I am very pleased to bring you the first of the spotlight posts. It’s a big thank you to Baukjen for being the first brand to come on board as part of this series and I’m particularly pleased to be working with someone that I haven’t featured before.
I have only one Baukjen piece in my wardrobe and it is a jumpsuit that I bought in a hurry after seeing it featured in a magazine last year. For some reason they were just not on my radar until I was having lunch with some old schoolfriends in London at the end of last year.
These friends are the girls who followed the fast track and became City professionals. They somehow stay on top of their demanding careers, their families and look immaculate at the same time. When I arrived they were deep in a conversation about Baukjen and I mentioned that it was a brand I didn’t really know. They looked at me in surprise and one said “but surely it’s the brand that everyone graduates to when they finally grow out of Boden.” So of course that made me think!
I got in touch with Baukjen for a chat. I immediately liked their principles – the designers, pattern cutters and seamstresses all work together under one roof in London. A lot of pieces are made in Portugal but the SS17 knitwear is made in the UK and of course they were founded by a woman over 40 who is following her dream.
They aim to offer a complete capsule wardrobe for busy women so their range includes options for work, weekends and nights out. As we were chatting it seemed obvious that my forthcoming trip to Liverpool would be a good opportunity for me to put a few pieces to the test.
24 hours in Liverpool
So, as you know, it was our wedding anniversary on Friday. Last year we spent it apart for the first time because I was working, so this year I felt a bit disappointed when I had to schedule an early meeting in Liverpool. However a serendipitous email offering special deals on hotels in Liverpool dropped into my Inbox and a plan soon came to mind.
The eldest and his girlfriend kindly offered to come home from university for a night and keep an eye on the boys (I suspect the thought of a full fridge and a takeaway budget helped). So we were able to leave home behind feeling carefree. Join me for a romantic 24 hours in the city of long haired lovers.
We arrived early for my meeting at the Albert Docks. Here’s a test for anyone who doesn’t know the city – can you spot the famous Liver birds?
There was just time for a quick shot of my Baukjen dress before my meeting. As you know, I often wear simple dresses like this when I am meeting an important client. I usually buy them from Whistles but Baukjen was a totally different experience.
The secret clearly lies in the engineering. It is the sort of dress that you take a deep breath and dive into. It then needs to be peeled down over your body. In fact the nearest thing I can compare it to is Spanx, it really does suck you in and lift you up which is a definite benefit. Once on it’s completely comfortable, you can breathe (always a good thing) and nothing pinches or pulls.
It was so cold when we took these pictures that it was starting to snow. I may look as though I am basking in the sunshine but Mr MC was clearly amused by my race for my layers as soon as we were done.
As those of you who follow me on Instagram know, I’ve been having some treatment for my bird phobia which I’ll be talking about on here soon. As we walked towards my meeting this chap was in my path. Usually I would have been unable to pass him but I succeeded…
…although as you can tell, I still wasn’t quite comfortable.
So, whilst I went off to earn a crust, Mr MC settled himself in his happy place, The Tate. He was especially enthralled by this interactive AI installation (which didn’t really excite me when he took me there later)…
…and I found him here, in the café. One of the great things about being married for a long time of course is that you know where your shared interests lie and where they don’t. My favourite pastime is curling up on the sofa with a book which Mr MC finds stultifying. We each have the reverse reaction to the many karate competitions that he enjoys. However our minds meet when it comes to galleries and we’re guaranteed to spend a happy morning there.
Now, talk about serendipity, the main exhibition was Yves Klein which couldn’t have been better given the colour of the dress I was wearing.
Next door was the UK’s first Krasinski retrospective.
He was not an artist we knew but we learned that he particularly liked to blur the distinction between art and everyday life so photography was actively encouraged.
Mr MC was busy snapping away for his Instagram so I was never quite sure whether he was taking pictures of the art or me…
…as you can see…
This set was a hall of mirrors where you catch yourself from unexpected angles…
…and all of the other artworks (including your photographer) come into play…
I really enjoyed it. It was one of those exhibitions that you experience as much as see. As we left we learned that Krasinski was renowned for his sense of humour although what he was intending with this cable was unexplained!
So, I hope you’re enjoying your tour of The Tate so far. On the next floor down was an exhibition comparing Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’ with William Blake. Like most people, I’ve seen photographs of the bed before but it is completely different when you see it in real life.
We were lucky enough to arrive just as a lecture was starting which explained that she froze this as a living capsule of her life shortly after an important relationship had ended. She was depressed and heartbroken and had spent days just lying in bed.
On the wall next to the bed you can see Blake’s series of paintings that depicted hell. Apparently Tracey has said that this juxtaposition makes it her favourite installation of ‘My Bed.’ Interestingly she sets it up personally every time and when she has finished, she makes everyone leave the room and turn off the security cameras. No-one knows what she does but it is believed that she gets back into her bed to briefly revisit that time in her life.
The details of a 1990s lifestyle are captivating on their own (and we smiled to see the Persona ‘contraceptive’ method that didn’t work – we have it to thank for the existence of our youngest son)!
Her series of ink drawn nudes from 2014 were my favourites of the day. The skill in the ‘hardly there’ is so impressive.
And of course the Blake paintings and drawings were exquisite.
