And so, as I warned you last week, we’re heading towards the close of the SS23 collections so today I’m going to flag up some capsule wardrobe sale buys because some of the best brands are diving into summer sale already. It’s been an extremely tough season for retailers; with the cost of living crisis and also the unnaturally cold weather lasting up until the end of May, people just haven’t been buying many clothes. From a consumer perspective there hasn’t been much temptation either – for the reasons I’ve already mentioned but also because there’s such a lack of innovation in the styles that are around. In many ways of course it’s a good thing if the urge to consume is damped down. The planet needs it. But in Worzel Gummidge mode, if I put my retail head on I can see that it’s a disaster.

This week we’ve seen the shock of Hunter going into administration and for us, the much sadder loss of Hope Fashion. My heart went out to my friends there on Friday night when they released the statement that they were putting the business into voluntary liquidation. Besides my sadness for the brilliant women behind the brand I feel some despair at what it tells us about the larger retail marketplace today. Nayna created a brand that was targeted solely at midlife women with the factors of their changing bodies in mind. In the end, not only did investors cease backing it but the big retailers who could have helped her to upscale and grow which would have led to lower price points for ethically designed pieces did too. I’m calling out Marks & Spencer in particular but also other brand ‘marketplacers’ such as John Lewis and Next – all of them trade heavily on our midlife spend and yet they still don’t value us enough to stock a brand that’s designed purely for us. If you’re a marketer you’ll know all about the 5Ps (or however many they run to these days) and we can only intuit that they didn’t like the Positioning of a brand that unashamedly refused to whinny around the younger customer.

For a couple of seasons about five years ago it seemed that our battle against the socially accepted prejudice of ageism was gaining traction in fashion and retail. For a few glorious months we saw older women represented on the catwalks and in retail catalogues and websites. But then their fickle world moved on to focus on the next ‘minority’ – we circled through plus size models then moved on to trans, looking further ahead we’re moving into AI – dream representations of people who don’t actually exist at all. As midlifers we’ve been relegated to the sector of awkward inconvenience once more, it’s like the 90s concept of the ‘ugly best friend’ – we’re dependable and reliably always there for retailers but they don’t want to be seen ‘out’ with us.

Let’s for example look at one of the website homepages, I’ve chosen M&S because they’re not in sale yet so their website best illustrates my point but most of the big retailers would be the same. Where is the representation of the midlife customer? Surely if there’s anyone they should be courting in the middle of one of the biggest cost of living crises it’s us. Do midlifers not count when it comes to Father’s Day… or holidays… or special events… or underwear…or anything else?

capsule wardrobe sale buys

So, when I go to my AW23 meetings and press shows I’ll have to start banging our midlife drum again, making the people behind the brands squirm which isn’t where I want to be. It was easier when I first started nine years ago because there were so few bloggers around that we were listened to. Now however in the scramble for sponsorship there are as many midlife influencers willing to fawn over brands as there are youngsters so it just ends up as a huge echo chamber of retailers being told what they want to hear rather than what should be said. I’ll be the ‘difficult’ one but I’ll still keep questioning them about quality, fit, pricing etc. And as I’ve mentioned M&S, what’s the betting they don’t even invite me to the previews this time? After all of the “we’re listening to you” conversations I had with their relevant people at the press show last autumn I find I’ve been quietly dropped from all of their communications – fashion, home and beauty. I mentioned that I was struck by the quite significant drop in quality of fabric and finish on Instagram Stories and bang! At least when I do that to brands like Boden or John Lewis they schedule a meeting and ask me to expand on what our marketplace is thinking.

Anyway, I didn’t know I was going to have that little rant when I sat down to type this evening. Retail is a difficult marketplace at the moment and tensions are high. A fall in quality is the one big thing you’re going to notice, particularly when it comes to AW23 because in order to insulate their price points most retailers are cutting corners on fabric, fastenings and details such as double seams, trims, linings and pockets. It’s subtle so you’ll sense it before you work out where the shortcuts lie. If you’re shopping for something the choices will be: accept it, trade up, buy preloved or shop the sales now because there are huge inventories of past season products that need to be cleared. If you can stomach it in this hot weather, now is the perfect time to look for winter coats, jackets, cashmere, tailored trousers etc because it’s going to be difficult to find the quality we’re used to at these price points ever again. So I’m going to finish this post by pulling out a few pieces you might like and giving you an indicator of where to look for capsule wardrobe sale buys. But first, let’s have a quick midlife lately photo recap because things are stacking up on my camera roll again.

