I often receive emails from readers who tell me that they love the outfits that I put together on Midlifechic but don’t have the budget for a lot of the things I feature. It gives me a real quandary because I want this blog to be relevant to all women, regardless of age or spend. However I’m also increasingly trying to steer it towards social, ethical and environmental shopping which tends to carry a higher price tag.

An interesting conversation about ‘conscious shopping’ developed in the comments after last Friday’s post and I’ll be doing a longer feature on it soon. To recap briefly, Marion mentioned a blogger who is reducing her consumption by pledging not to buy clothes for at least a year. On an individual level that’s great but my view is that unfortunately, even if a number of people follow the same course, it won’t effect change on a broad scale. When there’s an overall fall in sales, retailers blame macro-economic factors such as Brexit along with things like high street rents and web-driven price comparisons.

As I said in the comments discussion, from my experience of working in retail, the only time that the marketplace sits up and takes notice is when some retailers are rising whilst others are falling. That’s when they start drilling into channels such as consumer opinion. Of course I would say this but I do think we also need to consider the fact that an awful lot of people in the UK rely on retail for their income – and it’s already a struggling sector. I know you’ll have your own opinion on all of this but my focus will continue to be on buying fewer, well produced pieces of clothing and placing my custom with retailers who listen to feedback.

I’ve always paid close attention to the ethics behind the brands that I work with. I won’t work with anyone who treats suppliers unfairly and places pressure on the human supply chain. As far as environmental issues are concerned, I think almost everyone in the retail industry has a lot to learn before we can be confident about saying what is and isn’t environmentally positive. For now, if I feel a retailer does not yet have the environmental stance that I’d like them to, I want to know that they’re making positive efforts to address it. All of this means it’s going to be difficult for me to include clothes at the lower end of the price scale however I will hunt them out and feature them when I can.

I know I say this again and again but we can make change happen by using the direct line that we have to retailers when I run posts in collaboration with them. Brands are coming here on a regular basis to read what we have to say about them and also about their competitors. It works. So today I’m working with JD Williams, a brand that I believe is striving towards change. I know they listen to what we have to say – here’s an example. This time last year I did a post with them which included this linen blend dress:

Linen mix collection from JD Williams

(JD Williams press sample SS18)

Lots of you commented in frustration because it sold out almost immediately and at the time there were no further options that included natural fibres. Your feedback was that if they had more clothes in natural, breathable fibres such as linen, cotton and even viscose – and held good quantities of stock, you’d shop there. In response, they’ve increased their range of well-priced linen blend basics so I want to show you a few pieces mixed in with items from my own wardrobe.

Linen mix collection from JD Williams

Outfit 1

I’m starting with this linen blend blazer (55% linen, 45% viscose). It’s following the current silhouette with a longer line which is particularly good if you like to draw the eye away from your tummy or hips and the vertical stripes take this trick one step further. I’m finding that I’m wearing blazers a lot at the moment because it’s cold even when the sun shines. It comes up slightly big – I’m wearing a 12 and a size 10 would probably have been a neater fit in the body.

Linen mix collection from JD Williams

Long linen blazer (worn with M&S relaxed jeans gifted SS19; Midlifechic t-shirt and bag; Boden shoes gifted SS19)

Linen mix collection from JD Williams – Outfit 2

Moving on, I’d hoped to photograph this linen mix dress on the seashore but the wind was so strong that we had to find shelter – you’ll just have to imagine that it’s a hot sunny day! So, this year’s simple linen dress comes in a range of different colours as you can see below. It’s a great dress for holidays or for slipping on to wear in the garden when you’re sipping a glass of rosé on a warm afternoon. It’s slightly see-through so if you planned to wear it for the office, you’d probably need to add a slip underneath. It would be great for throwing on over a bikini, it comes in navy…

Linen mix collection from JD Williams

Linen dress (worn with espadrilles SS14 and Next straw clutch SS18)

… and these colours too. For £22 it’s hard to beat, it’s true to size, I’m wearing a 12 but it’s slightly shorter than I expected from the online pictures – remember I’m 5ft 8.

Full range of linen blend dresses here

Here’s another linen blend dress in orange, this time with added detail at the neckline.

sustainable fabric easycare linen dress

Linen blend dress

Or if you prefer pattern you could try this one.

sustainable fabric affordable linen dress

Border print linen shift dress

Linen mix collection from JD Williams – outfit 3

Next I want to show you these linen blend trousers. I find trousers with a drawstring waist such an easy look on a summer afternoon and once again this pair has SS19’s vertical stripe. JD Williams are really good at supplying different trouser lengths and they usually range from extra short through to tall.

Linen mix collection from JD Williams

Linen trousers; white sandals (worn with Mango linen t-shirt SS14; Aspiga jute bag gifted SS18)

They’re also available in black and white…

sustainable fabric affordable linen trousers

Black and white stripe linen trousers

… or as a range of plains in different cuts. These are the straight leg linen blend trousers…

Easycare straight linen trousers: navy, black, white, yellow

If you prefer a wide leg cut you can find navy, black or white here and yellow here or sky blue here.

Alternatively if a tapered leg is more your style, you can find them in black, white, navy, sky blue or striped.

Last up are these mock croc sandals. Once again there were a lot of comments after previous posts about JD Williams not offering regular width shoes. I’m pleased to say that they now have a growing collection of well priced standard widths. These white mules are part of the range and an easy option for summer.

JD Williams sandals

White sandals

So, as long as JD Williams continue to listen, respond and evolve, they’ll have my support, I respect them for being members of the Ethical Trading Initiative. I regularly debate the amount of polyester that they have in their range with them and to be fair, they’ve never marketed themselves as a sustainable retailer however they tell me that just last week they had a company conference where a strategy for becoming more sustainable was discussed at length. Their premise has always been to offer affordable clothes in sizes that go all the way up to a 32. Because of the wide range of shapes and sizes that they cater for, they need to incorporate stretch into their fabrics and so they’re looking for sustainable innovations within this field. In the meantime, if we show them that they also have a customer who prefers natural fibres, it will encourage the buying teams to continue in this direction. This is an occasion when we have consumer power in our hands…

Disclosure: “Linen mix collection from JD Williams” was commissioned by JD Williams. Subject matter and outfit choices were all my own – thank you for supporting the retailers who are listening to us and in turn, supporting this blog.

New retail offers

Mango – 25% off everything (when you spend over £60) here

Arket 3 for 2 on t-shirts here

Hush 10% off everything here until Sunday night with code SUMA10

ASOS 20% off everything until 8am on Saturday 1st June with code CHECKMEOUT here (NB ASOS is not remotely a sustainable brand)

John Lewis up to 30% off selected lines and brands details here

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