I’m pleased to say that today’s post has been prompted directly by you. You see I had the pleasure of chatting to lots of readers at the John Lewis & Partners event on Friday and one topic was requested more than any other: ‘relaxed winter chic for women over 40.’ So, before we launch headlong into the whirlwind of Christmas, I thought I’d recap on the basics of elevating your winter look.
What’s coming up on Midlifechic?
But first I want to give you a glimpse of what’s coming up because lots of people are also asking about Christmas gift posts and they’re on their way. Let me explain my thoughts on Christmas 2019. Given my relationship with the world of retail, I feel a bit torn by what I’m about to say but my first obligation is always to you and so I’m going to suggest that as it stands, you might want to hold off with your gift shopping for now.
Black Friday is on 29th November and it’s looking as though it’s going to be a big event. Sadly, even though it’s a relatively new import, it’s already become a crutch for UK retailers and it doesn’t help that it falls very late this year. As I’m sure you know, retailers are having a difficult time so their main focus is going to be on achieving maximum marketshare. This means they’ll be going head to head with each other and discounts are likely to be strong.
For this reason, I’ll be starting my gift posts on Friday 22nd November and running an extra post in the week running up to Black Friday. You see it’s likely that brands will start offering discounts earlier in the week in order to manage their distribution centres and I’ll be able to let you know if they do in the posts. So, Christmas gift posts will run from 22nd – 29th November.
This Friday (15th) I’ll tell you about the John Lewis & Partners event and I’ll show you outfits for different kinds of Christmas occasions. Even if you were there on the night it shouldn’t be boring because earlier in the day (Blue Peter style) I photographed all of the outfits I showed so you’ll be able to see what they look like on me.
Relaxed winter chic for women over 40
For now though, let’s focus on the fundamentals of winter chic because they work really well through the Christmas season and beyond. Lots of you told me last Friday that you either work from home a lot or have stopped working altogether and you struggle to know what to wear – and it absolutely makes sense.
Lots of us have spent a large chunk of our 9-5 weekdays working in formal environments that demanded smart dress. Smart is easy to do, especially for those of us who were office based in the 80s and 90s, wearing a uniform of a suit and heels. Now, most people dress for comfort in the workplace and when I go to meetings I’m always surprised by just how casual it is. A whole generation of girls in their twenties have never worn heels. They live in trainers and so their whole look is based around casual footwear.
For many of us though, the desire for ‘polish’ is ingrained so let’s look at the best ways of achieving it in a casual way. For me, the shortcut is always to start with your bottom half because it’s usually the larger proportion of your outfit. In spring and summer when light and bright colours abound, blue denim looks great. Of course it works in winter too but if you’re a polished person, you probably don’t find it as satisfying. I know I don’t and so at this time of year I look for interesting textures that make the most of both natural and artificial light sources.
For daytime, the easiest option is velvet, washable velvet of course so I’m talking about velvet jeans rather than trousers. The plushness of the fabric sits comfortably with wool, cashmere, suede and ponyskin making your whole outfit look opulent. However it also contrasts brilliantly when worn with satin, silk, metallics and leather to add different dimensions to your look.
Here’s a photo from last year to show you what I mean, I’m wearing black velvet jeans that pair nicely with the cashmere jumper; the contrast of the metallic boots adds zing.
Cleverly Wrapped cashmere jumper (gifted AW18); Velvet jeans; Hush ankle boots (AW18)
Relaxed winter chic – velvet jeans
So let me show you the best velvet jeans that I’ve found, they’re always flattering to wear because the fabric absorbs the light and blurs the edges of your body.
- These are my favourite velvet jeans, they’re actually velour rather than velvet. This means that the fabric is lighter and more fluid than velvet and they hug the body. They’re not super skinny so they’re kind to your outline. I have them in both black and charcoal, in fact I’ve just ordered some new black ones because I wore the last pair until they fell apart. They’re full length so particularly good for wearing with short ankle boots.
- This pair is again velour and although they’re described as long, I’d say they’re cropped. The green is a lovely colour and they also come in burgundy, navy and black. If you’re between sizes, size up.
- A slightly straighter cut (even though they’re described as skinny) in a washable short pile velvet which makes them slightly warmer and more structured than the ones above. Available in black, charcoal or deep green.
- You’ll see me trying these velvet jeans on in Friday’s post. They’re close fitting but not tight so good if you like a cigarette cut at the ankle. Available in a luxurious chocolate brown as well as gunmetal, black and dark purple.
- I’m finishing with a pair that are slim rather than skinny and made from a heavier velvet pile. A lovely range of colours including ivy green, black, navy, bordeaux and cinnamon.
Relaxed winter chic – coated and metallic jeans
Whereas velvet jeans work by absorbing the light, giving your outfit a soft, cosy look, coated and metallic jeans do the opposite. More subtle than leather or pleather, they have the same effect of toughening your outfit up with a touch of biker chic.
There are always coated leggings around and if you like to wear long, loose tops you can opt for those. I haven’t included any here but these have the best reviews. If you prefer a shorter, more fitted top, it’s better to go for jeans because the pockets break up the expanse between waist and thigh.
- I wore these coated jeans for my style talk on Friday night and they felt good. They have a dull finish so they’re only a step away from black jeans if you’re new to this look. The zipped pockets are in the right position for a slimming effect. More sizes here.
- Slightly cropped, these coated jeans with their matte black hardware have been designed to elongate the silhouette. They’ve also been produced using Environmental Impact Measurement Software which monitors the materials and energy required to make the jeans and any subsequent impact on workers’ health. They’re a little more expensive but you can wear them with an easy conscience.
