I’m starting to think I may have been a bit ambitious with my adventure planning this year. Summer is usually a quiet time for our business but I don’t think anything’s running its usual course in the UK is it? I’m definitely not complaining, I’m seeing it as a positive sign that the country is ploughing on regardless – nonostante tutto! I’m just going to have to be very organised and it may mean that I do shorter blog posts during the summer months which is a challenge in itself because there’s always so much to talk about.
Anyway, while I was travelling to and from London this week, I spent a happy few hours on the train thinking about our main summer holiday. It won’t surprise you to hear that the family vote was for Kalkan in Turkey again. We had a struggle to book because since I covered the villa on here with a 15% discount a couple of years ago it’s been permanently occupied by readers – talk about an own goal! We’ll have to rename it Midlifechic Towers. So, we’re going a bit earlier than usual and currently it’s just four of us although the eldest thinks he ‘might join us for a bit’ (not factoring in the organisation that ‘a bit’ would involve!).
So, hot holidays – I’m starting with my usual reminder to self that I really don’t need to take a lot when I have guaranteed hot sunshine for a fortnight. Every year, as we’re packing to come home, I make a few notes about what’s worked best and I leave them in my summer suitcase for the season to follow. The main thing I noted from our last visit was that I took far too much daywear. Because it’s hot, most of our time is spent in the water so swimwear and cover-ups are far more important than daytripping outfits. Mr MC and I do enjoy our breakfast dates though so I will need a few outfits.
Other than the beach clubs and the spectacular views, the main focus in Kalkan is the food. It’s a very small town but it has 144 restaurants and they range from traditional Turkish to fine dining. I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad meal in any of them but you tend to accrue a few favourites based on the service and the views from the rooftops. Night time in Kalkan is all about relaxed chic – there are lots of cobbled hills so it isn’t the sort of place that you’d wear heels and at night it’s still hot so you need loose layers but even so, people tend to be quite stylish.
Last year I based most of my holiday wardrobe around pink, orange, white and black. It worked out so well that I’m going to do it again this time. I always think about the landscape when I’m choosing holiday wardrobe colours because I know we’ll be taking more photos than usual. The colours around me in Turkey tend to be the blues of the sea, the pine and khaki of the treescape and the ochres and terracotta of the mountains – so the colours I’ve chosen give me a really good contrast. Repeating last year means that I’ll be taking some of my favourites along again. However I realise that this isn’t much help if you’re trying to pack from scratch so in the following packing capsules I’ve found similar items to the ones I’ll have with me.
So let’s start with the very small daytime collection. I’ve reintroduced the FGF emblem to highlight brands that have a ‘feel good factor’ either because their products have a strong ethical or environmental story or because they’re small companies run by midlife women… and sometimes they’re both. I’m also asterisking* pieces that I have personally and will be taking away with me this year.
Packing for a hot beach holiday – women over 40
The call to prayer wakes us quite early (just us, not the boys who sleep through it regardless) and so Mr MC and I tend to go out for breakfast. Sometimes we walk down the hill and sit at one of the restaurants by the water’s edge, looking out across the harbour. On other days we drive up into the mountains to one of the villages where they have spectacular spreads – here’s a picture from last year:
So, all I need is something simple and cool. As you can see I’m basing it around structured linen and cotton dresses – although jersey is easy to pack and comfortable to wear, I find it tends to look a bit hot and limp so I don’t take it on holiday with me. I’ve also added a pair of shorts for a bit of variety. The shorts will work with all of the tops that I’ve added further down for evenings. When you’re buying shorts, remember to work to the best breakpoint on your thighs (i.e where they start to narrow). For me it’s a 4 inch leg; any higher and there’s too much width on display, any lower and it looks frumpy because it truncates my legs and draws attention to my strong northern kneecaps.
I really like the paperbag waist shorts that are around this summer – if you’re long bodied, they lengthen your legs visually but bear in mind that they only work with tops tucked in. If you prefer to wear your top loose over shorts, I’ve added my other failsafes – because they have a slightly tailored look they still give you the slightly 50s, Audrey Hepburn look.
- Black halterneck dress*: I love this cotton dress, it manages to be cool without being floppy because the cotton has structure. I had to play around with sizes but in the end I’ve settled for a 40 which is a neat fit on the back for a size 12. I also liked the 42 but in the end decided that it gave me a bit more volume than I wanted (NB I have the blue one)
- Pink linen dress*: this is loose but it still has shape. It comes with a simple organic cotton slip that you can add underneath if you want to although I won’t be wearing it when it’s hot. It’s a much better idea than a lining because you have the option to choose (and you can use it with other dresses too). Bear in mind that this really does come up big – I have a small and I will belt it but an XS would have been a neater fit.
