At last it feels as though Spring is really on its way. As always it’s heralded by one of my favourite posts of the season – Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS18. We’ve been given an exclusive preview again. Before I show you the clothes, remember that with this collection you have to be quick. The online allocation tends to sell out by midday. Just because something is in your basket doesn’t mean it’s yours. If someone else checks out sooner, it will be gone. By the way if you’re in the US, it is due to go live on 22nd February at 9pm ET, your US preview is here.

This year’s collection has been inspired by Spring in the Mediterranean. As always I love the way that the IdLF at Uniqlo collection references the season’s key trends in such a wearable way. Some of the Inès favourites are back with seasonal tweaks and it’s a tight range in the classic core colours of red, white and navy. However, as with all of the best French capsules, it’s versatile and to prove it I’ve pulled together a few different looks.

Look 1: 70s Retro

By now I’m sure you’re getting used to this easy vintage look: stripey rainbow crew neck sweaters and midi skirts. The fashion theory behind it is that it harks back to simpler, happier times (fashion glosses over the power cuts, strikes and shortages of the 70s). Regardless of that, it’s one of the easiest trends to adopt this season.

If you find the new multi-coloured rainbow jumpers too reminiscent of Bungle and Zippy (there’s a picture below if I’ve lost you), this is the version for you. It nods to the trend but with a simpler stripe. Made from heavyweight cotton it’s the sort of jumper that you can wear now and still throw on on a cool summer evening as you sit by the barbecue. I’m wearing a medium, it’s true to size and it’s also available in ivory or mid blue.

Striped cotton jumper; Button through indigo denim midi-skirt; Striped shopper; Boden boots past season

The skirt is perfect for anyone who is sick of wearing jeans (is anybody not sick of jeans?). It’s a heavy Japanese indigo denim so it has great structure and pockets too. Indigo denim is going to be really strong by the time we hit Autumn and so I predict that it’s a buy that will see you through until the end of 2019 at least. Wear it now with boots and a sweater and later with sandals and a t-shirt. Bear in mind that it comes up small. I’m wearing my usual size (29″ or size 12) and it’s tight so size up. It’s also available in white.

The bag is a fun addition. It seems crazy that people have been paying so much for designer nylon shoppers but it’s a trend and this one is much kinder to your purse. The neat freak in me likes the way that the stripes echo the jumper. The shopper is also available in red or white.

Striped cotton jumper; Button through indigo denim midi-skirt; Striped shopper; Boden boots past season

Just in case any overseas readers were wondering about the Bungle and Zippy reference here they are… much loved children’s TV characters from the seventies. Sing along now… “paint the whole world with a rainbow!”

Look 2: Updated blouse and blazer combo

Dressed up or dressed down, the blouse and blazer combo is core to a French style wardrobe. It’s important to tweak it each season though to avoid looking dated. Here this is achieved by the ruffle detail on the bib and cuffs of the simple shirt. Grandad collars tend to be less ageing than preppy style shirt collars and of course they sit better when worn with a jacket. I’m wearing the blouse untucked over jeans here but I thought I’d try it with a work outfit too.

Cotton lawn blousealso available in white

I’ve already mentioned that shades of blue worn together are going to be very popular this season and so this blouse is a great basic. I’ve never tried cotton lawn before – it’s the loveliest fabric to wear and I can imagine that with repeated washing, it will only get better. As you can see it works just as well tucked into my favourite flares.

Cotton lawn blouse; Tipped cotton blazer; Tailored Flares; M&S shoes (AW17)

The blazer is a light cotton and wool mix so it’s very much a summer jacket. The ivory tipping adds a touch of Parisian chic and the frill of the shirt cuffs adds detail as it protrudes from the blazer sleeve. In terms of sizing, I’m wearing a medium in both the blazer and blouse and they’re true to size.

Cotton lawn blouse; Tipped cotton blazer; Tailored Flares; M&S shoes (AW17)

Look 3: Le Weekend

The trousers that I wore most often last summer were the navy version of the ones I have on here which I bought from last year’s collection. They looked great rolled at the ankle and worn with a t-shirt and flat pumps but I also dressed them up with a blouse and heels. I found them perfect for summer days that were too cool for a dress but too warm for jeans. They’re good trousers for travelling in too because despite being linen, they don’t crease badly. This pair has a fine blue pinstripe by the way, it hasn’t picked up well in the photos.

