Well how are you? Full of beans and ready for the Christmas break or limping and just desperate to get there? I confess that I’m in the latter camp. I woke up yesterday wondering what on earth was wrong with me because I felt as though every last ounce of energy had left my body. I had a flu jab on Saturday so at first I thought it must be that but then I mentioned how I was feeling in a quick WhatsApp chat with a reader friend and she said “limping here too – I’m all out of 2020 adrenaline.” In that second she nailed it for me – we’ve all been running on adrenaline since March haven’t we? The wrangling over Brexit is adding to the bad news overload and with an opportunity to switch off from it all now in sight, we’re crawling towards it. I had a few face to face meetings last week and it’s surprising how something that once would have been par for the course suddenly draws on your energy because you’re just out of the habit. However I’m reminding myself that even though I’m flagging, it’s nothing compared to what a lot of others are going through and I’ll come on to that later in the post with a festive appeal. First though, here’s a recap of the week before Christmas – what I wore.
The week before Christmas – what I wore
Gathering my last chick into the nest
As you know, the weekend before last we received the call we’d been waiting for telling us that the middle boy was Covid clear and able to come home. It was the morning after it had snowed heavily across the Pennines and so we had a winter white journey across the country. When we arrived in Newcastle though it was just very cold and wet. It was probably the worst possible day for viewing the apartment – the fog was down on the Tyne and of course the heating hadn’t been on for weeks so the place felt very unloved as we measured up. We’re making tentative plans even though the single question that we’ve been waiting for an answer to for the last seven weeks is still hanging in the air, hindering any progress.
I knew it was going to be a long day with a lot of time spent in the car so I opted for athleisure with some new trousers from my final edit for the year. They’re made from ponte jersey which gives them more weight than athleisure trousers usually have so they retain their shape – and they’re navy – at last a pair that isn’t black. I think I’ve worn this grey cardigan more than anything else this season, it works with everything. The polo neck is from the very first IdLF at Uniqlo collection and it’s still going strong – and you can see that I finally have one of my own navy mock croc bags. Thank you to everyone for your enthusiastic response since receiving them, there are three left in stock here so there’s still time to have one delivered before Christmas if you’d like one.
After such a long time it was lovely to set eyes on our boy. He didn’t look like he was fading away but he dolefully related his efforts at scraping the bottom of his Nutella jar for something to put on his last piece of bread that morning. Poor lamb, there was nothing for it but to take him to Waitrose and it was like a scene from Oliver Twist as he filled his basket with ‘real food,’ beginning with a tub of fresh pineapple.
With his blood sugar levels duly restored, we set off home. He and his flatmates had spent their last few nights together thinking up party games – and I suspect the reason for their lack of food was the reallocation of their budgets to cider. As a result he slept right through the journey… and for almost a night and a day once he was home. I got a bit worried so I put my head round his door to find him curled up like a dormouse, happy to be back in his own bed. “Home’s just so comfortable,” was all he could say… on repeat.
The week before Christmas – what I wore – meetings at home
Last week was dedicated to some important wrap-up meetings that needed to take place before the end of the year. Some were on Zoom, others in person – distanced and with masks of course. It was so very nice to have a reason to dress for work again and think about proper shoes… remember those? Looking at these pictures I seem to have had a red and black theme going on for the week.
Hush dress (AW19); Hush boots (AW18); Mango cardigan (sold out); Hope scarf (gifted AW19)
Black and red again although in a different format. This is a really lovely shirtdress because of the way it’s been cut – slim to the waist and hips with small flares inserted at the hem so that it moves as you walk without adding unnecessary volume around your middle. I find simple dresses like this so easy to wear, especially when I’m working from home – they help me to feel professional without being overdressed or uncomfortable.
The week before Christmas – what I wore – London bound
The week ended with two meetings in London and a haircut (thanks goes to Andy Warhol for toning with my colour theme).
M&S cashmere cardigan (AW19); Hope skirt (gifted AW19); Boots
London was lovely and everything felt very festive. When the meetings were over Mr MC and I were able to go out to eat which was a treat. We had dinner at Balthazar in Covent Garden…
M&S cashmere cardigan (AW19); Hope skirt (gifted AW19); Boots
… and breakfast the following morning at The Wolseley which was especially joyful because when we arrived, I looked up to see one of my old Selfridges’ marketing directors sitting at the next table. She was my boss when I was in my early 20s and she was formidable. My former colleagues still refer to her as Meryl (after La Streep in The Devil Wears Prada) but I got on ok with her – I found she could be disarmed with what she referred to as my ‘northern irreverence’… always a valuable asset! It was good to see her and I felt quietly relieved that I’d painted my nails for the first time in ages because that was one of the things she used to insist on.
Mr MC snapped this moment of monochrome harmony as I sat down to change into trainers for the long walk back to Euston after our last meeting.