- White linen dress: you can’t beat white linen for a chic look on holiday and this is a soft linen so it’s lovely to wear.
- Lightweight cotton tee*: I find these go with everything so you could wear them with the night time pieces below too.
- Shorts – as discussed above, a neat fit or a paperbag waist depending on how you prefer to wear your tops
- Sandals* – I will already have these from my trip to France and they’re endlessly versatile with their three metallic colours
Hot beach holiday – pool and beach
After our lazy breakfast we stock up on supplies to take back for the boys who should be just about emerging from their rooms. Our afternoons are spent either by the pool at the villa or at a beach club. Time by the sea works for all of us because Mr MC and the boys go off snorkelling while I relax with a book, slipping into the water every now and then to cool down.
I talked about swimwear in my John Lewis post here and I also did a guide to finding the right fit last year which will help you decide what works best for your shape. Over the years I’ve defined what works for me. Because I have broad shoulders and a small bust, I need a triangle halterneck to break up the expanse. I like the idea of underwired bikinis but I’ve learned that because it’s so very hot in Turkey, I just won’t wear them so I look for a soft band and preferably one that I can tie myself so that it doesn’t cut into soft flesh.
When we go out on a boat for a day, I often wear a one-piece because I know I’ll be doing a lot of climbing up ladders when I get out of the sea and it’s just easier. You’ll notice that the bikinis that I’ve bought are higher waisted this year, it’s a trend I’m interested to try because it’s so flattering to the lower midriff which for so many of us has been stretched beyond recognition by pregnancies. I like them in the mirror but of course the ultimate test will be whether I feel good on the beach. I pay a lot of attention to cover ups because we often stay on for a couple of cocktails at the end of the day before walking back through town to the villa.
I really wanted to introduce a range of kaftans and beach dresses to my shop this summer because it frustrates me how expensive they are for something that is so simply made. I spent a lot of time in Marrakech hunting for them and even had one made up but we couldn’t get the costs below £70 per piece so it wasn’t viable. However I have a plan for next year!
So, this year I will be taking my favourite Pitusa dresses with me. A couple of readers felt these were very expensive last year (I was gifted a pink one by Cleverly Wrapped and bought a white one). However I know that I’ll use them every year for a long time to come and I really love them.
I’m also going to take the black and white Freya one that I had last year which again was a worthwhile investment.
I tend to go for maxi dresses because the seats in beach bars and restaurants are always either plastic or cane and so it just makes everything more comfortable. So, this is how I’d put it together this year:
- Orange cotton beach dress*: I’ve bought this, it’s loose cotton, wafty and flattering
- Red swimsuit*: we’ve already discussed this at length, it has a great control lining and the textured fabric is body flattering. Size up.
- Orange bikini*: I’ve bought this too, it’s a soft fit but there’s enough fabric to cover everything you need to and the roll top briefs enable you to position them at the height that you prefer. Bikini top; bikini bottoms
- Pink bikini* (20% off this weekend): this is the other bikini I’ve bought for this year, I wasn’t sure if the lacing would be a bit risqué but actually it seems to balance the conservatism of the high waist. Bikini top; bikini bottoms.
- Pink beach dress*: lovely loose light cotton and so easy to pull on over a swimsuit. The woven braid down the centre gives it structure, it comes up big though so size down
- Off-white swimsuit*: as discussed in the French Riviera post, great to wear and the strap can be tied at the back converting it into a bandeau swimsuit.
- Zebra beach dress: 25% of everything this weekend, a multi-tasking dress that would work for evenings as well as the beach giving you a monochrome look to show off your tan.
- Black bikini*: I’ve ordered this after hours of searching for a perfect black bikini but it hasn’t arrived yet. However it appears to give good shape and cover which is important when you’re wearing black on the beach.
- Hello sunshine basket: just a few left in both orange and pink, the perfect beach accessory.
- Orange disc sandals: handmade, a bucket of plastic will be cleared from Kenyan beaches for each pair that is sold this summer – a great brand and I’m going to tell you more about it in a minute. Also available in pink, turquoise, orange, green, bronze, silver, white and yellow.
- Shell sandals: from the same range as the orange ones, these have this season’s shell trend worked into them and once more a bucket of plastic will be cleared for each pair sold. Also available in silver or turquoise.
Beach holiday nights
I took mostly dresses last year but having sold quite a few of them in the blogger sale, this year I’m going for separates. We tend to alternate between eating out and having a barbecue with games on our rooftop terrace so by mixing and matching skirts, tops and trousers like this, along with a couple of dresses, I’ll have plenty of variety for dressing up.
