So, I am proud (very proud) to be the first blogger to bring you the new collection from Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo. As I have said many times before, if I could align Midlifechic with any woman in the world, it would be Inès.
I have been eagerly (and rather nervously) awaiting the launch of the Spring range. Why nervously? Because I didn’t feel that SS16 was as strong as the Autumn ranges and I hoped that wouldn’t be the case again. This time Inès says she has taken her inspiration from Marseille which surprised me. I would have expected it to be Provence… or the Côte d’Azur perhaps… but she is obviously keen to avoid the French cliché.
I haven’t seen much innovation so far in the ranges I’ve seen from other retailers – the addition of a ruffle here and there maybe but otherwise the core collections seem largely unchanged. Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo does offer something distinctly different. As you would expect, there is a strong focus on French city chic – the simple, understated style that you see on every well dressed French woman. There are elegant dresses like this:
… and deconstructed linen blazers and tees paired with lounge trousers for an athleisure look like this…
….or with a range of jeans that will include cropped kick flares (arriving on 8th February).
Where the collection has evolved though is with these looks which instantly transport you to the “Midi.” They make me think of fragrant markets and bustling bistros in small French towns.
When I was given the stock list, I put together 3 looks of my own. As I said in my last post, it was always going to be risky. The stock was only due to arrive in the UK this week so there was no chance of anything being delivered to me until yesterday. Retail launches are always hectic and in the end, they couldn’t get everything to me but I want to show you the sets I planned anyway and then we’ll move on to the outfits I was able to put together from the delivery.
1. Paris In The Springtime
The first concept felt easy to me. I am recreating my comfort zone – the look that every well heeled student at The Sorbonne wore when I was based in Paris. It’s the same look that their mothers and grandmothers wear, there is very little generational divide in this kind of classic French style. The woman wears the clothes rather than the clothes wearing the woman.
- Soutien collar mac (coming soon)
- Ribbed short sleeve sweater
- Long sleeved cardigan
- Silk square
- Folding blade hat (great for packing in your suitcase)
- Selvedge ankle length jeans
- Tote bag
- Wide jeans belt
2. Bon chic bon genre
The second look made me think of Inès herself. It’s the sort of thing you see her wearing when she is ‘papped’ coming out of a restaurant. It has a hint of retro in the cut of the trousers and I love the jumper – perhaps a more subtle way of referencing the 1970s vibe than wearing the numerals slapped across your chest?!
And the last set is a version of the Midi style: chic, French, easy to wear and a very distinctive Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo look.
- Cotton poplin long sleeve tunic
- Slip over 3/4 sleeve shirt
- Wide brim hat
- Guitar strap belt
- Cotton linen stole
- Indigo relaxed pants
- Tote bag
So, here are the two outfits that I put together from the clothes that arrived – and I must just say that luck was on my side. As we were shooting, the clouds parted briefly and, despite the cold and the wind, we miraculously managed to capture a hint of Springtime.
You’ll be aware that the suit is back as part of the nineties revival (I know – surely that was just yesterday). This is how I used to dress when I worked at Selfridges and when I put it on, I saw a nostalgic gleam in Mr MC’s eye as he said “I remember you.”
The blazer is very well cut, as you can see, it nips in just beneath the bust. I’m wearing a medium which fits perfectly on the shoulders but given the opportunity, I would like to compare it to the large because I’d want to wear it buttoned and it could just do with an extra inch. Bear in mind that I am a standard size 12 which will give you a guide if you are ordering it.
These two pieces are separates so don’t have to be worn together, it’s up to you but I love the matching trousers. As always with Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo, they are a mid-rise which is lower than I usually prefer but it does make them sexy. They don’t slip down at the back when you sit down because they are cut to contour the hips. Until I tried these, I had forgotten how very flattering and body balancing a flare can be.
The shoes you choose are going to be the make or break item with this look. If you are over 40 and you choose a pointed toe stiletto, you risk looking like a throwback. It’s the old maxim “if you wore it the first time you need to change it up.”
So, go for a block heel with a rounded toe or a Mary Jane. There are lots of them around this season, the heel doesn’t need to be high. Can you wear it with flats? I would say that if you have narrow, gamine hips then yes you can (in that case it would look great with brogues) otherwise you need a slight heel to elevate your rear end.
Another item that is just appearing back on the horizon is the cardigan. This twinset is made from very fine cotton. The jumper is ribbed and so there are no transparency issues but the cardigan has an almost gossamer feel. Fine layering like this enables you to manage issues with fluctuating body temperature and ageing upper arms in one go.
There is lovely Chanel style detailing at the wrists which makes it look far more expensive than it is.
I love this outfit, it makes me feel like a woman not a girl which is one of the many advantages that come with being over 40. It feels quite classic paired with the twinset which is fine, but if you added the rainbow stripe jumper as I had originally hoped to, it would really ramp it up.
Now this is where my Midi set came together. It was inspired by a desire to move on. You see although Spring is my favourite season, as I look ahead, I’m not feeling excited by the classic ‘blazer, breton, jeans, heels’ weekend look that I rely on when the weather gets warmer. So, I’m bringing you something that is distinctively Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo.
I’ve chosen to layer a shirt underneath a tunic here but you could just as easily wear a breton or a fine knit jumper. The collection has a lot of different tunic styles to choose from. If you wanted something even more versatile you could go for one that buttons all the way down so that you have the added option of wearing it open – I’ve added a selection further down.
