It’s hard to imagine summer at the moment isn’t it? The picture above was taken last weekend and it was freezing but the sun’s going to break through next week and we need to be ready. So today I’m looking at elevated summer style, because dressing for summer in the UK can be quite tricky. There are days when you don’t want to wear the classic jeans, t-shirt, blazer combo and I’ve chosen these pieces with that mood in mind. As always, the title says ‘easy summer style for women over 40’ purely for the search engines, anyone can wear these looks.
Before I go on to that though I just want to say a huge thank you for your enthusiasm for my summer shop collection, I feel quite overwhelmed and very encouraged that there’s a strong desire for ethical retail. I clearly didn’t buy enough stock of the sequin star baskets so for everyone who’s asked, I’m going to place another order next Wednesday. They will take about five weeks to arrive because they all have to be hand stitched so if you’d like one, please can you place a back order on the site and I’ll have one made for you. I’ll be restocking some of the clutches too in various different colours because they sold so quickly that even I don’t have one!
A word about fabrics
I’ve been careful to avoid polyester on all but two of the pieces I’ve included today. However you feel about it in winter, it isn’t comfortable to wear in summer and of course it isn’t good for the environment. My search has steered me towards retailers who are working hard to find sustainable alternatives not only to polyester but to linen and cotton too. As I’m sure you know, they’re not always the innocent fabrics they purport to be; they require a lot of natural resources to produce and often come from questionably managed supply chains. As such, I’m including some pieces in viscose which is a semi-synthetic. It originates from wood or bamboo pulp which makes it breathable and comfortable to wear. Of course cheap viscose comes with deforestation issues so going forward I’m trying to work with retailers who use sustainable supplies.
Lyocell is sourced in a similar way to viscose but is slightly stronger and more expensive to produce. It’s often used to mimic cotton or linen and is tougher and longer lasting than viscose so I’ve included carefully sourced lyocell too. I’ve looked into it as carefully as I can and it’s going to be a learning curve but if we support retailers who are developing sustainable alternatives and also improving farming methods of the natural fibres we love, we can use the pressure of our spend to force a change.
A note on silhouette
I wondered when it would start to adjust and the first signs are coming through. Fashion was always going to be influenced by the major retrospectives that are on this year and you can see the structured silhouettes of both Dior and Mary Quant starting to come through. It may seem early but don’t forget that these exhibitions have been in planning for a long time. Designers and retailers knew they were coming and anticipated the effect that they would have on the ‘eye’. So, you’ll see that skirts in particular are starting to take over from dresses and that they have a stronger more architectural shape than we’ve seen for a while.
Easy summer style for women over 40 – bright separates
Ok, so moving on to summer style, let’s start with some brights. Summer is the best time for wearing strong colours. The reason for this is that you don’t have to worry about co-ordinating coats / jackets / tights etc so it’s a great opportunity to embrace them. It can be easier to wear bright skirts and dresses than trousers because your legs break the outfit up giving you less of a solid block of colour – so that’s the route I’ve taken here. Most of these pieces work together so you can mix and match them according to the shades that work best for you.
L-R, top to bottom
- High neck pink linen top – (also available in blue or khaki) a dramatic look that could be worn at the weekend with jeans or dressed up underneath a jacket.
- Yellow tie waist blouse (more stock here) – a key colour of the season, the tie waist adds definition without bulk
- Boat neck tee (also available in white, green, red and yellow) – a simple cotton tee with a beautiful neckline. A great price but it’s selling out fast
- V-neck frilled blouse (also available in navy or white) – a well placed frill disguises the midriff and flatters a small bust, its structure comes from a lyocell and ramie blend with a cotton lining
- Graphic cotton skirt – A-line midi skirt in 100% cotton with pockets, co-ords available giving the extra option of making it look like a dress
- Crisp cotton midi-skirt – A-line wrap midi skirt with stitching detail and eye-catching architectural gathered panels
- Vertical stripe skirt – this year’s rainbow stripes are vertical rather than horizontal, giving them a slimming effect. This is a hardworking skirt, just change the colour of your top for a completely different look.
- Twill skirt with overstitching – this is a really interesting one, made from recycled plastic bottles it’s an A-line midi with a flattering high waist and side splits
Easy summer style for women over 40 – bright dresses
Dresses are the no-brainer in your wardrobe. The fashion pendulum is swinging and last year’s asymmetric floral midi is giving way to a more streamlined utilitarian look with variations of the shirt dress.
- Vertical striped dress – they’re popular because they’re figure flattering, switch up the colour of your shoes to make this work harder. Laundered linen with side splits.
- Simple red wrap midi dress – I’m having to hold myself back from this one with its clean cut and vivid colour
- Striped shirt dress – make a change from the traditional blue and white shirting with this crisp cotton version in red
- Asymmetric green midi – stand apart from the floral crowd in this structured cotton poplin midi with a zip neck that you can adjust to exactly the point that you’re comfortable with. It has pockets too.
- Knee length blue satin dress – another one with a sporty zipped neckline. I would wear this with a belt and the neck open as it’s shown on the site. The satin is breathable viscose.
Easy summer style for women over 40 – simple separates
If brights aren’t your thing or, like me, it depends on your mood, here are some pared back options that will work hard in your wardrobe. Again I’ve planned this so that you can mix and match.
