Well we’re in full party mode chez Midlifechic. In fact as we were getting ready for yet another black-tie event on Friday, Mr MC and I concluded that it must be a sign of northern frugality that our dressiest events of the year seem to fall in October and November i.e. before venues start to add their seasonal levy! So, it seems appropriate that today’s post is all about a strong northern brand that seems to be bucking the trend by performing well when others are struggling. Today we’re looking at partywear from JD Williams.
So what are they doing differently? Well, of course, they’re an online business and so they don’t have the overheads of retail stores dragging them down. However I think they’re also working hard to turn the tanker of what is a very old business by taking a new approach to retail. You see I’ve been working closely with them for over a year now and what I’ve learned is that although they have a huge portfolio of product to sell, they’re primarily customer focused.
They were one of the very first brands to dedicate themselves to midlifers. They call us midsters and you will notice that their product shots all feature older models. At the same time, the new stars of their ad campaigns are the midlife women who won the nationwide hunt for ‘real’ models that I featured on here back in the summer. In terms of good trading habits, they are committed members of the Ethical Trading Initiative which looks at the human cost of the supply chain and ensures that worldwide standards are met.
It’s clearly a fun place to work. The offices are based in Manchester’s old garment district which is where JD Williams was founded in 1859 and most of the team that I work with have spent a large proportion of their career there. They’re a friendly, outgoing bunch who are absolutely passionate about what they’re doing and are continually looking for feedback. I believe that they’re genuinely dedicated to continued improvement in every area of the business. So, although they have a much larger inventory than the brands I usually cover on Midlifechic and not all of their clothes work for me, I’m pleased to keep on working with them because I like and believe in what they’re doing.
So, let’s get back to Friday. Mr MC and I were going to an annual business dinner that we attend every year. He has a role on the committee and so we arrived early to help with the organising and of course in the back of my mind, I knew it would be a good setting for this JD Williams project – an edit of their partywear. I decided to theme it on the colour capsule that is emerging as my favourite this year, black and blue. I know a lot of British women (my mum was one) believe that they’re two colours that shouldn’t be teamed together but I disagree. If you’re aiming for a chic, understated look it’s a great way to go and it has longevity in your wardrobe right through the year.
Damask patterned velour jumpsuit
So I thought I’d begin my edit with what I believe to be a core party essential, a blue velvet jumpsuit. I now have a few different ones and they’re an easy standby for evening events. This one is made from velour with a damask pattern that catches the light and a bardot neckline that doesn’t budge. I’m wearing a 12 and although I often find JD Williams designs to be generous, I’d need to size up on this one. It also came up a little short so it would be good for someone who is not quite as tall (or long bodied) as I am – perfect if you’re 5ft 6″ and under.
Sequin top and trousers with sparkly shoes
We were talking last week about what a failsafe approach this is to parties. As I’ve mentioned before, I particularly like the cut of JD Williams camisoles at the top because they come up higher than most, covering the soft flesh at the side of your ribcage. This particular style flares softly from the waist and so it would be particularly good for apple shapes. I’ve paired it with wide velvet trousers here but its loose cut and longer length makes it a good option for wearing with skinny jeans.
And I couldn’t resist a spin around the pole.
The shoes are from JD Williams too, they’re a wide fit which can be a good thing when you’re going to be on your feet chatting all evening.
I’ve saved this one for last because it’s solved a problem for me and that’s what to wear for client Christmas lunches. I love this skirt with its navy satin and bands of sparkly black. Full midi-skirts tend to work better for me than soft ones because they balance out my swimmer’s shoulders. Here I’ve paired it as I will for lunches with pointy boots and a simple cashmere jumper. As we get further into December, I may switch to a sequinned top and heels.
It feels very elegant and I like the high:low of wearing it with a simple jumper like this.
As you can probably tell, I’d spotted our friends starting to arrive and so it was time to put this outfit into full afternoon practice as we went to catch up over a late lunch!
There are lots of options for partywear at JD Williams ranging from very formal black-tie looks through to sparkly tops and coated jeans, there’s a dedicated party section here on the website. Oh and before I go, a few people have been in touch asking for suggestions of where to buy boots with wider calf fittings – JD Williams has a wide selection.
Disclosure: ‘partywear from JD Williams’ is in collaboration with JD Williams but outfit choices and thoughts are all my own
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