So having lingered far longer than we intended, we popped to the hotel to get changed so that I had more appropriate footwear for walking the streets. It was time for a very late lunch. We had tapas at Lunya and of course a bottle of cava – a wedding anniversary requires fizz.
So here I am wearing more Baukjen pieces. It really wasn’t the best weather for showcasing the new Spring collection. The jumper is a high quality crisp cotton knit so definitely more suited to a warm Spring day but it is a beautiful shade of blush pink. It’s a colour that I have started to love ever since a friend mentioned that she has started using it to replace white. It is much kinder to the complexion, especially at this time of year.
The washed black boyfriend jeans are a lighter denim with a hint of elastane. They come ready rolled which is a relief, I hate getting new jeans and having to spend ages adjusting them to get them right. Mine were a standard size 12 and fit perfectly – another pair of jeans that make you wonder why you ever wore skinnies.
Underneath I was pleased to be wearing a layering tank which works well with the boxy cut of the jumper. It means you still have shape and saves you from looking too chunky.
And so, we did a spot of shopping. I needed some new foundation so went to be colour matched while Mr MC wandered around the Harvey Nichols Beauty Hall, looking at the branding and scrutinising the signage – as he does!
When we got back, it was a quick turnaround to get ready to go out. If I look a little uncomfortable in these shots it’s because I was causing great amusement amongst the many Liverpool football fans who were waiting in the lobby to be checked in, ready for the following day’s football match.
This top is the last of the Baukjen pieces I have to show you. Another example of clever jersey trickery, the white band functionally ties the wrap.
I found a corner where I could wait for the taxi without any more enthusiastic encouragement from the crowd.
Mr MC was keen to visit the Baltic Triangle having heard a lot about it from his creative friends. It is the emerging hub of Liverpool’s creative industry and there is a lot of buzz about it in the North. We decided to go to a venue called Camp and Furnace. Despite feeling that I’d had enough to eat and drink in the afternoon I was encouraged by glowing reviews from Jay Rayner and Yotam Ottolenghi.
It was a cool place – as well as the usual DJ there were various pop up restaurants, a wine tasting bar, ping pong tables, boules, wandering brass bands and even friendly foxes!
As you can see, Mr MC was especially gratified when he was awarded a bottle of Prosecco by the fox. At this stage I had drunk my fill so he shared it with everyone at the table we were sitting on which of course meant we stayed much later than we’d planned, having conversations with all kinds of people.
We went to The Baltic Bakehouse for breakfast the next morning (thank you so much for the recommendation in last week’s comments Tracy, my head would have ached more without it) and I lifted my blood sugar with a bacon, mushroom and avocado sandwich washed down with lots of tea.
We just had time to go to the Open Eye Gallery which has an exhibition called North: Identity, Photography, Fashion. We were particularly interested because it includes work from the renowned graphic designer Peter Saville. He was our creative lead for a year when we were at Selfridges and we worked closely with him. It is probably not politic to say so but his skills certainly lie more within his field of graphic design than in inspiring teams of people (I may have waited years to have the opportunity to say that)!
Part of his creative persona involved never waking before lunchtime so he would only arrange to meet in the afternoon. He then made a point of being at least 2 hours late for every meeting. This didn’t work for me, I had a child to think of and my days couldn’t run over. The last time I met with him I was heavily pregnant with the middle son and I had to get from central London to Surbiton to collect the eldest from nursery before 6pm. So, I booked a meeting in my team’s diary for 3pm and told his assistant it was at 1pm. Of course this meant that he arrived bang on time. He was so furious that he jumped up and down in the Director’s corridor, bellowing like Rumpelstiltskin. It still makes me smile.
And with that, my friends, it was time for us to retrieve the car and drive home.
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So, with it being Valentine’s Day today and having just celebrated our anniversary, it seems timely to dwell for a moment on midlife love. If you have managed to capture and keep it, I’m sure you will agree it is a rather marvellous thing. Those of you who have been following this blog for a long time will know that I treasure it more than many because of the unhappy circumstances that led me to meet my much loved Mr MC. If you haven’t read about them, the backstory is here.
For lots of reasons I have said that I won’t discuss it again but if you are unhappy, I hope my own happy ending might encourage you to take stock and start making a plan to change your life. It isn’t easy, it takes time but if someone is making you miserable, they do not deserve you.
If, on the other hand, you were lucky enough to find your prince long ago, I’m going to encourage you to forget about the Valentines clichés and instead, give each other the gift of your time. You don’t need me to tell you that midlife marriages need maintenance but I find it tends to be one of those things that get pushed aside by the daily demands of everything else.
For us, just being together on our own terms occasionally gives us the chance to remind ourselves who we are and why we like each other. So, under the auspices of Project Happier, instead of a gift, I’m going to nudge you to make a Valentines plan to spend some time together soon doing something you both enjoy. That’s your homework for tonight.
A big thank you to Baukjen
I just want to finish by saying thank you to Baukjen for being my first spotlight post. The clothes were lovely and I would happily buy them myself. As I explained recently, I can only continue writing Midlifechic if brands like this occasionally help to support its costs. So please do click through to show them you’re here reading. Of course it is also your opportunity to talk to them directly as they will be reading the comments on this post. Perhaps give them feedback on their brand or tell them what you are looking for as midlife women that you just can’t find.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip to Liverpool. Whoever you’re with, even if you’re on your own, treat yourself tonight and don’t forget to make that plan.