And hurray for a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, don’t you just love this time of year? It has to be said that if any month deserves not one but two Bank Holidays it’s May so I hope you have plans that include at least one pop of joy. We’re currently over in Newcastle starting to bring our ideas to life. As you know all we’ve done so far is paint the whole place white, not because that’s the colour scheme but because the magnolia that covered every single wall was sucking up all the light meaning we couldn’t see how it landed. So the grumbling I’ve been doing has been because I knew we were going to have to start again but it was worth it because now we feel confident about what we’re doing. Anyway I’ll tell you more about that next week when we’re through to the other side, for now it’s paint rollers and wallpaper at the ready – and a lovely meal out with the middle one as we come up for air on Saturday night.
In the meantime I have a smorgasbord of new season try-ons – Bank Holiday Bumper Post. I’m starting with the quick snaps I promised when I was going through my Hush order, deciding what to keep and what to send back. Then I have a couple of recent outfits to show you and I’m finishing with something rather special. I’m often asked if I could sometimes include a friend in my shots to show how outfits work on a body shape that is different to mine and at last I’ve managed to do it. But let’s start with the very functional try-on and build up to that.
New season try-ons – Bank Holiday Bumper Post
Hush Spring 2021
Hush launched their full Spring 21 collection online last week and then immediately followed it up with Summer this week which is an illustration of the struggle that retailers are having with deliveries at the moment and the impact on their seasonal roll out. Now there were quite a few pieces that caught my eye in the Spring collection so as I’ve already said, I ordered a few things to try on. The new one that’s come out for Summer is mostly only available on pre-order but it feels a little less interesting to me, you can see it all here though and decide for yourself.
Going back to Spring there were quite a few things that reminded me of the old Hush. I started with a winning combo, a soft polo shirt with tapered linen trousers. I fell in love with the top immediately, it was everything I hoped it would be, sheer but not transparent and a lovely shade of warm ivory. It’s a linen viscose blend so it feels slightly slubby without being rough and it sits really nicely on the body. It’s a definite keeper and I’ll wear it with skirts and jeans too.
The 100% linen trousers are some of the best I’ve tried. They’re a heavier weight than the Uniqlo or H&M ones (and consequently much more expensive) so they’ll look smarter if you want them to. They have a drawstring but also a waistband to keep them up so they’re not reliant on the string alone. The turn ups at the bottom neaten the jogger styling and the blue marled effect is lovely. Am I keeping them? After much reflection I don’t feel I can justify another pair of linen trousers so no but if I didn’t have so many, I absolutely would and I highly recommend them.
Next up was the sweatshirt that I featured in a collage a couple of weeks ago. I can never resist anything in an orange and pink combo – the pink isn’t quite as bright as it appears online whereas the orange is brighter. It’s lightweight so good for high summer but I’m so used to the supersoft organic cotton sweatshirts that Baukjen do that I’m not sure if I’d enjoy wearing the stiffer loopback fabric that this one’s made from, even though it is organic. It’s a tough decision but I don’t love it enough – I’m wearing a small by the way and it’s still very baggy so if I was keeping it, I’d still probably exchange it for an XS.
Moving on I ordered this linen jumpsuit because I love jumpsuits despite Mr MC’s response when he saw it – ‘oh overalls – you’re ready for painting this weekend then?” I love the colour but this is too much linen for me, I need part of my outfit to feel neat. That’s not to say it wouldn’t look great on somebody without my tidiness issues, I’m wearing a 12 and it’s true to size.
And last of all a dress because… it’s pink and orange. Now I’m torn. Part of me loves it and thinks it would be really lovely to slip on for a Summer’s day. I like the fact that the sleeves come to the elbow without looking frumpily apologetic about it. I love the fabric and the length… but I’d be so much happier if it had a zip and was fitted – or even just shirred – at the waist. I already have one of this summer’s loose dresses as you saw last week and I’m not sure if I want another.
PS After writing this I did an interview with The Telegraph about my personal style rules (more about that soon) which reminded me that it’s nice… but not for me.
The last thing that I ordered but didn’t even try on was the denim shorts. I hadn’t spotted that they have distressing which I can’t stand but bear in mind that they always sell out before the weather gets hot so if distressing doesn’t bother you, move before it’s too late because they’re a good cut.
New season try-ons – Bank Holiday Bumper Post – recent outfits
And back in my dress comfort zone I wanted to show you this one because I’ve bought it in two colours now and there’s 20% off until Monday with code 6T2C. It’s what my mum would have called a ‘useful dress’ because you could wear it just about anywhere. It’s jersey but not the limp kind, it has a slightly slubby texture and is quite heavy so it hangs well and it just fits beautifully. This is straight out of the box so it’s a bit creased at the bottom, it doesn’t look like this when it’s been ironed. It works with trainers, sandals, heels – any kind of shoe you throw at it. It can look smart or casual and it’s also available in yellow, a deep green with a gold spot or a navy tropical print (which is the other one that I have). I’m wearing a 12 Long and it fits like a glove but be quick if you like it because stocks are low.
