I was going to do this post in a couple of weeks but given that the sales are on and some of these items are heavily reduced I thought I’d give you a break from tinsel and do it now. As you know this was the year that I decided to have a major wardrobe overhaul and many of you have travelled the journey with me since I started this blog. I gave myself a budget (which has now completely, utterly gone) and started more or less from scratch. So I thought it might be useful for both you and me to work out which buys have been the best. In defining ‘best’ I’ve chosen the pieces that I’ve worn again and again because they’re great quality and they make me feel good. On a cost per wear basis, these are the items that have been worth it. They are ‘no brainers’ that have slotted straightforwardly into my wardrobe and given me a plethora of new options from clothes I already have. So here goes, my top 15 clothing purchases 2014. I’ve added links for items that are still available:
1. The best Winter coat 2014
You won’t be surprised to see that I’m awarding this to my Boden Ingrid coat which has surprised me in its versatility because I initially thought it might be a colour with limited options. However I’ve discovered it goes with so many colours and can be dressed up or down so I use it for both work and weekends. As you can see it works well with neutrals so that the coat is the focus:
(worn with M&S cashmere polo neck, Boden Jackie heels)
but also with brights:
(worn with Boden Westbourne jumper, Boden bistro crops, Barbour shirt, Boden sixties heels, Accessorize necklace)
2. The best short Winter coat 2014
I’m awarding this to my Grey & Osbourn peacoat which is the other coat that I wear almost constantly now that the weather has turned much colder. It is a rich wool and cashmere mix which means it hangs beautifully. The silver buttons dress it up without giving it the 80s vibe that would have come with gold. It’s also 50% off at the moment which is a real bargain. Again it can be styled as smart or casual:
(worn with Boden wool bistro crops, Boden shirt, M&S ankle boots)
(Worn with Boden roll neck, Next relaxed skinny jeans, Boden Boho boots)
3. The best blazer 2014
Another clear winner for me here, the Whistles ponte blazer which they seem to give a different name to every season. I have one in every colour and wear them constantly for both smart and casual unless the weather is too cold:
(Worn with Zara blouse, Next relaxed skinny jeans, Boden slingbacks, TK Maxx bag)
(Worn with TopShop chambray shirt, Jigsaw Hampton boyfriend jeans, Clarks Estate Copper shoes, Accessorize necklace and bangles, M&S bag, Noa Noa umbrella)
(Worn with Wallis t-shirt, Next relaxed skinny jeans, Treaty necklace, Boden slingbacks, Hershel backpack)
(Worn with Next straight jeans, Zara ballet flats, Accessorize necklace)
(Worn with Jackpot scarf, Boden breton, Next relaxed skinny jeans, Boden Boho boots)
4. The best Winter trousers 2014
I have so many pairs of these and they are the backbone of my working wardrobe: my award goes to the Boden Bistro crops. The wool version is especially smart and slightly looser on the calf, the metallic thread mixes take a bit of getting used to because they don’t have lycra but they look good and I wear the cotton ones year round, with boots (and sometimes thermals) on cold days and pointed courts when it’s warmer.
(Worn with Boden cashmere crew neck, Boden shirt, Clarks Estate Copper shoes)
Cotton Bistro crops
(Worn with Gant jacket, Boden breton, Boden bistro crops, Boden sixties heels)
Metallic bistro crops (similar here)
(Worn with Whistles blazer, John Lewis shoes, Next long sleeved t-shirt, Majorica necklace)
5. The best Jeans 2014
You know how much I love these by how many pairs I have, the Next relaxed skinny jeans – I have even started customising them by dark dying them at home. For me there is no better jean (especially for the price) although Uniqlo comes a close second if you’re looking for a true skinny.
(Worn with Barbour sweatshirt, Warehouse bomber jacket)
(Worn with Uniqlo jumper, Boden Boho boots, Whistles blazer, Zara clutch)
6. The best coated jeans 2014
I’ve tried lots of different pairs but I always end up back at the same place for coated skinnies, good old M&S. Why? Because I wear them mostly for going out and so I want the corset effect that they give – they are high rise and so there is no unwanted revealing of flesh if I’m balancing on a bar stool or leaning over to talk to friends, I also like the biker side seaming which is slimming on the leg.
(Worn with Oasis top, Selfridges clutch, Zara necklace, John Lewis shoes)
(Worn with Hobbs suede jacket, Boden scarf, Boden Boho boots)
(Worn with Whistles blazer, Woolovers jumper, Zara necklace, Boden Jackie heels)
7. The best knitwear 2014
This was a new shape for me and a departure from the fitted knitwear shapes that I usually choose but I have worn this RachelWears jumper again and again this Winter. It balances out tighter jeans and the Alpaca wool in the knit makes it look special.
