Category Archives: Fashion

Be inspired by the seventies: the maxi-dress

It’s official, the seventies are back.

If the idea of taking inspiration from the seventies has you running for the hills, then don’t panic. This trend is perfect for autumn, honest.  Chunky knits, cord trousers, long dresses and boots – they’re all perfect for kicking though leaves and pretending you’re one of Jilly Cooper’s plucky heroines.*

Today, we need to talk about the seventies-inspired maxi dress. It’s soft and flowing in every sense – with long sleeves and an even longer hemline.

Seventies style maxi shirt dress by Peacocks

I spotted this amazing Ossie Clark-inspired dress in Peacocks and just had to try it on. It’s length is slightly impractical, but it feels so glamorous. At £25, it was coming home with me, never mind its practicality.

It’s perfect for autumn evenings out. Unbutton, or button up, according to the occasion.

Seventies style maxi shirt dress by Peacocks

I’m wearing the roomy size 10. I’m 5 ft 4″ and need heels with it, otherwise it’s too long. Wear with shiny brown leather boots for the ultimate seventies look.

Tempted to try one? Here are some more of my favourites… 

Seventies maxi dresses

Floral dress, £59, Warehouse /Coral dress, £24.99, H&M

Seventies maxi dresses

Floaty dress, £38, Vera Moda at ASOS / Floral shirt dress, £22, Boohoo

Seventies style maxi shirt dress by Peacocks

I wear floral maxi dress, £25, Peacocks

Are you feeling inspired by seventies style?

* My favourite Jilly Coopers are her short books from the seventies. Try them, they’re the ultimate autumn comfort read. Prudence and Imogen, are my personal favourites.

A hint of leopard print

There’s something about leopard print. Every autumn I fall in love with it again. Is it the earthy colours? The sense of fun? Whatever it is, I’m hooked.

A little hint of leopard print is a fun and stylish way to update your wardrobe. This autumn I’ve chosen a scarf – the perfect purchase for in-betweeny autumn weather.

Leopard print scarf by New Look

This soft, slightly abstract scarf by New Look is £12.99 and I love the flattering, peachy tones. It really transforms this simple outfit. I’ve invested in some new boots for the season too, also by New Look.

Here are some other leopard print delights I’ve spotted lately…

How about trying this jacket from Gap? The fluffy collar is detachable, so it’s very versatile.

Or how about these gorgeous shoes or this scarf from ASOS?

Leopard print shoes and scarf

Do you love leopard print too? 

Stripy tees and navy blues – your new transitional uniform

White Stuff Frilly follie stripy tee and navy trouser

I do love a cliché. So when I’m in France I like to wear stripes – although I swap the beret and string of onions for a chic market basket.

Luckily though, you don’t have to be on holiday in France to play this game. Navy trousers, a stripy tee and a basket – it’s a classic look which suits any age, any time, any place. It’s the perfect transitional uniform

White Stuff Frilly follie stripy tee and navy trouser

When the I turn my calendar over to September, something clicks in my mind. The weather might still be a bit warm, but I’m done with flimsy summer dresses. It’s a hangover from back-to-school days, I suppose – the equivalent of a new school kit.

White Stuff Frilly follie stripy tee

Let’s start with the stripy tee. It’s a classic and you probably have at least one already. What’s new this season is the combination of subtle frills and stripes. You might think this will be too much but, trust me, it works. A little ripple of extra fabric adds a bit of fun to an otherwise plain top and puts a spring in your step. Mine is from White Stuff. Just what you need for the start of a new season!

Next up, those classic navy trousers. They’re the simple, elegant choice to pin your whole look together. Navy is flattering and matches everything. This soft, but structured, pair from White Stuff are just the thing make me feel smart and pulled-together after the lazy days of summer.

White Stuff Frilly follie stripy tee and navy trouser

All you need now is a basket. Too summery you might say. Never! It’s a little nod to the bright, vibrant days of harvest-time. It also keeps things laid back – we don’t want that summer magic to wear off too quickly, after all. My little basket was a holiday find, but why not check out the summer sales for a bargain.