Linen jumper (also available in grey or natural); Linen trousers (also available in red or blue)

The linen jumper works in the same way, good for popping over a t-shirt when the clouds roll over as they so often do in our summers. The weather was so bad when we were taking the pictures of this outfit that we had to resort to our local butterfly house. I discovered that my phobia of all things that fly is not completely fixed. There are some whoppers in there and they seem to be attracted to people!

In terms of sizing, I’m wearing a medium jumper and large trousers. Medium would have been ok in the trousers but I wanted a relaxed linen look. They have a drawstring waist so they are easy to adapt.

Linen jumper; Linen trousers

Look 4: Bistro Chic

Actually this doesn’t have to be a Bistro dress, it would be perfect for any kind of summer day but we were shooting this in -1°C and by this point I needed to go inside and warm up for a bit. Just out of shot was a man who was telling me I should have my photograph taken sitting like this – he was clearly oblivious to Mr MC who was snapping away!

Let’s talk about the dress. It ticks off a few summer 2018 trends: it’s red, it has tiny white pin dots and a ruffle neckline which helps it to fall more softly around a midlife décolletage than a sharp V. It also has pockets and sleeves. I’m wearing a medium but I think a large might have been a little more generous on the cuffs of the sleeves. Clearly all of the weights I’ve been lifting have given me big biceps which render the sleeves a little tight (it has nothing to do with our effusive anniversary celebration dinners). If in doubt, because it’s a tie-wrap, sizing up is the best idea for this dress – just cinch it in at the waist to fit. I’m not sure if you can tell but I’ve teamed it with pale fishnets for a little extra warmth. Hopefully they help my legs to look a little less blue.

Wrap dress(also available in black, cream and navy)

Being a tough northern girl when Mr MC dared me to embrace the wind chill as if it were a warm summer breeze, I did. You can see from this shot where the sleeves should sit, just above the elbow which I’m sure will please a lot of people.

There is a pretty blouse version of this dress too.

Wrap dress

The only item I didn’t shoot was the jeans. They are fabulous, a dark indigo in a great cut but even though they were my size, I just couldn’t get them on. Either they were a sample that had been mislabelled or they come up very, very small (and by that I mean about 2 sizes down). If you can get them to fit they will be great but you need to order a few pairs to try.

I’m often inundated with people asking for help on sizing with Uniqlo jeans because they are measured by waist. I use this size chart from Next as a guide.

Our Midlifechic community is on the radar

Before we finish, I just want to show you one thing. I was sitting at the hairdressers reading through a important market research report about the lack of attention paid to midlife women in retail and advertising when I saw this:

I was so excited that I nearly ended up with a pair of scissors sticking in the back of my head. My poor hairdresser did her best to be interested and of course Mr MC understood its importance but there is no-one else for me to share it with other than you. The report came from the research arm of a large advertising agency and it was highlighting the opportunity that brands are missing with midlifers.

The thing that made me happy was their view of us as a “community of women that is coalescing” and I just wanted to show you that we are being noticed. This is a highbrow report and it will have been read by all of the major retailers. If we continue with our intelligent discussions and you keep on commenting and interacting the way you do, they will hear us. We are helping to change the perception of midlife women my friends… one post at a time. “If you build it, they will come…” has always been one of my favourite movie quotes.

It’s great that older bloggers are helping women over 40 to be more visible. They’re being seen on billboards, at parties and increasingly in glossy magazines. However I’m more interested in getting us heard. I want the voice of our collective intelligence to cut a path for a new generation of women who don’t deny that they’re growing older but who are determined to do it differently. The reason I want Midlifechic to be known as “the thinking woman’s style blog” is so that we can be positioned at the sharp end of change.

So, for me this was a big coup. I want to thank Uniqlo for giving us the exclusive on this range once again. I can’t tell you how much I love the fact that they pinpoint Midlifechic readers as the purveyors of their most elegant collaboration.

And now I will leave you to shop…

“… allons mes amies – à la débandade!”




Disclosure: Spotlight on Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS18 is brought to you in collaboration with Uniqlo however they had no input into my words or photography. Please support the brands that enable me to continue writing Midlifechic, without them I could not maintain this blog.

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2018 posts you may have missed

Midlife adventures – Transylvania review

Some thoughts about our midlife Valentines

How to keep your complexion glowing in midlife

Capsule packing for a winter city break

Spring 2018 trends for ageless style

Winter outfits for women over 40

The best place for a family holiday with teens

January casual wardrobe updates

How to find your purpose at midlife

Great British Boltholes – The Pentonbridge Inn

Midlife lately – winter outfits and events

Happy January – searching for a better way to manage 2018