Ah your responses to last Friday’s post were so interesting – if you haven’t had time yet, go back and read through the comments because they give really good insight into the myriad ways we’re all living and feeling at the moment. They showed me that although we remain on the same wavelength, we’re all having completely different experiences of lockdown, particularly this time around. I’m going to be holding that in my mind as I write my posts over the next few weeks to try to make sure that there’s something in each post for everyone. So that means they’re all going to be cornucopias (cornucopiae?) and today I’m looking realistically at refreshing the now – winter lockdown style because let’s face it, Jan/Feb 21 isn’t the most exciting outfitting prospect. After that I’ll cover a few other bits and pieces that have come to my attention this week.
Refreshing the now – winter lockdown style
I want to start by acknowledging that not everybody here is working or isolating in the comfort of their own homes. Lots of our Midlifechic friends are medical professionals, teachers and other important workers who are having to throw themselves into the fray every morning. Please know that we thank you and admire you for everything you’re doing and perhaps some of these ideas will give you a lift for when you do get back home and want to feel you’ve found some sanctuary.
Casual chic jeans outfit
Today’s outfit ideas get more casual as we go on. I’m starting with an updated version of my most popular ever pin on Pinterest, it clearly has universal appeal because it’s an outfit that has been repinned over 50,000 times. Simple, everyday chic in colours that work really well together – when we get back to wearing proper shoes again, leopard loafers or ankle boots are the thing to finish it off.
While you’re thinking about your jeans outfits, why don’t you take the time to add some simple jewellery updates. The layering of fine necklaces is still on trend and these two have been paired together in a set with a single fastening so that you don’t have the annoying creep of clasps working their way around your neck at different levels – it’s a great price too.
Refreshing the now – winter lockdown style:
- Sky blue blouse – a real shade of hydrangea-blue optimism but it’s the detail on this blouse that counts. The neckline will work brilliantly to lift crew necked jumpers as well as a V-neck and it won’t interfere with a blazer collar when we start wearing jackets again. The cuffs add panache at the bottom of the sleeve and there’s a subtle stripe – all good factors to consider, particularly if you spend a lot of time on Zoom.
- Camel V neck – it’s hard to find a shade of camel that won’t wash you out at this time of year but this has enough strength to lift your complexion. It’s a great length with a good, deep V that is visually slimming. Ethical materials, an investment but you’ll have it forever and there’s 20% off with code MLC20.
- Straight jeans – it’s difficult to find jeans that are a straight cut but still a slim fit at the hips. These are a great price plus they’re ethically produced and come in the chic darker wash as shown as well as two lighter shades of blue and a grey. They have rave reviews although it seems that you need to size up.
- Velvet loafer slippers – I mentioned that there was a trend for chic ‘house shoes’ coming and this is the first pair I’ve seen so far that doesn’t cost a fortune. They’re also available in grey felt or white and they strike me as a great solution if you want to feel a little more dressed when you’re at home.
- Layered necklace – as I’ve already said, this is designed to be worn together, a great price and an easy way to update your wardrobe with this season’s trend for contrasting a heavier chain with a lighter one – silver plated.
- Star hoop earrings – not too big and not too small, well priced everyday heroes that are just a little bit more interesting than standard silver hoops – it’s worth accessorising to avoid feeling too dressed down. Also available in gold.
Smart athleisure hybrid
I know a lot of people went straight into joggers last March but I’ve never liked wearing them with a t-shirt – there’s too little contrast in textures for me and it makes me feel a bit Prisoner Cell Block H. Now is the first time that I’ve worn joggers for work on a regular basis. Over Christmas I got into a rhythm of elevating them with a top in a contrasting texture such as cashmere, silk or crisp cotton. It felt good and relevant as well as being practical for the life that I’m leading at the moment. As it’s January, I’m keeping this nail restoring kit to hand so that I can bring my nails back to optimum health in the hope that I’ll soon have reasons to paint them again.