White Stuff Frilly follie stripy tee and navy trouser

So there you have it, my new uniform. Will you be trying it too? 

Dreams were made of Gingham and Broderie Anglaise

Topshop gingham trousers and broderie anglaise top

Some things never go out of date. Strawberries and cream, bretons and blue jeans… gingham and broderie anglaise. They’re timeless summer classics that never grow old.

Last week in Topshop I stumbled across these gingham trousers and broderie anglaise top. I hadn’t been in there for years, so it was quite a revelation. I found this outfit in the first minute and knew immediately I had to try it on, even if I did have my six-year-old in tow. It was love at first sight.

Topshop gingham trousers and broderie anglaise top

The trousers and the top are both rather flouncy in the best sense of the word – ie. the make me feel good every time I wear them. Like Brigitte Bardot on a rainy day in Ely – or so I like to think in my dreams. Whatever life throws at you, it’s great to have an outfit like this up your sleeve. Roll it out when you need to make your own sunshine.

ASOS cherry earrings

Maybe it’s because I’m in a holiday mood, but I was also seduced by these cherry earrings from ASOS. It’s no exaggeration to say that I think these might be the best earrings I’ve ever owned. Definitely a summer impulse purchase, but one which totally floats my boat right now.

Topshop gingham trousers and broderie anglaise top

Topshop gingham trousers and broderie anglaise top

Oh, and I may have bought another basket. This time it’s a simple, jute one by Next which is slightly more compact and portable than my usual French market basket. It’s surprisingly sturdy and will come in handy for storage when summer comes to an end. A girl can never have too many baskets.

Gingham trousers, £39, Topshop / Broderie Anglaise top, £24, Topshop

 Basket, £28, Next / Cherry earrings, £8, ASOS

Topshop gingham trousers and broderie anglaise top

What’s your current outfit of dreams?

 

 

My summer holiday wardrobe

Summer holiday wardrobe

This year we’re going to Avignon, in France, for our summer holiday. It’s going to be hot!

This time last year I wrote about my essentials for a British holiday – which, let’s face it, means taking enough clothes to cover all eventualities. My packing for France is going to much more laid-back. I’m taking just a few key pieces – which is just as well as we’re travelling down by train.

Here’s what’ll be in my suitcase…

The go-anywhere dress

Summer holiday wardrobe

Dresses are my go-to outfit when it’s hot, so it’s no surprise that I’ll be packing several simple ones for exploring the streets of Avignon.

Summer holiday wardrobe

This gorgeous Tencel dress, £35, is perfect for hot days in the city. It’s loose and cool – plus, the layered top is very flattering. It’s just as perfect for sight-seeing as it is for a casual pavement cafes.

This yellow floral number is quite far from my normal style, which is exactly what makes it perfect for taking away with me. Holidays give you chance to live a different life for a week or two – its the perfect time to try new styles and be someone else.

The knock-out holiday dress 

Every holiday deserves a stand-out dress for hot summer nights. Choose something that’s a bit brighter and fun than you might normally wear.

Summer holiday wardrobe

This yellow floral number, £25, is quite far from my normal style, which is exactly why it’s a perfect choice. Holidays give you chance to live a different life for a week or two – its the perfect time to try new styles and be someone else. Keep things simple with a pair of block-heeled sandals.

Summer holiday wardrobe

The separates 

Summer holiday wardrobe

I’ll also be packing some fun mix-and-match items – like linen trousers, vests and fun sandals. This vest, £16, is made in the same tencel material as the dress, and will look laid-back and chic with navy wide-legged trousers. The tasselled sandals, £24, will add a bit of light-hearted fun. Perfect for lunch out, a la française.

Espadrilles

Summer holiday wardrobe

If you can’t wear espadrilles on your summer holiday, then when can you? They don’t really suit our soggy English climate, so I’ll be wearing these as much as possible. This pair, £20, are very comfortable.

