It’s all my fault. I jinxed the summer by packing away my Winter knits over the weekend. I even switched the heating off. We had a barbecue and everything was lovely – then Monday dawned with torrential rain and a temperature of 12 degrees!

However, I’ve had a lot of emails over the last few weeks asking for a post on what to wear for Summer in the city. I then included this dress in my Chelsea Flower Show post last week without crediting it and a few people have been in touch to ask where it’s from.

Summer In The City

It is, of course, classic Boden. It’s at least 4 years old now but if there is one thing that I think Boden does best, it’s Summer workwear – particularly when it comes to these ponte dresses. I have a few of them in different colours and they are the ones I turn to when it’s warm but I need to look smart for meetings.

The reason they work so well is that they have a high cotton content which helps to keep you cool but, being jersey, they don’t crease. Looking at the shot above, I had travelled for 3 hours by train and then another hour by car but the dress is uncreased.

They flatter your form but they don’t cling. They are also cut with a high waist which is always very slimming. My friends were insistent that I had lost half a stone when in fact, after all of my birthday celebrations, I had put weight on. These dresses are masters of misdirection. So, I’m going to focus on this kind of city dressing in this post. It’s a timeless style spanning Jackie O, Grace Kelly, Amal Clooney and Kate Middleton – chic, understated dressing using accessories as a twist. A lot (but not all) of the pieces are from Boden but this isn’t a sponsored post. Boden have 30% off all dresses from Thursday 8th June until Sunday 11th June.

Ottoman Dresses

If you’re not familiar with it, Ottoman is a textured jersey with a horizontal rib. I popped on to the Boden website to see what they have this year and was surprised to see that they have just released a new collection. It seems quite late in the season but a few other retailers have just launched some late additions too. Boden are also offering up to 30% off with free delivery and free returns if you use code 6T2C at checkout.

This year’s range from Boden doesn’t include the same combination of neckline and short sleeves as the one I’m wearing above which is a shame because the ‘Audrey’ collar is always one of the most flattering. However there is this one with a longer sleeve – and it is reduced.

I always find it’s better to order the long if the model shot shows that it falls just above the knees. It saves the skirt riding up to mid-thigh when you sit down.

Summer In The City

Iris dress – also available in a navy and ivory stripe.

Classically simple career wear here, this dress is also in Ottoman fabric and available in navy and black.

Summer In The City

Elsa dress

This one is my favourite, I like it even better than mine because of the tabbed waist. It is still available in navy in a few sizes and all sizes are in stock in red. Red is better for summer in my opinion. Why? Because this is the season when it is easy to wear bold block colours. You can use accessories as a contrast and you don’t need to co-ordinate jacket, tights and a coat.

Summer In The City

Cordelia dress

This one is a looser cut which you may prefer if you are an apple or column shape. It’s also available in black, green or a dark pink. Their lack of fuss means that these dresses are particularly striking when you wear them with a contrasting statement shoe.

Summer In The City

Hermione dress

This one is new in – don’t forget they are all machine washable and, if you hang them up to dry, they don’t need ironing either. It’s also available in red and navy.

Summer In The City

Edwina dress

And the last of the new ottoman collection is this one in a dusky pink but also available in teal or black.

Summer In The City

Elsa dress

Heavy jersey dresses

If you prefer a smoother jersey finish, Boden often do a lined, heavier version of their classic jersey dresses that work well for summer in the city. I haven’t worn mine yet this year but here’s a picture from last year. Again this is a few seasons old now but because they’re so timeless, they work every year.

Summer In The City

This is new in and probably the closest to mine although it has a subtly ruched waist which would be more flattering.

Summer In The City

Honor dress – also available in red, black or navy

Or for something with a little more architecture…

Summer In The City

Constance ponte dress (also available in red)

This one is new too – playing on the statement sleeve trend, at least these wouldn’t get in the way of your keyboard.

Summer In The City

Lavinia dress – also available in green, black or navy

And last of all I had to include this new arrival. The reviews aren’t great but it looks so pretty that I’d be tempted to try it although I have absolutely no need for another summer dress.