More current favourites, tapered linen trousers… again… I know… but it’s a formula that works for me. These are another pair at the smarter end of the spectrum, they have a proper zip and waistband, the drawstring is really just for casual effect. The key thing about them is that they look and feel like linen but they actually have 59% viscose in the blend so they don’t crease. I’d been in the car for half an hour before we took this picture and they’re still immaculate.
They have a little more fabric in the body than the ones I usually wear and I wondered if I’d feel swamped but I didn’t, they hang really well. I’m going to enjoy wearing them with neutrals like this but also reds and oranges too… maybe even cobalt blue.
And I’m just going back quickly to this outfit from last week because the earrings created a storm of interest which is funny because I’ve had them for years and they must have appeared in at least 100 blog photos. I do keep them for summer though and I’m pleased to say that serendipitously they came back into stock this week so you can now buy them here if you like them.
New season try-ons – Bank Holiday Bumper Post – Fashion with a friend
And that brings me to my finale which I hope you’re going to enjoy because nothing beats a dressing up session with a friend and we had so much fun. Over the years different readers have said that they they love reading the blog but can’t always picture the clothes on themselves because they’re a different shape to me. So ages ago, before any of us had ever heard of Coronavirus, I started talking to friends to see if I could coax any of them to join in. Most found the idea so terrifying that it was a flat ‘no’ but three noble souls stepped forward and Sarah was one of them (here we are last summer in between lockdowns).
You’ve met Sarah before, we’ve been friends for a long time and even though we don’t see each other often enough she’s someone I hold dear. She’s one of those people whose home and heart is forever open and she’s always there for whoever needs her.
She and her husband were some of the first new friends we made when we moved up here from London. We had an instant bond because our boys were the same age but also because we were all struggling to build our own small businesses; we had our agency and they had a microbrewery and a couple of pubs. We’ve watched as they’ve worked very, very hard and they’ve built it into something special. I was thrilled for them when I was in Selfridges at Christmas and saw their beer in the wine department there, it’s now sold all over the world but even so, they still work endless hours.
The thing I love most about them is that they’re mavericks, never inclined to conform and always up for fun. You may remember me telling you that until recently Sarah was a major force on the front row of her Cumbria rugby team, winning awards for her prowess on the field. It’s her strength that’s driven her along a path that perhaps didn’t take the turns she imagined. She met her husband at university up here and had not one but both of their boys while they were still students. Sarah scrummed down and got on with it, finishing her degree and going on to work and help build the business.
Now life has handed her another surprise as she’s become the most gorgeous granny I know and she’s very hands on with her little grandson who you’ll meet in a minute. We’ve known her lovely son since he was little as he’s the same age as our eldest. He made us smile in a big way on Sunday when he dropped his boy off, saying with a confident grin on his face, “yeah, I’ve done Mum a favour really because I reckon she was still a bit broody – at least now she doesn’t have to have another one of her own, she can just look after mine!”
So Sarah, I know you’ll be reading this (and that’s probably just made you spit out your tea) but you’re a star and I suspect that you often don’t get anything like the appreciation you deserve. Thank you for always being up for an adventure and I hope you enjoyed doing this as much as the rugby ‘calendar girls’ shoot where only your beer pumps preserved your modesty!
The other people I need to say thank you to before we begin are my friends who run the small fashion brand Hope Fashion. When I put forward the idea of doing a shoot with someone who had a different body shape to me they were the first to welcome the idea with open arms. And that’s because they genuinely embrace the notion of ordinary women rather than esoteric models wearing their clothes. While lots of brands are playing lip service to the idea of inclusivity you’ll notice that it often only extends to exquisitely svelte older women. Hope on the other hand base their whole world around their customers; over lockdown they’ve been holding cosy online coffee mornings and Nayna, the founder, has been offering to style people personally to help them get the best from her designs.
Their premise is to design clothing that arrests and surprises whilst quietly accounting for the changes that take place in the midlife body, often around the midriff. So let me show you the pieces we chose and the way they worked on different figures.
Outfit 1 – a crisp shirtdress
Because we were going to be dressed like twins we were keen to avoid taking these photos in public – I attract enough attention when I’m doing it on my own never mind if there were two of us. So we took these pictures at Sarah’s house which is a renovation project in a stunning spot on the Cumbrian coastline. It’s going to be amazing but as these things do, it’s taking a lot longer than they ever imagined. I should add that we had Covid tests before working on this together and it was a good thing because we just couldn’t shoot the first dress outside in the strong sunshine without the stripes bouncing around on the camera lens.
