And so we have a big weekend ahead in the UK with a languorous four day break for the Queen’s 70th Jubilee – whether you’re a royalist or not it’s hard not to admire her as a woman who’s shown lifelong strength and dedication. Today’s post isn’t about the red, white and blue though, it’s the last of my summer posts with John Lewis & Partners which always makes me feel a bit sad because next time I get together with the team there we’ll be talking about autumn clothes. However, as the middle one is so good at saying when I ask him whether he’s thought what he might do when he graduates this time next year, “that’s a future me problem.” For now let’s luxuriate in the good months that are still stretching out ahead of us and talk about looking good in summer – beauty tips and outfits. I’m going to start with a try-on of some of JL&P’s summer looks and then move on to summer beauty with some specific tips for hot holidays.
Looking good in summer – outfits
You’ll spot that this isn’t one of my usual locations, we worked with the buying team and a crystal ball on this so that I could bring the looks to life in Lanzarote. This is a slightly loose midi-dress made from ecovero viscose so it’s breathable, loose and wafty. The black background to the print makes the floral less ditsy, sharpening the yellow. It’s perfect for wearing in the sunshine or on a mixed weather day like this one was when the easily adjustable bracelet length sleeves came in handy. It comes to mid calf, I’m wearing a size 12 and it’s true to size although for a more fitted look I could have easily gone down to a 10. The dresses in JL&P’s own range have been incredibly popular this year, probably because they’re sustainably sourced and well priced. We didn’t expect this one to sell out as instantly as it did but the good news is that it’s being restocked this week so if you keep clicking through you should be able to get it before it disappears again. If you need an alternative though, this dress is similar.
Tropical tiered dress (on loan); Black and white gingham footbed sandals (on loan)
The sandals are just so light and comfortable – they’re footbed sandals so they have good support and the velcro fastenings mean you can adjust them to fit your foot. In this season’s on-trend black and white gingham they’ll update your summer outfits and work at home, for sightseeing or for the beach. They weigh next to nothing so if you’re travelling with hand luggage only, they’re a brilliant option. I’m a size 41 which is usually a 7.5, I’m wearing a size 8 here.
Black and white gingham footbed sandals (on loan)
The next outfit is the sort of thing I like to wear for a relaxed summer evening whether I’m at home or away. A few readers have asked me for more looks with sleeves so I’ve focused on that in this post. Blouses with an elasticated cuff are so useful at this time of year because you can push them up if you need to and they stay put. This one now has very low stock but it will be back in July so I’ll let you know when it arrives. However I have a great alternative for you further down.
I’ve been looking for a pair of slightly wider, cropped ivory jeans this year. These are a lovely, straight cut and as they’re a higher rise, the button fly detail does a great job of moving the eye vertically down the midriff so it’s visually slimming. I had a bit of a problem with sizing and it always happens with jeans from this particular brand. My usual 29 wouldn’t do up at all, in a panic I asked for a replacement in a 32 which is what I’m wearing here and they were too big. On balance I think a 30 would have been perfect for a standard size 12.
Blouse (back in stock in all sizes in July); Jeans (all on loan, sandals and bag my own)
Here’s an alternative blue blouse that would work well with either ivory, blue or black jeans so it’s a good buy.
Blue spot blouse with elasticated cuffs
Moving on, these shoes are brilliant, they have all of the style of a strappy, ribboned espadrille without the towering height. The uppers are suede too so they’ll last well and they have a leather lining for hot summer feet. I’m not surprised they’re getting five star reviews, they also come in navy, taupe or a strawberry shade. JL&P don’t do half sizes so I often find I can’t wear their shoes but because the side straps on these are elastic, I found a size 8 fit my size 41 feet perfectly.
Flat espadrilles (on loan)
And here’s another lovely dress to brighten up a grey summer’s day. This is just lovely – the thing I particularly like about it is that it has less volume in the skirt than a lot of the other cotton midis that are around so if you prefer to feel less wafty, this is the one. The square neckline is bang on trend and yet it’s easy to wear a bra underneath. The shirred middle is less densely stitched than most others and so it defines your waist without gripping to any loose flesh.