Summer In The City

Carina dress

Other smart dresses

As you can tell, I make a beeline for anything with an ‘Audrey’ collar. The Martha dress is a Boden classic that they repeat in different colour and pattern options every year. Here’s another picture from last summer when I was going to a very formal garden party.

Summer In The City

Boden haven’t done the spot on this year’s Martha but they have just released a selection of new patterns. This one has a retro feel to it, suiting the cut of the dress.

Summer In The City

Martha dress – also available in green or navy along with a selection of other patterns

The last of my classic summer dress choices is the shirt dress. I’ve had this Boden shirt dress for years and yet this shot of me on my way to parents’ evening was my most liked Instagram picture last summer for some reason.

Summer In The City

They don’t have any that are quite as slim cut this year but this one is similarly simple.

Summer In The City

Sophia dress

So – there you have my number solution for smart Summer citywear – unfussy dresses that don’t crease.

Which shoes to wear with simple dresses?

I know that quite a few workplaces ban sandals now for health and safety reasons; madness, I know, but a slingback is a good way round it. Your feet stay cool and the retro fifties feel works really well with a simple dress.

I have never liked commuting in trainers but I do tend to take a spare pair of flats with me in my bag and change them for heels when I need to.

Summer In The City

1- 4 Flat slingbacks 

5 & 8 – Buckle shoes

6 – summer pony shoes

7 – ruffle detail shoes (in the sale)

What to wear on top?

Air conditioning is the problem here. I’ve found that every office has an aircon monster who squats by the dial and turns it up when no-one is looking. When the weather is warm, jackets can be a nuisance because you end up having to carry them and they also spoil the line of dresses like these. Fortunately the cardigan is staging a comeback this autumn so you can be ahead of the trend and wear one now. I tend to shoulder-robe mine when it’s chilly and then pop it into my bag when I don’t need it.

When you’re wearing these waisted dresses, it’s better to look for a cropped cut so that you don’t spoil the silhouette. If you can find an edge to edge version, it will always hang better than one with buttons. These are great – from Boden again.

Alana cardigans

Or there’s simple button through cashmere if you prefer it…

Summer In The City

Cashmere crop

Pure Collection also have a great selection. Their sale has just started so there are some good discounts going on too.

Summer In The City

Cashmere shrug

Summer In The City

Gassato cardigan (in the sale)

So, that’s the first of my summer in the city posts, focusing on simple dresses.

NB 30% off dresses at Boden from today 8th June until Sunday 11th June

Midlife lately

It’s been busy, very busy. The boys laughed hysterically when I sat down for dinner a few days ago and said that I felt as though my balls had finally dropped…hopefully you will get the reference to juggling that they missed.

I spent some of last week working with a big FMCG brand. They commissioned me to give them insight into the minds of today’s midlifers. It was a fascinating presentation to prepare and it was equally fascinating working with them afterwards and seeing how they reacted. It was hard for a group of pre-millennials to understand the cycle of boom and bust that we have lived through and appreciate the impact that the recession has had on our lives.

By the end of our session though they completely understood and I think it helped them to see that our lives haven’t quite been the picnic that they imagined. It’s great that the really big brands are starting to see us as a dedicated segment rather than lumping everyone who is over 40 together in a mass demographic.

At home, like so many others we are gasping for breath as we reach the midpoint of the exam season. The eldest finished his on Saturday and has clearly been celebrating hard because the last we heard from him was a jubilant text telling us he was exiting the exam hall! He will gravitate home from university at some point… when the parties are over.

So – outfits. This was last Saturday when summer was behaving like summer. I bought these IdLF at Uniqlo linen trousers when they were released in January and I have been wearing them a lot. I think these linen trousers in the current collection are fundamentally the same but without the IdLF red stitching and label.

My white t-shirts needed updating so I added this linen one, I really like the soft draping at the neck. I’ve just seen that it’s now in the sale with 30% off.


T-shirt; linen trousers; sandals – currently sold out but keep an eye on the website

As you can see, I stalked the Sèzane site until these sandals came back into stock and they were worth every penny. The cotton shopper was inside the box when they arrived – a nice touch. By the way, Sezane launched their summer collection this morning and the site crashed – that’s how much traffic there was. You can see it here when it’s back up again!

