Hello everyone. Well another week has gone by, the first one of relative freedom and it was interesting to read how some of you were slowly moving out of lockdown in the comments after my last post. As so many people said, it’s clear that everybody has a different attitude to risk and the good thing is that so far, most people seem to be able to live alongside each other without judging. Mr MC and I are finding that most of our friends are more cautious than us but that’s fine, with every conversation it becomes easier to work out what people are comfortable with and I think we all just have to learn to be open about it.
Retail news and new drops
So it’s another mixed up post today. I know that some of you come here just for style and retail updates but try as I might, they really aren’t much of an option at the moment. You’ll have seen the big, bad news about the multiple store closures and redundancies so I won’t go into that here. There won’t be many new deliveries over the next couple of months and most retailers are focusing on selling through the stock they have at the best margin they can achieve although you’ll find that a lot of the best lines have been sequestered for next year.
What I can tell you is that Hush had a small new drop this week. It’s what you’d call high summer so handy if you’ve suddenly booked a holiday and are now looking for a few new pieces to wear. This cotton dress caught my eye, the one shouldered look is an easy way to be on trend this summer and it gives structure to a dress that is otherwise breezy and loose.
There are simple tops and t-shirts including this one which will be a wardrobe hero, great for pairing with midi skirts or wide leg trousers. It will give you a hint of shape at the waist without the bulk of being tucked in and the tie helps to break up the tummy area.
Tie waist t-shirt, also available in washed black
This will be Hush’s last drop now until the Autumn clothes arrive, you can look through it all here.
Baukjen also has new arrivals, they’re more trans-seasonal than Hush’s which isn’t a bad thing with the way our summer’s going at the moment. The new drop includes a restock of their hoodies which I think are some of the best you can buy anywhere, they’re made from soft organic cotton, they wash brilliantly and they’re a good length.
You can see the full new collection at Baukjen here.
And finally John Lewis & Partners have new deliveries too and some of you will be pleased to hear that they’re now stocking The Fold and also Longchamp – handy if you need an iconic Pliage for short breaks. I have a few colours but the navy is the one I use most although the new gunmetal shade is very chic.
Navy Le Pliage (also available in deep red, black, khaki and gunmetal).
There are also new arrivals from their core brands such as Whistles, Jigsaw and Hobbs – you can see them all here.
So, other than the bad news about closures and redundancies retail is quiet. The latest brand rumoured to be in difficulty is Cos, things really aren’t looking good at the upper end of the high street.
Slowly moving out of lockdown
Going out for the first time
As you know Mr MC and I went out last Saturday for a couple of hours and I can report that everything went fine. We had our temperatures taken when we arrived and filled in our details. We were then shown to our table which was distanced from others, the wine bar was only half full and so with the table service it all felt very civilised. The eldest joined us for an hour before going off to meet his friends and it was nice that he met us voluntarily after all of the time we’ve spent together recently – although drinks on Dad’s tab were probably an incentive too.
Mr MC was disappointed to find that there was no Guinness on tap so when our two hours were up we popped into the pub across the road. It’s usually a popular venue but again it was relatively quiet and brilliantly managed. At no point did we feel uncomfortable, in fact it was better than a normal night out because it was so easy to be served everywhere.
Having done it I’m not in a particular hurry to go out again but just having the choice makes such a difference. The boys haven’t been as excited about going out as I thought they would be either – the one thing they’ve realised is how expensive it all is. The eldest was shaking his head at how easily he used to buy cocktails and claims he wouldn’t dream of it now. And I know what he means – our drinks bill came to £80 at the end of the evening. Of course I ordered good wine and the boy had no qualms about putting expensive cocktails on our tab but even so, I think quarantine will have made us all recalibrate our willingness to spend which is good news for personal finances but probably not for the leisure industry.
It was nice to get dressed up and put proper make-up on though. The weather was miserable so this is what I wore in the end – as you can see I was in good spirits even before a glass of wine.
Hair… and reading
What else have I been up to now that we’re slowly moving out of lockdown? Well not getting my hair done – I have to wait another week for that. The roots coming through are starting to look a bit more obvious as you can see below but I have to say that up until now they’ve blended well so I’m very glad that I started my ’embracing the grey’ journey last year.
Having had a lot of questions about the cut I’m now being asked about colour so I’ll just say that I think it’s very personal. This is my view but I’m not saying it has to be yours.
Everything I try to do at Midlifechic is based around being the best and most authentic version of myself at 53 that I can be. So for me that includes not trying to look younger. Of course I do wear make-up, I use good skincare and I have the blonde that goes mousey during the winter lifted and interwoven with the greys in my hair so I’m not pretending that I would look this way if I lived on a desert island.
However I like to think that women like us are challenging preconceptions about middle age and refusing to engage with the ‘anti-ageing’ paranoia. So for me, greying is part of that stance. Plus of course it’s far easier to manage the upkeep of your hair if you allow the greys to blend in as part of your look. We’re quite likely to have more lockdowns over the year ahead so a low maintenance approach is a good one to take. More importantly though I think we have a responsibility to show younger women (and men) that it’s ok to be this age – we can look good and feel happy without trying to deny our years.
On the subject of hair, I think Victoria made a really interesting point in the comments last week when she said:
It’s surprising how much hair has mattered to so many people (me included). I wonder if, a little like eating disorders, a person finds the thing that they can control in a world/life they feel they have no control over. I’ve had ED so I’m not being flippant, it really does feel like that, and that somehow a haircut will mean life is ‘normal’ again because the face you see staring back at you in the mirror looks like you again.
