It’s been a much quieter week here this week, we’ve been balancing our leap out of lockdown by being home-based again in a strange kind of exposure equation. It means I don’t have anything exciting to report on but I have been trying out a few new things so I’ll tell you about those instead with a cornucopia including a Stitch Fix review, some honest beauty recommendations and a singalong.

Stitch Fix review

I’m starting with a Stitch Fix review. It’s a company you may have heard of because they advertise heavily online. They offer a personal styling service for women and men, working to an algorithm triggered by the answers you give to a series of questions. The idea is that you then subscribe and have a mystery box of new clothes delivered at regular intervals. You try them at home and pay for whatever you keep, returning the rest. There’s a styling fee of £10 but that is deducted from any purchase.

Stitch Fix launched in the UK last year and a little while ago they approached me to do a sponsored post. Of course blog funding is something I really appreciate at the moment but in the end their criteria were too tight. As you know, I only work with brands that allow me to do an honest and balanced review whereas this one was going to be very closely managed so I stepped away. However my interest was piqued and I decided to try it out for myself to see if it worked, writing an independent Stitch Fix review of my own.

So one rainy afternoon during lockdown I set aside the fifteen minutes it takes to go through the Stitch Fix questionnaire. There are about 25 questions starting with a carousel of flatlay outfit pictures that you rank as something you would or wouldn’t wear. And this is where my problem began because there weren’t any that I loved so I’m not sure what the algorithm concluded at the end of it.

The questions then go on to ask about the types of occasion that you need to cover – whether you require business outfits, date night outfits or outfits for special occasions. You’re asked about the cut of jeans you prefer, hemline lengths, how adventurous your style is and your jewellery preferences. Then it moves on to your vital statistics along with questions about your proportions and the parts of your body you’re most or least fond of. It ends with the brands you like, colour preferences, patterns and fabrics, rounded off with the price you’re willing to spend per item. The final details you need to give are your age and occupation, whether or not you’re a parent and there’s an option to add any other lifestyle details that may affect your style.

Once Stitch Fix have all of these details, the information is passed over to a human stylist who puts a box together for you and sends it off. I’d specified that I was looking for casual, seasonal clothes and said that I don’t particularly like showing my legs. It took about a week for the box to arrive and when it did, we were busy so I found myself in a panic when I realised that the seven days they give you to try things on were nearly up and if I didn’t get a move on I’d have to pay for them all. I’m only telling you this because it explains why these photos are a bit rushed – I had to get to the Post Office.

Stitch Fix review try-on

I was quite impressed when I first opened the box because as you can see, it comes with a slip filled with Stitch Fix outfit ideas. I couldn’t see how they’d fit all of these clothes into such a small box but it was looking good.

Stitch Fix review

However I quickly realised that only a few of their suggestions are included in your ‘Fix’ and so if you don’t have the other pieces in your existing wardrobe to match the outfit ideas, they’re not much use.

Stitch Fix review

I started to pull things out and the first item was this set of mix and match earrings. They’re from one of Stitch Fix’s own brands, Mauvette, and they felt like something you’d buy on a market stall. I don’t mind asymmetric earrings but I wouldn’t wear something as mismatched as these, it’s just not my style and they certainly weren’t worth £22.

Stitch Fix review

Next up was a green t-shirt and cropped trousers which made me smile because as you can see, I was already wearing a green t-shirt – with white cropped jeans. The one Stitch Fix had sent was from American Vintage and it was a loose cut which was strange because I’d told the algorithm that I like my tops to fit neatly (I’d gathered  the excess fabric at the back for the photo). It was a thin slub cotton, not very well finished and certainly not worth £45. The cropped trousers on the other hand were from Stitch Fix’s own brand ‘Editor’s Cut’. They were soft knitted jersey and a lovely shade of French navy although that hasn’t come out in this picture. They hung well and I liked them. They didn’t feel very seasonal but I could imagine wearing them with tights and knee high boots in winter. Great value for £38.

Stitch Fix review

It was interesting to see that Stitch Fix had sent me the brands I hadn’t ticked as favourites. The next item was a blouse from Mint Velvet. As I often find with Mint Velvet, it was a very clever cut but I didn’t like the fabric (and I’d told the algorithm that I don’t like polyester). It had a shirred waist which gives definition without you having to tuck it in so it’s a shame that the fabric gave it such a drab finish. I noticed that it was 55% off in the sale at Mint Velvet so I’ve linked it for you.

Stitch Fix review

Utility blouse with shirred waist – 55% off in the sale

And the last item was this wool knit dress which completely confused me. I’d said I wanted a casual new look for summer… and that I don’t like showing my legs… and this is what they sent. Funnily enough the youngest who was taking these photos loved it and said I should keep it – but I always remember a male colleague commenting on my big kneecaps so I never wear anything above the knee. That was back in 1989 but isn’t it funny how throwaway comments like that can stay with you for life?

Again this dress was 50% off in the sale so it’s annoying that they were charging full price for it. If you decide to use Stitch Fix make sure you search on each item they send – just to check.

Stitch Fix review

Knitted wool dress – 50% off in the sale

So there you go, my independent Stitch Fix review. It was an interesting experience and I did enjoy trying things that someone else had chosen for a change. In the end rather than pay the £10 styling fee, I kept the cropped trousers because they do feel as though they’ll be lovely to wear in winter. I certainly didn’t get a new casual wardrobe for summer though!

You can try Stitch Fix for yourself here.

New beauty recommendations

The Inkey List

What else shall we talk about? Beauty. I have a few new things to tell you about. First of all, last time I was in Boots I had a look at The Inkey List which is becoming a cult, no-nonsense beauty brand. Now I’m always sceptical about these things because I’ve been disappointed before. I was caught up in the excitement of The Ordinary when it first launched and did a huge order, only to be disappointed by every single product. I’ve felt the same about Beauty Pie, there isn’t anything I’ve tried from there that I’ve rated.