Also, don’t forget to pack your summer accessories like sun hats, baskets and makeup! Look back at this post for all my essentials.

Summer holiday wardrobe

A big thank you to JD Williams for inviting me to pick out my summer favourites! Check out their range of maxi dresses and sandals for easy summer holiday dressing. 

Be a savvy sales shopper

Be a savvy sales shopper

I buy lots of my clothes in the sales. Usually, it’s a combination of impulse purchasing and forward planning – both clever in their own ways.

The buy-it-now, wear-it-now impulse purchase

This is where I indulge my inner magpie. Right now that means something fun and summery. Sales are the time to indulge in styles that probably won’t have that much longevity. We’re talking about the fun slogan bag for your holiday, an embroidered kaftan or some cute summer jewellery. You might not get a huge amount of wear out of it, but at sales prices, who’s complaining?

What am I looking out for? Cool dresses for my summer holiday, cute pom-poms and bright summer bags:

Summer sales picks

 Denim jacket, £18, Boohoo / Lucille Dress, £35, Boden / Tote bag, £14, Very

Why’s it clever? Buying throwaway summer pieces in the sale might be seen as wasteful, but I’m not so sure. They key is to limit yourself to a few, fun purchases. Don’t go mad. Buy a few treats to see you through till the end of the summer, but don’t waste your money on piles of things that’ll be useless come September.

Now, let’s talk about the clever buy-it-now, wear-it-later purchase

Right now, the savvy thing to do is to look towards Autumn. You’ll be surprised what you can find in the summer sales that will carry you right though to winter.

Look out for simple, transitional pieces that’ll ease you into the cooler months – navy skirts, Breton stripes and a cute coat for cooler days:

Autumn clothes from the summer sales

Sienna coat, £75, Boden / Skirt, £39.99, Benneton / Breton top, £12.50, Boden

Why not look ahead to next summer too? Choose staple items that won’t date, like jeans, linen, simple dresses and skirts. This is the time to invest in quality pieces that you can’t normally afford – things you know will be useful next year, and for years to come.

And thanks to online shopping, you can do it all from the comfort of your own home. Curated sales websites like Love the Sales, gather all your favourite sales in one place – meaning it’s now easier than ever to snap up a bargain!

Whatever you’re looking for, it pays to be clever.

This post is written via Love the Sales

 

My essential summer accessories

Wherever this summer takes you, there are certain accessories you should never be without. We’re talking about those classic pieces that’ll see you through your day – whether you’re sitting on a windswept beach, an island paradise, or a park bench in your lunch hour.

The French basket… You can’t do summer without a French-style market basket. They’re practical and laid-back – but also terribly chic. They’re also massively affordable: my basket was £21 and has already earned its keep, and then some.

French market basket

The hat… Everyone needs a classic sun hat for the hottest days of the year. Choose a simple, wide-brimmed style for causal summer style that’ll never date. Mine is by Oliver Bonas.

The statement earrings… Liven up simple summer outfits with a knock-out pair of earrings. I love the nautical style of these rope earrings from Weald Store (a fabulous online indie that I urge you to check out).

Statement summer earrings

The Denim Jacket… is my trusty friend through the summer. It goes with everything and the stitches that hold it together are imbued with summer vibes.

The Denim jacket

The make up… Tinted facial suncream is my new summer essential. This tinted gel by La Roche Posay not only protects, it also gives a subtly healthy glow – all whilst feeling light on the skin. All you need on top is a bit of blusher and highlighter and you’re ready to go! This palette from Charlotte Tilbury is packed with flattering, glow-getting, shades.

Summer make up

Oh, and your umbrella…You don’t want to be without that, do you? This is England, after all.

Clever occasion dressing

I’d love to hear about your essential summer accessories. What can’t you live without?

My guide to cycling, with Joanie clothing

Joanie Clothing Dress and Pashley Bicycle

A year ago I made a dream come true and bought a Pashley cycle. It’s bright, shiny and beautiful. Its bell makes the perfect ding-a-ling – and the wicker basket would be big enough for Toto, should he ever need a lift.

