Well first of all let me start by thanking you for the overwhelming response to the survey on Tuesday. I’ve switched it off now because there were many more replies than I expected and it was getting expensive but it was worth every penny. I’m currently going through all of the data and comment fields. I will get back to you on some of the points that popped up repeatedly over the next few weeks and I’ll answer the first few at the end of this post.
I think the thing that is coming through loud and clear is that you prefer to see me wearing the clothes rather than showing you pictures of what’s in the shops, even if it’s just an unstyled trying on session. It’s a good job that I didn’t have visions of myself as some kind of Claudia Schiffer though because the number of times that my ‘normal body’ was mentioned would have soon brought me down to earth (note to self – stop beating yourself up about losing weight, readers are ok with your ‘normal body’). I will try my hardest to take more photographs, even if it’s a quick iPhone snap of something that I’m sending back because it didn’t work. You like to see the duds.
So, here are a few recent outfits. This was last Friday when we spent the afternoon sitting in a traffic jam on the M6 rather than at my auntie’s surprise 80th birthday party. We planned to get there just after lunch but finally arrived ten minutes before we were due to meet for dinner at 6pm. So, this was a very quick picture but I’m glad that I can feature it here because nobody else saw it before I got changed!
It’s not much use for shopping purposes because most things are past season apart from the trousers. I’ve featured them a few times since I bought them last September but they’ve just been restocked. They’re heavy jersey flares with a tweedy texture, they have a stitched in crease at the front, they’re very high waisted and so comfortable. They have been my favourite trousers for the last eight months, they’ve washed really well, I just wish they’d bring them out in every colour.
Cos coat SS17; Finery top with lace cuffs AW17; Flares; Whistles Cornell pumps SS15
We had a lovely party, just family but there were more than 70 of us. Not only was it the chance to catch up with aunts, uncles and cousins but also with my own siblings. It’s rare that the four of us get together with all of our partners too so it was great that we could sit together over dinner and chat.
My auntie is one of life’s wonderful people who will drop everything if somebody needs her. She’s dedicated her whole life to good causes – and family of course. She’s always smiling and reminds me very much of my lovely dad who was her eldest brother and had the same gentle outlook on life. Some of you will have seen this picture on Instagram where I said that she always makes me think of my favourite Roald Dahl quote:
“if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely”
Hush leopard coat (gAW17); Hush cashmere scarf (gAW17); Hush jumper (AW16); Reiss jeans (AW17); Autograph sock boots (AW16); Handsfree clutch
This week I am also supporting the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign (and no I haven’t taken any payment to do this). A number of retailers have launched capsule collections this week and will donate 30% of the proceeds to support the charity Breast Cancer Now. I agreed to join in a while ago in memory of my paternal grandmother who I never met because she died from breast cancer long before I was born.
However this week we have the worry that my mum-in-law’s breast cancer may have returned so it is feeling particularly relevant. She’s had pains in her chest for a while and the doctors have been taking the cardiac route but that’s all clear. Now they are running tests, hopefully to eliminate the possibility of a recurrence of the cancer that she first fought 17 years ago. At the moment we are thinking positively. I’m sharing it here as part of my pledge to help raise awareness. My personal message is that of course we mustn’t forget to stay vigilant, check our breasts regularly and go for mammograms but we also need to make sure our older relatives are doing it too.
In the meantime this is my Breast Cancer Now photo from the campaign launch yesterday. It was a busy meetings day so I was wearing it with a suit but obviously it would be great with jeans too. It’s unisex so it’s a straight fit and I hope we see lots of men supporting the campaign this summer too. I’m wearing a small and it’s plenty big enough.
The indigo jeans try-on
So, one of the things lots of you said you liked about the Boden post was seeing me try on things that didn’t work. Obviously it’s something that I do all the time and usually just save the good results to show you. I think it could get boring if I include everything I reject but I thought I’d show you the process I go through.
At the moment I’m looking for a new pair of dark indigo cropped jeans. The Boden ones that I’ve had for three years now are looking too narrow. I want a straight leg crop. Dark denim was huge on the catwalk but waiting for these trends to hit the high street can be like watching a feather blow in the breeze. It always lands eventually but sometimes it takes longer than you think. I’m struggling to find the Parisian chic that I want.
This is the look that I’ve fallen in love with but I don’t particularly want the frayed hems – although I don’t mind them. I would have no problem wearing them for work (although I’d probably trim the very long strands).
I always start optimistically with brands at a lower price point and sometimes I’m lucky and find something here. So, this is the first pair and here’s the model shot.
