Well hello and Happy Easter! Isn’t it great to have a long weekend ahead? I haven’t actually been looking forward to it because we had meetings booked in (retailers have no sympathy with Bank Holidays) but happily they’ve now been moved to next week so we have an unexpected break and an almost empty diary so we’re just going to enjoy the last weekend of the boys being home. It’s a bit of a mishmash today, I have some try-ons to show you as well as some everyday outfits. I also have a beauty gadget that’s so good I have to share it with you. So I’m bringing you Easter style and beauty – dresses, trousers, tees… and tools!
Life’s continued to be a bit chaotic here although not as bad as the last three months. Having the boys back home has taught me something about the way I need to discipline my own life. I’ve realised that over the last 20 years they’ve formed my boundaries – I’ve refused to be away from home too often because I wanted to be around for them. Since they’ve left it’s felt like there was no reason to say ‘no’ to anything and I’ve felt like a hamster in a wheel. It’s trickier than I thought setting the right pace as we come out of lockdown. As I’ve already discussed, I’ve found there’s huge enthusiasm for face to face meetings and they’ve been a really good way of getting projects going again – you can’t replace the chemistry that you achieve in person and you also gain so much more info from the way conversations segue when you’re chatting in real life. However there’s no denying that you get far more work done when you’re working from home with efficient Zoom meetings that nobody really enjoys and so is keen to finish. I decided I wasn’t going to go away for the month that the boys were back. I feel more on top of things now and next week when our big presentations are over, life might just be back on track. It’s strange isn’t it? You’d think that you’d know how to live your life by the time you reach your mid-50s but after so many years of putting other people first, it’s hard to see yourself as any kind of priority.
Being home office based means there’s less to chat to you about though. I had my high tech, post bootcamp, 360 body scan and lots of good things had changed including a gain of over 1kg of muscle but, as suspected, I’d only lost 1kg of winter blubber. It’s my own fault, I’ve let everything slide on the nutrition front since I had my leg op in mid-November – I really struggle with the winter months. And this isn’t about vanity by the way – there are so many health issues lurking in my immediate family history that I’m doing whatever I can now to stave them off and currently my metrics aren’t right.
I’m finding that despite my HRT, with every year that passes I gain weight more easily so I try to keep a balance without beating myself up. Currently I feel a bit disappointed with myself after putting so much physical effort into bootcamp but I’m reminding myself that winter was tougher this year with an empty house to adjust to. However I need to stop making excuses now and sort things out. The scan showed that visceral rather than subcutaneous fat is my current problem, that of course is the hidden stuff that forms around your organs and is so bad for your health. So, I’m on the case, having a dry April that’s bang on in terms of nutrition and even higher in movement. I’m accepting that it will take far longer than it ever used to thanks to a midlife metabolism so I just have to be patient (can you tell I’m pep talking out loud here?!). And if I find a magic method I’ll let you know but I think it’s just going to be about discipline and patience. Mind you I’ve found an app that’s much, much better than MyFitnessPal for tracking calories, nutrition and exercise – Nutracheck’s calorie counter. It has only UK foods and measurements which makes it so much easier.
Easter style and beauty – dresses, trousers, tees and tools
Anyway that’s enough about that, hopefully you’ll notice a gradual change over the next few weeks, for now let’s move on to the lighter topic of clothes. So, a real life picture here, popping out to meet up with some friends wearing a few new pieces from my monthly edits. I’m always on the lookout for alternatives to jeans and so when I saw these chinos in a khaki that’s not as dull as it often is, I wanted to give them a try. They have a leg-lengthening, self-coloured seam down the side along with the perfect cut at the ankle for wearing with flats. I found a 12 to be true to size. I’m so glad that flat ballet pump style shoes are back in along with slingbacks, I have quite a few pairs in the depths of my wardrobe and so I’ve been busy digging them out.
This jacket is going to work with so many outfits this summer, it’s a flattering shade of ivory with just the slightest hint of skin-warming pink. It’s cropped to just the right point for wearing with looser trousers and skirts or midi-dresses and I love the stand up collar which frames the face and is kinder to a shorter neck. I’m wearing a 12 and it’s true to size.
The cotton blouse does the same thing – looking at the reviews it surprises me how often people under-rate the advantages of a raised collar. This has on-trend shirring all around the neck which has the same flattering, sculpting qualities as an Elizabethan ruff. I can see this going really well with shorts on holiday and it will work with ivory/white jeans and linen trousers too. I found it came up a little big so I sized down to a 10.