We chose this shirtdress because it looks so good on Nayna.
The first thing that struck me before I’d even tried it on was the quality of the fabric. When I was ironing it I discovered that it’s made from the smoothest cotton blend, it’s hard to describe but you know when people say “it was like cutting through butter”? Well it was the ironing equivalent.
It’s a difficult dress to capture on camera because it’s almost as if it’s alive, every time you move the angles settle in a different way and it flares as you walk. This, of course, is part of its cleverness because it means the eye never sets on a particular part of your body. I actually think it suits Sarah best because she has a bigger bust… ’twas ever thus.
Bengal striped dress (I’m wearing size dual slim and Sarah’s in a dual curvy).
Look at the attention to detail in the use of the stripes when you see it from behind, it’s so beautifully made.
Outfit 2 – linen trousers with an airy knit
Moving on to outfit two, this one comprises of linen trousers worn with a cobalt body and sheer knit over the top. Now the trousers are really interesting, from the shots on the website I thought they were white but noticed that they’re described as sandy neutral. When they arrived they were, indeed, sandy but when we put them on they looked white – perhaps it’s the sandy tone that helps with the opacity. The thing I like about these (and I know I’ve been talking about linen trousers a lot recently so I feel like a bit of an expert) is the design. You can see from Sarah’s leg that they have a curved seam which seems to make them neater at the thigh but then wide at the bottom so you don’t get the very flappy effect of wide leg trousers, just the lovely width where you want it. You can see that for me at 5ft 8 they’re the perfect length for wearing with flats and for Sarah at 5ft 5 they’re good with a heel.
We styled the bodies with the press studs closed but we both agreed afterwards that we’d wear them tucked in as a vest with this outfit, even though the show through wasn’t too bad. The colour of the jumper is just stunning, the cobalt is new in – we were going to show you the red but it sold out as soon as it arrived last month. It’s a lovely shape with its dipped hem and batwing sleeves that are fitted on the arm. You wouldn’t feel any hotter in this combo than if you were wearing a t-shirt but it’s so much more stylish, especially if you prefer not to show your arms.
Outfit 3 – sunset colours
Finishing with the last outfit which just had to be done as the sun set, this was the one that blew us both away. Let me start with the jumper because it’s exquisite – which is a word I don’t think I’ve used on here before. You see it’s made from a blend of 80% cotton and 20% silk and it feels extraordinary against your skin, it’s just so soft but smooth too. I’m finding it harder and harder to tolerate wool but this is in a different sphere – knitwear… but not as you know it!
You can see that we’ve adjusted the outfits to wear them in our own ways here. Sarah wore the skirt lower on her hips because she didn’t want the pleats on her midriff. I’m wearing mine higher on my waist so that it skims my hips which are my widest point – and that’s the beauty of an elasticated waist, you can adjust it to fit your silhouette. The sunburst pleats are the most flattering kind and the fabrics that have been used contrast beautifully with each other. The top half has a shiny sateen effect and the bottom is matte and semi-sheer which adds to the allure. Both pieces have been so carefully thought through and that’s what you get with Hope’s clothing because Nayna genuinely cares about how it looks on your body – and feels too.
We stayed to watch the sun set and relaxed a bit knowing the photographs were all taken. It feels so good to be able to catch up with friends again after so long – as we were saying last week, it completely revives your spirit.
And just before we left Mr MC took this quick picture – it was suddenly chilly so I’d pulled the jumper up over my shoulders and it just goes to show how versatile it is. I hadn’t arranged it properly here but you can see that with a bit of a twiddle you could wear it as a cowl neck rather than off the shoulder.
To thank her for having the guts to do this, Hope invited Sarah to choose one of the outfits and I was sure all day that it would be the dress… or maybe the trousers with one of the tops but in fact she chose the last one which just goes to show how good it is. She said she chose it because she’s never come across anything remotely like it – and that it made her feel great. Such is the power of clothes.
I know what a struggle it’s been for brands like Hope to get through the last twelve months so if any of this has inspired you, please do support them if you can, even if it’s just by subscribing to their mailing list for now. Nayna’s emails are lovely and very personal so you’ll enjoy them.
I’m going to end by keeping a promise – as we were taking the last photos Sarah’s grandson arrived for a sleepover. He really wanted to join in – so here he is showing you his dinosaur pyjamas with his best smile. Sarah had him booked in for a swimming session at 8am the next morning and just the thought of it made my head spin but isn’t he gorgeous? It made me think it must be quite nice to be a grandma… but not yet!
So with that I wish you a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, I hope you’re doing something more exciting than us but this is the visit when things are going to start to take shape so it feels full of promise. I’ll be back next Friday to tell you all about it.
Disclosure: “New season try-ons – Bank Holiday Bumper Post” thank you to Hope Fashion for collaborating with this post
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