Finery skirt (AW15); Hush cashmere jumper (AW18); Boots
The week before Christmas – what I wore – a Christmassy weekend at home
When I got home, this rather glamorous number was waiting for me. It was sent by Katya at Bombshell London who is way ahead of the trend for glamorous velvet housecoats that’s currently all over Vogue thanks to Nicole Kidman’s wardrobe in The Undoing. I imagine that this is the sort of thing that Grace Kelly used to wear as she wafted down the palace corridors in Monaco. There’s less space chez nous for wafting but it did make me feel like an instant diva. It’s washable velvet so it isn’t as high maintenance as it looks and it’s so much more elegant than a dressing gown for these housebound days and nights. It comes in lots of rich jewel colours too – wine, forest green, turquoise or a simple charcoal… and there are stunning sequinned versions too.
Katya’s is a tiny business that is based around evening and eventwear so it must have been an incredibly tough year for her. I really admire the way she’s dusted herself off and repurposed her skills while sticking to her theme of wearable glamour for midlife women. I’m hoping some of you might feel inspired to support her by adding a dash of allure to your wardrobe in the form of a luxury robe.
What I’m wearing today
I’m finishing with today’s outfit – a Christmassy mood boost for a day at my desk. I was going to save it until next week but it seems silly when I’ll be packing my sequins away again soon so I thought I’d make the most of them while I can. The sweatshirt was an impulse buy when I saw it last week, the velvet joggers a more considered purchase that will work for Christmas but also make the dark days of working from home in January feel a lot more luxe.
The week before Christmas – a festive appeal
And now I want to move onto something a bit weighty because there’s an opportunity for us to really make a difference. We all know that it’s been a difficult year for a lot of people; some have lost loved ones, others are facing a financial precipice. It’s hard to know how to help those who are grieving other than by being a constant, quiet presence. However there is still time to help some people who are going to experience a Christmas unlike any other. I don’t want this to bring you down, in fact I’m hoping it may relieve some of your 2020 feelings of impotence because for once there’s something we can do.
After joking about the middle boy and his trip around Waitrose I’m being serious now about the position that some people are in when it comes to the basic needs that so many of us take for granted such as food. The last time I mentioned the food banks on here just before October half term, I received this incredible account from a reader who is a Headteacher at a large urban school. She’s given me permission to include what she told me but understandably, she needs to remain anonymous.
Your blog is one of the highlights of a Friday for me; I know the working week is over and I can relax with a mug of tea! I was exhausted last night and cried when I read your comment about food banks and the increased demands.The increase in poverty we are seeing is horrific. The school I serve has some working parents on low skilled, zero hours contracts – all of which have been lost due to CV19. Our percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals has nearly doubled due to the pandemic and the subsequent loss of employment for parents. We have lots of parents who have been out of work for a long time – this is an area of high deprivation. They’re having to skim the fat even further on the little money they have.My pastoral staff are working so hard, our local food banks are struggling and my staff team have been amazing, bringing in bags of food every week, paid for out of their own pocket, so we can do emergency food parcels. Nobody is complaining but my staff are easily spending £5 – £10 each per week out of their own money. I’ve urged them to stop as I’m conscious of their own family budgets but they can’t see our children go hungry.Personally (and this is not to say how wonderful I am!) myself and my Deputy Head have spent lots on electricity top up vouchers and weekly shops for families who I know are desperate. During lockdown, I emptied the school kitchen freezers and shared the contents to vulnerable families. We have a lot of uniform kindly donated by parents and my stocks are nearly gone as so many families have needed it this term.Things are really bad and I think if you aren’t directly involved, you perhaps don’t realise how bad it is. I will worry about my pupils all week whilst it’s half term, I’ve tried to help but it won’t be enough for some families. I apologise for my ramble! I thank you for bringing this to people’s attention and I hope you & Mr MC continue to support food banks for the vital work they do.
Sadly, Mr MC and I are very aware that we haven’t been able to raise the funds for the food banks that we usually would via his presidency because the events that we’d organise to support it haven’t been able to go ahead. So, given that it’s the week before Christmas I thought I’d rally what I know to be the enormous collective spirit of Midlifechic readers. If everyone in our community of 48,000 people could even just donate £1, it would make a massive difference – and of course more than £1 would be even better. Donations to the national food bank charity, The Trussell Trust are currently being doubled by a number of business benefactors so it’s a fantastic time to donate here. It’s easy maths to figure that if we each donated £1, in a flash it would amount to £96,000 for the food banks… that’s a lot of mouths fed over Christmas.
There’s a desperate need out there, I know our local food bank has been doubly overwhelmed because there’s a whole new category of need in the form of middle class families who are hitting hard times this year. The very people who would usually be making donations are finding themselves on the receiving end as clients which I’m sure would have been unimaginable to them a year ago.
This isn’t me on a power trip trying to achieve some sort of validation – we’ll never know if a surge in small donations is down to us at Midlifechic and so I’ll have no way of telling you if we achieve something spectacular. It’s just a gesture that we can make quietly without any need for recognition and, of course, it sums up the spirit of Christmas. In 2020 we shouldn’t be mirroring Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ – but we are. So I urge you to do what you can – if this year has taught us anything it’s that we never know what’s around the corner for any of us.
And with that I’ll sign off, enjoy your week and I’ll be back for one last post on Friday before I call it a wrap for 2020.
Disclosure: ‘The week before Christmas – the week before Christmas – what I wore and a festive appeal’ is not a sponsored post
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