Well it’s back to it this week with a big happy new 2024 to you. How does it feel? Are you full of fresh starts or is it a bit like having a bucket of cold water tipped over your head? I have to say I’m in the latter camp – the dates didn’t fall well this time did they? It was almost as if I hurtled straight from the sparkle of New Year’s Eve into the grim reality of my desk. And of course for me the first work project of the year is always… Christmas… and an analysis of how it went which always feels a bit like spinning off a fairground ride and having to climb straight back on again. So I confess I’m procrastinating and taking my first opportunity to look at the sales instead with an investment buy round-up from John Lewis.
What do I mean by investment buy? Well, as were discussing at the end of last year there’s a lot going on in retail. Without going into the level of detail that will send you to sleep, the cumulation of the lockdown supply chain bullwhip, the effects of inflation, the consumer response to the cost of living crisis and the very warm weather we’ve been having mean that there are wear forever pieces with a price:quality ratio that we’re unlikely to ever see again. In particular coats with a high wool content, well designed party dresses and knitwear made from natural fibres. So if you have a gap in your wardrobe, this winter sale is the time to fill it.
This is the only sale post I’m going to write and I’m doing it with John Lewis because of the wide offering of brands in their clearance. Their sale started a while ago but a whole raft of new offers were released yesterday. There’s a lot to look through but I’ve scoured the site and picked out what I think are the top offers in terms of quality and value. As I send this live there is stock available but obviously as people work out that the sale has entered phase two, it’s going to disappear quickly so let’s crack on.
Investment buy round-up – wool coats
I’m going to begin with the best thing you can buy in the sales and that’s coats. 100% wool coats are now difficult to find, especially at an affordable price. Now that classic coats have replaced lockdown’s long quilted puffer in the trend stakes there aren’t as many bargains to be found as there were even a year ago but here’s a great one in a cut that’s just slightly looser than a city coat which makes it more versatile. It’s also a lovely light navy so it will work better with jeans than a dark navy number. It’s 100% wool and reduced to clear.
This 100% wool double faced coat is an investment buy but it’s 50% off. With its patch pockets it’s a timeless classic and the side splits mean it will hang beautifully over trousers too.
The back view here gives you an idea of the quality of the cut.
If you’re looking to add colour to your wardrobe, this city coat is reduced in a number of colours including this plum.
… and a beautiful steel blue. You can find the full range of colours in the sale here.
The one time that it’s worth choosing a wool blend over 100% wool is if you’re going for a lighter colour that will need regular dry cleaning – the addition of man made fibres makes it more durable. This lovely camel coat is in clearance and can be worn casually like this as well as in a more classic style. It’s an oversized cut so size down.
There are over 100 styles of padded puffer coats reduced to clear so I’m only going to pick one. This is a lighter colour for heading towards spring, it has a drawstring waist that will give you shape, it’s machine washable and a real bargain. There are lots of other styles though, you can see them all here.
Investment buy round-up – quality knitwear
Let’s move on to knitwear. If you’re looking for timeless pieces, the JL range of cashmere is reduced to clear and this jumper with its broad but not too deep V neck is a great choice for spring – five colours available.
There are also V necks in a longer, looser, more relaxed cut – three colours available. You can find the full cashmere clearance with over 70 styles here.
This 100% wool jumper comes in four different colours and they’re all in the sale. The deep ribbed neckline’s the great thing abot it, it’s flatteringly raised without being a folded over polo that will make you overheat…
… you can see it better in the blue colourway here. Note the split deep ribbed cuffs and flattering hem too.
If relaxed lambswool is more your thing, this has 30% off at the moment and it’s from a range that is known for washing and wearing well.
I’m sure you’ve read about the forthcoming trend for cotton shirts worn buttoned, unbuttoned or tucked. With 70% off this is an unbelievable bargain if you’re looking to get ahead.
Investment buy round-up – party
I know party season is over for a while but it really is a great time to buy quality pieces for good times ahead. This is a beautiful cut in a deep green that isn’t just for Christmas and it has 60% off.
And I try not to include too many new to buy sequinned pieces but this is another high quality piece with an incredible 70% off that I’m sure you’d wear for years to come. Also available in black in some sizes here.
And although I’m trying to resist party dresses you’ll know that I had to point this one out to you. It’s made from high quality yet washable satin and it’s less than half price.
Investment buy round-up – accessories
These very chic mock croc brown leather gloves are a brilliant buy at 70% off – either as a gift for self or to store away for someone else.
And with a cold snap on the way next week there are lots of scarves in the sale too – my pick is this tippet which I bought a few months ago. It worked really well to lift my outfits in Amsterdam (see the picture at the top). It’s also available in black and it has 50% off. You can see the full range of hats, scarves and gloves that are now in clearance here.