It’s my pride and joy, but it didn’t have a name – until now. I’ve decided to christen it Joanie, in honour of Joanie Clothing, who sent me some absolutely beautiful clothes to style this post. The Joanie Gals are full of light-hearted fun with a vintage twist – their clothes were made for cycling like strawberries were made for cream!

What have I learnt after a year with my bike?

Joanie Clothing Dress and Pashley Bicycle

Cycling gets me from A to B, but it also makes me feel happy in a way that walking or driving never does.

There’s something uniquely wonderful about gliding along under your own steam. Cycling is very democratic – you don’t have to be particularly fit to do it and it’s great low-impact exercise. With minimal effort, you can push those pedals around and feel the wind in your face. The sound of the wheels swishing, that blissful feeling when you free-wheel for a few seconds: it’s good for the body and good for the mind.

Joanie Clothing Dress and Pashley Bicycle

Joanie Clothing Dress and Pashley Bicycle

Yes, you can wear a dress while cycling!

I’m never going to be a lycra-clad gal. It’s just not going to happen. Cycling in loose skirts and dresses is much more me – and it’s surprisingly comfortable and practical. Of course, windy days can be a bit challenging – sometimes a bit of knicker flashing is inevitable! Try wearing cycling shorts under your dress, or if the fabric is loose enough, hold the two halves together with a peg to turn your skirt into culottes.

Joanie Clothing Dress and Pashley Bicycle

Worried about safety? 

The best advice I’ve ever had is to remember that you have every much as right to be on the road as a motorist. In return, you need to behave like a motorist too. Remember those hand signals you learnt in cycling proficiency at school? You need to use them. Always be aware of what’s going on around you and never forget to check over your shoulder before you pull out or move across the roads. I basically assume that drivers won’t see me, unless I make it absolutely clear what I’m doing.

Joanie Clothing Dress and Pashley Bicycle

Maintaining your bike

Cycling is much more fun when it doesn’t feel like hard work. A bike with flabby tyres and a rusty chain is never going to bring you as much joy as one that glides effortlessly along the road — so use some simple maintenance tips to help your bike work with you instead of against you. Even if you don’t want to DIY, knowing what to look for means you know when to ask for help from a bike shop.

Joanie Clothing Dress and Pashley Bicycle

Keep your tyres properly pumped

Firmer tyres help prevent punctures — but more importantly, they make cycling much easier, and you can go faster for the same effort. Spend £15-30 on an upright track pump with a pressure gauge: it makes it really easy to get this right. Look on the side of the tyre for the maximum pressure, then aim to get them that hard. You’ll probably need to pump them up once every week or two.

Firm tyres go hand in hand with a smooth-running chain

If yours is rusty and stiff, get it replaced, then treat it to a weekly dose of chain lube. Not too much, though… if you use something like this Finish Line product then you want no more than one drop for each link of the chain. Turn the pedals backwards whilst you drip it on — and put something underneath so the stray drips don’t end up on the floor!

Joanie Clothing Dress and Pashley Bicycle

Check your brakes

If they don’t work properly, don’t ride the bike. Pull them on and try to push your bike along; the wheels shouldn’t go round if you’re squeezing the lever hard.

Hate punctures?

Try a different tyre. Puncture-resistant brands like Schwalbe Marathon are really tough — they’re great for city cycling because they’re very hard to damage. A bike shop will help you choose (and fit) the right ones for your bike.

If you haven’t ridden your bike for a while, or if you’re not sure it’s properly set up, then get it serviced by your local bike shop. It’s much easier to keep everything running properly once it’s in good order: just follow the tips above and you can’t go far wrong. You shouldn’t have to put up with problems that stop your bike bringing you pleasure. Fixing bikes is much, much cheaper and easier than fixing a car!

