I think summer in the city is one of the hardest things to get right sartorially. I’m casting my mind back to my commuting days, heading into the urban heat island of London and seeing the yellow haze of smog hanging over the city as the train approached Waterloo. A hot city is a harsh environment but wearing the right clothes, whether you’re a tourist or a native, can make all the difference to how you cope with the day so, summer in the city – what to wear?
I like to feel as though I ‘fit.’ Even if I am a visitor I don’t want to look like one. Cities aren’t places for jolly holiday clothes. In bright t-shirts and comfortable shorts you’ll end up looking like an overgrown toddler but equally there’s no need to plan a a monochrome wardrobe – unless you’re going to New York perhaps!
How to look stylish in the city
Whether you’re working or holidaying, one of the easiest ways to look stylish in the summer is to opt for a dress. This struck me when we were in the busy streets of Paris on the day that the sun shone. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, there was a woman wearing a cobalt blue maxi dress. It wasn’t expensive – in fact I’m sure it was Zara – but the crowds parted before her as she walked down the street. She wasn’t especially young (mid 40s) or especially beautiful but she looked ‘collected’.
So, I’m starting with dresses. Think about the rule of thirds, a dress creates a ‘design’ for a large block of your body. This is why they help you to stand out in a crowd. A city isn’t the right place for skimpy and florals are tricky, they almost always make a woman over 40 look frumpy. The best route to take with dresses is to think in blocks of colour. This is my selection of dresses for the city, I have gone for quality because most of them are now reduced in the sales that have started so early this year. As I write, there is good stock of all of them but you’ll need to move quickly.
How to wear trousers on hot city days
Whether you’re a skinny jean die hard or not, they’ve never been the best choice for warm summer days. Whether you’re commuting to an office or visiting the sights, opt for a wider leg for comfort. Crops will keep you cooler and are easier for navigating public transport. You do, of course, then need to balance your silhouette so a closer fitting top will pull your look together.
In terms of footwear, if you’re going to be pounding the pavements all day, you need to absorb some of the shock to the soles of the feet to avoid them aching too quickly. I wore Stan Smiths in Paris but they were uncomfortably hot on the sunny day. Sandals with thicker soles are a good choice because they can also accommodate some of the inevitable swelling that humid hot weather causes.
Simple gold sandals that will go with every outfit, the cleated sole absorbs the shock from the pavement – 40% off
These are probably Autumn stock, they have just arrived and I’m predicting they will sell out by September, a high street version of the Gucci backless loafer
So, summer in the city – what to wear – I hope that helps you to fill in any gaps in your wardrobe before the full onslaught of sale madness begins. I will try to keep my posts updated with the best of the sales over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, here are some of the things I’ve been wearing recently. We’ve had amazing weather so during half term we spent a lot of time outside. When we popped down to the beach for ice creams, I took the new Hope linen cardigan that I bought at the blogger meet. I like it partly because of its colour but also because there are different ways to wear it. You can tie it at the waist like this:
Kimono cardigan in water melon; Isabella sunglasses
Drape it over your shoulder when the wind picks up – if it had been really cold I would have wrapped both sides
Or you can just let it flow – the asymmetry is very slimming
I wore Hope again the following day when we went to an artists’ event. Mr MC was being given an award in recognition of the time he has dedicated to a local art charity. I’m looking very windblown because we’d been down by the statue that he helped to save which is on the seafront.
Linen Kimono jacket, M&S 5 pocket super skinnies, Boden blouse, shoes and bag all past season
We’ve been walking in the woods a lot – they’re so beautiful at this time of year. The wild garlic is just coming to an end but it’s still releasing its pungent scent which always takes me straight back to my childhood.
Johnnie B blouse (past season): cropped cardigan; frayed hem jeans – I ‘DIYed’ these using an old pair of jeans; Zara ballet pumps (past season)
We also relaxed at home in the garden while the boys revised (or at least sat at the table with their books and looked as though they were revising)
Spotty shirt; uniqlo jeans (past season); Florence flat point shoes
For work this week I’ve been wearing dresses a lot. This was for a day of meetings:
Boden Audrey dress (past season); Boden shoes (past season)
This was for an after work garden party in the lovely old city of Lancaster. The dress received so much attention on Instagram that I thought I’d feature it again here – it’s still in stock in most sizes but go for the long unless you’re very petite.
Now I haven’t told you about the Jools Holland concert that we went to a couple of weekends ago. You may remember that I booked the tickets as part of Project Happier in January. We watch his “Hootenanny” show every New Year’s Eve and the boys enjoy laughing uproariously at the midlife guests boogying on down. (If you’re an overseas reader, Jools Holland is a British institution, once a member of the band Squeeze – Cool for Cats – remember that? He is a very talented rhythm and blues musician and every NYE hosts a party for midlife celebrities on the BBC as the clock strikes midnight).
So – when we heard he was coming to perform in the Lakes, I just had to book tickets, partly in jest but also because I thought it might just broaden the boys’ musical repertoire. We expected a wet day so I bought these to wear…
… but actually we had warm sunshine. We arrived as the gates opened at 3pm to be near the front and spent the afternoon having a lazy picnic and enjoying the warm up bands.
Silver lustre t-shirt; cropped jeans; crew cardigan; ‘world is your oyster’ necklace; Isabella sunglasses, silver slingbacks past season but very similar to the ones above
I had expected there to be lots of families there but actually the average age of the audience was about 63 which, according to the boys, proved their point. There was a lot of senior enthusiasm as they danced with abandon.
After a while the middle son couldn’t contain himself any longer and decided to experiment with some of the new midlife dance moves he’d been studying. Do join us for a moment of exuberance – I’ve been given permission to show you this as long as I explain that the son’s gormless expression was a mask of irony, he doesn’t usually look like that … as for Mr MC, I wouldn’t like to say…!
I bet you’ll have that song in your head for hours now. So, once again I’m wishing you a happy weekend and leaving you with a final ‘don’t miss.’ Marks and Spencer have 20% off school uniform. They are also offering this fab beauty box in honour of the Queen’s birthday containing £120 of product for only £10 if you spend £40. So I have been a good mum and stocked up on September’s school uniform and been rewarded with a little treat. I thought you might like to do that too if you have school age children, if not, treat yourself to something else first, it’s a win win situation. Next week I’m going to be talking about a very impressive skincare that I’ve been trialling since February. Keep in touch.
Disclosure: nothing in this post is sponsored or gifted
Summer wardrobe post round up
What to pack for a breezy coastal holiday
What to pack for a hot beach holiday
Simple broderie tops, dresses and shorts
Chic sandals that won’t hurt your feet
Tailored cropped trouser try on