Investment buy round-up – menswear
Don’t forget that there are great offers in menswear too, I won’t dwell too long on them but if you have a special occasion ahead this year you just can’t beat JL’s 100% fine wool suits. The best sale purchase I made last year was one of these for the middle one to wear for his graduation, they’re cut so beautifully and the quality is fantastic. With 50% off they’re a long lasting bargain. You can see all the different colours available here.
If you’re very quick you’ll be able to snap up some of the half price merino available in various colours – for him or for you as an oversized option.
And these highly rated modal boxers are less than half price.
For a more jazzy underwear drawer these are less than half price too.
Investment buy round-up – beauty
Moving on to beauty, the Christmas gift sets are now reduced – this is probably the best offer with a huge 65% off.
Or there’s this smart ageing giftset at half price – you’re basically getting the whole set for less than half the cost of the moisturiser alone.
This is a great little set for travel or just to have in your present drawer – now half price
Investment buy round-up – home
As you know, having worked in the home fragrance industry I very rarely recommend candles and diffusers because I’m exceptionally picky. This range is brilliant but it looks as though it’s being discontinued so I’ve stocked up. Rose and cassis is my favourite, it’s a lovely spring fragrance that reminds me of Diptyque’s ‘Baies’ – you can find them all here.
And let’s end with a quick highlight of home offers. As always, it’s a brilliant time to stock up on towels and bedlinen. There are some other surprising offers though such as Tempur mattresses being reduced to clear – I just don’t think you can beat Tempur for the best night’s sleep but they’re a big outlay so this discount makes a big difference.
Other personal recommendations from me include this clothes rail which we have in the spare bedroom at our apartment – it’s a great way of making a guest room feel less cluttered and it’s now half price.
We have these side tables for the same reason – the open profile creates clean lines. They’re great as bedside tables and for sofa side tables too – there’s 20% off the full Calia range.
Midlife lately – Happy New 2024
So with that I’ll leave you to have a look through what’s on offer, a fun thing to do on this first dark Friday of January. I hope you had a lovely Christmas. I went into ours with a deliberately low key approach. If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know that I’ve often signed off from my last blogpost full of expectation only to find us hit by illness of some kind after the crazy Christmas rush. Over the last few years we’ve had Covid twice, norovirus twice, flu and Mum-in-law being rushed into hospital with heart problems so this time I was superstitiously determined not to jinx it. And it turned out to be one of the happiest Christmases we’ve ever had. My only regret is that I was so engrossed in it all that I hardly took any photos (this was Christmas Eve when we saw The Life of Pi at The Lowry).
What made it so good? Well nobody was ill and for the first time since 2007 none of the boys had exams to revise for or coursework deadlines. I think the fact that all three of them had been away experiencing the harsh reality of adult working life added to their relief at being home too. So everyone was happy, we had family and friends coming and going…
…as well as a lot of time just spent as a five. Mal and I logged off from all work for once and just relaxed on their level, playing daft games with them – and there was a lot of laughing till our sides hurt.
It felt simple but very special. I don’t suppose we’ll have many (if any) Christmases with just the five of us at home again and there’s a particular kind of joy that comes from spending a good amount of time with your absolutely closest people isn’t there? In the end we had longer than the week I’d hoped for – we were together for nineteen days. When New Year’s Eve arrived, Mal and I had plans to go to a party in Newcastle but to our huge surprise the boys suggested we spend it as a family instead. Just after this photo was taken as midnight struck, the youngest said that he hoped we’d always be as close as we were right then. And I can’t really ask for more than that.
The eldest returned to London on Wednesday and the youngest goes back to Spain tomorrow so it does feel comforting knowing that the middle one will stay at home for a while. He needs to start making plans next week (she says with a stern mum voice).
I hope you’re all faring ok with this terrible weather – for once it’s left us alone but I’m thinking of those of you I know in the flooded areas. January can feel very bleak can’t it but it’s a time when nature regenerates quietly and so should we. I don’t know whether you remember the saga of the tawny owl baby who fell out of a tree at the bottom of our garden during lockdown. Well our owl family is still there and they’ve just started their ‘courtship feeding’ phase where the male hunts all night to feed his female up ready for breeding in March. I can hear them calling to each other as I fall asleep and it’s the first little sign that the year has turned and spring will come.
Over the next few weeks, while retail is quiet, I’m going to talk about some of the topics that you raised in the survey I did last September. I’ll pull out a different one each week and hopefully we can have some good conversations because that’s where my interests lie for 2024. I read a quote from Maya Angelou over Christmas and as always, she manages to say so much in just a few words:
My mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive
and to do so with some passion
and some style
I’m adopting it as my mantra for 2024 – you’re welcome to share it if you like. Happy New 2024 – I look forward to spending it with you.
Disclosure: ‘Happy New 2024 & an investment buy round-up’ was commissioned by John Lewis but as always, the edit is all mine
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