Midlife lately – highlights from May and June

So this was way back at the beginning of May, the coronation weekend and we spent the afternoon of the bank holiday with my lovely friend Claudia Bradby and her husband. They’d come up for a week of wild swimming in the Lakes but they knew we were more about an afternoon of chilled chat than dipping our toes in the freezing cold water that we know only too well. You can tell that we’ve spotted Mal taking a photo out the corner of our eye here…

Claudia Bradby, Nikki Garnett

Boden silk blouse AW19; Me+Em jeans AW20; Earrings; Short necklace, long necklace; Claudia’s short necklace

… but to be fair to him it wasn’t easy to get a straightforward one.

Claudia Bradby, Nikki Garnett

Boden silk blouse AW19; Me+Em jeans AW20; Earrings; Short necklace, long necklace

Anyway I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t tell you about Claudia’s new collection. As always, there’s history behind it because she believes jewellery should always be more than just a pretty bauble. This time she was inspired by the Stonehenge collection at the Natural History Museum and in her words, ‘I was particularly struck, viewing the ancient icons, by the desire to craft beautiful pieces to carry around with you, connecting the wearer to what they believed in.’ So this collection’s called Stronger Together – as Claudia says, ‘I believe that jewellery uniquely connects us to ourselves, as well as to those we love.’ It hits exactly the right spot with me, almost every single piece of jewellery I own has a story and each day when I choose what to put on it’s because it works like a talisman.

Claudia has an incredible eye for layering jewellery, it’s a skill, she has an eye for balance that I just never seem to manage to replicate even though I often try to copy her. I would never have thought of teaming pieces like this together because of the differing chains but it absolutely works:

Claudia Bradby, Midlifechic

Love knot pearl necklace; Unita organic hoops; Luxury gold pearl drop necklace

In fact I loved the way Claudia was wearing the love knot necklace when we met so much that I’ve just shopped my own post and bought it. You see me wearing Claudia’s jewellery all of the time but these are the earrings that I’ve added from the latest collection. Claudia said they were inspired by a more 80s design and they remind me of a faux Chanel pair that I used to wear with a similarly faux Chanel suit when I started my first job in magazines. Everything came from Next – do you remember how cool Next was in the 80s? I felt like the bees knees. Anyway these are like the high quality culmination of my 22 year old aspirations.

capsule wardrobe sale buys

Love Knot pearl earrings

capsule wardrobe sale buys

Love Knot pearl earrings (gifted SS23); Satin top (now 20% off, gifted SS23); Crochet trim denim jacket (now 20% off, gifted SS23)

Don’t forget that as a fellow reader Claudia always gives a 20% discount to us at Midlifechic with code MIDLIFE20. This month all orders come with a free artist’s card and double pearl points too.


Ok so we’re moving on to the following weekend here when the weather was still playing up. You may remember we had our fabulous local festival to look forward to and it’s one of those events that’s just always blessed with the first real sunshine of the year. So here we were arriving on the first night, looking forward to a low key evening of Hacienda Classical which was great. I think I bought this t-shirt the first time I ever saw Sister Sledge so I’m afraid I can’t link it but anything like this is good for a relaxed festival evening.

What to wear for a festival over 50

T-shirt (past season); Jeans

The great thing about this festival is that we can be back in the comfort of our own beds by midnight. We don’t drink so there’s no struggle for a taxi home, the joy of the first warm nights of the year filled with live music give us enough exhilaration. We bump into so many people we know as we drift around the different stages. These are two of our gym buddies and it threw the boys when I posted this on Instagram because they know them from school – they don’t realise we have our own friends who are their age!  As you can see, I’m wearing my sequinned numbers in summer as well as at Christmas. These five year old trousers now shed sequins wherever I go and people kept saying they could tell which loo I’d been in but I have a few more wears left before they’re completely bald!

What to wear for a festival over 50

Everything past season

Bastille were headlining, they were great and then it was Craig Charles for us – we spent the whole time dancing happily in the woods which is where they put the music for midlifers.

capsule wardrobe sale buys

By the final day it was really hot so last year’s jumpsuit was just the thing. We enjoyed Toploader on the main stage performing ‘dancing in the moonlight’ – one of those iconic music moments… Gok Wan playing disco tunes and then Anne Marie was headlining so we retreated to the woods and Guilty Pleasures which is a fantastic DJ set. If you have a chance to (what is it you do with a DJ – see? listen? groove? – let’s go with groove) groove with them then do!