So, with The Inkey List I decided to be cautious and just buy one item to try – the retinol eye cream.

Midlifechic beauty review

The Inkey List retinol eye cream (save £5 with every £20 you spend on beauty at Boots here)

My under eye area seems to be ageing faster than any other part of my face. I console myself with the thought that it’s the result of living with people who make me laugh but even so, having had such huge success with retinol on my face this year I thought it was worth a try. I’ve been using it for a month now and it’s made a difference. Not a huge one, I don’t suddenly look sixteen but it’s made the area smoother than it was. There was no irritation and it’s a great price so I highly recommend it. I’m now tempted to try some of their other products.

Sarah Chapman

When we went away I raided my collection of beauty advent calendar samples so that our Premier Inn stay would feel a bit more five star. Two items really stood out and I’ve since ordered them in full sizes: a serum and a ‘glow giver.’ Starting with the serum, I was looking for something to put on my face at night after my much loved Skinceuticals retinol and before night cream because although the retinol takes years off your skin, it can make it slightly dry. This one from cosmetic scientist Sarah Chapman is really good, I wake up with soft glowing skin every morning.

Midlifechic honest beauty reviews

Sarah Chapman Skinesis – save 10% or 15% if you spend over £75 with code PAY15

If you haven’t heard of Sarah Chapman, The Times has this to say about her:

“Chapman is responsible for the complexion of wealthy women in the know, the sort of women who have dermatologists in every port… Chapman’s hands are exceptional. So much so, in fact that they’re now insured for £1million.”

I don’t fit into the profile of having a dermatologist in every port (do these women really exist?!) but I do love her products.

Healthy Glow

The other product I bought seems to be sold out everywhere online. I managed to buy it in Fenwick’s in Newcastle and so if you’d like to try it, it’s worth going into a store because they probably have stock after being closed for so long. Anyway, it’s a tinted moisturiser which doesn’t sound very exciting unless you try it. It’s pale and opaque when you squeeze it out of the tube and yet when you rub it into your face, it adapts to your skintone immediately, giving it a healthy, glowing boost. It’s similar to Trinny Woodall’s BFF cream but a lighter texture giving a more natural result.

Midlifechic honest beauty recommendations

Unisex Healthy Glow

As the beauty assistant was helping me try it, I was raving about it saying to Mr MC and the boys, “look it’s invisible, it just vanishes on your skin.” To which they replied, “so why would you buy it then?” And when I did they rolled around with laughter… and as you can imagine, the banter about paying for invisible things as we went around Newcastle kept them going all afternoon…

The question you’ll be asking is, ‘does it rub off on a facemask?’ It does a bit because it goes from opaque to a slight tint when it hits your skin but it doesn’t mark your mask as much as foundation. The only way I’m finding of having a completely clean mask is to add Clarins glow drops to my moisturiser every day to give my skintone a boost and then use a primer on top for a complexion blur. I’m still using the multi-award winning Ark primer that I was sent a while ago because it includes factor 30 SPF.

Ark plumping lip cream

While we’re on the subject of masks and indeed Ark, they’ve just sent me their new plumping lip cream to try. As a few of you mentioned last week, there isn’t much point in applying lipstick if you know you’re going to be wearing a mask but this is a lovely way of keeping your lips supple. The peptides help to add a little volume back into your lips and reduce the lines around your mouth. It’s pricey but it lasts a long time and there’s 30% off at the moment.

Midlifechic personal beauty recommendations

Lip plumping cream with peptides (gifted)

Singalonga Drive-In

And I’ll leave you with the lockdown highlight of my week – a Drive-In movie which is one of my bucket list experiences ticked off. It wasn’t quite the all-American experience I’d imagined – we were in a muddy field in the middle of nowhere but I loved it anyway. We knew the Drive-In was starting locally this week and when we looked through the list of movies there was one that jumped out – Singalonga Grease. We booked a space for a car and tried to pin the boys down to see who would come along.

First up was the eldest who raised a single eyebrow and said “erm… no way!” Second was the youngest who mumbled “ok, I suppose – there’s nothing else to do.” Third was the middle one who whooped, “absolutely!”

As it happened the youngest then had a better offer so it was just the three of us and we had a ball. Nachos, hot dogs and popcorn were delivered to the car and we sang away at the top of our voices. As you can see, the boy no longer has the weight of the world on his shoulders as he did in last week’s pictures – and he’s even had a haircut. Actually I think we all came away from the singalong feeling like we’d had a therapy session – I know drive-ins are popping up everywhere so if you get a chance, do go along to one.

Midlifechic family summer 2020

Right I’m off to sit on our new landing stage because I can announce that it’s finally finished. It turned out to be a much bigger project than planned but I must take some photos to show you how it’s moved on from the muddy patch you saw in March. I won’t be able to do it tonight though because I’m in on my own with only a couple of glasses of wine to keep me company so you’ll have to imagine me down there with a magazine… and the cats… and Teddy. Not a bad way to spend a Friday evening in the first blast of sunshine that we’ve seen for six weeks. Have a lovely weekend everyone and I’ll be back next week.

Disclosure: ‘Cornucopia – Stitch Fix review, beauty recommendations and a singalong’ is not a sponsored post

Good retail offers

New additions and further reductions in the Hush sale here

20% off at Beach Cafe here until midnight 2nd August with code SUMMER20

20% off at FitFlop until Midnight tonight (31st July) code BIGTREAT20

Extra 20% off at The Outnet here with code EXTRA20

Recent lockdown posts you may have missed

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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