It’s an exciting day for our Midlifechic community – we have come to the attention of John Lewis. Because of my day job, I don’t have much time to pursue relationships with brands but I have been hoping and wondering all year if they would spot us… and they have! So it is with a feeling of great honour that I have taken my first challenge from them – to create a post about Winter Florals.
Knowing me as you do, you will be aware that it is indeed a challenge for someone who professes never to wear pattern. Actually, pattern has started creeping into my wardrobe here and there this year. The problem I have with florals is that they can be difficult to carry off after 40 without looking mumsy… actually my school headmistress is the person who really springs to my mind. However wearing florals in winter when everyone else is sparkling with sequins can create an interesting look.
I was reading The Guardian on Saturday and lo and behold there was a feature on Winter Florals from Jess Cartner-Morley. She encapsulated them perfectly saying,“a floral dress in summer is almost too neat. It is so appropriate that it feels a bit literal. The thing where you wear, for instance, a strawberry-print dress to Wimbledon makes me kind of itchy. To me an outfit that makes such ploddingly obvious connections does not sell the wearer as a scintillating conversationalist. Is that mean? Sorry. When you wear a floral in summer, you mirror the world around you, when you wear one in winter, you challenge it a little. You are creating your own aesthetic.”
And when you think about it that makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? I don’t know whether it is specifically because I turned 50 this year but I’m really starting to enjoy playing with expectations of what I ought to be wearing at this stage in my life by experimenting with my own aesthetic. I must have been one of the oldest bloggers at the Blog Awards last week and yet I found myself wearing red and gold in a sea of black dresses. Confidence can grow along with our years – if we let it.
We’ve talked before about the invisibility that can feel as though it is settling around you in midlife like Harry Potter’s cloak. If we’re going to stand out as we grow older, we need to keep adjusting the signal that we transmit with our clothing. This isn’t new to us here because we adapt it all the time: the splash of colour shoes… quirky jewellery… metallic accessories… a dash of leopard print… I am now adding Winter Florals to this list. They are the reverse of a girlish print, like a calla lily set against a daisy – darkly gothic and utterly womanly.
Are Winter Florals a fad or are they here to stay?
When I first started blogging nearly four years ago, Winter Florals were one of the first things I bought into. After a season, I dispatched them all to a local dress agency thinking they were over but each year I have watched them grow stronger than before as an alternative to the glitz of Christmas. Whereas metallics and glitter suddenly feel wrong after the new year celebrations are over, Winter Florals fit the midwinter days that seem to last until April .
Thanks to Loewe their popularity is likely to grow even more over the next few seasons. Autumn 2017 saw the release of the Loewe / William Morris collaboration. Suddenly our parents’ ‘strawberry thief’ curtains are cool again with Loewe describing their collection as “William Morris meets punk”. As we know, where designers lead, the high street follows.
Winter Florals at John Lewis
So let’s start off with the John Lewis edit of Winter Florals. This is my favourite of their interpretations (you can see the others here). Look at the rich jewel colours that have been pulled together in an ‘unmatchy’ way. The clashing of colours or patterns is the key to not looking like your headmistress. Think back to Pre-Raphaelite paintings and the mediaeval brocades, damasks and embroideries that they took their inspiration from.
Jumpsuit : I have the camisole version of this and it is a heavy fabric which means that it hangs well, skimming the body rather than clinging.
Devoré Kimono: the perfect way to cover your arms if you prefer to – the cropped sleeves mean that you could wear it all evening without overheating.
Oversized watch: I have one of these watches and the oversized face works to make your wrist look dainty – it has an incredibly flattering effect (and you can tell what time it is without hunting for your reading glasses)!
Kitten heeled mule: shoes and mules tend to work better with full length, wide-legged trousers than boots for evening. You need a glimpse of ankle to break up the blocks. Also available in black.
Midlifechic edit: Winter Florals 1
So, moving on to the challenge – the Midlifechic interpretation of Winter Florals. I’ve started in my comfort zone, pulling out the rich jewel colours in a block of solid plains and adding the florals as accessories. Baby steps…
Satin wrap neck blouse: such a fabulous design, especially if the years are showing on your neck. The swathes of fabric and the rich colour give this a dramatic effect. It is breathable viscose rather than polyester satin and it is also available in black.
Cropped tie waist velvet trousers: these will look great with the blouse tucked into them. The model shot on the website isn’t great, I feel sure they will look better in real life. The tie belt gives waist definition and the cropped leg will work well with either shoes or boots. They are machine washable so you can team them with a chunky knit or polo neck for weekends without worrying about dry cleaning bills.
Winter floral clutch: this has a detachable shoulder strap so it can be used as a clutch or handbag. Currently 20% off.
Winter floral flats: statement brocade loafers with a jewel trim that would also lift a simple jeans outfit. Currently 20% off – also available in navy.