What to wear for a festival over 50

Me+ Em jumpsuit SS22


Filling in the gaps, the following week we had our road trip to Dijon which you’ve seen and then as soon as we got back we had to head over to Newcastle for the middle one’s final performances. His main module this year has been clowning (how fitting!) and he had to devise, write and act a solo performance on the theme of loneliness but he was allowed audience participation. The one thing he hadn’t clocked until the day was that any audience members had to have agreed to take part in advance… so you can guess who had to be his stooges and go up on stage along with a couple of loyal friends that he pulled in! Anyway for anyone who’s interested here are a couple of tiny clips…

And thankfully there was nobody to film my moment but here’s a bit of Mal who for whom, it could be said, clowning comes easy!

You saw the photo of him when it was all over so we were glad that the department had an evening out planned for them. There are only eight students left on the course, so many have dropped out along the way. I couldn’t say that the Faculty of Arts at Northumbria University is thriving and there’s certainly a low standard of both student investment and level of care. It’s amazing how universities differ isn’t it? Having had three boys at three very different ones I can see why Lancaster is repeatedly at the top of the various leader boards. It may not offer students a big city experience but it’s an outstanding institution on every other level. Anyway, we popped out for a glass of wine to mark what is the end of an era for us too.

Summer style for women over 50, Midlifechic

Racer t-shirt (Currently 20% off, gifted SS23); jeans (gifted SS23); Massimo Dutti sandals (sold out)


Now we’re zooming forward into June as you can see by my shaggy hair here. Last week we were down in London for meetings and the Thursday was just before the heatwave went through the roof. I don’t think you could find a suit in a more perfect shade of red than this. If you’re looking for something lightweight that’s still smart enough for office attire then this is it. The trousers are true to size but I sized down in the jacket because it’s designed for the boxy fit that doesn’t suit me so I felt swamped by a 12 whereas the 10 was perfect. It has all of the usual super eco credentials and the longer cut of trouser leg that we’re seeing coming through. It’s a classic that will last for years.

My t-shirt lightened the corporate look a little but more importantly, hinted at the highlight of my week.

Midlifechic summer work style for women over 50

Jacket & trousers (gifted SS23); t-shirt; & Other Stories sandals (ancient)

You see that evening we were heading to the Royal Albert Hall. We’d had a moment of serendipity when the eldest texted me this poster in April – no words, just the photo because he knew it was my dream line-up.

capsule wardrobe sale buys

And so it gave me a chance to rewear my Abba outfit.

Midlifechic Royal Albert Hall

Jumpsuit (past season)

What a fantastic evening it was… a really vibrant midlife crowd who got up and danced from the word go. I’d wondered if a concert at the Albert Hall might be a bit staid but if you book the arena seating, everyone’s there to party along.

Albert Hall Arena seating

It was an early start the next morning because the eldest was able to squeeze us into his schedule for a quick breakfast before heading to the media agency he works for in Holborn. He’s a busy boy, now working on the Nike and Disney social media accounts as well as managing Nintendo.  It does make me smile when they wear their Beats headphones like this – I know it’s a ‘look’ but it just makes me think of Mickey Mouse.

Summer style for women over 50, Midlifechic

Jumpsuit and sandals (past season)

I ended the day with a trip to see my other main man Premlee who managed to coax my hair back into shape.

Midlifechic hairdresser Premlee Ramasay

I know quite a few of you go to him now and he’s had the same effect on your looks and soul as he does on mine. You can find him here if you’re in need of a makeover.

Midlifechic hairdresser Premlee Ramasay

On Saturday we popped into Frameless at Marble Arch before catching what was intended to be a lunchtime train home. It’s an immersive art exhibition, you wander around almost inside the history of art, travelling through the centuries. And you know we share a passion for art but don’t always agree on it. I wondered if digitising the works and distorting them in this way was a bit reductive. Mal as a technician then pointed out that it enabled you to deconstruct the paintings and build them up again, as if you were the artist and so that gave me a different way of looking at it. As with most art forms you need to suspend your disbelief and just lose yourself in the experience that’s being offered up. It isn’t the same as seeing the original in a gallery, that’s unmatchable, it’s something else altogether. So would I recommend it? Yes.