Joanie Honor Bicycle Print Collar Top

What I’m wearing:

Maurice chambray shirt dress, £40 / Carly striped Dress, £30 

Bicycle print blouse, £28 / Rattan handbag, £28

 All c/o Joanie

My bike is a Pashley Sonnet Ladies Hybrid Bike

Thank you to Joanie for sending me such beautiful and comfortable cycling clothes! 

The halcyon days of summer, with Winsor Bishop

Halcyon Days bangle, Winsor Bishop

halcyon / ADJECTIVE / Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful

If anywhere is going to evoke thoughts of halcyon days, it’s Cambridge.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to an evening at Winsor Bishop, an independent jeweller in the heart of the city. It was the summer solstice, and one of those balmy evenings when Cambridge was at its best. Bicycles, blue skies, students in evening dress lounging around outside colleges – it’s a city that’s perfect for making our own halcyon days right now.

The wine fizzed and the diamonds glittered.

Winsor Bishop, Cambridge

Winsor Bishop, Cambridge

It was the perfect night to be introduced to Halcyon Days, an established English brand who specialise in beautiful enamel bangles and bracelets. I was lucky enough to take one home with me and I’ve been wearing it ever since.

Halcyon Days bangle, Winsor Bishop

Even if the sky isn’t always blue, the flash of bright enamel on my wrist is enough to remind me of those halcyon days of summer. For me, it’s a concept that conjures up images of long summer days – blue skies, golden sunshine, fruit-picking, Pimms in the garden… I bet at least one of those is on your list too!

Halcyon Days bangle, Winsor Bishop

Thank you to Winsor Bishop for helping me create some halcyon moments of my own! If you’re in Cambridge I recommend calling in to their beautiful and friendly Trinity Street store.

Want to see more? Here’s a mini video of my evening!

Culottes…and a lesson in self-confidence

Culottes, would you could you?

I last owned a pair of culottes in about 1991. They were brown, voluminous and I wore then to Brownies. Just like mules and high-heeled jelly shoes, these were one trend I was happy to leave behind. Until now.

Warmer weather makes us more receptive to new things, doesn’t it? In my last post I mentioned that I’ve been trying different styles lately – things that defy the way I normally dress for my shape. Last week, I tried the cold-shoulder top and loved it. Now feels like the time to welcome culottes back into my life.

Culottes are a great choice for me. I love skirts and dresses, but hate shorts. Culottes are the perfect middle ground. So in the spirit of trying new things, I ordered a pair in the Joules sale, and waited with trepidation for them to arrive.

Culottes, would you could you?

Why the fear? I’ve become so conditioned to only ever wearing skinny jeans, that anything baggy or voluminous feels wrong. Won’t it accentuate my curves, and make me look short and dumpy?

When I first tried them on, I liked them, but then the doubts crept in. All I could see was the lack of flat stomach and the emphasis on my hips. But then I showed my boys and my husband and they all immediately said how cool they looked. Which made me realise that the perception of how a pair of culottes should look was really just in my head.

They’ve taught me a lesson in self-confidence. If I slump and look down at the floor, then they will look awful. But if I smile and hold my head high, they’ll look amazing. Every time I put them on, I get that little voice of doubt, but then I remember what the boys said. I like them, and trust this feeling, rather than looking for things to criticise.

Culottes, could you, would you?

On a purely practical note, they really do feel amazing to wear. This pair is light and soft – and I love the pattern. They’re smart, but laid-back. Pretty and versatile – they feel just at home on the school run and they do in a meeting. They’re also going to feature in my holiday packing.

As with most loose trousers, I prefer a defined top half – so, for me, it’s always going to be a tucked-in top. A simple white shirt or vest would also look amazing.

Culottes

My culottes are by Joules. They’re in the sale at £29.95, but are selling fast. My tee is by White Stuff and my necklace is past-season Joules (try eBay).

Culottes

Luckily, there are lots more to choose from! For a classic look try these…

Nancy culottes, £80, Boden / Lennon culottes, £49.95, Joules

Or, how about a floral pair? I love these two…

Wild garden culottes, £36, Warehouse / Floral culottes, £19.99, New Look

So, cullotes: would you, could you?