Vacances straw clutch: our ladies in Marrakech are busy making some of these clutches for me. They should be here by late June but I’ve only ordered a few to test out so if you’d like one, you can reserve one here. There will be a Bonjour version too which can also be pre-ordered. They’re so versatile that they work with everything and if you fancy a change you can carry it the other way round so that you have a plain bag.
Just to let you know I do have some pompom clutches like the one below being made too but I haven’t received any sample photos of them yet. They should be here by the end of June – there will be a pink and orange version and a cobalt and turquoise.
Back to the outfit planning, here it is again:
- Button heeled sandals*: feet can ache from wearing flats all day so these have a slight heel, an elegant version of this year’s barely there sandal.
- Double layer vest top: slim fitting so great for wearing with fuller skirts, this has a double layer so it helps disguise lumps and bumps
- Pink and orange earrings: hypoallergenic statement earrings, also available in red, orange and blue
- Siren gold and pearl earrings*: small British brand designed by a midlife entrepreneur who is also the queen of sea inspired jewellery, these are my current favourites
- White broderie top* (more stock here): this has a button front so can be worn open, the waist cinching belt is very flattering
- Silk and lace camisole: the design of this is beautiful and so flattering with broad straps so that you can wear a bra and no aded bulk at the waist
- Halterneck top*: I already have this in both yellow and cobalt, it’s such a flattering cut although it will require a bra with a low back or stick on cups
- Red maxi-dress: organic cotton from a fair deal factory and easy to wear, red is always a strong look
- Black maxi dress*: 100% cotton from a small midlifer led brand; this dress is flowy but the halterneack gives it structure. Also available in either a blue or white print. Size down.
- Red wraparound ruffle skirt: easy to put on over a swimsuit of for the evening, the ruffle gives you the flamenco emoji feel
- Cropped linen trousers: great value and easy to wear in the evenings
- Full pink skirt*: I bought this a while ago but I’ve been saving it. It’s beautifully cut and it has great structure with its wraparound waist and full, stiff fabric. One of my favourite high street finds this season. Size up.
And so that just brings me to the last category which is barbecue nights when we stay in the villa. I usually relax in light cotton harem pants and if you buy them with a shirred waist, they’re particularly flattering:
A few words about Aspiga
You’ll notice that a few of the pieces I’ve featured today come from the small British brand Aspiga. Yesterday I went to the launch of the beach clean-up campaign that I mentioned above and was very impressed by their whole story – they’re a brand we should get behind. They’re a tiny team of five women run by founder Lucy Macnamara and they really are trying their hardest to build an ethical brand. You can read their complete story here and it includes sustainable sourcing and also lots of giving back to the communities that produce their wares. It’s everything I’m hoping to do with my shop but they’re a few years ahead of me.
I had the chance to browse through their product range at their Pop Up Shop on Kings Road (open until 4th June) and although the pieces aren’t cheap, they aren’t unfair either – I’d say they’re on a level with somewhere like The White Company but with a more caring business model. And let’s face it, if you want to run a business that does no harm and also gives back, then you have to hope that there are enough potential customers out there to support you – I have my fingers crossed that you’ll get behind Aspiga. In the interests of disclosure, I haven’t been paid to say any of this but they have gifted me some clothes and sandals to wear when I’m away.
Almost everything in their range is made from natural fibres by small teams of people in either Kenya or India (there are a few pieces of polyester though so just check before you buy). I love everything in the range although I had to hold myself back – I’m always drawn to Boho but I have to remind myself that as soon as I put it on I feel like Miss Havisham (I think you need a smaller frame than I have to carry it off). However the simple linen dresses and the beachwear are right up my street and I was really surprised by the comfort of the Kenyan sandals that I was given (see below), they’re made of buttery soft leather.
With it being a very small brand there are a few stock issues and some of the clothes come up larger than you would expect but this is all clearly explained on the website. I’m just going to show you a few of the things I really liked yesterday.
This was absolutely stunning, made from crisp, high quality cotton (also available in navy)
And then there’s this understated cotton maxi-dress
Anyway in the spirit of sisterhood please do go and have a look. These are exactly the brands that we keep saying we want to find – run by nice people with good intentions.
And with that I must leave you – the middle son has his Prom tonight and so I now have to dash into town with his dinner suit. He’s been rehearsing for a play all day so as always we’ll be doing a mad change in a car park somewhere before I drop him off. Have a lovely Bank Holiday – no post on Tuesday but I’ll be back as usual next Friday. Oh and I haven’t had chance to proof read so please shout if there are any typos (just spotted in time that I’d put Bojo instead of Boho – I wonder where that came from?!)