Refreshing the now – winter lockdown style:
- Simple off white blouse – a cotton blouse that’s comfortable and easy to wear. Like the one above, the collar and cuffs add detail and contrast when layered with a cardigan or jumper. This softer shade is kind to winter skintones.
- Ponte athleisure trousers – a jogger/trouser hybrid in heavier weight ponte for a more structured look than thin jersey.
- Bodyshaper vest – wear this for three reasons: extra warmth, comfortable integrated bra cups and the body shaping effect which makes it especially good for wearing under a fitted top because it helps to smooth the lumpy back-fat lines that can come from wearing a bra.
- White platform brogues – the winter version of white trainers and easier to keep clean – all you need are baby wipes. Great foot support from the low platform heel. Wear them with socks – Diane Keaton style.
- Cool reading glasses – no need to visit the optician during lockdown if you know your prescription, just update your look with a pair of off the shelf, Scandi-style readers. Various colours available.
- Nail renovation kit – keep your nails bare for January and give them a daily dose of this repair kit until they’re stronger and smoother.
Cosy casual chic
Our looks are getting more and more casual. Here’s a way of staying warm and cosy while still nodding to trend with the tie-dye sweat.
Refreshing the now – winter lockdown style:
- Tie-dye sweatshirt – a new century version of the 70s favourite, tie-dye is everywhere but this is more chic than grunge with an effect that falls between tie-dye and marble. The neat fit in the body helps to keep the look polished and it will be great for all of those joyful summer barbecues we’ll be going to. Made from recycled fabrics, 20% off with MLC20.
- Slim cut tapered joggers – the secret to looking good in joggers is to make sure that you have a pair made from good, thick jersey. They need to be well cut, tapering towards the ankle so that you can mimic the influencers and wear them with ankle boots if you want to smarten things up. And make sure that they’re not too long so that they don’t gather in a pool at the ankle. A cuff draws attention to the narrowest part of your legs, making them look longer and slimmer. Also available in light grey, dark grey or khaki.
- Relaxed marl effect cardigan – an extra layer for chilly days. A supersoft, ethically produced lambswool and alpaca blend with consistent five star reviews.
- Suede slipper boots – be quick if you want these because they’re selling fast, Ugg style but without the hefty price tag. Also available in grey.
- Bullet journal – now would be a good time to get into the reflective and creative habit of bullet journalling – reflect on what lockdown has taught you, make plans or set goals – just use it to put your thoughts and dreams on paper. This is a particularly lovely way to get started and it comes with a set of metallic pens – a high quality kit from a small, Lake District brand.
And lastly here’s the most relaxed of my looks and yet the velour finish adds a touch of chic. Obviously you could wear the top and bottoms as separates so it’s versatile too. Available in pink, navy, black or khaki too but in my view this slate blue looks far more expensive than it is.
Refreshing the now – winter lockdown style:
- Slate blue velour hoodie: great quality and a great price, fully machine washable and lovely for lounging in.
- Slate blue velour joggers: just like the top these are machine washable and have a flattering, tailored fit.
- Pilates socks: it doesn’t matter if you don’t do Pilates, these are great for wearing when you’re padding round the house thanks to their non slip bottoms and the strap across the top that keeps them on. I have a friend who swears by them for wearing with trainers too because they’re invisible but they don’t slip off her feet. Pure serendipity that they tone so well with the joggers. More stock here.
- Rose and cassis candle: at last these well priced and beautifully fragranced candles are back after not being available for a year. A lovely scent that’s very like Diptyque’s Baies but at a much lower price.
- Mineral bath salts: a blend of Epsom and Dead Sea salts with essential oils so you can restore minerals to your aching body with the benefits of aromatherapy at the same time. This one aids sleep but you can find mineral salts with other wellness benefits here.