(Worn with Uniqlo shirt, Treaty necklace, M&S coated jeans, M&S ankle boots)
8. The best shirts 2014
Forgive the exposed midriff – I was actually showing you the Uniqlo ultrastretch high rise jeans in this picture (mentioned above as great skinnies) but it’s the best one I have of the Uniqlo Ines de la Fressange shirt range. Again I have worn this lots, but it is usually under a jumper (see above). It has a lovely finish, great cut, perfect length, comfort (lots of elastane) and is easy care (no ironing nightmare).
9. The best jewellery 2014
I understand the importance of having a good quality watch and rings but otherwise I’m not a big spender on jewellery, it goes in and out of fashion too quickly. However in this year of the statement necklace I have come to rely on Zara for affordable and versatile pieces like this one below. Next year I’m hoping to investigate some of the smaller brands that I know are around including creative people on Etsy because I think there is an opportunity to support British companies here.
(Worn with Boden dress)
10. The best shoes 2014
A year ago I would never have believed that I would say this but having comfortable feet has become more of a priority to me over the last few years. Sigh, I know it must be an age thing, let’s call it wisdom because I know lots of you agree with me. My very best, most comfortable pair of shoes this year came from Clarks and they are the leopard print Estate Copper. The boots I bought from Clarks are equally as comfortable as were the sandals in the summer so I am giving them my best shoe award. However, I must also mention Boden for statement shoes. Their slingbacks (both flat and heeled) were key for me throughout the summer and the Jackie heels have done the same job this Winter. They look great but don’t have the slipper like comfort factor of Clarks.
(Worn with Boden bistro crops)
11.The best boots 2014
My award for these is going to M&S for their ankle boots. You don’t need me to tell you about the wonders of Insolia. I also love their price points for leather and the fact that they often incorporate a slight heel into their flat styles which is great if you’re going to be walking around a lot.
(Worn with Whistles blazer, Next long sleeved t-shirt, Accessorize necklace, Next relaxed skinny jeans, Clarks shopper)
M&S crossover ankle boots
(worn with Boden shirt, Boden wool Bistro crops)
12. The best day dress 2014
Apart from the dress of my mum’s that I had reconfigured and which this week added to its Woman magazine fame by appearing in The Daily Express, my best dress buy this year was from Whistles. It is fitted but not clingy and to me is the very definition of chic where a dress is concerned.
(Worn with Boden sixties heels)
13. The best evening dress 2014
Ok so I’m pushing it here – this is the only time I’ve needed to wear an evening dress this year but this just proves that I was so right to hire it. Sadly the hire company WishWantWear is no more but I believe that GirlMeetsDress have taken on their stock. So, a reminder to all, hiring is definitely worth it.
(Worn with Boden velvet twist heels)
14.The best skirt 2014
I’ve worn this lots but because it is so distinctive I don’t tend to feature it in my photos very often. My favourite skirt award goes to the Cambridge skirt from Boden. I suspect skirts are going to make a bit of a comeback after the long domination of the dress. Watch this space.
(Worn with Next long sleeve t-shirt, Boden snood, Boden suede boots)
15. The best handbag 2014
I struggle with handbags. Quite simply it’s because when I was at Selfridges, Mulberry used to invite me to their Bond Street store every year and invite me to pick a bag. So you can see why buying one just isn’t the same these days! However, I have been thrilled with this one which is from Clarks again. Simple, well structured and no branding.
(Worn with RachelWears cardigan, Mango blouse, Boden scarf, M&S coated jeans, Clarks boots)
So, I hope that’s been helpful. As I look back, I can see I’ve built a capsule wardrobe and there are pieces I wear repeatedly. I hope rather than getting boring it shows you just how much can be done with a thought through wardrobe. I suppose the next question is about regrets, have I made any mistakes? Indeed I have. When we were in Spain in blistering sunshine I panic bought from Zara’s new Autumn range (panic because I’d dragged a reluctant Mr MC and the boys away from the pool into a shopping mall). I regret all the things I bought then – in fact I’d go as far as saying that apart from the jewellery, most things I buy from Zara or Mango don’t do well. They seem to fall apart or shrink in the wash or I just don’t wear them because they’re often synthetic which is fine if you like it but I don’t seem to. Maybe that’s my lesson for next year.
I’ve also realised just how much I’m still spending with Boden and in case you’re wondering no I don’t have any kind of relationship with them – I don’t think they’ve ever heard of Midlifechic. So next year I’ll do my best to keep on discovering other new brands like Uniqlo and Woolovers that are good for basics. I’m not sure how many posts I’ll do over Christmas, I can see that you’re all busy as visitor numbers are falling but I’ll be back with an outfit round up before the big day. I hope you’re all having lots of fun and do keep in touch if you have a minute.