Retail update – small British brands – and à bientôt…

I’m typing with my fingers crossed because if everything goes to plan, we’ll be setting off on our holiday tonight. Preparing to go has been challenging because all kinds of things have kept changing. This has included our usual petsitters being offered a holiday that was too good to resist on the same dates as ours which wasn’t a problem until we realised the cats’ inoculations had run out and it was too late to start a new course. So we had a scramble to find someone else to come and stay in our house and look after them… but we did (the upside of the staycation summer). And then when I went online to check in for the flights I discovered that the return leg had been cancelled without any notification. So we had to find a new way home and then adjust our accommodation dates, airport parking, supermarket delivery, milkman, housesitters (again)… you know… all of the fine details that you tie up in the months before you go away.

Anyway everything is sorted out now (I think… I hope…) and we just have to get through Manchester airport before any more locking down occurs in the north west. And of course pray that everyone on our flight is fit and healthy. Travelling suddenly feels like a big deal and I realise how much we’ve taken it for granted in the past. We had big plans for this year, partly because of Mr MC’s forthcoming 50th and partly because we were basing our time around the boys’ varying ability. It seems hard to fathom that before lockdown we were looking at trips to Mallorca, Paris, Cyprus, Venice and the Isles of Scilly. All of those adventures have been cancelled of course and instead we’re heading towards our safe haven, the tiny town of Kalkan in Turkey. After the rain we’ve had over the last unseasonably cold six weeks I’m incredibly grateful to be getting away to somewhere warm that we know so well.

I will be Instagramming @midlifechic while I’m there but not as much as I usually do on holiday because I’m aware that a lot of people have had to cancel their plans this year and I don’t want anyone to feel I’m rubbing their noses in it. It will be a lower key holiday than usual for us, we’ll probably stay in more and make the most of the sea and the mountains because it feels as though there’s a long winter ahead.

But who knows? As my contacts return from furlough and pick things up again, I’ve been chatting to lots of retailers over the last couple of weeks. None of them are daring to look ahead to Christmas quite yet, in fact they aren’t planning beyond September which in the world of retail really is quite extraordinary. Normally there would have been solid Christmas shows throughout July displaying all of the wares for the festive season but this year everyone’s in the dark.

Retail update – Hush

So what can I tell you before I head off? Well deliveries are still being impacted by the ongoing Covid disruption and so you’ll notice that new summer deliveries are appearing at the same time as early autumn pieces creep into the stores. Hush is one retailer that saw new high summer pieces appear this week. Things like this linen blend jumpsuit will be great for anyone who’s snapped up a last minute getaway…

Linen blend jumpsuit with shirred bodice

… at the same time their first drop of the autumn arrived with a trans-seasonal collection. Of course Hush was already well placed to cater for the more casual look that we’re leaning towards now that we’re spending so much more time at home but this capsule feels particularly good. There’s always a temptation to start rushing into heavy autumn clothes when the season starts to turn but it’s important to remember that in the UK at least, we often get some of our best late summer weather in September and October, in fact it doesn’t really seem to get cold until January these days. And that’s why I like this collection with its softer colours that don’t say hot chocolate and log burners quite yet.

So what you’ll find is elevated leisurewear in soft hues and with little extra details such as this confetti sweatshirt which has a surprisingly slim, neat cut for Hush – you can see touches of the new design team coming through I think.

Confetti sweatshirt

And then I just had to show you these boots because they made my heart skip a beat. So many of you say you wish you’d bought the metallic red ones that I wear so often but this rose gold pair would be even more versatile. I really kicked myself for not adding the silver pair that they did last winter to my collection so I’m hovering over these. With their low heel and comfortable fit they’d be in my wardrobe for life… (she says thinking out loud).

Rose gold ankle boots

Anyway while I deliberate you can see the full trans-seasonal collection from Hush here.

Retail update – John Lewis & Partners

John Lewis & Partners are holding a beauty sale with various brands giving discounts, gifts with purchase or reduced to clear including the Bare Minerals blusher in Joy that I rave about. I suspect this means they’re discontinuing it… why does that always happen when you find a product you love?