- Exfoliating socks: if you’ve never tried these, now would be a really good time. Soak your feet in water, dry them and then leave them in the disposable socks for an hour while you watch TV. Rinse and dry them again and after about ten days, you’ll notice that the rough skin starts to come off your feet, a bit like a snake shedding its skin. It goes on for a few days but then you’ll see new, baby soft skin revealed. Repeat every three months to avoid an uncomfortable build up of hard skin. It’s a bit gruesome but magical too.
Further options for joggers
So, as I say, I’ve finally come to love wearing joggers for working from home. I tend to wear the same colours as I would for trousers: navy, black or dark grey and I save my velvet ones for weekends for a bit of differentiation. I very rarely wear them with a sweatshirt, more often a blouse and cardigan or a cashmere jumper – a neat fit if I want to feel smart or looser for a relaxed look. I’m sure I’ll keep on dressing like this through to springtime now. When the weather gets warmer and (hopefully) lockdown starts to lift it will be time for a completely new look but for now, this feels right. Here are a few more pairs, all with their own benefits.
Refreshing the now – winter lockdown style:
- Slim fit charcoal joggers – I tend to find pale grey can feel a bit prison issue but a deeper shade works for me.
- Leopard pattern joggers – for when you’re tired of plain navy but still want to stay with this look. More sizes here.
- Pale joggers – the Insta look du jour, hard to manage if you’re wearing joggers so that you can incorporate winter dog walks into your January day but if you’re just at home, they look luxe.
- Techno joggers – a very flattering, ultra-slim cut with a deep waistband and ankle cuffs in a breathable fabric.
- Draped waist joggers – If you avoid joggers because you prefer to disguise your tummy, look for a style like these – they have a flat waistband and gentle pleating so that they drape rather than bunch over your middle.
And lastly of course are the Rolls Royce of joggers with their well placed rear pockets, yoke at the back that cancels out any bulk, careful leg panelling for a lengthening effect and contrast knees to avoid any risk of bagginess. They’re actually only a little more expensive than some of the pairs I’ve featured above but worth the upgrade if you want to stay on the smarter side of the look.
A black velour version is now in stock too.
So that’s a little wardrobe pick-me-up covering off refreshing the now – winter lockdown style for anyone who feels like they need it. What’s next? Well just before we leave the subject of clothes, Jigsaw is having a warehouse clearance of its coats and in my view, no other brand does coats that are as high quality or beautifully tailored as Jigsaw. I have to say it makes me fear for them as a brand, they’ve been trying to find a buyer for a long time and I hope they’re going to make their way through to the other side of this. Anyway, these coats are incredible value because they have an extra 20% off with code SALE20 and they’ll last you forever – you often see me wearing the one that was a Christmas present from Mr MC in 2002. You can find the clearance here and it includes their city coats.
If you’re looking for more newness, a few brands have launched early spring drops this week and it feels so refreshing just to look through them and imagine good times ahead:
Boden new collection here – 10% off with this link and free delivery / returns
Baukjen new collection here – I have a new, exclusive code for Midlifechic readers that will give you 20% off throughout 2021 – MLC20.
Midlifechic book club? Page-turners
I’m reading for pleasure when I can at the moment, not forcing myself to think, just losing myself in well written page-turners. These two books have kept me reading into the small hours recently because I just couldn’t put them down so if you’re looking for something that will help you to switch off, I recommend them.
An intriguing story about babies that were somehow switched in the hospital shortly after birth. It takes you back to the emotions of having a small child, the debate of nature over nurture and there are enjoyable twists and turns along the way.
A woman in a happy but settled marriage has a spontaneous one night stand… but was it worth it and will she get away with it?
And the one I don’t recommend because it really disappointed me was Victoria Hislop’s follow up to the Spinalonga story. I was so excited about it coming out that I went back and reread The Island first but One August Night wasn’t a patch on it. I thought it just felt formulaic and cliched, as if she’d gone back to her biggest earner and churned a sequel out quickly over lockdown. It still got rave reviews somehow so I’d be intrigued to know your thoughts if you’ve read it. It isn’t often that a book makes me want to throw it across the room but this one did.
