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.


Summer in the city - what to wear



Tributes to Self Portrait dresses have been the biggest dress trend for 2016. This lace dress has an elegance of its own that will last when the trend moves on. It is currently 40% off in the sale and a good investment for many summers to come. More stock here.

An even bigger discount for the same layered lace dress trend with 50% off, the lighter lining makes this a slightly less serious dress. More stock here.

This drawstring dress is made from natural fibres and would be so easy to throw on; your accessories would dictate whether it was smart or casual. A brilliant buy from a quality brand at 50% off, more stock here.

This striped dress will keep you looking fresh on humid city days, 40% off, stock available here and here

Deckchair banding was the new stripe for this year so this bargain dress will continue to be on trend for the next few summers. More stock here.

The same dress as the solid navy below but in a bright jaffa orange, this linen dress is a ‘dress down or dress up’ choice with 35% off, more stock here.

The geometry of this patterned dress means it avoids looking fussy. Very well priced without a discount, more stock here.

Lovely colour block dress and very easy to wear with its midi length pleated skirt, I’m extremely tempted by this one. A great price plus 20% off. More (non discount) stock here.

A simple, chic versatile wardrobe workhorse, you’ll wear this indigo linen dress for years and it is 35% off, more stock here

A very versatile midi dress – you could wear this for a sunny beach holiday too, however the block colours make it sophisticated enough for the city, 35% off, more stock here.

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.

Summer in the city - what to wear



These ruched tops are too thick for the beach but great for the city, with lots of firm elastane to contour your body

A little looser, this dot top will skim rather than cling and the sleeves are a flattering cut at the top of the arm

Looser still is this elbow length shirt, it would be great for layering with a vest top underneath

A summer take on the classic white shirt, the tie waist gives you shape

Funnel necked sleeveless tops are surprisingly flattering and this one has ribbing with a sleek grown on neckline, it is a great price

Not too wide crops for people who are still embracing the move to a palazzo leg

A looser feel in this year’s on trend pyjama stripe trousers

The perfect tailored city shorts – not too short and not too tight. If you’re on holiday in a city and want to look chic, these very reasonable shorts are for you.

Simple gold sandals that will go with every outfit, the cleated sole absorbs the shock from the pavement – 40% off

Such a lovely mix of colours in these tie up sandals with a soft ribbon ankle tie and an athleisure sole (also available in black ribbon)

If you have a ‘no bare toes’ code in the office, these ankle strap shoes have Insolia soles and will be more comfortable than the average pointed shoe – at a great price point

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.

Life lately

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:

Summer in the city - what to wear

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

Hope fashion

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.

Summer in the city - what to wear

Linen Kimono jacket, M&S 5 pocket super skinnies, Boden blouse, shoes and bag all past season

Summer in the city - what to wear

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.

Summer in the city - what to wear

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)

Summer in the city - what to wear

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:

Nikki Garnett

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.

Nikki Garnett



Martha dress 

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…

Hunter chelsea boots

Hunter gloss Chelsea boots

… 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.

What to wear to a festival over 40

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

T-shirts with the luxe factor

Simple broderie tops, dresses and shorts

Chic sandals that won’t hurt your feet

Tailored cropped trouser try on

Summer bits and bobs you might need