Bare Minerals Joy

A reminder of how it looks on me – it’s subtle but it gives your cheeks a touch of colour and a soft gleam (bear in mind that this photo was taken in the depths of January).

Retail update – Boden

Boden have an offer that starts tomorrow: 20% off all sunshine styles, 10% off everything else plus free delivery and returns. Another sign that summer is drawing to a close and an autumn drop is due. Details will be posted here when it launches.

Small British Brands – Baukjen

Baukjen’s first new season drop arrived this week. They’re transitional pieces – good for wearing now on cooler days and they give you a taste of the season ahead. I’m pleased to say that they’ve renewed our loyalty code so everyone here is eligible for 20% off full priced pieces from now right up until the Winter sale starts in December. Just use MIDLIFECHIC20 at checkout.

I have two of the new arrivals to show you here. First of all their hoodie has been released in a lovely new raspberry shade. I don’t think anyone makes hoodies quite like Baukjen – they’re made from great quality, super soft organic cotton, I find them to be just the right length to cover your hips without being baggy and they wash brilliantly. I like to wear them over leggings if I know I’m going to be heading to the gym straight after work as well as with jeans like this.

Midlifechic Baukjen Marthe hoodie raspberry

Organic cotton hoodie (gifted SS20); Hush Jeans (gifted AW19)

If you’re looking for an even longer line that covers all of your rear when you’re wearing leggings  (so hard to find), there’s a hoodie here or a sweatshirt here.

And here’s a blouse that’s good for this strange new world of smart but comfortable clothing that we all need now that lockdowns seem as though they’ll keep coming and going. The world of Zoom is set to continue and these jersey blouses feel as easy as a breton but look so much more pulled together. I always fasten the ties low but you can wear them as a pussy bow if you prefer. They’re made from Ecovero premium jersey so like the hoodie, they’re good for the planet too.

Jersey blouse (gifted SS20); Bag (gifted SS20); Jeans; Boden shoes SS19

Small British Brands – The Cambridge Satchel Company

You’ll spot that I’m also supporting another small British brand in these photos. I’m delighted that The Cambridge Satchel Company would like to get to know us all better and they sent me this bag in their new lemon curd colourway to show you. I’ve been looking for a yellow bag for ages but lighter colours like this are difficult to get right on leather. It’s the perfect sunshiney shade to act as a pop of colour and I like its elegant, ladylike shape.

Bag (gifted SS20)

It has a detachable strap so that you can wear it as a crossbody too if you need to keep your hands free.

Midlifechic Cambridge Satchel Company Poppy

Bag (gifted SS20); blouse (gifted SS20)

Of course like all of their bags it comes in a whole array of other colours but this one caught my eye for summer. Like Baukjen and Hush, they’re a female led British brand that I’m pleased to support during these difficult times for retail. The quality is brilliant, as is the price, especially when you consider that the bags are made in the UK too. You can see all of the styles in the new lemon curd colourway here.

Small British Brands – Sipful

Well it’s a tiny, weeny British brand actually and it’s close to home – and therefore close to my heart (although I haven’t actually met the people who run it). This week I was sent a selection of ‘cocktails in a can’ to try from a new start-up, Sipful which comes out of the farming crisis that’s been going on around here since the great recession. The story behind it is that the decline in farming led a local family to turn their minds away from their herds towards brewing. First of all they established Farmyard Ales which has been running for a while. Now, two members of the team Emily and Darius have branched out into portable cocktails and their mission is to create something that tastes good – unlike the usual sickly, synthetic tins you pick up at the supermarket.

Small British Brands - Sipful

It has to be said that luck hasn’t been on their side when it comes to timing. They launched Sipful this spring, just as they had their first baby and lockdown hit so I’m hoping we can support them. The wines they use as a base are organic and they add 100% fruit juice rather than fruit flavourings. The packaging is ultra chic too – perfect for a picnic.