Pink cotton dress (on loan); sandals
It’s made from crisp cotton and I found a size 12 was true to size but it’s selling quickly – people are obviously in full flow with holiday shopping at the moment! The sandals are some I bought earlier in the season – I can’t resist a pink and orange combo but they’re still in stock. I found they came up big so size down.
Pink cotton dress (on loan); sandals
And the last part of my try-on was this sun hat which is a wonderful thing because you can fold it in half, flat across to pack in your suitcase and then simply reconstruct it again. The brim is wired so you can wear it wavy or straight without any floppiness, it’s superb value for a touch of Riviera glamour.
The sunglasses are from JL&P too, the perfect oversized black cat’s eye shape. They have good UV protection and they fit well without slipping – again they’re an incredible bargain. If you’re looking for good value sunglasses with eye protection that you can trust, the JL&P range is unbeatable – you can see the full sunglasses collection here.
Wired sun hat; cat’s eye sunglasses; (on loan. Beach dress my own – years old)
The beach dress I’m wearing is an old one that I wear every summer but I’ve found you a great value monochrome alternative if you want to recreate the look…
Before we move on to summer beauty there are just a few other pieces that I want to flag. I’m always being asked for larger cup sized swimwear than I usually feature and JL&P have ranges that go up to a size K cup – you can find them all here (use the filter on the left to see your size range).
Beachwear has been another request and as I’ve mentioned before, the prices that a lot of brands are charging for wafty beach numbers just makes me cross. However, JL&P have some really nice pieces – I love this dress which is plain at the front but has a lovely boat neckline and this gorgeous back detail. It’s made from breathable viscose, it’s very well priced and I wish I could justify buying it but I just don’t need any more beach dresses. The matching bikini is here (top, bottoms).
There’s another pink one here made from cotton jersey this time and this wouldn’t just be for the beach, it’s an easy summer dress that you could wear any time. It’s also available in khaki or black.
This one’s more expensive but the marble print is just so stunning that I had to include it. I can’t see why you’d have to restrict it to the beach and the comments seem to agree.
If you like a more sporty look this is brilliant. The zip runs from top to bottom so it would be great for wearing at your local swimming pool too as you go in and out of the changing rooms. It’s also available in white.
Looking good in summer – beauty tips
Let’s move on to summer beauty. When we went away, JL&P asked me to test a number of summer beauty products and so I’m going to include the ones that I thought were especially good here – and a lot of them have offers attached for the Jubilee weekend, I’ve detailed them by each product. I’m starting with sunscreen and I now have two new favourites. For daytime I really enjoyed using this one. I haven’t used mineral sunscreens before, I usually go for chemical ones but the mineral versions are known to be kinder to the skin, especially if it’s sensitive. They’re also more environmentally friendly for marine life which is an important consideration if you spend a lot of time in the sea. I found it didn’t make my eyes water as chemical ones often do – it took a little more rubbing in but once it had absorbed there was no white cast. You can see I used it every day because it’s still covered in sand from the beach here.
Mineral sunscreen for face (15% off this weekend)
I think the most useful picture though is this one. At the end of our first day Mr MC (who doesn’t go in for fancy skincare) had determinedly used our usual chemical sun screen from a well known high street chemist and I’d used the Clinique. After a winter of no sun he burned and his poor face and eyes were sore and inflamed but mine was ok.
The other sun screen that I really liked was this one which was also mineral. It was a gel rather than a cream and it’s specifically recommended for oily skin which I don’t have. Mine’s dry/combination however I did find it really good to wear in the evening because it stopped any shine coming through when we went out for sunset dinners.
Ultra-light daily defence for oily skin and humid conditions (15% off this weekend)
I didn’t take foundation with me, this is the only product I used as a base. It comes out of the tube grey which is a bit alarming but it then adapts to your skintone. I really liked the glow it gave me and it was enough coverage for both day or evening. It has an SPF of 40 but it doesn’t say whether it covers UVA so you need sunscreen underneath it to be sure.