… and here they are on me. Actually in terms of cut they’re not bad. However the denim is a bit thin but then they are only £25. They could do with some subtle whiskering (the shading that helps your hips to look slimmer). I’m not keeping them because they’re too similar to the Hush jeans with wide turn ups that I already have but I’d give them a 7 out of 10.
Moving on to the second pair – when I saw them online, I liked the width of the ankle and the fact that they are high rise which is great for this season’s trend for tucked in tops.
But then this is how they looked in real life. You can see that even the model has had to twist and tip her body in the shot to make them look better. I give them a 3 out of 10 and they only get that because the denim is quite good quality.
This last pair are from Next. I try hard to like Next but I struggle and it didn’t help that these came screwed up in a ball. Whoever had ordered them before me clearly didn’t care about returning them and Next obviously don’t inspect clothes before they go out again.
You’re going to ask me what’s wrong with Next. Well nothing’s wrong but I went to a retail meeting at their Head Office once. I was there with my marketing hat on rather than as a blogger and they were talking about their customer. As most retailers do, they had a name for her which I can’t remember but they described her as someone who was married with young children, worked hard in an office all week, had little time or money for herself and (this was the key thing) didn’t expect much else from life. In their eyes, Next’s role was to give her something to look forward to. Since then whenever I look at their clothes, I think about her and wish I could take her for a coffee.
However setting that aside, I sometimes find real diamonds at Next. A few years ago their jeans were brilliant and so I included them in my search and these aren’t bad. I can’t help feeling they’re stuck in a bit of a no man’s land halfway between a straight and a wide leg cut so it’s hard to score them.
They’re slightly narrower than the indigo wide leg crops that I already have from M&S (below). On my body, the volume of the M&S pair helps to balance out my hips and shoulders so they look better on me than the Next ones. They’re also a higher quality denim so they hang better and they’re back in stock. If you’re looking for wide leg crops, go for these.
I’ve digressed there but I will keep on with my search. I’ve ordered the J Crew jeans from the top image that I love so much… just to try. They’re on back order till the end of May and at that price they’ll have to be 100% perfect. In the meantime if you’re looking for new jeans, I went through the same long process to find the girlfriend ones in the picture below. They’re not as dark as the pair I’m trying to find but great for a more relaxed look.
Wardrobe heroes – a sale buy blazer
In this shot I’m also trying on a simple, well cut blazer which is the final result of a very long hunt I’ve been through. A navy blazer is such a fundamental part of my spring wardrobe that I’ve been determined to find the right one. As you know, if you want to update your look they are now being worn longer and the high fashion approach is for double breasted blazers worn open.
I have ordered and tried so many double breasted styles but come to the conclusion that I just don’t like all of the extra material that flaps about. I feel the same way about trench coats. So, I changed my search to ‘single breasted boyfriend’ and finally found this one. I immediately liked it because it is virgin wool flannel and so also has some texture to it.
It’s from House of Fraser and I couldn’t believe the price because it is Whistles but it was hidden away and wasn’t marked as a sale piece. I’ve since discovered that it’s marked down so if you want one, you need to move quickly. There are a few sizes left at House of Fraser here, otherwise you can find it here and here. It isn’t exactly exciting but it’s one of those unflashy wardrobe workhorses that I know I’ll wear endlessly until the end of October.
Moving on, I just want to pick up on some of the more frequent questions that are coming out of the survey so far.
Quite a few new readers have found Midlifechic from the Woman and Home “50 amazing women over 50” article. A big welcome to you all, I hope you like what you read and keep coming back. A few of you have asked me to recap on some vital statistics so here you go:
- I’m a standard UK 12, 5ft 8″ but I have a long body and short legs which means people often think I’m petite. I will be 51 in May and I work full time running a small marketing and creative agency.
- Some of you asked about weight management. It’s an ongoing struggle, especially over the last twelve months, I now seem to be gaining weight more easily than ever. For years I followed the Slimming World way of eating but I started to worry about the lack of healthy fats so last summer I found the Louise Parker method. Its principles are very similar to SW but it includes healthy fats in place of syns which is better for me. I don’t subscribe to the online method because it’s phenomenally expensive, I just use these books. The recipes are quick and delicious and as long as I stick to it, it works.
- In terms of vices, I really only drink wine if we go out and I can happily leave crisps and cheese alone. My danger area is sugar. I love cake and chocolate and I’ve really struggled to stay away from them over the cold winter we’ve had.
- Apart from this, the rest of my life story can be found on my ‘about me‘ page.
Why do you always wear heels?