And it’s still far too cold to wear this outside but after our Greek holiday last year I had so many people saying they struggle to find halter-style tees. I couldn’t find my summer strapless bra so I’m wearing this with just the built-in bra-shelf for support (and if you’re wondering why I’m laughing, look to the bottom left and you’ll see Ted desperate to join in).
Somebody will ask about the difference between summer and winter strapless bras so here we go. In winter it’s easier to wear the ones with the super strong silicone grippers everywhere because you’re usually wearing thicker fabrics with more coverage so any bulges that result from the high level of elastane won’t show. In summer though, with a top like this and (lovely) soft midlife flesh you end up with any surfeit pillowing at the edges so I always compromise on some of the hold. This has been my summer strapless bra of choice for years although I realise that if you have a bigger bust it might not work for you – I’m a 34D and it’s fine. It comes with a whole pack of different sized clear straps that you clip on and off according to the outfit you’re wearing. It makes for easy packing – it’s the only bra I take for the very hot holidays when I spend most of my time in a bikini.
Moving on, the boys have been busy catching up with their school friends so it’s been hard to actually sit down with them and have proper conversations. The offer of a meal out did the trick though, I’ve no idea what made me laugh here but somebody obviously said something funny – plus it’s amazing what a treat a Pepsi Max can be when you’re on a health kick! It’s those trousers again (they’re very comfortable) with a different top, a simple wardrobe staple that makes a nice change from a breton.
Easter style and beauty – dresses
I want to talk to you about the viscose dresses at John Lewis & Partners because they’ve had such a fantastic collection this season. They’ve added an elasticated waistband to their flowing styles which makes them so much better for those of us who don’t suit the loose buffet look. The problem is that as soon as a new colourway comes in they sell out within days – or even hours at the moment however they do restock. As you can see, they’re all the right cut for wearing with flats or trainers which is so important now. They’re just such a simple wash and wear option for summer – the sort of dress that you’ll throw on over and over again, the sleeves are adjustable and they’re such an easy look. This pink one has been one of my favourites, I missed it in February but it came back last week and I’m wearing a size 12. It’s gone again now but I’ve linked it here because if you keep an eye out there will be returns or more stock…
…but as I type the same style’s available in a khaki camo…
… a darker floral…
… a colourpop print (I’ve seen this in store, the teal pops brighter than in this shot, it’s really lovely)
… or a light denim blue with a shirtdress front…
They’re well-priced which is why they sell so quickly – you can see the full selection here. JL&P have also just launched a special summer dress collection which includes styles from their own brands along with exclusives from some of their partners including Baukjen, Whistles and Mint Velvet. I’m doing a quick try-on of one here, it’s made from crisp cotton with lovely half sleeves and it has a clever tie detail at the back so that the shoulders don’t flop down. It reminds me of Pink City Prints but at a much lower price. You can see the full exclusive summer dress collection here.
Cotton dress – exclusive to John Lewis & Partners (gifted SS22)
If you prefer something more fitted, here’s an absolute new favourite of mine. I’ve often said that Charlie’s Angels was probably my most formative style influence as I was growing up (the original obviously – I have no time for the remake). This dress works happily with that vibe and I absolutely love it. It fits so well that it feels as if it was made for me – in fact it’s so good I had to show it from two angles…
… I love the detail on the belt with the fabulous round buckle that contrasts with all the lovely straight lines. I’m wearing a size 12R and it fits like a glove, it’s also available in two printed options.
I love the shoes too – here’s a close-up. I’m often asked for going out shoes that are good with bunions and I struggle to respond because I haven’t had to live with them but I just know these shoes would be great. They’re made from soft fabric that won’t rub and will give good coverage too. Platforms are an easy way to add a little edge to the jeans and dresses that you already have this season. Don’t forget that you only need to measure the height of the heel from the top of the platform at sole level because that’s your ‘floor’ so to speak so it’s actually just under two inches – I find them comfortable and easy to walk in.
Platform sandals (gifted SS22)
Easter style and beauty – trousers & tees
The last of the try-ons is this classic high summer look – it won’t be long now until we need this kind of outfit… surely! Now this t-shirt is great, the softest cotton I’ve come across this season which makes it such a pleasure to wear. Half sleeves for those who like to cover their arms and the most flattering shade of Chinese blue. There are other colours – khaki, pale blue or navy and I’m not sure why they aren’t listed together but you’ll find raspberry and green versions here too.
