I’m trying not to mention the weather but… I am finding myself glad that we have a couple of escapes to the sunshine booked (although last time I looked, it was even raining in Turkey). Anyway I’m working with M&S today and the focus is holidays. We’ve spent enough time on here planning holiday wardrobes so I thought I’d look at last minute travel buys, the little extras that make all the difference. I love doing posts like this because they remind me of the store walks I used to do at Selfridges at the beginning of each month, looking for interesting things to feature in my next issue.
Last minute travel buys
A quick look at the new Per Una
Before I go on to that though, I’m just going to mention the Per Una range. You may remember me saying that it was a key focus when I went to the SS19 press day. M&S were busy reworking it, getting rid of some of the frills and ruffles, setting it in a more pared down direction and we’re starting to see some of those changes coming through. When you look at the Per Una landing page the first thing you’ll notice is that the range is much smaller which is a good thing. I think we’ve all agreed that one of the challenges with the M&S website and stores is that the size of the inventory so edited collections are a positive sign.
I know I said I wasn’t going to cover clothes today but I just thought I’d pull out a couple of pieces from Per Una to show you what I mean. They’re new in so I haven’t had a chance to order them but they both have plenty of stock showing for now. I’m starting with simple cotton drawstring trousers for people who like a laidback holiday look but veer away from linen. You could wear these with a t-shirt tucked in during the day and a dressier top for evening.
Per Una cotton drawstring trousers
Then there’s this tiered broderie anglaise dress – as you know, tiering is key this season and it appears not to have too much volume in the skirt. Again it’s new in but it’s already getting five star reviews.
That’s just a taster, there are other simple pieces such as khaki ‘shackets’, striped linen tees, utility jackets and denim shirts that look promising. It’s going to be interesting to see what the AW19 range for Per Una holds.
As I’ve said before, I find shopping for beachwear frustrating because prices tend to be so high for something that’s so simply made. I have a feeling that it’s a bit like baby merchandise and some brands cash in at a time when people are pre-disposed towards spending more, knowing that summer dreams often come wrapped in the promise of a beaded kaftan. Anyway the beachwear at M&S is always good value. A few new cover-ups have just been released and they’re really easy pieces to wear. This simple cotton beach ‘shirtdress’ is available in white, cobalt, red and khaki with sizes available in most colours apart from khaki.
If navy’s more your thing there’s this kaftan
Or there’s a beach dress, available in white, pale blue or khaki although it’s selling fast.
While we’re on the subject of clothing, there’s a 3 for 2 offer on t-shirts at the moment here which includes plain colours and also some of the statement tees such as this one that I have (size down two sizes though – I’m wearing an 8).
In terms of swimwear, because I know they’re listening I have a personal plea. Despite the wide range of new styles, M&S just haven’t catered for me this year. I want triangle style bikinis and swimsuits that have a halterneck but no lacing at the cleavage. It’s the only flattering option for those of us with a small bust and broad shoulders; there were only two styles available and they were in vivid prints that are too easily identifiable on the beach.
A new style of bikini has just arrived though and the proportions are good. It’s a nice way of balancing a high rise brief which can look a bit frumpy if the top is skimpy. Strangely, although there’s plenty of stock of the tops, the bottoms are nearly sold out – which makes the mind boggle…
High waisted sporty bikini (also available in black)
There’s a similar version in either pale blue or khaki… with lacing.
I don’t usually veer into menswear but my lot always pack last minute so I’ve been buying bits and pieces. These are great, they’re fast drying because they’re made completely from recycled plastic bottles. They also have UV protection. They’re great value, available in lots of colours (see below) and I’ve bought some as spares because the boys never remember to hang their trunks out to dry before we go out for the evening. They’re quite a loose fit so if in doubt, size down.
100% recycled swimshorts with UV protection
A few of you have asked for recommendations for lingerie to wear with some of the halterneck dresses and tops that I’ve been featuring. I’m going to do a review of nude lingerie very soon, I’m just waiting for the final pieces to be delivered before I try everything out. However this ‘100 ways to wear it’ bra is the one I rely on for halterneck or low backed holiday dresses. If you need a lot of support it might not be for you but otherwise it saves your blushes.
In my opinion, M&S sunglasses are the best unbranded ones you can buy. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to various high street brands this summer, trying to find out just how much protection their sunglasses have and it’s difficult to get an answer from most of them. It’s something I’m particular about because my mum (and now my sister) struggled with macular degeneration. It’s so important to protect your eyes from the sun, particularly in midlife. The range at M&S offers 100% UV protection and the styles are brilliant. They’re a great price too so if you lose a pair it won’t spoil your holiday. This style in particular makes me think of Chloe…
And these bring the classic cats eye bang up to date.
They have styles for men too and I ordered pairs for the boys. They grumbled when I said they were coming from M&S but now they’ve arrived they really like them.
I’ve had requests for a post about which beauty items I can’t travel without so I’m aiming to do that soon. In the meantime, here are my personal recommendations from the M&S travel sizes.
