillows I’m still not sure about, I wouldn’t recommend them for the price.
- 600 threadcount bedlinen: from The Secret Linen Store which is a great find, run by two sisters who have spent their career as retail buyers and now set up on their own. Most things are made to order so take a couple of weeks to come but the cotton is the loveliest quality and about half the price of equivalent high thread counts from high street stores. Definitely worth it (and ok to iron).
- Extra deep fitted sheets from The Linen Cupboard – communication re delayed delivery was very poor but the sheets were good when they arrived.
- Silk pillowcases – ever since I was sent a pillowcase by This Is Silk last year I haven’t been able to sleep without one but it’s difficult to find a decent quality for a kingsize pillow. The ones I ended up with were good and actually quite reasonable.
- Mouth blown glass lamps – because our room has quite a lot of uneven texture with the stone walls, beams and wooden floorboards I wanted something that was an organic shape (note that they’re clear rather than grey as shown on the website, I wouldn’t have bought them if I hadn’t seen them in store). There’s 20% off at the moment – grrr! We’ve also integrated a Hue lighting system so that we can control all of the lighting in the room by voice.
- Cushion – the rough hessian finish of this cushion contrasts beautifully with the smooth Egyptian cotton bedlinen
- Velvet bedspread – adds yet another level of texture
We rescued the pew at the bottom of the bed with a donation to the village church when they were making space for wheelchairs so it’s a real part of our village history. It needs a bit of sanding and waxing as well as a cushioned seat but at least it now has a home in one of the oldest houses in the village.
And I just want to show you this rug, I love it so much that I bought it twice and we now have one downstairs too. It’s 70% wool and 30% cotton with the texture of cobblestones. The one I bought has sold out but the plaited version is still available and it’s an amazing price with 20% off at the moment.
So there you go, a little project that’s been keeping me busy. It’s an interim fix because we really need a new roof and when that’s being done, we’ll be able to sandblast the stone walls and the beams but we’re waiting until the boys are all at uni before we tackle that one.
Today’s post was a bit of a change, I hope you enjoyed it. And don’t forget to get back in touch with The Dazur if you haven’t heard from them. They’re so grateful to you for your enthusiastic response… and I just wish I could come with you all when you go!
One last thing – for everyone who’s been in touch to say they missed out on tickets to my John Lewis & Partners style event in Leeds, the good news is that they’ve just added another 10 tickets. Do come and join us here.
Disclosure: ‘British brands – three you should know’ is not a sponsored post; all gifted or discounted items have been declared in the content.
30% off everything at Karen Millen plus an extra 10% off with code EXTRA10 here
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