The simple linen crops are a great price – a good cut and true to size. They’re a light linen so you’ll need good nude underwear with the white ones to avoid show-through. Also available in navy and khaki.
The accessories are all from JL&P – classic aviator sunglasses with UV protection and a hard to find tortoiseshell frame. The large gold hoops add an instant update to any outfit and are even better value at the moment with 20% off. And the orange leather phone case adds a pop of colour (see it more clearly in the picture further down). It’s a great little bag, just big enough for your phone and a lipstick with a pouch at the back for your credit card too – also available in black, tan or cream. It will be absolutely perfect for a festival or other summer event where you don’t want to carry a full handbag with you – some reviews say the strap is a little short but it makes it better in terms of security and access if you’re in a crowd. I have to say that JL&P are really building well on their eponymous line at the moment, everything is well made and good value – it’s worth keeping a tab open because there seem to be new things arriving every day. I just want to show you this tan suede bag too because I know a few of you are looking for them and this is a great price for a forever classic.
I have lots of people asking me about white leather trainers at the moment and they deserve a post of their own because there are so many iconic styles that you can buy quite reasonably. One that I think has a place in everyone’s wardrobe is this pair because they have a particularly low profile so they’re more elegant if you don’t like a clumpy look. They come in navy leather too.
So that’s it for clothes but lots of new retail collections have dropped today just in time for the Easter weekend and there are some stunning pieces at Boden here and Baukjen here (15% off with MLC15).
Easter style and beauty – tools
And now a new beauty find. I’m sent so much to test that I need to do a dedicated beauty post soon and tell you about the products that are worth covering (along with an expensive one that’s been so disappointing I have to mention it). However this particular one was so instantly good that I want to tell you about it now because it’s changed my everyday in a small but satisfying way. So what is it? I’d call it a lash lifter. It’s a heated wand that you basically hold against your lashes after you’ve applied your mascara. By heating the wax that’s in the mascara it lifts them to point upwards rather than out, giving you a bright, wide-eyed look. As the mascara cools they set in place and stay that way until you take your make-up off. It’s so easy and it takes seconds to do – but it makes a real difference to your eyes. It has a USB charger and it’s the best simple addition to my beauty repertoire since I discovered magnifying mirrors.
I’ve found it works with any mascara but you get the boldest effect from the one that goes with it, especially if you’re looking for a night-time look. Lash Star by the way is a brand that’s relatively new to the UK and they focus only on lash and eye products. They did shows such as Preen’s at London Fashion Week and that’s when the buzz around them started to build.
So, I’m going to show you me using it in action. Here’s a ‘before’ picture with make-up on both eyes but no mascara. I’m just going to do the eye on my left as you look at me so that you can see the difference.
The mascara has two ends, you use the small wire brush for the first coat…
… it separates them and adds length
Then you use the longer curved wand to add volume…
… and drama. As you can see, the mascara’s impressive by itself.
Hold the heated wand against your lashes for 10 seconds to lift the lashes upwards rather than outwards…
And you’re done – hopefully you can see the difference between the two (and Ted had his moment this time!)
I find that as my eyes become more hooded in midlife they’ve lost a lot of their impact but the mascara and heated wand together help to bring it back. I don’t often rave about beauty products but I’m raving about these, they’re such a great discovery and don’t forget you can use the heated wand with the mascara you already have.
The influence of hormones
One last thing – I saw this infographic on the Newson Health website and thought it was a really helpful way of understanding what oestrogen and testosterone do for your body. Sometimes a visual reference like this helps you to get to the bottom of menopausal symptoms you may be experiencing. They haven’t created one for progesterone so I found one elsewhere. I do wish Newson would spell oestrogen properly though.
And that’s it for today, I haven’t answered last week’s comments because most of them were addressed to Nayna so she’s going to reply in person – she’s over the moon with your helpful feedback, thank you so much. I’m logging off for a quiet weekend now and then a day out on Monday shopping with my friend Nicky. Next week I’m going to focus on the boys and the presentations we need to give so there won’t be a post next Friday but I’ll be back the following week. Have a wonderful Easter and I’ll see you in two weeks.
Disclosure: ‘Easter style and beauty – dresses, trousers, tees and tools’ is not a sponsored post – gifted and loaned items have all been declared
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