L-R, top to bottom
- Summer chambray shirt – the colour of summer skies, you can’t beat one of these for instant preppy summer chic
- Polka dot blouse – spots are a classic look and on trend this year, the twist at the neck is an elevating detail
- Mercerised cream shirt – cut to flatter the body with a slim fit. In line with the ‘elevated’ theme, the mercerising adds a fine sheen
- Rounded collar blouse with sleeve detail – you need to look closely at this to see the quality of the the dobby cotton. Wear it with a structured skirt or trousers to add a touch of Audrey Hepburn’s gamine-style to your look
- Tie-front striped shirt – perfect for wearing with high waisted skirts and trousers, there are lots of these around this season, cut to accentuate the waist
- Boat neck tee – the shape of this with its Chanel-style neckline makes it stand out from other breton type tees
- Pink satin v-neck blouse (also available in khaki or black) – breathable viscose satin, a loose, easy style to add a touch of elegance on a hot day or night
- Heavy quality v-neck tee – I’m always being asked for recommendations for well cut, heavy cotton tees that are good for workwear, you can’t beat this one
- Wide leg trousers – from Audrey to Katherine Hepburn, these sustainable lyocell trousers are cropped and cut loose but not too wide
- Indigo denim skirt – made from sustainable cotton, echo the trend for the 70s with this button through denim skirt. It’s a fit that balances your top half without adding width
- Pure linen ankle grazer trousers (also available in a biscuit stripe) – easy summer style, add a white tee, some block heels and you’re ready to go. A matching jacket is available too.
- Handkerchief hem skirt – a simple light navy skirt that has structure and interest, good for balancing out broad shoulders
Easy summer style for women over 40 – simple summer dresses & jumpsuits
You’ll have seen the apex of this summer’s utilitarian chic in the many boilersuits around. If that’s a step too far, you can still find it in a shirt dress, look for a slimmer fit to give you that ‘sleeves rolled up’ industrial look.
- Let’s start with a boiler suit, the belted waist and soft twill make this one a little less industrial than others. It’s also available in khaki for a military look.
- This textured dress has a vintage feel, it’s a linen/cotton mix with a pared down look. The collar unbuttons so you can wear it open if you prefer.
- I absolutely love this jumpsuit, it’s so chic. Even though it’s cropped, the stitched waist detail has a leg lengthening effect and the contrasting white buttons add the finishing touch. It’s available in either navy or black and I’ve just ordered it.
- Conker brown shirt dress – we mustn’t forget this season’s spice colours that will continue to be strong throughout AW19. Side splits and button patch pockets add to the utilitarian finish.
- Navy cotton shirt dress – one of the fastest selling dresses of the summer is now back in stock, on cooler days wear it with a breton underneath.
I seemed to spend most of the Bank Holiday weekend working, trying to catch up but we did have a trip over to York on Sunday. It was the annual Roses tournament when the universities of Lancaster and York compete against each other in 51 sports in a reinvention of the famous Wars of the Roses. We went to watch the eldest play his final match for the university team that has been such a big part of his life over the last four years. It was an anxious game for me – if you’ve been reading for a long time you’ll remember the serious injuries we’ve been through, the shoulder reconstruction surgery followed by the thumb reconstruction surgery followed by the blue-lighting to hospital with a suspected broken neck.
He now needs another shoulder operation (a congenital problem we share) and really shouldn’t be playing so he promised me that this would be his last ever rugby match. It’s hard for him because he plays it with such passion. As a forward he went at it with full force, even though his body was strapped together with Kinesio Tape so I was holding my breath as we watched. It was a spectacular match though, they won (of course) and at the end he had a huge cheer from his team mates which sent him over the edge emotionally.
Lancaster and York University rugby teams
Mr MC was busy snapping away as his chums acknowledged the moment…
… and when it all got too much and he came to his mum.
I have to say that this moment was worth every one of the many, many minutes I’ve spent on rugby sidelines with my teeth chattering over the years. I also want to hold it out to every other mum, especially those who sometimes write to me worrying about their relationship with their teens. It may not feel like it sometimes but the little one you’ve loved so much is still in there. And even though they’ll go on to have other important loves in their lives, I don’t think anyone can offer the comfort that a mum can give. I know I still always long for a hug from mine when the chips are down.
So here I’ve just said ‘hurray to the last ever rugby match’ and I’m laughing because I believe it whereas I suspect he’s probably humouring me. We’ll see!
(That’s his gumshield in his mouth by the way).
And just a word about my jacket which is the last of April’s Boden pieces that I selected to trial. It’s another winner. It looks good on its own but it was absolutely freezing so I was pleased that the straight cut allows for extra layering underneath if needed. I was wearing it with a Uniqlo down jacket and a Baukjen hoodie (and a Uniqlo HeatTech thermal!). It’s showerproof with a hood so perfect for dogwalking and weekend wear – I really like it.
And that’s it from me for today, a soft launch into the British summer – I’ll be moving on to ideas for holiday chic next. It’s going to get warmer over the weekend and summer’s going to suddenly be upon us – it has to, my birthday is approaching and I’m banking on a sunny day! Have a lovely weekend and I’ll be back… with swimwear… on Tuesday.
Disclosure: ‘Easy summer style for women over 40’ is not a sponsored post
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