Embellished court shoes: satin Cinderella heels with a d’Orsay fit that pick up the colour of the blouse.
Midlifechic edit: Winter Florals 2
Moving on gently, this is one for monochrome lovers. A simple weaving of black, blush and ivory with touches of gold.
Monochrome blouse with necktie: you could also wear this unbuttoned with the necktie undone or just as a blouse (the necktie is removable). It would be a great desk to dinner option: wear it with well cut black trousers or leather leggings for work and then add the skirt for evening.
Tulle skirt: fabulous tulle midi skirt for true Sarah Jessica Parker style. This one is not particularly bouffant so it doesn’t feel too ‘prom.’ Gold sequins add sparkle.
Brocade boots: it’s hard to tell from the picture but the brocade on these boots has a subtle glitter effect. The block heel means they will be easy to wear with black jeans or velvet trousers too. Currently 20% off.
Beaded gold clutch bag: endlessly versatile because it will work with so many outfits, this comes with a chain strap which can be stowed in the bag when used as a clutch.
Brocade statement shoes with gold heel: taxi shoes, yes – but at least you could admire your feet whilst sitting. The detail on these is stunning, in addition to the jewelled embellishment there is a tiny gold bow at the back of the heel. Currently 10% off.
Midlifechic edit: Winter Florals 3
This is possibly my favourite, I’m in the comfort zone of a brand I particularly love and I’ve had my eye on this outfit all season. The deep damson tones are dark enough to be elegant and yet they are not as complexion draining as black. In my view this is the very definition of a sophisticated look.
Off the shoulder velvet top: as you know I have this in blue and it is the only Bardot style top I can tolerate. It is so well cut that it doesn’t shift around your shoulders all of the time.
Heritage bloom full skirt: this is made from heavy matte satin which gives it its standout shape. The length is in between a midi and a maxi for people of average height and it is a simple wraparound style with bow detail at the waist.
Bow sandals: these are so beautiful and again could be worn with jeans or trousers so they are not a ‘one outfit wonder’. Priced to clear.
Leather clutch: I can’t believe I found a toning bag! This is pebbled leather with gold embroidery, it has a detachable strap and bell charm.
Ruffle shoes: for those who prefer flats – these don’t match but they do tone, picking out the petals from some of the flowers. Reduced to clear so be quick!
Midlifechic edit: Winter Florals 4
Gold tones – a dual option here depending on whether you prefer trousers or a skirt.
Gold floral lace top: here the Winter Floral is woven into the texture rather than a print. This has a slip style bodice with a gold overlay, a semi-sheer blouse that can be dressed up with trousers or down with jeans. Also available in black.
Black tasselled clutch bag: exclusive to John Lewis, with embroidery, beading and tassels this adds a touch of dressed-down trend to the outfit. Currently 20% off.
Tapered winter trousers: great party trousers, these have all three metallics (silver, gold and rose gold) woven into their design so you can change your look easily by varying your jewellery and metallic tops or accessories.
Gold pleated skirt: team this with a cashmere jumper or sweatshirt for a relaxed chic alternative.
Dull gold boots: for those who prefer sheen to bling. These have a lowered vamp at the front for leg-lengthening effect which makes them especially good for wearing with skirts (now sold out).
Sparkling stardust shoes: these make me think of fireworks and they look brilliant with the trousers. The embellishment at the front contains multi-coloured jewels. Currently 10% off.
Midlifechic edit: Winter Florals 5
The last look had to be a more casual one, a way of working Winter Florals into the everyday.
Artist print blouse: this has ruched sleeves and a defined waist to give you shape. A contemporary take on the winter floral.
Straight leg jeans: five star reviews for these jeans which are made in collaboration with Calvin Rucker. They are also available in black.
Copper heels: shoes with an ankle strap – helpful if you have more fizz than planned. A walkable heel and a contrasting pom pom – just because.
Embellished suede flats: finished with jewelled, red, heart-shaped stones and a gold bar at the heel. Currently 20% off.
Slogan leather clutch: a conversation starter for parties – just make sure you’re prepared for the inevitable question!
I’d say the key thing to remember with Winter Florals is not to treat them as isolated pieces. If you simply add a flowery top to an ordinary outfit you’ll look as though you’re just wearing pattern. Wearing Winter Florals well requires a more painterly approach than colour blocking. Think of the difference between a Mondrian and a Fantin-Latour – you need to weave and blend tones throughout your whole outfit. Play with the subtlety of the colours and you’ll have a ‘look.’ You’ll be that interesting looking woman that everyone wonders about.
Disclosure: Winter Florals is in collaboration with John Lewis although I was given total creative freedom to develop my own interpretation of the theme. Please support the brands who help to sustain this blog.
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