As you know, I spent some time in Leeds this week getting ready for the Midlifechic reader event next month. I love being there because it’s one of my favourite John Lewis & Partners sites. It’s the anchor store for Victoria Leeds, a shopping centre that opened in 2016 incorporating some of the restored Victorian arcades and I don’t think I’ve seen a more architecturally beautiful shopping centre in the UK. The new glass buildings compliment the old iron structures and it’s a joy to see so many exciting retailers sitting alongside each other in the heart of the city centre rather than in a modern, out of town mall.
As a purpose built store, JL&P is bright and shiny. Having been constructed so recently it has clean lines making it easy to navigate and one of the latest additions is the big new Style Studio which is slap bang in the middle of the womenswear floor. You may remember that I visited Leeds about 18 months ago and used the two small studios there. They’re still available for pre-booked appointments but the new Style Studio is open for spontaneous drop-ins. A stylist is always there to help so if you’ve rushed in to buy something urgently and don’t know where to start you can just pop in and they’ll help you. It’s a concept that’s being rolled out and it’s already available in 30 stores.
John Lewis & Partners are one of the only retailers I know who have a department at head office dedicated to retail innovation and this is one of the ways that they’re taking in-store retail forward, by providing the kind of personal help that you can’t find online. As you can see, you can just sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while ideas are brought to you by the stylists.
I was in store to spend the day with Jess who is one of the personal styling team; she and I will be hosting the reader evening together. We met last time I did a post from the Leeds store and we’ve kept in touch. She’s great on Instagram by the way – you can follow her @jl_jess_ where she often posts new looks that she puts together from the clothes that have arrived in store. Before we started to discuss Christmas, she took me through a rail of winter outfits that she wanted to show me.
Jess knows my style and she’s always keen to encourage me out of my comfort zone by getting me to try a few new things so she’d pulled together a mix and match colour capsule.
She’d even included shoes – and she had a chuckle when I saw those walking boots. As you know, even though I live on the edge of the Lakes I refuse to own a pair but Jess was determined to get me to give them a try…
…we’ll come to those later.
As I was trying everything on, I thought we’d take some quick outfit photos to share with you. Quite a few ranges at JL&P are offering 20% off this weekend so it’s a great time to shop – I’ve added an asterisk* in the caption to everything that’s included in the promotion. Before we start though, do bear in mind that we were photographing these clothes under the store lights so the colours aren’t always accurate – check the links for details on each piece.
Winter outfit ideas – John Lewis & Partners
Winter Outfit 1 – tonal dressing
I like being encouraged to experiment and Jess’s first suggestion was to try tonal dressing rather than my usual block colours. Here she’s mixed shades of magenta and plum – both are unusual for me. The good thing about working with her is that she takes feedback on board and helps you to find a solution. We spent a long time talking about the merits of pleated skirts because although I like them on other people, I just can’t get on with them and in this outfit I felt a bit like one of my teachers circa 1979. Jess suggested that next time I should try one of the knife pleat skirts like the one she was wearing because they’re less heavy around the hips and give the floaty silhouette that I prefer.
A special mention for the jumper – so often these days I find that cashmere feels more like lambswool but this is proper cashmere, soft and fluffy. It’s machine washable and it has 20% off this weekend.
Winter Outfit 2 – jeans with knee-high boots
Now this was a new look and I really like it. Of course there would be endless Puss in Boots references from Mr MC but I’ve always liked jeans tucked into boots and I was pleased when I spotted it coming back as a trend last winter – it even encouraged me to dig my skinnies back out. I love this mix of warm colours and this time the special mention is going to the belt. If you’re like me and you swerve the ubiquitous Gucci double G belt, this is a good option. It performs the same trick of distracting from any width at the waist by focusing the eye on the buckle and it’s available in a few different colours, including black, tan and leopard. It’s also fantastic value for leather and it has 20% off this weekend.
Actually there’s another special mention – the jersey turtle neck. This is perfect for anyone who likes the look of a polo neck but finds them too warm to wear. The neck is slightly ruched which means it sits perfectly as a single layer and doesn’t do anything untoward to any spare chins you may prefer not to accentuate! There are a few different colour options in the range.
Winter outfit 3 – the city coat
I spotted one of the coats that I featured in last week’s post on Jess’s rail and so I decided to try it in place of the blanket wrap. What a fabulous coat it is, as soon as you slip it on you can feel the quality. I always forget about scarves but Jess produced this one and it made such a difference – the art of the stylist. The finishing touch would be the belt looped through the waist of the jeans.
Winter outfit 4 – hiking boot chic
Moving on, she wasn’t going to let me go any longer without trying the hiking boots for a weekend look. They were outstandingly comfortable and as I sit here and scrutinise the picture, I can say they’re not bad. This is a look I like on others but it’s a step too slouchy for me. Now I wish I’d tried the orange coat with it – with a neater fitting coat I’d have been closer to my comfort zone.
Winter outfit 5 – a ladylike dress
Going in a completely different direction, here’s a very ladylike look. Jess wanted me to try something more muted than usual and this is a pretty dress if you’re what the colour houses call a ‘soft’ (i.e someone who likes gentle colours without too much contrast). I absolutely loved the clashing of the zebra with it. Again both the belt and boots are brilliant and have 20% of this weekend. Although I take a half size and the boots only come in full sizes, they’re generous and a half size down was a perfect fit.
Without a strong colour I feel as though I’m wearing an invisibility cloak – this was just to show what a difference a bright makes to my skin tone.
Winter outfit 6 – back in brights
And so she let me recover in a true Midlifechic colour combo, a blouse in my favourite shade of warm red worn with navy trousers. The trousers are great quality with a leg lengthening stripe down the front that you can’t quite see here. They’d probably work better with flats – or trainers as shown in the model shots. Both of these pieces have 20% off this weekend.