Shirting is a key look for SS17 and there are two prevalent trends. One is for ruffles which look great when the shirt is box fresh but as soon as you’ve washed it, you’re going to be doing an awful lot of ironing. So my preferred option is for this Robin Hood style laced neck. The website describes this shirt as striped but actually the fabric has a fine ladder stitch which is a lovely detail.
The trousers are great – in fact I am going to be buying a few of these for Summer. They are linen but not the horrendously crumply kind and they have a soft, yet still chic, elasticated waist with a drawstring. They are what I call a ‘Goldilocks fit,’ not too narrow and not too wide, so they work well with the tunic but would look just as good with a t-shirt. I asked for a large because I know that the trouser sizing at Uniqlo tends to have the petite Japanese frame in mind and it was the right choice.
Other hot picks from the collection
Inès de la Fressange at Uniqlo is one of the few places where you can find tunic style shirts at a reasonable price. British retailers just don’t seem to make them. I bought a supply from the very first IdLF collection and they have become my work uniform.
They give you a great way to get more life out of your skinny jeans and they look equally good with leggings. In Winter I just add ankle boots and one of the many long cardigans I have, as you saw in this shot recently. In summer I’ll wear ballet flats or heels.
This season they have extended the range. You can either go for a fitted shirt that buttons all the way down, a pullover style that is slightly looser like the blue one I’m wearing in the main shots above, or a tunic with cross tie at the neck. They are all also available in indigo blue:
Another Inès shirt that I wear a lot is this collarless tux fronted one which they have repeated. It comes in a very skin enhancing off-white so it is flattering to wear.
cotton poplin stand collar long sleeve shirt
Gingham is a big trend for this summer. These shirts come with a feminine, slightly puffed sleeve or a more tomboyish grandad collar style. There is a tunic too.
The same styles are available in a spot (at half the price of the Boden shirts).
Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo – putting it all together
The best way of approaching the Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo range is by layering the pieces creatively. The textures, fabrics, colours and patterns in the range have been designed to contrast and complement each other so that you can achieve an interesting and yet cohesive look. There is pretty much a complete Spring capsule here – if you bought all of the pieces you would be able to mix and match them, creating different looks from now until summer.
So when you see the linen camisoles for example, don’t just think of hot holidays with shorts. Imagine them under a V-neck cashmere jumper – or with a tunic – or layered underneath a long sleeved shirt with a blazer on top.
The important thing is not to dither. Last time the range had pretty much sold out by lunchtime. This season Uniqlo tell me they have increased the stock but as soon as the cognoscenti realise it has arrived, it will sell through. Don’t forget that the team at Uniqlo will be reading your comments so please do take this opportunity to get your thoughts across to them. In the meantime, go and have a look at the collection now and then come back later for my little story below.
US readers – Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo is due to launch for you at 10am tomorrow here. As you’ve seen it sells out fast so do your research here and be ready!
A little story about Marseille
When I close my eyes and conjure up Marseille, I think of a trip we made there when the boys were small. We had decided to have a longer than usual summer holiday in France. The only stipulation from Mr MC was that we wouldn’t tour as we had done the previous year when we’d had to pitch (and then pack) our very large tent and all of the associated clobber at 3 different campsites.
So we travelled slowly through France, staying at small ‘logis’ along the way until we reached Avignon where we had reserved a pitch for 3 weeks. We had an idyllic spot with a view straight across the river to the Palais des Papes and really there is nothing better for a family with small bouncing boys than the freedom of nights under canvas.
However those of you who know me now won’t be surprised that after 4 or 5 days I was drumming my fingers. I really am not very good at staying in one place, even if it is Avignon with the wealth of culture and shopping it has to offer.
So, most days we got in the car and ‘explored’ – meandering through Languedoc in one direction, up into the hills of Provence in another, then down the coast to Marseille (and yes Corsica did cross my mind but my long suffering husband drew the line at leaving land)!
Anyway Marseille. We were holidaying on a very tight budget as young families often do but that night we decided to leave the camping stove behind and enjoy dinner in Marseille.
We wandered around until we found the right kind of place – you know the one, not too fancy and with a menu that ranges from freshly caught fish for the parents to steak haché for the children. It was in a lovely square with a busker playing and no English was spoken which gave me the chance to use my rusty French and discuss the fish menu with the waiter.
“You are lucky,” he told us, “the evening fisherman has just brought me his catch of fresh sea bass.” Now sea bass just so happens to be my favourite. It being ‘hors menu’, I asked him the price and was startled to hear that it was 70 Euros for a kilo. I thanked him and replied that that would be too much, turning my attention to the menu du jour. “Mais Madame” he said “of course it will come to so much less when we have removed the head, the tail and the bones.”
So, it being one of the few meals we had been out for that wasn’t pizza, I concurred. The fish arrived accompanied by 3 waiters who served it with great flourish and very attentively stayed on hand throughout the meal. It was still a very big fish and so Mr MC gallantly helped me to finish it. We relaxed with a glass of wine, playing cards and listening to the jazz coming from the busker at the other side of the square.
When the smallest was looking sleepy we asked for the bill. It arrived and I saw Mr MC blanche. The fish had been charged at 70 Euros. I called the waiter over and asked him why, reminding him that he had promised it would be so much less when it was filleted. “Indeed it was madame. You were concerned that a kilo would be too much to eat but when it was filleted there was less – perhaps you have room for dessert?”
Clearly our mutual understanding of ‘too much’ had been lost in translation and I was, at that very moment, digesting our entire food budget for the rest of the week. So, Marseille, we haven’t been back and if we do return, it will be crêpes all the way.
Happy weekend everyone!