Oxford & Cambridge University Online Courses
We have a reader, Isabel, to thank for this because she mentioned in the comments that she’s just about to start an online course with Oxford University. If you’re quick you might just be able to sign up for a ten week course, some start on Monday (18th Jan)… or you could plan to do one in the spring. For some reason they aren’t listed by start date so it’s worth scrolling through them all if you’re interested. They range from history to literature to art and philosophy, creative writing, spacial data, microeconomics… there has to be something for everyone. I really fancy the Art Nouveau one that starts on Monday but something tells me that I should keep it for my looming empty nest time when the early evenings are going to feel very empty (small sob).
I see Cambridge Uni has a similar scheme but with different topics here. It is also running a shorter Winter Festival of Online Learning starting on Monday. These courses last for two weeks and they include the psychology of adolescence! Over to you.
Volunteer to fight Covid
For anyone who has a bit of free time, St John’s Ambulance is desperately trying to recruit volunteer vaccinators so that the vaccine opportunities can be rolled out quicker nationwide. All you need is to have reached an A Level standard of education, full training is given. And if you don’t fancy giving the vaccines, you can also volunteer as a Patient Advocate, supporting people as they arrive and helping them through. All details here.
Thoughts for the week
Here are two different concepts that I’ve read this week and thought were worth sharing with you… we have to have a Pollyanna moment in every post after all.
The first is the concept of mirroring. I was reading a piece by a psychologist who was saying that one of the reasons that people report feeling particularly lost and adrift at the moment is because they have a sense of being less ‘present’. That’s because in normal life, we go out and about every day and interact with lots of different people (on average 30 separate individuals apparently). Every time we do that, we have our presence acknowledged… somebody looks us in the eye, speaks to us and subliminally reinforces the fact that we’re here – we’re ‘mirrored’ (hence the term mirroring).
During lockdown we hardly see anyone. Individuals count only once for mirroring regardless of how many times we interact with them so even if we’re in lockdown with our family, we’re still only mirrored a fraction of the times that we usually would be. The end result is that we can feel as though we’re vanishing, almost as if we’re ceasing to exist.
The solution is to make sure that you try to get outside and have eye contact with as many people as you can; smile… even better is saying hello and you get more mirroring points for exchanging a few quick words (at a distance). Mirroring is a guaranteed way of lifting your spirits because it will reinforce your internal sense of personal presence and apparently it benefits introverts and extroverts equally. Of course not everyone will respond but if you’re rebuffed, just remember the saying we have up here: “better to be the one who looked and smiled than the one who turned away.”
A Scale of the Worst
I’m slowly working through Jay Shetty’s Think Like A Monk training. One of the exercises he makes you do is think of the Scale of the Worst which in essence is just a way of putting things in context – but in a distinctly measurable way. So, picture the absolutely worst thing that could possibly happen to you and then give it a name (mine’s called ‘total wipeout’ because it involves losing all the people I love most in one go). Place that at the end of your personal worst scale of 1 – 10. Now, even if you’re feeling utterly fed up of lockdown, think about where you’d place your ‘lockdown emotion’ on your Scale of the Worst. I suspect (truly hope) that it’s nowhere near number 10. So you see… it’s not that bad.
There’s so much more I wanted to include today but I’ve already gone way over my self-imposed limit of 3,000 words which is where I suspect you lose the will to keep on reading. If not, don’t forget to read through the comments at the bottom of last week’s post, they’re every bit as good as anything I have to say. So I’ll leave you to your weekend, I hope it’s a contented one. Thank you for sticking with me and I’ll be back again next Friday. Oh and by the way – have you noticed that we’re halfway through January already?
Disclosure: ‘Refreshing the now – winter lockdown style’ is not a sponsored post
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