It makes a lot of sense in the context of lockdown but it struck me that perhaps greying hair mirrors our fear of ageing too. Without the drastic measure of surgery there’s little we can do about our ageing face and body but hair is one thing we can control. For so long grey hair has been a symbol of old age and so we’ve used dye to pretend it’s not happening. Who are we trying to convince – ourselves or other people? Probably both but I hope that our generation can start to feel more secure about themselves and their value as an older person. We need to challenge ageism and maybe being ‘proud to be grey’ is a beginning.
I actually posted the picture in the chair on Instagram because I was in need of a new book and so I asked for recommendations. My goodness it was exciting – I now have an incredibly long list of personal suggestions which mean so much more because I’ll think of that person as I read it. I’m going to type it up for next week’s post so that we can all share it but in the meantime the book that was recommended the most was “Where the Crawdads Sing.’ I’d been resisting it partly because there’s been so much fuss about it and I don’t like to be on a bandwagon but also because the blurb didn’t grab me. However I’m about a third of the way through it now and it’s taken hold of me. You were all absolutely right.
Shopping with the middle son
This week the middle boy and I began the bittersweet journey of getting ready for university. When he sat down with me and said he needed my help to make a list I assumed we’d be talking pots and pans and baking trays but no… he wanted to start with his wardrobe (I’ve no idea where he gets that from). And so it was really nice to sit on the sofa with him and get an understanding of who he wants to be because I remember that feeling – that university was a chance to completely reinvent myself.
As you know he’s going to study acting at Northumbria University in Newcastle. Getting a place on an acting course was harder than we ever imagined it would be and not because he lacks talent. At one of the federated drama school auditions that he went to he was told (off the record) that as a straight, white, able bodied, middle class male he stood a much lower chance of getting a place than anyone else because they had so many criteria to fulfil and he didn’t meet any of it. We were worried for a while and it did prove to be a difficult journey but among the offers he received was one from Northumbria and then nothing else mattered because from the moment of his audition, he’d instantly felt he could belong there. So he’s happy, we’re happy… and Grandma is ecstatic!
I’ve been refusing to think about him going and my plan was to remain in a state of denial until we come back form Turkey but he’s gently forcing me to confront it. So on Wednesday he went to get his post lockdown hair cut – he’s trying out an 80s style which I’m not sure I like but we’ll see how it goes. After that we met up and went to a vintage store because as you’ll know if you have older teens, vintage is the thing to buy. And it’s funny because the place we went to is exactly where I used to get my vintage clothes when I was at university – much to my mum’s horror.
And actually some of it horrified me too – the worst of 80s shellsuits in vivid palettes of lilac and mint green are now hugely desirable again. How can it be? They were awful the first time around and now grubby and smelling of ancient BO they’re even worse. Thankfully, unlike his older brother, he wasn’t drawn to them – American retro is what he’s looking for. He found a jacket and fell in love with it until we were given the price – £175! He tried putting on his best ‘but Mum…’ face but there was no way it was going to work.
However I did promise that I’d ask my reader friends if you have any advice – so if any of you in the US know where I could buy one for (quite a bit) less, please do let me know. He’s on the hunt for baseball-type jerseys too – basically anything related to any kind of American sport, the team is irrelevant but he will definitely be a fan of whatever he manages to track down!
We took the opportunity to go for a coffee in an otherwise empty café and talk about his hopes and dreams for the first term. I so hope they all come true.
Knitted linen jumper; Hush jeans (gifted past season); And Other Stories sandals (sold out); Midlifechic Pop of Colour (sold out but may be restocked for autumn)
I notice time and time again in the comments that the thing people are really longing for now that we’re slowly moving out of lockdown is reunions with good friends and family. I say good friends because I think we’ve all had a chance to reassess the ‘busyness’ of normal life and who we spend our time with. I’ve realised that I don’t spend enough of my time with good friends and I think it’s because we’re all busy and we take it for granted that we’ll get together soon. Before we know it yet another month has passed and we’re still sending the #mgts (must get together soon) messages.
Anyway it’s one of the things that I’m vowing to change and as I was messaging my friend Sarah yesterday we realised that if we didn’t meet up that very evening, it was going to be September before we had another chance. And so, spontaneously, we just did it – forgive the photobombing Mr MC, despite the need for a hug we were trying to socially distance.
Do you remember that in January I was looking for people who were different heights and sizes to me so that we could do occasional try-ons together? Well Sarah is one of my volunteers so I’m hoping that when new season starts again, we might be able to do a few posts together along with my other co-opted friends, Annette and Alyssia. Between us we’ll be able to cover off petite, apple shape, pear shape, big boobs, short legs, long torsos and other fit issues. All we need is for coronavirus to disappear and brands to wake up again.
So hopefully you’ll be seeing more of Sarah soon. We’ve been friends for a long time, Mr MC and her husband Matt get on brilliantly too and their boys are the same age as ours so when they were little we often used to go away together for weekends. Matt and Sarah are both complete extroverts and mischief always happens when we’re together so I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her on here if we have the chance.
I believe that it’s important to have a mix of people in your life who bring out different sides of your character. I have friends who are very similar to me and others like Sarah who are very different – here we are years ago on her hen weekend. Sarah’s dream weekend was never going to be about Ibiza or limos or fancy spas; as an award winning rugby player, her idea of a good time was to take us all to Gloucester to watch a rugby match. The dress code was Where’s Wally… these are the things you do for your friends!
I promise we didn’t look like that on her wedding day but I can’t find a picture anywhere even though I know we have lots. And on that note of friendship and promise I’ll leave you – my digital friends – to get on with slowly moving out of lockdown in whatever way you feel you can. I hope you have a feeling of release, even if it’s just a small one. Thank you for reading and I’ll be back next Friday.
Disclosure: ‘Slowly moving out of lockdown’ is not a sponsored post
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