Small British Brands - Sipful

Sipful drinks

Because of Coronavirus they haven’t managed to secure distribution through retailers yet but you can buy directly from them and they’re offering Midlifechic readers a 10% discount with code SUMMER10 at checkout. Flavours on offer are Mimosas made with a choice of real orange juice or blood orange juice; Bellinis with real peach juice or alternatively you can opt for straightforward sparkling organic white wine – and if you can’t decide there are mixed packs available. I tried the cans they sent this week and I can confirm that they’re really good, especially the blood orange – if you’re a fan of a sharp citrus tang you’ll absolutely love that one. So perhaps we can hold out a hand to the generation below us and support Darius and Emily as they start out… and drink cocktails at the same time! Full details here.

Coming soon – Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo AW20

Finally one of the best things about retailers getting back in touch again is that it means I should soon be able to start doing two posts a week again soon. I’m really pleased that Uniqlo are first off the block as they launch a new collaboration with Inès de La Fressange at the end of this month and once again they’re giving us an exclusive preview. When I get back from holiday I’ll be rushing out to shoot the samples so that I can bring you my edit before the collection launches on Thursday 27th August. You might want to jot that down in your diary now because it’ll be the first post from me on my return so I won’t have another chance to remind you. In the meantime you can see a preview here.

A bientôt…

And that’s it from me today. I’m much less organised with my packing than usual because I haven’t quite dared to hope that this holiday would go ahead. It feels like an important one because even though we can’t be sure of exactly how much change lies ahead, we know that when we get back the middle one will soon be heading off to Newcastle. We’ll also be celebrating Mr MC’s forthcoming 50th birthday – the actual event is at the beginning of October but of course we can’t plan anything else at the moment so we’ll be making our time in the sunshine special for him.

I have to say that I’m quite glad to be leaving the village because it’s very, very busy at the moment. Even though we’re on the fringes of The Lake District we have three campsites that nestle in scenic spots next to the shore. On Saturday we were completely gridlocked with four wheel drives and campervans coming in. It’s great for local businesses and visitors are very welcome but we don’t quite have the infrastructure for the volume of people we’re seeing at the moment. It’s nice to feel the place buzzing but there’s a definite disadvantage to our house being right at the centre of the old high street. We’re finding that people stop outside our windows and peer in at us, I don’t know what they expect us to do but I have a whole new sympathy for any animal who lives in a zoo! Hopefully by the time we get back it’ll have calmed down. In the meantime we’ll be telling our friends to close the shutters and hide at the back of the house.

And so I leave you with a reminder to look out for a post early on the morning of 27th August when I’ll be doing my best British impersonation of Inès. Until then, thank you for being such an incredible community – always, of course, but particularly over the last few months. Between us we’ve helped to keep each other going and there have been quite a few times when I’ve felt my heart swell as you’ve rallied round someone who’s mentioned a particular sorrow in the comments.

Before Coronavirus hit us like a ton of bricks our digital friendship was just starting to transcend to real life with meet-ups in London and Leeds. I had lots of plans to expand that and hopefully they’re just on pause rather than stop. None of us knows what’s ahead over the next few months but unless something disastrous happens I can promise that I’ll still be here, blogging away. At some point we’ll realise that the virus has passed and we’ll be able to look back at the Corona days and laugh at some of the things we had to go through. Let’s hope we come out of it even stronger and wiser than we already were. In the meantime may the sun shine on you while I’m away – but please don’t forget to come back so that we can carry on where we left off. We have so many conversations yet to be had.

Thank you for reading and see you soon. X

Disclosure: ‘Retail update – small British brands and à bientôt…’ is not a sponsored post. Any gifted items have been declared.

Recent lockdown posts you may have missed

Stitch Fix review and beauty recommendations

Staycationing in London and Newcastle

What to wear for a staycation – and great summer reads

Moving out of lockdown – what I’ve been doing and wearing

Making summer plans at last

Hush sale top ten and retail behind the scenes

What I’ve been wearing and learning the lessons of lockdown

Chic heatwave dresses and good sale buys

How midlifers are feeling as we come out of lockdown

The zeitgeist and what to wear for the weekend

How is it for you? – and a catch up

Midlife matters and the return to ‘normal’

The future of retail after Covid-19

How to celebrate under lockdown

Cornucopia – beauty, books and weekend ideas

Quarantine – as the days roll on what I’ve been wearing

Working from home chic – new ideas

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