Midlifechic Frameless London review

Linen dress (also available in black, gifted SS23); trainers

Even so, however many times Mal tries to articulate the beauty of Mondrian I still think it’s nonsense.

capsule wardrobe sale buys

Linen dress (also available in black, gifted SS23); trainers

Anyway we spent so long in there that we missed our train so we made a detour to Shepherd Market for lunch in the very warm sunshine…

capsule wardrobe sale buys

… and got to Euston for the 4pm train only to find there had been a fire on the line and all services were suspended. So we waited outside for a couple of hours… a coke turned into a glass of wine… and then they announced that they wouldn’t be running any trains until the next day. As you can imagine it was chaos and so we took a leap and booked into the glorious Great Northern Hotel for an extra night.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

And felt slightly amazed that we could just do that – you forget what a gift spontaneity is when you haven’t had it for the last 25 years don’t you?

capsule wardrobe sale buys

And that brings us up to date so let’s move on to the sales because they’re freshly launched and there are some good investments to make.

Capsule wardrobe sale buys

Arket is on now here. It’s mostly summer stock, things to look out for are high quality cotton pieces such as these beautifully cut tank tops which unlike most have a boat neckline as well as flattering racer styling or more classic necklines here and here. There are plenty of sale shorts for summer holidays and lovely linen trousers. Browse full sale site here.

Massimo Dutti – Zara’s more sophisticated, higher quality sister is the place to look for winter clothes. There’s a selection of fabulous knitwear here, the coats are a steal – Kate Middleton’s favourite wraparound wool coats are dramatically reduced and the puffer jackets are a steal. There are beautiful sandals, shoes and winter boots here. It’s hard to believe that they’ve started with such big reductions, the best ones are here.

Stories is particularly good for walkable sandals that have low block heels and pretty straps, this orange handbag is a bargain for leather and will liven up all your summer outfits, there are also pretty summer midi-dresses galore. See the full sale site here.

The Hush sale is huge! They have two fabulous dresses that will be comfortable in this heat and yet still make you feel ‘dressed’, they’re in my basket in pink here and bright blue here. The star necklace that you’ve seen me wearing for years is also half price which makes it great value, it’s particularly lovely on holiday. You could also completely revamp your pyjama drawer ready for cooler nights, there are lots of different styles at almost half price.

The White Company has launched straight in with 50% discounts on a number of pieces, this pretty, floaty skirt has 60% off and is perfect for summer and this soft marl jumper with cashmere has 40% off.

Pictures here because I know some of you prefer them:

Capsule wardrobe sale buys to wear now…

capsule wardrobe sale buys

Pink jersey dress

Boat neck tank top

White soft terry shorts

Bright blue jersey dress

Gold star necklace (also available in silver)

Pink cotton pjs

Tangerine leather bag

Striped linen trousers

Block heeled sandals

Capsule wardrobe sale buys – bargain winter investments for years to come…

capsule wardrobe sale buys

Classic cable jumper

Kate’s camel coat!

Metallic puffer jacket

Soft camel jumper

Chunky brown boots

Heart lustre jumper

Gold party shoes

Coming up

Boden have told me that their sale is going to be big. It starts at 00.01 on Sunday and you’ll be able to find it here as soon as it goes live.

That’s it for today other than to say I got my blood results back and they showed a dramatic drop in my oestrogen levels. They were down to below baseline and Newson suspect that my tough northern hide just isn’t absorbing enough from the patches. We switched to gel and boom! A week later I feel like myself again. I still think there’s a period of deeper change going on in my head but at least now I have the bandwidth and energy to start processing it. I can’t believe that it didn’t occur to me that hormones might be behind the dip – thank you everyone who suggested it. It just goes to show that sometimes you need friends to point things out doesn’t it? Have a wonderful weekend, I’m full of anticipation because the youngest comes home tomorrow and he’ll be here until September. I’m looking forward to having him around with his friends and lovely girlfriend popping in and out all of the time. The house will be busy and full of life again; there will be crumbs all over the kitchen… trainers by each door… noise from every room… just how I like it!

Disclosure: ‘Capsule wardrobe sale buys & midlife lately’ is not a sponsored post

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    Disclosure: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.

      Disclosure: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.