Slowly, slowly the warmer days are creeping in as the temperature starts to rise. We’ve been feeling impatient for it and when you think about it we were all spoilt by last year’s glorious Spring because it’s usually still a bit chilly in May. I know when the boys were little I always used to refuse to go camping before 1st June because although they didn’t care, I wasn’t keen on sleeping in a woolly hat and hiking socks, it really didn’t make for a good look the next morning! Anyway at last we can see signs of what will hopefully be a rather special Summer 2021 ahead – the gentle lifting of lockdown as we get back together with the people we’ve missed the most.
As the high Summer drops start to hit the shops you’ll notice that their imagery is reflecting the slightly different Summer that we all have ahead. Usually at this time of year shop windows and websites would be filled with pictures of people on sunny beaches with palm trees swaying in the background. This year is very different of course and it’s been interesting for me seeing the teams behind the scenes having to take it to the wire because usually Summer campaigns would be finalised soon after Christmas. However like all of us they’ve had to wait for the government announcements and then sit with the mood of their audience before deciding on an approach. The bonus is that the campaigns that are coming out are relatable regardless of whether you have a holiday to look forward to or not.
I’m working with John Lewis & Partners today and like so many of us they’ve settled on Summer at home, catching up with the people you haven’t been able to see for so long, finally having some fun and the chance to dress up a bit too. They’ve taken an interesting approach to their photography, it has a casual ‘just snapped’ feel featuring ordinary people rather than models so nothing’s too perfect. I really think they’ve captured the mood of the moment and the speed at which some of the campaign’s styles sold out last weekend seems to confirm that. In terms of fashion this Summer’s big hit is, of course, the loose floral midi and so there are quite a few options included. However there are other alternatives too because that look doesn’t work for all of us and I think more than ever as we come out of lockdown, we’ve worked out whether we’re going to be a follower of fashion or a proponent of our own style.
So what I thought I’d do when they invited me to write about their high Summer collection is get into the mood of the campaign and try some of the styles featured to see how they work on a midlifer. I then put together my own outfit from their edit, the one I’d most likely be wearing for an evening in the garden with my friends. And at last it gives me a chance to show you the landing stage or deck that Mr MC and the boys spent so many hours working on over last Summer’s lockdown. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to have an impromptu party so my pictures are taken in a slice of after work sunshine but even so I had quite a good time – as always boys sloped down to the deck to rescue a beer from the fridge… and people stopped at the other side of the canal to chat – it was like having a party without any of the effort!
Summer 2021 ahead – good times close to home
As it’s Friday night, pour yourself a glass of something chilled and I’ll get you in the mood with some of the JL&P photos first – you may want to swap the smiley babies out for cheery teens in your mind – as we know they do exist when there’s food and beer on the table.
The focus is all on simple times and seeing our friends again…
… and dressing up a bit – just putting on the outfits for these photos reminded me of what a difference a dress can make. An evening can take a different turn if you begin by looking the way you want to feel…
Pink dress and green gingham dress– both of these have sold through quickly but the pink dress will be restocked in July and the gingham dress arrives in two new exclusive versions next week – red and blue.
There are some lovely options featured in the campaign, most of them from the small new brands that JL&P are nurturing. This is a great dress for a summer’s evening in the UK; as the evening cools you could add layers underneath or over the top – or even wear it with jeans
This Summer’s loose buffet look, again easy to wear with layers underneath.
Another option with long sleeves – almost every year when I do my Summer posts I have readers wishing that retailers would offer more dresses with long sleeve so this year’s for you! Gingham is the high trend alternative to florals – a picnic in a single look.
Summer 2021 ahead – the try-on
Moving on to the styles that I decided to try, I started with this dress which is in 2021’s abstract florals but still has shape at the waist which is something I need to balance out my broad shoulders. Here it is on the model
And here it is on me. I like it because the colours aren’t too soft. The definition at the waist comes from it being a wrap style, it’s a long time since I’ve worn a wrap dress probably because I remember the risks that come with a gust of wind but this has intricate little buttons in all the right places so that the wrap is secure. It falls just below the knee on me so it would be a good midi option if you’re shorter.
The next option is the same print as the one in the campaign but I’m wearing a slightly different style and I really like it because it’s a maxi length. Anyway the dress is a shirtdress in this shot…
… and here’s the maxi version, I’m wearing a size 12 and it’s true to size. One thing I should point out about this dress is that there’s an inverted pleat in the small of the back which is a very clever part of the design because it means it will adapt to accommodate a bigger bust if you have one but if you’re like me it will just lie flat. There’s always something lovely about wearing a fitted maxi in summer, it makes me think of Margo in The Good Life. I was a child at the time but when I look back there seemed to be lots of parties in the 70s and yet most of them were low key and held at somebody’s house. I guess there weren’t as many places to go in those days and of course the economy wasn’t doing too well. Nevertheless people really dressed up for their soirées and I always thought that 70s look was incredibly elegant.