- This is a pair of trousers rather than jeans (I know they look like leggings but they’re a stiffer fabric) with an elasticated drawstring waist and a subtle metallic gold snakeprint. The pintucked seams that extend down the front and back of the leg are slimming and they’re very stretchy so they’re comfortable to wear.
- I often regret sending my navy coated jeans to charity a couple of years ago because they’re difficult to find but I’ve tracked down a pair here. They’re slightly glossy with a tight fitting ankle and they’re also available in dark grey, chocolate brown and black.
- I know that these coated jeans are a market test and so they’re an absolute bargain. The five-star reviewed high rise, skinny classic updated with a subtle matte coating and available in short and long lengths as well as regular. A great starting point if you’re trying coated jeans for the first time.
Relaxed winter chic – recent outfits
And as we’re on the subject of relaxed winter chic, here are a couple of recent outfits that I haven’t got round to showing you.
Here I was heading down to London for a day of hands on stuff so jeans were required. It was very early in the morning so my blazer’s looking black here but it’s actually my favourite cut that has been released in a rich navy tweed. If you’re looking for a beautifully tailored blazer, I can’t recommend it highly enough, the fit feels bespoke. It has 25% off today and tomorrow with code X3C6.
Blazer (gifted AW19); Autograph silk and merino jumper (AW18); And/Or jeans (gifted SS18); Finery brown mock croc ankle boots (AW16); Monsoon scarf (AW15); Brown mock croc tote on test for next season’s boutique
It’s almost impossible to get any photos of evenings out now that the days are so short. We were on the way to an event launch here (and my outfit would have looked better with a pair of coated jeans). A topical point of interest for you – behind me is the house where Laurence Binyon was born. He was the poet who wrote the poem so often read out at Remembrance Day services “at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them…” I like to think that many lovers of the written word were born in the city of Lancaster…
The navy fur bomber jacket that I’m wearing is proving to be really useful for nights out like this because it’s cosy but it isn’t as bulky as a coat if we’re going from place to place. Again faux fur is a good way of playing with texture in winter and it looks much more interesting worn with jeans than an ordinary wool jacket would.
Navy fur bomber jacket (gifted AW19); Navy blouse (gifted AW19); And/Or jeans (gifted SS18)
Midlifechic Boutique update
And given that I’ve mentioned the Midlifechic Boutique in this post, I thought I’d give you an update because a few people have been asking what’s happening. The problem I have is that even though we came up with fabulous designs when we were in Turkey this summer, if I bought bags at the moment I’d be operating at a loss. There are various factors that I balance against the price I believe you’ll be willing to pay and they include the exchange rate (I have to pay in US dollars), steep inflation in Turkey and shipping uncertainties should Brexit ever happen.
However, last winter I tested the clutch bags in a pewter colourway and they sold out within minutes so I ordered a few more. Unfortunately they didn’t arrive in time for Christmas so I thought I’d hold on to them until this winter. They’re the perfect way to lift any outfit because the gleam is subtle and it works with just about anything. I’m using one in the shot above but it’s hard to see so here’s a picture in the daylight today. I’m ‘desk to drinks-ing’ tonight and it works perfectly to break up my block of navy. I’m mixing winter textures again with cashmere, wool, satin, suede, metallic and pearls.
Pewter clutch bag worn with Jaeger coat (AW16); cashmere turtle neck jumper (gifted AW19), Hope Fashion satin skirt (gifted AW18); Hush boots (gifted AW18)
We have a biting wind blowing here today so I’m quite literally holding my hair on! As always the clutch is made from high quality saffiano leather, lined in silver grey with slots for credit cards and a pocket with a matching leather backed vanity mirror. It has a detachable wrist strap so that you can juggle both a drink and a plate with ease. I’m really proud of the quality, you’d pay twice as much for anything similar in the shops and I also have a handful of scarlet, navy, soft silver and soft gold in stock too. They make fabulous Christmas presents by the way… and when they’re gone, they’re gone because I don’t know when I’ll be able to order any more.
Ethical cashmere turtleneck; Pewter clutch bag
Visit the Midlifechic Boutique here
I do just want to mention the jumper I’m wearing too because some of you have been asking for recommendations for ethical cashmere. I check out the production processes behind all cashmere that I feature but I’ve found a company that is particularly good. This was sent to me by sustainable brand Duffy who not only monitor every step of the cashmere production process but also integrate recycled cashmere too. You can read about their ethos here. In addition to this, they work with the charity One Sky to fund a nursery in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
This navy jumper is made from 100% cashmere and it’s quite a light weight which is why I’m happy wearing the turtle neck for work. Ordinary weights of cashmere just make me too hot in the office. It has a very soft marled effect with a hint of a lighter mid-blue in the weave and as you can see it’s fitted so it’s perfect for wearing with skirts or wide leg trousers. You can see more Duffy cashmere here.
And that’s it for today, I hope this post has helped you to up the ante on your relaxed casual wardrobe. Don’t forget that the good thing about velvet and coated jeans is that they’re wardrobe workhorses because they can be dressed down but they also look great with a nice top and heels for an evening out. Have a great week, I’ll be back on Friday with all the news of our evening at John Lewis & Partners and lots of ideas for different types of Christmas outfits.
- Hush have launched their last drop of the season here today which includes partywear.
- Boden have 25% off coats, jackets, shoes boots, knitwear and accessories today and tomorrow here with code X3C6. On Thursday it moves on to separates with code R3H7.
Disclosure: ‘Relaxed winter chic for women over 40’ is not a sponsored post
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Autumn/Winter 2019 trend analysis
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