Energy boosting tinted moisturiser (20% off this weekend)
Let’s move on to holiday beauty because every year I’m asked specifically for tips for how not to look hot and frazzled on the beach. As you know we often go away to the oven that is Turkey in August and over the years I’ve done as much as I can to combat the heat and also the water that I dip in and out of constantly to stay cool.
To start with you need a clear pouch that never leaves your beach bag. It means you can be ready to go out without any fuss each day, knowing you have what you need with you. It needs to be clear otherwise you find yourself fumbling around under the shade of an umbrella with sandy hands and everything ends up covered with grit.
Inside you need a small magnifying mirror so that you can freshen up discretely.
Hair is the most important thing – you need to get to it before it frizzes and dries out in the sun. Rinse it as soon as you come out of the water either in a shower or with a bottle of clean water. Then coat it with a deep conditioning product – this is the one I use, I decant it into a small travel bottle.
Disperse it through your hair with a hair brush that won’t pull or break your hair when it’s wet. I then rinse my hair before I go back into the water if I can and repeat the cycle every time I come out. By the time I have a shower in the evening, it’s deeply conditioned and the colour has been protected from the sun.
Fine and fragile hair brush (15% off this weekend)
You can see how it dries in your hair here – it isn’t perfect but it stops it going frizzy.
So what else do I have in my bag? Apply waterproof mascara before you go out and keep one with you for top-ups during the day. I don’t take any other eye make-up because it just slides off but this should be enough to keep you looking awake. This is my all time favourite for a natural daytime look.
Waterproof mascara (15% off this weekend)
I always take a lip product that will add a little colour without looking as made up as lipstick which would just melt in your bag anyway, standard lip balms do the same and attract sand. I tested this tinted lip oil for the first time while we were in Lanzarote (apparently it’s Kate Middleton’s favourite) and I really liked it. It’s exceptionally moisturising, adding a slight sheen with a tiny hint of colour. There are ten shades and I can recommend the apricot that I was sent.
Lip oil (15% off this weekend)
A cheek crayon adds definition and gleam if you’re going beach to bar. My usual Nars one has been discontinued so I’ll be trying this one. I find a peachy/coral tone tends to work better than a pink shade which just makes you look hot.
Clinique Chubby Stick (15% off this weekend)
The last thing I take is a moisturising face spray – it’s especially good after you’ve been in the water or for when you’re feeling really hot. I trialled this one for JL&P and can absolutely recommend it.
Clinique moisture surge face spray
The products I was sent to test were all in travel sizes which made it even easier. There was one more item that I absolutely fell in love with and it’s this Gucci lipstick with its beautiful, vintage inspired casing. It’s just so unusual and I loved whipping it out of my clutch bag in the evenings. It comes in 18 different colours and it has a sheer satin finish.
I’ve been digging through my photos to try and find a close-up of it on me and here you go, a quick shot from the airport that we sent to the boys before we boarded the plane. I’m wearing Agatha Orange and as you can see it’s a sheer wash of colour, there’s nothing sticky about it. It’s definitely gone straight to the top of my favourite lipsticks.
So those are all of my looking good in summer – beauty tips, it’s a simple routine but it certainly helps me to feel a bit better on the beach – you can shop the full JL&P holiday shop here. I hope you have a lovely long weekend planned. We did – in fact it was the cherry on top of the sundae that is my summer but last week it was abruptly cancelled. We were supposed to be seeing UB40 on Friday night, my all time favourites Sister Sledge on Saturday and then the Halle Orchestra on Sunday and it was all just around the corner but the whole event is off. Most of our friends who were going too cleverly bought campervans last year so they’re now leaving us in the dust as they hit the road. I, on the other hand, find myself running out of excuses not to do the garden which has now fully rewilded. I keep showing Mr MC the Chelsea garden and telling him it’s officially a trend but he’s having none of it. There are so many things that I’d rather do but I guess we should face it… unless it rains… am I really wishing for rain?!
Anyway, please tell me you’re doing something suitably fabulous and fun so that I can enjoy it vicariously with you. Enjoy every minute and I’ll see you next week.
Disclosure: ‘Looking good in summer – beauty tips and outfits’ was commissioned by John Lewis & Partners but as always I had full editorial control
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