This clearly bothers a few people. It’s simply because I have short legs and even a low heel makes all the difference in rebalancing my stature and helping me not to look dumpy. I tend to wear flat loafers and sandals more in summer but otherwise I avoid them – even though I live in the countryside. Other than Chelsea boots, I have never found a flat shoe or boot that suits me that can be worn with socks. The vamp on brogues is another visual leg shortener for me.
I find a low heel more comfortable to wear because it supports the arch of my foot. I wear trainers when I’m out walking Gary but I’m usually on my own so there’s no-one to take a photo. Of course I haven’t mentioned the obvious fact which is that unless you have very long legs, even a low heel takes a stone off you visually.
Why don’t you wear sensible country clothes?
Some people feel that I dress impractically for where I live. However I don’t understand why you have to abdicate style when you leave the city. In the same way that getting older doesn’t mean you have to wear beige, living in a village does not mean you have to dress like a hiker. If it rains, I use an umbrella in the same way that I did when I was commuting in London. If it’s muddy, I wear wellies. If I’m wandering around a village with cobbled streets I wear low block heels. I think in the end it just comes down to knowing yourself and wearing what you want to.
A few people said they wish I didn’t have to write these but support the fact that I do. Just to recap. As I’m sure you know, people blog for all kinds of reasons. Some because they are stay at home mums supported by their husband’s salary, at the other end of the scale, some start with a business mentality from their very first post and work to earn as much as they can.
I don’t fall into either of these camps. I have a mortgage and bills to contribute to. My marketing career is important for this reason but also because it is something that I enjoy. I work full time, five days a week and often work at the weekends too. I’m not complaining, it’s my choice and although I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed, I love it.
When I take time away from my marketing job to blog, it means I’m not billing so I have to balance things out. I’ve worked out that if I do two sponsored posts a month, I can continue to blog twice a week. If I don’t, it will have to drop down to one post a week. I’ve fine tuned it and I hope it works well – I have many more offers of sponsored posts than I accept. I only agree to write them if I believe in what I’m doing and can include my honest opinion on the topic.
I always make it clear in the very first paragraph that I am working with the brand so that you don’t have to continue reading if you don’t want to. I hope that you will though. If Midlifechic is to keep going, I need you to help by supporting the brands that are enabling me to do so. There will be a sponsored post on Tuesday which will actually mean I’ve had three this month but that’s only because the John Lewis one ran late. It will be the last one for this month.
A few people said that Midlifechic can take a while to load. There are a lot of people reading now which is great but does bring its own problems. I’m forever addressing load time with smushing software (yes that really is a thing!) and other plug-ins, as well as regularly upgrading the hosting. Affiliate campaigns and sponsored posts help me to reinvest and make it better. Please bear with me and don’t stop reading… I’ll keep on refining it.
- M&S are offering gifts with purchase on quite a few of their beauty brands here.
- John Lewis have just opened their holiday shop here. If it keeps on raining this weekend, that’s what I’ll be browsing through!
- A few of you have asked for more natural fabrics. Finery have launched a special collection here.
- Hush have added new lines to their April drop here
- The next Sézane drop goes live on Sunday morning but you can preview it now here. By the way I’ve been trying their jeans and have had no luck with them. They definitely seem to be designed for women with narrow hips.
- The White Company’s summer collection has also dropped.
Firstly I’m so sorry that I’m behind with comments and emails. I’m chasing my tail a bit but I’ll catch up soon. As you know, I’ll be working in London for most of next week and then… on Friday night… it’s time for the the finals of the UK Blog Awards. There are eight of us in the Fashion and Beauty Finals so keep your fingers crossed – Catherine from NotDressedAsLamb will be there too. Once again it will be quite a surreal experience stepping out of my everyday life into something so glitzy but don’t worry, I’m not expecting to win. I feel sure they will move on to encourage someone younger this year after Catherine’s 2017 success but we’ll see.
Whatever happens, Mr MC is coming along too so it’s guaranteed to be a fun evening and I’m looking forward to it. There’s even an after party so I’m not sure that I’m looking forward to the morning after! I won’t be able to write a blog post next Friday but I will post my outfit on Instagram @midlifechic before I go in and announce the result on Twitter as soon as we hear it.
Until then I need to say thank you – I wouldn’t have got through to this stage without all of your enthusiastic voting back in December. Knowing that I have you all behind me is the only accolade I need. I promise to pull out all of the stops to represent us all next week – both at my retailer meetings and at the awards. My message will be that style is ageless, it’s all about attitude… and Midlifechic readers have bucketloads of that! Have a happy weekend.
Disclosure: ‘Indigo jeans try-on’ is not a sponsored post
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