Summer In The City

On Saturday night we had an impromptu barbecue, the first of the summer. It was so nice to relax outside and catch up with people. I ordered this linen dress for our holiday a while ago but then decided it was a shame to save it. It’s one of those things that you can just throw on and yet it is well cut and has flattering splits up both sides. There are a few different colours to choose from and it’s now in the sale.

Nikki Garnett

Linen dress; gold ruffle sandals; murano glass earrings

Now, I want to show you something that I have been sent to trial. You may already have heard about Shapeez. The Daily Mail and a number of other bloggers have been raving about them. They’re an American shapewear brand but their point of difference is that instead of just focusing on the front of your body, they also consider your back. They have a mission to banish back fat.

I didn’t think I had back fat but I was willing to test them to see if they made a noticeable difference. This is what they sent me. It’s called a Demee Long, it’s a camisole that lifts you at the front and sucks you in all over.


The key difference between this and other similar tops is the way that it is constructed at the back. As you can see, it is contoured so that you don’t have the usual harsh lines and bulges that you get with a bra.Shapeez

Demee long

This is the difference it made to me. In the first picture I’m wearing a normal bra…


…in the one below I’m wearing the Shapeez. As you can see, it has smoothed me down all over and you really notice the difference where the band of my bra sits (and at the waistband of my jeans). It’s amazing but also quite disturbing to discover yet another part of your body that needs monitoring!

If you wear jersey tops and dresses regularly, it’s a great thing to have in your arsenal. It’s also available in nude which I suspect I will now buy for wearing under white tops. Oh and it’s comfortable too. I was very happy with the style they sent me which gives an added oomph to the cleavage. However they do have minimisers too if you prefer. Pricing on the website is in dollars but they tell me that they do deliver to the UK. Alternatively you can avoid paying shipping by buying some styles directly from Amazon here. You need to measure yourself before you buy but it’s worth it because the fit is amazing.


So that leaves me with one last outfit. This is what I put on yesterday morning to wear in the office. As you can see, rain was lashing the windows so I ended up changing the sandals for boots …and socks…in June. Luckily the trousers are from the ‘next season now’ collection so they worked perfectly with boots. They’re selling out quickly so if you think this weather has set in, they’re a good buy.

Lots of bloggers are wearing these sandals, they’re a steal at £19.50. They brighten up any outfit and they’re really comfortable.

Nikki Garnett

Cotton jumper (Next past season); Cropped palazzos; Ochre sandals

And with that I’ll leave you. I feel reluctant to log off because I have lots of things that I want to chat about. I’ve been doing that thing of waking in the middle of the night and having imaginary conversations with you in my head because my midlife thoughts are stacking up. However my in-tray is overflowing and I must crack on.

I’ll be back on Friday… now that’s going to be another big day for the UK. There’s a lot I could say but I won’t. Have I made up my mind who to vote for? No. I don’t think the future of this country has ever felt so obscured by uncertainty and there doesn’t seem to be a clear path. Somehow the weather feels appropriate… metaphorical… a pathetic fallacy – call it what you like, these are strange times that we’re living through. Have a good week and if you’re in the UK, I hope the decision is an easy one for you.

Disclosure: Summer In The City is not a sponsored post. Thank you to Shapeez for working with me and sending the camisole and to M&S for the sandals.

Sales that have started

Pure Collection – up to 60% off

Whistles summer sale preview

Key Spring / Summer Style Posts

The return of the trousersuit

Spotlight on Baukjen

A holiday wardrobe from Marks and Spencer

What to buy from Boden and Hush

Weekend wardrobe capsules

Uniqlo – linen and denim review

How to update your capsule wardrobe for Spring

Spotlight on Pure Collection

Finery Review – Spring 17

Spring 17 wardrobe updates

 The Midlife Series

Simple 50th birthday celebrations

How it feels to reach your 50th birthday

Curing a lifelong phobia

Midlife loneliness – a follow up

Loneliness and the midlife woman

What is midlife in the twenty-tens? 

Survey results – what you are experiencing

My story