Look at the lovely detail at the waist – you can adjust them to your own perfect fit.
Winter outfit 7 – work to weekend
And staying in my bright colour comfort zone, next up were this shirt and trousers. It’s a while since I’ve worn a full length trouser in this kind of cut and I think I’d still veer towards the 7/8 version. I love the bag, it’s so hard to find good chocolate leather, most of the dark brown bags I’ve seen this season have turned out to be PU. 20% off the bag and shirt this weekend.
We were running out of time so Jess suggested we quickly convert this into a weekend look with loafers. Now I’ve seen this range of shoes online but the ‘designed for comfort’ description has always made my toes curl. However, they are indeed designed for comfort – if you’re looking for the footbed of a sports trainer combined with the look of a shoe they’re for you (and yes they are in fact more comfortable than the other comfort sole that springs to mind).
At this point we had to put our winter outfit dressing up box away because we needed to move into Christmas party planning mode for our November event. We worked on the looks together and will continue to do so over the next few weeks as new styles start to arrive. In the meantime, as the 20% ends on Sunday, I thought I’d point out a few other items that caught my attention as we were doing our floorwalk.
- I’m starting with a pyjama and sleep mask gift set* because there won’t be 20% off next month when you get round to your gift shopping. There are a few different styles and it’s an easy way to get ahead.
- Jess reawoke my interest in scarves and I thought this bright take on leopard print* would help to lift dark winter coats and jumpers.
- I’ve been wanting to buy one of these non-wired bras* for ages but I’m a stickler for matching sets and there haven’t been any. Now, however, forest green has arrived in both bra and briefs* which I thought would be a nice winter twist over the next few months.
- Leather gloves* that will make a dark coat look so much more interesting, the sort of detail that makes people look at your outfit and wonder about you.
- Shawl collared tuxedo*. If you’ve been reading for a long time you’ll remember my long hunt for one of these and I finally found one last year. This style of tuxedo jacket works wonders because it elongates your body, making you look taller and slimmer. The trick is to make sure that your waistband hits where the collar ends which means it looks fab with something like a satin midi-skirt, high waisted trousers or mid to high rise jeans.
- The belt* again, I had to put it in because it’s just such a hardworking style find at a great price.
- Oxblood brogues* – oxblood is a difficult colour to find but it elevates a brogue, softening the masculine / city reference.
- Sheepskin slippers* – these may be a gift to others or to yourself but you can’t beat a pair of sheepskin slippers in winter. Whenever I lose mine I know I’ll find a pair of huge boy feet stuffed into them somewhere, ugly sister style.
Oh and I just have to show you these two jumpers because I was admiring them in Oxford Street a couple of weeks ago when a lady leaned across me and took one of each from the rail. I looked up and it was Fiona Shaw (from Killing Eve) and yes, she bought them both.
So many things caught my eye when we were scouring the shopfloor but I had to try this dress on when I saw it. It’s difficult to find this kind of flattering, slimline cut in a shirtdress, they often have too much fabric. It’s a perfect midi-dress in my book – the right length and it has buttons so that you can wear it as open at the neck and legs as you want. It’s shirred at the back of the waist so it adjusts to fit in the small of your back, flattering your waistline without causing any lumpiness. Plus it has a mandarin collar which always sits better with coats and jackets. It looks good on its own but will also work with a black polo neck, tights and boots when it gets colder. Great for work, great for parties, great with trainers on a Saturday: my favourite find of the day.
20% off beauty this weekend
One last thing – in addition to the Fashion 20% there’s also an offer on Beauty this weekend and you can save up to 20% on brands including Clarins, Clinique, Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown. You can see all brands included here.
Join Jess and me for a fun evening of style in Leeds
So that just leaves us with the event to talk about which, as I said last week, is just for Midlifechic readers. On Friday 8th November from 5.45pm – 8pm we’ll be talking through festive looks. I’m busy making sure that it isn’t all sequinned frocks – I want the focus to be on relaxed Christmas dressing so that you can feel good all the way through December.
We’ll have different options to show you and Jess will add her styling flair to show you how to get the most out of them. Then we’ll move on to a Q&A session where we can chat about whatever you like before we let you loose to do some shopping. As the store will be closed at this point, we’ll have the womenswear floor all to ourselves.
It’s the first time that John Lewis & Partners have held an event that is exclusively for blog readers so please do encourage them to do more by supporting it enthusiastically. It’s a bit nerve-racking so Jess and I (and Mr MC) will probably be going for a glass of wine afterwards and you’re very welcome to join us if you’d like to.
Tickets are £10 each but they’re fully redeemable and you’ll be given a £10 gift card when you arrive. There are only 30 places available so if you’d like to join us book here.
As you know I’ve been trying to build Midlifechic events for ages and now it feels as though they’re finally starting to come off. This weekend Mr MC and I have the pleasure of spending a weekend in the French Riviera with the winners of July’s reader competition. The weather forecast isn’t looking great which is a shame but I’m sure we’ll still make our own fun – after all, when in France there’s always wine tasting to be done.
I wish I could take everyone who entered but we’ll be posting on Instagram and they’re probably better at doing Stories than I am so you may even be able to join us virtually. And hopefully there will be more events next year, I really want to work on building this community of ours in 2020 with more opportunities for us to get together for a good chat. In the meantime, I’ll be back on Tuesday with an outfit post from another of our favourite retailers.
Disclosure: ‘Winter outfit ideas – John Lewis & Partners’ was commissioned as a project by JL&P – all content is my own.
Recent posts you may have missed
Disclaimer: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.