As you can see there were lots of quips flying across the canal – I’m not usually this well attired on a Wednesday night!
Now as somebody who usually veers away from florals, the campaign outfit that really caught my attention was this one with its bright solid colours and tomboy style. I knew Mr MC would be in ‘Andy Pandy’ heaven when he saw it but I didn’t care. Even though it doesn’t have a fitted waist it’s exactly the sort of thing that I’d feel comfortable in if we had friends round for the evening, it’s practical too – all you need is a pair of socks and a cardigan to protect you when the midges come out. It takes me back to the sort of thing I used to wear in my 20s after a week of being dressed in tailored suits for work.
I sized down to a 10 on the t-shirt because I think it’s good to have the contrast of a fitted underlayer when you’re wearing something like this. However I’d say the cut of the t-shirt had already accounted for that and a 12 would have been better. Do pay it some attention because if you’re looking for a good plain tee it’s a real winner, off white with a lovely neckline and nice seamed detailing at the back – a few levels above your average t-shirt.
And the dungarees – I really like them even though they’re linen. Looking at the picture I’d probably add a little weight to the ankle by rolling them a couple of times but they’re lovely and I’d wear them with a breton too or a blouse… and white trainers… it could be a whole new Summer direction for me. I’m wearing a medium and they’re true to size.
As I said at the beginning, I decided to end this by looking through the JL&P Summer edit to find the outfit that I’d be most likely to wear for getting together with friends in the back garden and this is it. Practical I know but evenings are never very warm up here and I love the font on this sweatshirt. There is a pedant in me that swayed towards the navy version because the typography was in gold but pink and red are more summery. The mom jeans are easy to wear and not too clingy which is important when you’re wearing a light colour plus they’re ecru so softer than Liz Hurley white. (They aren’t patterned by the way, it’s just the shimmer of the flames through the glass that’s casting a reflection on them). I’m wearing a medium in the sweatshirt and it’s true to size, the jeans are a size 12 and a bit tight but then new jeans always are so I’d say they’re true to size but need a few hours of wearing in.
Summer 2021 ahead – the other pieces I considered
It was hard deciding on one final outfit and there were quite a few other pieces that tempted me so I thought I’d include them here for you to see. First of all a medley of blues:
- Linen dress with hanky hem – this blue is too cool in shade for me but I love the style and I really hope JL do it in other colours next year. It’s also available in black which would look very New York
- Striped shirt– a crisp cotton shirt that would look great with jeans but I’ve paired it with shorts here, the sleeves balance out the leg on show
- Denim shorts – a Summer stalwart, great for wearing with t-shirts all season long
- Pompom bag – lift a casual look with a quirky bag from another small brand that’s new at JL&P
- Suede espadrilles – a fast selling line and it’s no wonder at the price, this soft blue is a new introduction to the range
- Bright floral dress – a fabulous colour combo with a shirred bodice. I really love this and confess I didn’t spot it until after I’d done my edit or I’d have added it to the mix to shoot
- Soft cardigan – a new colour in the best selling range of soft knits for cooler evenings
- Classic canvas trainers – Kate Middleton’s favourites in a pop of colour
- Ditsy print dress – the darker background makes this more grown up than your average floral print
- Orange sandals – a strappy sandal that you can easily walk (or dance) on a lawn in
- Ladybird earrings– a tribute to our favourite garden beetle
So I really hope today’s post has got you in the mood to make a few plans for Summer 2021 – you can see the full JL&P Summer Edit that I chose from here. I’ve been finding it hard to be enthusiastic about the season ahead but now that the leaves are bursting and the cushions are out on the garden furniture it all feels much more hopeful. I stocked up the fridge on the deck this week so that’s definitely a sign that good times are on their way.
Before I finish I must just add a final thank you to Mr MC and the boys for all the work they did to make the deck that you’re finally seeing come into its own – I still have to plant it properly but I will soon. It’s come a long way since they started last April but it was definitely a good use of those long, hot days of lockdown one. Here it is as they began to dismantle the deck we first built in 2004, sadly the wood was rotting…
… and on VE Day when it was just mud and concrete foundations with camping chairs and a firepit made from an old wheelbarrow.
It’s going to be really well used this summer so they deserve their well stocked fridge – here’s to sunny days ahead for all of us. And with that I wish you a lovely weekend – just in case you missed it there was a Tuesday post here this week and there will be another one next week too with my birthday musings. I don’t know what they’re going to be yet so I’d better do some deep thinking over the next couple of days!
Just a quick note – I’ve been doing some spring cleaning this week and I’ve taken anyone who hasn’t opened an email for a while off the subscriber list to cut down on costs. I’m very happy to have you on there though so if you feel you’ve dropped off by accident please do resubscribe and you’ll then continue to get my posts delivered to your Inbox as usual.
Disclosure: ‘Summer 2021 ahead – the gentle lifting of lockdown’ was commissioned by John Lewis & Partners but as always, I had full control of my interpretation of their high Summer edit.
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