Satin perfection cream: when you slap on moisturiser after a day in the sun, you often find that you end up with a really shiny T Zone. It means you look hot and bothered and it ruins your holiday photos. This moisturiser gives a good satin base and protects you from both UVA and UVB rays while you’re watching the sun set with a cocktail in hand. If you buy two REN products you get this really nice gift with purchase at the moment.
WOW Dream Coat Mini: I wrote about this last year and it’s been my saviour recently with all the rain we’ve been having so it’s an essential if you’re going somewhere humid. You just spray it on before you blow dry and it stops your hair going frizzy. Each application lasts for a couple of washes and this is a really handy travel size.
Insect repellent collection: not the most glamorous thing but this includes a handbag sized repellent spray for the body, an insect killer for the house and also a skin soother for any bites you have. We always take garlic capsules before we go away which really helps but I also popped this repellent into my bag whenever we went out for the evening last year.
Elasticizer: because my hair is bleached I use this when we’re having a day by the water. I coat my hair with it before I go in and then reapply every so often. My hair doesn’t do the surf look, it just ends up like a mop-head so this keeps it slicked back in a wet-look style.
Glow Tonic: I don’t use retinols or AHAs when I’m in the sun but this 5% glycolic acid helps to gently slough off dead skin cells every couple of days and keep my skin glowing.
Heel Balm: when you’re wearing sandals and flip flops your heels get dry. I often forget to pack a heel balm and I always regret it – hand cream just doesn’t do the trick!
Travel sized blow dry brush: I’m ridiculously attached to my hairbrush because it’s the first thing Mr MC ever bought for me. Keen to please, he rushed out to the shop the morning after I stayed over for the first time. Because it’s the last thing I use before we set off anywhere I often forget to pack it so I’ve ordered one of these to keep in my travel bag.
Hydration and repair kit with UV protector: I’m including this because I’ve been researching UV protector sprays and the one in this kit gets the best reviews wherever I look. It’s the same price to buy this whole set as it is to buy the travel size of the perfecting spray in most places so it’s great value.
These aren’t just any beach towels… they’re M&S beach towels (had to get that in somewhere). This particular style is sand resistant which I can imagine will be particularly good for anyone who has small children and is living through the sun cream / sand / sigh / “I’m never taking them to the beach again” battle. Now those are holiday moments that I don’t miss – we used to have to carry extra bottles of water for the eldest because every so often he’d have a sand / salty water meltdown and we’d have to wash him down. Other colours are available here.
These and all other beach towels at M&S are currently on buy one get one half price here.
The jewellery at M&S has been great this season and a lot of it has sold out but there’ve been a couple of new deliveries. The trend for statement earrings is stronger than ever this year. Last year they were worn with a delicate necklace, this year necklaces are nowhere to be seen – the earrings do all of the work and it’s small details like this that really help to keep your look updated. Tassels are looking a bit 2017(!) but great summer earrings include these with pompoms:
… and these resin ones which are also available in coral…
… and these woven hoops which pick up on the crochet / macrame trend.
One last thing that has nothing to do with holidays. I bought these kitchen scissors from M&S a while ago and believe it or not, they spark joy every single day. I’d been putting up with rubbish old ones for ages but these are a revelation. They cut through pretty much anything and… they’re designed to come apart easily so you can wash them properly in the dishwasher. Such a simple thing but so brilliant.
So, that just leaves me to remind you that there’s 20% off school uniform here for those of you who need it (cue a quiet sob from me). And I just want to show you these new-in M&S viscose mix trousers which I chose as part of this post. I don’t need any more summer clothes (do any of us with the way the weather is?) but these are the new Mia slim ankle grazer cut. I’ll wear them now with navy or yellow but they’ll also work well in autumn with tan – as I’m wearing them today because it feels like autumn. Tartan is going to be a trend next season which pleases me because I love it. They don’t have much stretch in them but they’re true to size and get a big thumbs up from me.
Mia trousers; M&S Jumper (gifted AW18); Jigsaw shoes (SS15); Midlifechic Boutique tote – sold out
And with that I’m logging off with a big sigh of relief. Today is the day we’ve been anticipating for so long – the end of our exam marathon. I have a 7.30pm session at the gym and after that, well there’s champagne in the fridge. Next week we’re heading off for the Lake District break followed by our escape to the French Riviera so there won’t be a post on Tuesday although I’m aiming for a quick one on Friday. In the meantime if you’d like to see what we’re up to, I’ll be on Instagram @midlifechic a little more than usual. Until next time, have a lovely weekend.
Disclosure: this post was commissioned by M&S but it is a personal edit of recommendations.
Summer sales 2019
Boden 30% off everything here until 16th June
Jigsaw sale up to 50% off here
John Lewis & Partners price match hub here
And Other Stories everything here
Mango 30% off everything here until tonight with code VIP19
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What to pack for a weekend in the French Riviera
Swimwear, beach and holiday packing with John Lewis & Partners
Elevated looks – easy summer dressing for women over 40
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